I received a ton of great questions for this week’s mailbag, including two on the Yeremiah Bell signing. I’ve combined them below, and the safety position is the focus of this week’s mailbag.
You can submit your questions for next week’s mailbag to me on Twitter, @kristinereese.
Do you like the Bell signing? He’s another SS, so its a little confusing to me. Now we have 3 safety’s that play on the line! @JoePosa
Who are our most likely starting safeties, considering health & fit to the D? @DougASmith
My initial thoughts on the Bell signing were mixed (much like Joe’s). I, like so many other Jets fans, felt that given the abysmal play at the position last year (a healthy Jim Leonhard being the exception), the team obviously needed to address the safety position. They have essentially done just that. The problem is, I don’t know that they have done it exactly how I’d hoped.
On Friday, I wrote that I felt because Bell is a strong safety, and a declining player that is poor in coverage, he was brought on as depth and essentially as insurance for the injury prone LaRon Landry. However, it seems that may not be the case. ESPN’s Rich Cimini wrote yesterday morning that the “Jets envision Bell as a starter” and that we can expect to see a “Bell-Landry safety tandem.”
Bell did lead the Dolphins in tackles last year and he is definitely a solid run defender, but starting Bell at SS leaves Landry at FS, with Eric Smith off the bench (playing sub packages and special teams, where he is best). Given Landry’s health and skill set, I’m cautious of this combination, but I suppose this does makes sense considering Bell is better than Eric Smith. That said, how do you convince your fanbase you’ve come up with a solution for the terror that is the Patriots tight ends while you roll out one of the slowest safety tandems in the NFL (hyperbole is the Jets way, people).
Patt Kirwin of CBS Sports wrote an excellent piece about this very issue, explaining the Jets will run a “Big Nickel” defensive concept to deal with with the New England offense. In the “Big Nickel,” all three safeties would be on the field at the same time, with one “hybrid” safety playing Big Nickel Safety to match up against the Patriots offensive sets. I would imagine they will run the same kind of defensive concept against other teams with two receiving tight ends like the Colts, Broncos, Chargers and the Vikings, should they ever meet.
There are currently 7 safeties on the roster – Eric Smith, LaRon Landry, Yeremiah Bell, DeAngelo Smith, Tracy Wilson and the two rookies, Antonio Allen and Josh Bush. It’s difficult to argue that anything but starting Landry and Bell gives the Jets the best chance to win, but Landry’s health concern is a serious one. If Landry is unable to play, then what? Eric Smith moves into his role (and I will refrain from getting started on that) and one of the other guys would be asked to step up. Lots of question marks that need to be worked out.
I can get behind the plans that the team has for the position on paper, but I would still be more comfortable with more of a pure free safety type, and preferably someone with the cerebral skills necessary to call the plays, as Jim Leonhard did. I believe that the Jets hope to bring up Josh Bush into this role, but the question is can he be ready to take on this role at the start of the 2012 season? We are talking about the Jets defense here, and so the answer is likely no. Does this mean Leonhard is brought back to help Bush and others along? It doesn’t look good at the moment but I wouldn’t count it out.
Will Shonn Greene retain his starting position throughout the season or succumb to McKnight or Powell? @Dexters_Library
In my opinion, right or wrong, Greene is in no danger of losing his starting job this year unless he goes down with an injury, which is actually a legitimate concern.
If you detect a slight tone of apathy in my response, you would be correct.
I’ll admit it. I am not the president of Shonn Greene’s fan club and I would imagine it’s fairly obvious to my regular readers that I’m not the all aboard the “War Machine” train. He is a good but not great runner who is best suited with a limited number of carries, and his propensity to get nicked up doesn’t help his case. He improved his ball skills last season, but not enough to inspire me to buy a jersey. I think he is limited as a starter and in a run heavy offense, I think we could do better. I am, however, prepared to be proven wrong . In fact, I hope I am.
I”ve somehow gotten off track and on a “why I don’t believe in Shonn Green tangent.” My apologies.
I don’t see any way that Joe McKnight takes Greene’s job, mostly because they are different types of runners and McKnight is still “unproven.” I also feel he is best suited playing a similar role to LT (I think this is the increased role the coaching staff is hinting at) and also with a limited number of carries. McKnight put on weight this off-season, which will help with his durability and his ability to play all three downs. McKnight will also continue his very important role on special teams. Hopefully the weight gain has not effected his speed.
As for Powell, I don’t think he really showed much of anything last year. In fact, I think it is Ganaway that should be in the conversation more than Powell. The coaching staff has compared Ganaway’s skills to that of Greene, and if given the opportunity, I think Ganway could take Powell’s job and eventually move into Greene’s if he performs well enough. Ganaway also comes from an option style offense, and I think they plan to incorporate him into some special Tebow packages.
I also wanted to be sure to point out that Greene is a free agent next year, making this season even more important for him. If he doesn’t perform up to expectations, the Jets will have no problem letting him walk and then moving someone like Ganaway or a 2013 rookie running back into the starting role. Contract years can be some of the most productive for NFL players. Let’s hope that is the case for Greene.
Do you think a rugby player can succeed in the NFL? Prior examples of this happening… @HOGBOSS0197
From what I understand about the game of Rubgy, the skills translate pretty well to the NFL. Rugby players have very good hands and Smith played lock forward, which requires strength, explosiveness and size. So, Smith obviously has the athleticism and the physicality to move into a “hybid” tight end role we are seeing more and more of in today’s NFL.
All of that said, I do not think it’s going to be an overnight transition for Smith. I’ve gathered that he is very physically gifted, but he is extremely raw. He will need some time to understand the game of football at the elite level and that is not an easy transition – even for some players who have been playing at the college and high school level for years and years – so it is best to temper expectations with Smith. I would not expect to see him contribute for at least a year, and I think spending a season on the practice squad is the best way to go.
Keep in mind that Smith also played basketball at Metro State College, so it’s fair to make Antonio Gates and Jimmy Graham comparisons, but again, Smith STILL has to learn the game. Patience.
As far as the success rate from rugby to the NFL, I can tell you that Hayden Smith is the 9th player to make the transition. Of those 9, there is one other tight end (Colin Scotts), and one receiver (Steve Tasker) on the list. The guys at NYJetsOverthePond wrote a really great piece about Hayden Smith and the other players that have successfully made the Rugby to football crossover. I suggest you read it for a more comprehensive understanding of what we can expect to see from Smith.
In the past, rugby players have not really had the athleticism required to transition in the NFL, but Smith seems to have that working for him, and so it may not even be fair to compare him to those that have made the transition before. As is the case with so many things related to the Jets this season, only time will tell.