The New York Jets continue to make news in the free agency market. On Saturday afternoon the Jets landed free agent Derrick Mason, who was recently cut by the Baltimore Ravens to play the slot alongside Santonio Holmes and Plaxico Burress. The move brings veteran leadership and a dependable target for the up-and-coming Mark Sanchez, but at what price? The Jets seemed to be changing their values over the last few years by upgrading positions of minimal need with players outside of the organization with the latest causalities being Brad Smith [signed with Bills] and Jerricho Cotchery [cut earlier this week]. Although reports have surfaced that Cotchery wanted out of New York, it’s been an off-season of change for Mike Tannenbaum and Woody Johnson by saying bye-bye to players of high character in the organization that were brought up through their system in place of stop-gap veteran free agents to essentially win the Super Bowl now.
It remains to be seen if the combination of Plaxico Burress and Derrick Mason will be able to gel with Mark Sanchez throughout the season. We’re talking about one wideout who has been in jail for the last two years complimented with a 37-year old veteran receiver as the difference makers to bring the Jets to the Super Bowl at this point. The Jets accomplished priority number one, which was re-sign Santonio Holmes at any cost, but deciding to cut ties with recievers who produced time-and-time again for the organization like Brad Smith and Jerricho Cotchery was dicey. Not to mention Braylon Edwards was a huge part of the Jets success last year. Bart Scott believes New York is “sprinkling in pieces here and there,” and are a force to be reckoned with this season. He also voices his opinion on why he wasn’t surprised that Nnamdi Asomugha didn’t want to play alongside him on the Jets’ defense this season believing that the Pro Bowl corner thought the NFC would be an easier route to the Super Bowl. Read into that what you will, but Scott doesn’t disappoint in the following interview with ESPN New York. Bart Scott joined ESPN Radio New York on The Michael Kay Show to discuss young players like Muhammad Wilkerson and Kenrick Ellis being heavily relied on in the New York Jets defense this season, the Jets of 2011 being better than the Jets of 2010, feeling bad about former teammates like Jerricho Cotchery getting cut, playing as hard as possible for a head coach knowing he may cut you at any second if you’re not up to the challenge, being shocked that Nnamdi Asomugha didn’t sign with the Jets and who is closer to the Super Bowl the Jets or the Eagles.
Let’s talk about Muhammad Wilkerson and Kenrick Ellis. Do you think it will be a problem to rely on the young guys so much?
“I don’t think it is going to be a problem at all. I remember relying on a young kid called Terrell Suggs and a young kid called Haloti Ngata, who came in and things were said about them as well and they turned out to be great players and perennial Pro-Bowlers and maybe two of the top players in this league right now.”
Do you think this team is better than last year. You guys got rid of Jerricho Cotchery. You made a run at Nnamdi Asomugha. What do you think?
“I think the team can be better because we have young guys on the team that had to mature a little bit that had to grow up – who I think we are going to be able to depend on a lot – to get a lot out of some of these guys that people may not know about. At some point it was my turn to step up where I was at and no one really knew who I was, but the team was excited about it. I try to prove them right. I think I did a good job or I try to do a good job with that.”
How bad do you feel about guys like Jerricho Cotchery being gone with Kris Jenkins and Damien Woody retiring? Is it tough to see your teammates go?
“It’s tough, but if you have been in this league long enough eventually it will be you. I’m sure at certain points they saw other people go. I witnessed Thomas Jones you know myself. Michael McCrary make that leap. Corey Fuller. Deion Sanders. I’ve been around a little bit. Sam Gash. It’s part of the process. I’ve seen Jamal Lewis and those type of things. Peter Boulware. That’s part of the process. You just appreciate it and that’s why you have to take advantage of every opportunity you get because you don’t decide all the time when football is over for you. Sometimes other people decide it as well. That’s why you go for the Super Bowl. I think you saw guys making moves and making sacrifices for their teammates, so we can try to make a Super Bowl.” I always found this fascinating Bart. Football players are asked to run through walls for their coaches, but the second your skills dwindle they’ll cut you.
Is it tough to run through a wall when you know the ending could be ugly?
“Not when you have a coach like Rex [Ryan] because he always is going to communicate with you and talk with you every step of the way. He’s not going to try to blindside you. I don’t think Jerricho Cotchery was blindsided. I think he was aware of the situation and it was something they had to talk it through. It wasn’t something that just popped up on him at all.”
Were you shocked that Nnamdi Asomugha didn’t want to come to the New York Jets?
“Not at all. I’m sure it was close. I’m sure it was a decision. It was a process, but you know all the time making decisions isn’t just about do you want to be with a coach. I think he feels is closer to winning a Super Bowl. I’m sure during those negotiations that they were communicating some of the other moves they were going to make. He looked at the opportunity that he had at hand and I think he maybe thought it was an easier opportunity to go through the NFC than the AFC.”
Let me ask you who is closer to getting to the Super Bowl the Jets or the Eagles?
“Well I’ve been a part of teams where you have a lot of new parts. It’s a lot of chemistry that has to come on. That depends on their [Philadelphia’s] locker room. It depends on staying healthy. It depends on being able to pick up the schemes. It depends on being able to learn your teammates. You can’t always just microwave that. This is a unique year unlike any other. They really won’t get the reps to get that chemistry. You may have to just keep it vanilla and hope vanilla in their playing style can do it. We’ve been together. We’re sprinkling in a piece here and a piece there. We’re ready and we’re primed. We just went to the AFC Championship two years in a row. I think we are pretty close. Not saying that one team can’t have a great year and win it all. I think we showed consistency that we’re going to be consistently be somebody to be reckoned with no matter what because the foundation and you look at all the young pieces that have been secured here. The core of this team is going to be together for a long time.”