Thoughts on the Trade for Jason Smith
I don’t have any clue what the Jets are doing right now. I’m not sure if they do either. It’s been an offseason of no planning and seeming change after change after change. I defended the Jets decision to keep Wayne Hunter back in February for cap purposes, the fact that there were no improvements on the market, and for general team morale. In hindsight I never should have defended it. They just had no plan so they hedged their bets and kept him. You have to ask yourself what did he do so bad in that Giants game that he did not do in 2010 or 2011 in games that mattered? The answer is nothing.
Yes Wayne Hunter stunk that Saturday night against anyone dressed in blue, but should that have been news to the Jets? Hunter was one of the worst 10 tackles in the NFL the last two years yet the team saw fit to guarantee him two years of salary. It is pretty clear that internally the Jets scapegoated former offensive line coach Bill Callahan for last season’s mess. Callahan wasn’t retained and rumors flew that the team was unhappy with his performance. Read between the lines and all the reasons I outlined for keeping Hunter had nothing to do with keeping him. The Jets felt he needed to be “coached up” and their new offensive regime was going to do it. Preseason rolls around and what happens? You got the same player that was here last year letting rusher after rusher to get to the QB. .
This brings me back to a point I have harped on about this team. They get too hung up in occasional performances and let it cloud their judgement, specifically on offense. When Rex Ryan discussed the teams trade for Santonio Holmes he focused on how he tore him up in the playoffs. Tim Tebow had the miracle against the Jets and then the Steelers. Wayne Hunter had a miracle against Chicago in 2010. Not everyone can be fixed by Rex Ryan. .
Hunter needed to go but why bring on $4 million in salary for a player who is considered almost as epic a bust as Vernon Gholston and Robert Gallery? The Jets cost themselves $1.5 million in precious cap room by making this move when they could have simply saved themselves $2.5 million by cutting Hunter back in February or by negotiating his salary down to the minimum as suggested. Instead they thought he was fixable so they were stuck with a player who the Jets felt they had to baby into a made up “important role” of jumbo TE. Yes its kindergarten in Florham Park where every player needs to get a pat on the back and an “important” designation to not feel singled out as a bad player. .
So what about Jason Smith then? Smith was drafted number 2 overall and fell out of favor with two Rams coaching staffs. He’s battled injuries and has a reputation for not exactly being willing to learn anything. He was drafted to play left tackle but that never happened. In 3 years he has played in 29 games and only started 26 of them, all at right tackle. The team hoped the new coaching staff could work wonders for him, but alas he couldn’t beat out Barry Richardson, who was the Chiefs version of Wayne Hunter last season, for a job. Apparently the Rams didn’t need a $4 million dollar “jumbo tight end” so they called the Jets, who I guess feel they can fix him. .
The Jets claim they will play Smith as a “jumbo TE”, but you know that isn’t their real plan for the year. I’m sure Mike Tannenbaum will be out tomorrow talking about how they owed it to Wayne to give him a fresh start away from all the distraction here and how this was such a good fit for both sides and how they love Smith’s upside. I’m sure they will mention Aaron Maybin and the turnaround that he had on the Jets after busting with the Bills, which doesn’t mean a thing. Im sure the Jets have every intention of Smith becoming their right tackle at some point this season. .
In looking over the stats he is surprisingly consistent in pass blocking. The stat that I have been using to evaluate lineman in pass protection, which calculates the number of pass failures attributed to their failure to block, graded Smith around number 40 in the league at 5.42% failures. That’s much better than Hunter’s 7.23% failures. What is even more impressive, though, is that his numbers are consistent. In 2009 he was at 5.19% and in 2010 at 5.04%. There is basically no variance. This isn’t D’Brickashaw Ferguson who one year will grade out as one of the best in the NFL and then the next rank 32nd. Smith is what he is. Upside? No, but at least you know what you are getting- someone who may be capable. .
So with that in place why did the Rams give up on him? Attitude seemed to play a major role. He was one of the most penalized tackles in the NFL last season, with a penalty on 1.2% of snaps played, ranking 67th out of 76 NFL tackles. Wayne Hunter was at 1%. For Smith that was regression from 2010 and I think the Rams felt it was just lack of effort to improve and absorb what they were trying to teach him. Hes considered a terrible run blocker, which is not a good trait for a tackle/jumbo TE. Many scouts anticipated that would be the case based on the offense they ran where he attended college. .
With the Jets in somewhat of a transition I can understand taking a flier on a player like Smith, but at the current cap charges they would have been better off just eating Hunters guarantee and sticking with a young guy making the minimum to fill out the roster. This move is probably going to put the Jets right up against the cap once the season begins. They will probably be around 3.5 million when the season begins and that will not even include the practice squad. They may still have an option of borrowing $1.5 million, though I have not heard reports of any teams using that and I wonder if that ended up being part of the concessions the union made towards increasing this years cap for all teams. Hopefully the guy pans out and the Jets get their starting tackle but Id say the odds are against it and its just going to cost the Jets money that could be spent next season.But whats most troublesome is the seat of your pants moves that seem to be going on right now. Im not sure my team has a direction anymore and thats hard to take.
Tannenbaum should have gotten somebody to compete with him in the offseason.
Rex and Sparano obviously said they could coach him up, and they failed.
Trading him for a bum who can't play for a 2-14 Rams team isn't exactly a stroke of genius. Word on the street is this was the Rams' idea.....
Time will tell... I think it's a panic move tough and that precious cap space was wasted.
The most disturbing thing is the idea that Woody would be ok with this. It's one thing to hand big money to talented but risky guys like Cromartie; it's quite another to guarantee $2.5 million to a stiff like Hunter, and then fix your mistake by pissing away another $1.5 million on another stiff like Smith. Hopefully this is the beginning of the end, because if Woody signed off on this move, it means Tannenbaum has carte blanche, which means we're basically screwed for the foreseeable future.
If the Jets don't go to the Playoffs, it's Mr. T's fault for bringing in Sparano, not going after MJD and betting the farm on Tebow, Greene, Hunter and Holmes
I wonder if the motivation was that the Jets think (hope? pray?) that a trade will wake up/shock Jason Smith into trying to learn and improve. He isn't that far from being out of football, so maybe the change of scenery, fresh start, and wake up call might help.
If he improves to middle of the pack, then they have a useful backup or even starter.
I don't like using up the very limited cap space, but maybe the upside is worth it.
I am a bit concerned with the Jets player management. You made a key observation that Rex and the Jets seem enamored with a players potential upside or short term exploits, and don't necessarily perform a level headed analysis of the players overall performance.
P.S. Bummer the Patriots locked up Hernandez. I'm faced with seeing him and Gronk for the next 6 years :(
I think Wayne Hunter allowing a sack as a Jumbo TE against Carolina's back-ups last Sunday was likely the deciding factor when the Rams came calling. It's obvious that Hunter needs some time on the bench to mentally get back whatever he had had briefly going for him at the end of 2010.
"A change of scenery" is a cliche but it may be the only thing that helps either of these players.
Brandon M- If he plays in 30% of the snaps his contract voids and the Jets would have a chance to receive draft compensation if another team signs him. If he doesnt hit 30% the 12 million kicks in and the Jets will cut him. 2013 isnt a factor and I hope we all keep that in mind when certain ESPN guys take a glance at the 2013 salary for the team and start yammering about the horrible cap of the Jets. His real cost is 0.
I still dont understand the team at all right now on offense. When you make moves you have to go all in not half in/half out which is what the Jets are doing. Right now I feel like this is the Bills going ga-ga over Ryan Fitzpatrick and then a few months later realizing "wow we really gave a long term contract to Ryan Fitzpatrick? Oh no we better get Vince Young..I mean Tarvaris Jackson". Its laughable but you could substitute Sanchez, Stanton, and Tebow in there or Hunter, Otah and Smith. They have no identity right now on offense. Its worse than the Kyle Boller Ravens who at least had a dominant line and Jamal Lewis in an era where teams ran alot.
Its like the Jets made this decision to go back to being a run first team, with a complete gimmick, but failed to invest in the pieces to run it. To run that successfully you need at least some of the following:a hard nosed RB not afraid to get hit; a game managing QB; blocking WR's with good hands; an all around tight end; monsters on the offensive line. I guess Im describing the Pittsburgh Steelers for the most part. Their personnel is all wrong for what they plan on doing unless Tebow is really that special. He at least gives them their runner.
Both guys needed a change of scenery. The team is spared any any further chatter in the press on Hunter and can move on. The Hunter Watch in the press was a bit excessive, I feel sorry for the guy. NYC can be a brutal town.
It's possible Smith has a little more upside and hopefully Howard performs adequately so we can all move forward.
"Smith is due $12 million in 2013, but the contract voids if he plays 31 percent or MORE of the snaps in 2012 and if he is on the roster five days before the start of the 2013 league year, according to NFL.com." (My emphasis)
This seems to be the opposite of what you wrote above, and what others have been saying. Could you clarify?
Jason: I have never seen you so down on the Jets. I think we are in good shape. Let's wait for the season to see how we look. I think you will be surprised. I think last season scarred all Jets fans when our hopes were dashed during the last 3 games. But if we can just stay together as a team we will be good.
Harold/James- Yeah its no surprise Im down on the team this season. It really started with the Sparano signing which just seems so backwards on every level and then just got worse and worse with every move they made. It just seems like such lack of planning. First time Ive felt that way about the team since Herm to be honest and I was never a Mangini guy at all. I still cant believe they had to take the full clock to pick Coples this year. Its one of those things you are taught in business- plan for every scenario and be prepared for every scenario. They sure didnt seem to be, scrambling to make a trade and then make a pick. Hunter was pretty much the last straw. Based on how this turned out they should have done this in February. It was like they were in wishful thinking mode, clearly thinking it was coaching and then Sparano gets one look at him and says this guy cant play. Next thing you know hes turned into a 2.5 million dollar paperweight. There is absolutely nothing Hunter did wore in 2012 than he did in 2011 or 2010 or at any other point in his career for that matter. Its disappointing. At least the defense looks better than last season though.
At the end of the day, I don't think this is a team that CAN'T win. They CAN win, whether they will or not is a mystery. It's all about making those big plays that the Jets just couldn't make last year. They didn't get pushed all over the field in the majority of their losses, they gave up a handful of big plays, and didn't create/connect on theirs. That's where the season will be decided.
Frankly, Stephen Hill can lead the NFL in drops, for all I care (as long they don't result in INT's). If he can make those big plays when it matters it'll be worth it.