Sunday morning notes to enjoy with your bagels and lockout:
The proposed rule change for kickoffs, moving it up to the 35-yard line, is a terrible idea by the NFL's competition commitee -- and it will hurt the Jets' always-dangerous kickoff-return unit. Look, we're all for player safety, but this is taking it too far. The league believes there are too many injuries on kickoffs. In response, they're prepared to basically eliminate the kickoff return. It would be a touchback-a-thon from the 35. It would minimize an important aspect of the game, not to mention remove a lot of excitement for the fans.
The rule change would be a killer for the Jets, who have won several games over the years on kickoff returns. In fact, they have scored 14 times since 2002. The Jets, with Mike Westhoff running the show, consider their kickoff-return unit an ace in the hole. The rule change also would de-value a player like Brad Smith, a terrific returner. Smith is a free agent; talk about lousy timing. Let's hope the rule change doesn't get passed at this week's owners' meetings.
LIP SERVICE: The league is preaching safety first, but it wants to expose the players to more injuries with an 18-game schedule. Anybody find that hypocritical?
BRICK'S BIG BONUS: The agent for Jets LT D'Brickashaw Ferguson isn't panicking over the possibility of Ferguson losing a $750,000 workout bonus (the largest in the NFL) because of the lockout. Brad Blank said he might explore legal options down the road, but he's hoping it doesn't come to that. "We all hope -- players, management, owners -- this gets resolved soon through the courts or bargaining, and it becomes a non-issue," Blank said in a phone interview.
Ferguson could still collect the 750K in an abbreviated offseason. According to his contract, he gets the dough if he participates in 85 percent of the workouts. If there are only 10 workouts, and he makes it to nine, he collects. (In a normal year, there are 40 "voluntary" workouts.) If the lockout extends into training camp, eliminating the offseason, he gets zilch. But you have to think that players in Ferguson's situation would fight that, and they'd have a strong case. They'd argue that they wanted to participate, but were blocked by the owners because of the lockout.
DELAY OF GAME: Based on last year's start date, the Jets' off-season program would commence Monday. A year ago, the news that day was Leon Washington not showing up. This time, the news is that there's no place to show up to. There has been some chatter among players about conducting informal workouts on their own.
ON THE SCOUTING TRAIL: Rex Ryan and his coaches are on the road, scouting campus pro days and conducting private workouts. OL coach Bill Callahan was at Lehigh to check out G/T Will Rackley, projected as a third- or fourth-round pick. QB coach Matt Cavanaugh was at Deleware to see QB Pat Devlin, a late-round prospect. Ryan himself has been to at least two pro days -- Illinois and Missouri. A key date is March 29, the day of UCLA's pro day. They have two prospects that could interest the Jets, picking 30th -- OLB Akeem Ayers and S Rahim Moore.
REX HITS BOURBON STREET: The league heads to New Orleans this week for an abbreviated version of the annual league meetings. On Tuesday, the head coaches meet the media. A month ago, Ryan guaranteed a Super Bowl at the scouting combine. What could he say that would top that?
DRAFT BUZZ: At a speaking engagement last week, special teams coach Mike Westhoff was asked about the Jets' plans for their first-round pick. He suspects they're "leaning toward" defense -- a "great pass rusher" or a "big defensive lineman." He also mentioned that it might be tempting is a "great wide receiver" is available. My two cents: The only way they take a receiver is if they lose Santonio Holmes and Braylon Edwards.
REVIS ISLAND No. 1: Football Outsiders released its cornerback rankings and, not shockingly, Darrelle Revis is ranked No. 1 with a 70-percent success rate. (FO defines success rate as the percentage of passes that don't manage to get at least 45 percent of needed yards on first down, 60 percent of needed yards on second down, or 100 percent of needed yards on third down.) Antonio Cromartie was ranked ninth in the league. The Raiders' Nnamdi Asomugha and the Eagles' Asante Samuel didn't qualify because they were targeted only 31 and 36 times, respectively -- below the minimum. Samuel (78 percent) would've bumped Revis from the top spot.
Interesting note on Revis: He allowed 4.7 YAC per completion, among the worst in the league (74th).