First a few updates:
1. The Jets are practicing again today but there will be no media availability. Rex Ryan said yesterday and today’s practice will be at a slower pace before they go back to full tilt tomorrow. There seemed to be a good amount of optimism around the team yesterday about making a second half playoff run. Don’t forget 2006, when the Jets were 4-4 at the bye week and finished 6-2 to clinch a wild-card spot. They are going to need an upset or two and some help to replicate that this season but it certainly isn’t out of the realm of possibility. Also, with the Patriots upcoming three games they have a better chance than they did in 2006 to catch New England in the divisional race.
2. A big story by the beat writers was Braylon Edwards desire to stay in New York and prove to the coaching staff he deserves a long term contract. Unless Edwards bombs out over these last eight games, I’d be shocked it Mike Tannenbaum didn’t lock him down for the long term. You obviously want to surround your franchise quarterback with as many weapons as possible and so far Tannenbaum has done a good job of that.
3. Leon Washington was back at the practice facility yesterday, moving around on a motorized scooter. He is expected to make a full recovery for the 2010 season. Leon was also voted the third most dangerous return man in the NFL in a recent Sports Illustrated poll behind Devin Hester and Josh Cribbs.
4. The Jets currently sit at #18 in the ESPN Power Rankings, one spot behind the Miami Dolphins and two spots behind the Green Bay Packers.
5. Lito Sheppard declared himself 100 percent for the game against Jacksonville, well it is about time there Lito. Brad Smith is also expected to return to the line-up after missing three games.
AFC East Observations
New England Patriots – Tom Brady and Randy Moss took advantage of a weak Dolphins secondary en route to an impressive 27-17 win at home over Miami. I am still not 100 percent sold on the Patriots as an elite team in the AFC but they will have every chance to prove me wrong the next three weeks with games in Indy and New Orleans, and a re-match at home against our Jets. For all the criticism he has taken, Laurence Maroney has put together a pretty solid year and Brady appears close to 100 percent, which will make beating the Pats a second time in one season a difficult task.
Miami Dolphins – The humble and high character Dolphins were shut up by New England, especially Joey Porter who didn’t register a stat while his defense gave up nearly 30 points for the second week in a row. Miami has an easy part of their schedule coming up (TB, Car, Buf) so they may not be dead yet but the bottom line is that this team isn’t going anywhere with the way their offense is currently constructed. The Wildcat isn’t effective anymore and they have absolutely no down field passing attack. I guess Chad Henne isn’t the second coming of Dan Marino after all.
Buffalo Bills – At this point, Buffalo appears headed towards their fourth straight 7-9 season, if they are even lucky enough to win 4 games in the second half of the season.
TOJ Top Ten
- New Orleans Saints – Didn’t play their best football but still beat Carolina. They should roll to 10-0 before hosting the Patriots.
- Indianapolis Peyton Mannings – Helped the Jets by beating Houston, would help them even more by beating New England on Sunday night.
- Minnesota Vikings – They are running away with the NFC North because of the Bears and Packers mediocrity.
- Cincinnati Bengals – They are as real as it gets and can prove they are the AFC North’s best by winning in Pittsburgh this weekend.
- Pittsburgh Steelers – The champs are back and can seize control of their division by taking care of the Bengals at home.
- Dallas Cowboys – Who would have thought after week 2, they’d be in first place of the NFC East after 8 games?
- New England Patriots – We will see just how good they are over the next three weeks.
- Denver Broncos – They are coming back to Earth quickly after two rough losses.
- San Diego Chargers – Huge win over Giants and they are suddenly breathing down Denver’s neck.
- Arizona Cardinals – Slowly pulling away from the pack in the NFC West.
Jets vs. Jaguars First Look
The Opponent: The Jaguars have quietly put together a decent first of the half season despite fairly low expectations heading into this year. They currently sit at 4-4, the same record as the Jets. Jacksonville’s most impressive victory was probably over Houston on the road, beyond that they have beat Tennessee (and also lost to them) Kansas City, and St. Louis. The Jaguars are a very young team, especially on defense where they have struggled this season. Their offense has been very good and is led by David Garrard at quarterback who has put together a better year than he did in a disappointing 2008 campaign. Garrard is always a threat to run. The Jaguars most explosive playmaker is Maurice Jones-Drew who is having a fantastic year and is a threat to break off a touchdown on any play from scrimmage. Jacksonville also has a good duo of starting receivers in Mike Sims-Walker and Torry Holt.
Jacksonville Starters/Key Reserves
- Quarterback: David Garrard – 162/266, 1867 yards, 6 TDs, 5 INTs, 38 carries, 191 yards, 1 TD
- Running Back: Maurice Jones-Drew – 145 carries, 737 yards, 11 TDs
- Running Back: Rashad Jennings – 20 carries, 97 yards, 1 TD
- Wide Receiver: Mike Sims-Walker – 36 receptions, 554 yards, 4 TDs
- Wide Receiver: Torry Holt – 33 receptions, 461 yards
- Wide Receiver: Mike Thomas – 19 receptions, 174 yards
- Wide Receiver: Jarret Dillard – 5 receptions, 99 yards
- Tight End: Mercedes Lewis – 17 receptions, 220 yards, 2 TDs
- Left Tackle: Eugene Monroe
- Left Guard: Vincent Manuwai
- Center: Brad Meester
- Right Guard: Uche Nwareni
- Right Tackle: Eben Britton
- Defensive End: Attiyyah Ellison – 12 tackles, 1 sack
- Defensive Tackle: John Henderson – 19 tackles, 1 sack
- Defensive Tackle: Terrence Knighton – 22 tackles, .5 sacks
- Defensive End: Derrick Harvey – 23 tackles
- Outside Linebacker: Daryl Smith – 55 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 3 FF
- Middle Linebacker: Justin Durant – 54 tackles
- Outside Linebacker: Clint Ingram – 25 tackles, 1 sack
- Corner: Rashean Mathis – 22 tackles, 2 INTs
- Corner: Derek Cox – 40 tackles, 2 INTs
- Safety: Reggie Nelson – 41 tackles
- Safety: Gerald Alexander – 33 tackles, 1 INT
- Kicker: Josh Scobee
- Punter: Adam Podlesh
- Kick Returner: Brian Witherspoon
Key Players: MJD makes Jacksonville’s offense go but both Sims-Walker and Holt are big play threats. On defense, Rashean Mathis is one of the better corners in the league and Reggie Nelson is a talented player at safety. Jacksonville has struggled to get a pass rush going but outside linebacker Daryl Smith is having a strong year.
Injuries: The Jets should have both Lito Sheppard and Brad Smith back. Jacksonville shouldn’t be missing any key players this week either.
Highlights From the Jags Win Over KC Last Week