A few thoughts on the New York Jets as we head into stage II of cutdown weekend:
1. Swinging and missing: The release of wide receiver Stephen Hill underscored a shortcoming of the Rex Ryan regime -- the inability to develop offensive draft picks. In the first five drafts under Ryan, the Jets picked 19 players on offense, none of whom have developed into anything close to a Pro Bowl player. In fact, three of the four highest-drafted players are gone -- quarterback Mark Sanchez (first round, 2009), lineman Vladimir Ducasse (second, 2010) and Hill (second, 2012). The last hope from those drafts is quarterback Geno Smith (second, 2013). Running back Bilal Powell (fourth, 2011) and wide receiver Jeremy Kerley (fifth, 2011) are nice role players, but they're not game changers.
There are a few reasons for the drought, namely: Instability (three offensive coordinators), a defensive-minded culture created by Ryan and, of course, questionable drafting. Hill was a big, big miss. He was actually the No. 14 player on their draft board, well ahead of fellow receiver Alshon Jeffery, who was picked by the Chicago Bears two spots after Hill (43rd overall). To be fair, many of the scouting services rated Hill over Jeffery. The Jets' mistake was trading two draft picks to move up and rushing him into the lineup with no fallback option. Hill never was the same after his killer drop as a rookie in New England.
2. Stephen (Lam) Hill: I ran into former Jets great Wesley Walker at the recent Hofstra practice, and we got to talking about Hill, whose future with the team already was the subject of speculation. Walker's opinion on Hill was clear: Keep him and continue to coach him up. He felt Hill had too many positive traits to be jettisoned after only two years. Walker brought up the name of a former teammate -- Johnny (Lam) Jones. The mere mention of Jones' name is enough to make longtime Jets fans cringe, but Walker didn't mean it in a negative way. He made the comparison because he felt Jones was a talented receiver who never fulfilled his potential because he wasn't properly developed. At least Jones got five years before he was dumped; Hill got only two.
3. Cornering the market on mistakes: General manager John Idzik deserves to be criticized for his handling of the cornerback situation, especially now that Dimitri (Don't Call Me AWOL) Patterson is a goner, but this whole Darrelle Revis angle is tired. That bridge was burned by both sides, and the Jets weren't interested in repairing it. I didn't criticize Idzik at the time, so I certainly won't second-guess him now. My problem is that his non-Revis plan wasn't any good. In free agency, he identified Patterson as a starting-caliber player even though he had only 20 career starts and had played with six teams in 10 years, wearing out his welcome in most places. (From what I understand, he was considered a diva around the Jets even before he went AWOL.) Instead of doubling down in the draft, Idzik didn't draft a corner until the third round -- the injury-prone Dexter McDougle, who is out for the season. How's it all working out?
4. Money for nothing: Unless they somehow recoup part of the signing bonus, the Jets wasted $1 million on Patterson, the same amount they wasted on Mike Goodson. Here's another way to look at it: For doing nothing, Patterson gets almost as much money as Muhammad Wilkerson gets this year for being the best player on the team -- $1.2 million. That's twisted.
5. 'Snacks' time is over: As of Saturday night, the Jets' 53-man roster had no undrafted rookies. They're one of only four teams with no UDFAs, according to Brian McIntyre, a contract and analytics expert. It's not all that surprising, considering the Jets didn't spend much in this area. Teams were allocated to spend up to $80,362 in signing bonuses, but the Jets doled out only $4,000, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Defensive end Anthony Grady ($2,500) and fullback Chad Young ($1,500) were the only UDFAs to receive a signing bonus; the other five UDFAs got nothing. Hey, a Damon (Snacks) Harrison doesn't come around every year.
6. Ex-Champ: The Jets need a cornerback and one of the best corners in recent memory is available, future Hall of Famer Champ Bailey, who was cut by the New Orleans Saints. It brings back memories of a mega trade that never happened. In 2004, former GM Terry Bradway spent a good amount of time at the scouting combine trying to deal for Bailey, whom the Washington Redskins eventually traded to the Denver Broncos. Bailey, 36, has slipped the past two years and probably wouldn't cure the Jets' problem.
7. No road trips for Rex: Remember last year, when Ryan created a firestorm by taking a trip on cutdown day to visit his son at Clemson? The coach took a lot of unwarranted criticism for that decision, and I think he was taken aback by the fallout. On Friday, he was asked if he was planning to travel to see Clemson at Georgia on Saturday.
"It’s safe to say if my son was playing in the game, I probably would have been there again," Ryan said.
Seth Ryan, a wide receiver, is out with a broken collarbone.
8. Middle-aged Jets: Philly.com did a study of all 32 rosters, as of Saturday night, ranking them based on age. Turns out the Jets are the 13th-youngest team in the league. The average age is 25.85 years, slightly older than last year (25.6, seventh youngest). That's exactly what you'd expect for a team in Year 2 of a rebuilding project.
9. Milliner on the shelf?: The early rumblings are that cornerback Dee Milliner (high-ankle sprain) won't be ready for the season opener.
10. Start the countdown: It's seven days to the season opener. Hey, Oakland, do you know who your quarterback is?