First a few updates:
1. Rex Ryan admitted he made a mistake by not using his timeouts during his conference call with media members yesterday. The big guy is guilty of being overconfident in his defense and denying his offense, which was playing very well, a chance to win the game at the end.
2. Site Updates – The newest episode of TOJ TV has been placed on the TOJ TV page, also the new commercial as been placed on the Jets Commercials page, the stats have also been updated. I got away from my normal weekly format because of the short week, but tomorrow I will be back to the usual Thursday game breakdown and Friday will have the new episode of TOJ TV with the Jets/Bills prediction.
3. Jerricho Cotchery (hamstring), Damien Woody (foot), Brad Smith (quad), and Shaun Ellis (knee) didn’t practice today. Lito Sheppard and Donald Stickland were both limited in practice. I wouldn’t bet on Cotchery playing this week.
Time To Jump Off the Jets Bandwagon?
A football season is undeniably filled with peeks and valleys. An important point often raised to players and coaches for that matter is to never get too high after a win or get too low after a loss. It is often easy to ignore this advice after a win, when the joy of victory covers the blemishes in a performance and after a loss, when the sting of defeat ignores the positives. The point I am trying to make in relation to the Jets is that however stupid it was to consider them a Super Bowl contender at 3-0, it is equally stupid to bury them at 3-2.
Let’s reflect on the Jets first five games. In week one, they caught an average Houston team off guard in their building. Mark Sanchez played unusually well for a rookie and the Jets offensive line wore down a weak Texans front seven in the second half, springing a few big runs. Their defense spent the entire day in the face of a shell shocked quarterback who clearly didn’t know what to expect from their unit. In week two, the Jets played a poor first half but managed to keep the game close by forcing New England to kick field goals instead of scoring touchdowns. In the second half, they came out with more energy than the Patriots and rode the momentum of opening the half with a touchdown to a victory. In the third game, the Jets played a terrific first 7 minutes, jumping out to a 14-0 lead and then were thoroughly outplayed by the Titans the rest of the way. They hung on to a victory because of a muffed punt and dropped passes by Tennessee receivers. In week 4, their defense put together a great all around effort but they were undone by rookie mistakes from their quarterback. On Monday night, the Jets defense wasn’t prepared for Miami’s Wildcat approach and had the ball ran down their throat, wasting a great performance by their offense in 31-27 loss.
So, what do we have? We have a football team that is inconsistent on both sides of the football. The past couple of weeks they haven’t been able to sync up a strong performance from their offense and defense. Yet, here a few things to remember before you step to the ledge on the Jets 2009 season:
1. Their offense is only going to get better…much better. They just added a playmaking, legit number one receiver who appears to be hungry and focused. Their quarterback is maturing with each passing week and has shown an ability to push the ball down the field, and respond to adversity. Jerricho Cotchery is banged up right now but was playing at high level through 4 weeks and when he returns to 100 percent, the Jets will have one of the better starting duo of receivers in the league. David Clowney showed he was a capable playmaker on Monday Night, hauling in a 53 yard catch and finishing the game with 4 receptions. Brad Smith has made at least one big play in every game this season except for one (15 yard run week one, 17 yard catch week three, 18 yard run week four, 19 yard catch week three). Dustin Keller has been curiously uninvolved in the offensive attack but is still a capable playmaker as demonstrated last year and against the Texans this season.
The offensive line has shown signs of improvements the past two weeks, appearing to finally get in sync after having limited work together in the pre-season. Thomas Jones does appear a step slower but Shonn Greene is slowly developing a bigger role to replace some of his carries. Leon is putting together a pretty good year and is long overdue to pop a few big plays. The bottom line is that the Jets have plenty of weapons around a rookie quarterback who should do nothing but improve in the coming weeks.
2. When it comes to our defense the proof is in the rule, not the exception. It is foolish to miscast the Jets defense as frauds because they played poorly 1 out of 5 games. Their masterful performances against the Texans, Patriots, Saints, and in the 4th quarter against the Titans don’t get erased because of one bad game. Does anybody say the Ravens had a poor defense last year because the Giants and Colts ran it up on them? No, these things happen in the NFL. The opposing team is coached and wants to win too, they are going to be better in some weeks. Obviously, the goal is to limit the number of times it happens throughout a season but a 4 to 1 ratio isn’t bad and likely equates to double digit victories.
Calvin Pace is going to get his feet back under him. Lito Sheppard and Donald Strickland are eventually going to return from injuries. This unit hasn’t been perfect all season and certain players need to improve their play, Kerry Rhodes needs to become a playmaker in terms of forcing turnovers, Marques Douglas has to be better against the run, and Shaun Ellis/Bryan Thomas and Pace need to generate a pass rush, in order for the Jets to become a truly elite defense.
The Jets aren’t running away with anything this season. They will be in a battle with the Patriots and Dolphins all year for the AFC East crown. The amazing thing about the NFL is how fickle it is. It is comedic listening to people crown Chad Henne the next Dan Marino because he played one good half of football. Remember everything you are reading right now about the Jets and Dolphins and think about how much things could change by their next meeting, which is only three weeks away. I don’t think I am going out on a limb by saying I believe the Jets will take care of business against the Bills and Raiders the next two weeks or that there is a fair chance the Dolphins will lose to New Orleans after their bye. If those three games fall into place, the Jets will be 5-2 and Miami will be 2-4, with the Monday Night loss a distant memory and the Jets being presented with an opportunity to bury the Dolphins at home.
The NFL is a funny thing because the Jets could absolutely find a way to lose to Buffalo or Oakland. However, my gut instinct tells me that they will come out motivated the next two weeks to show the first three weeks weren’t a fluke and they’ll beat up on two inferior opponents, setting the stage for a game that should feel like the Super Bowl for the defense when they face the Dolphins at home.
You want to jump off the Jets bandwagon? At least wait until they lose to Buffalo at home or Oakland, not when they lose to the defending AFC East champs on the road by a last second touchdown.
Bills/Browns Highlights…If you could call them that