Grading Out The AFC Championship Game

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First a few updates:

1. Of course it is raining today…when I reflect about yesterday’s game, you can’t get around the fact the Jets lost to a better team and that there was no stopping Peyton Manning yesterday, especially withDwight Lowery and Drew Coleman playing major reps at defensive back. You can look at different points of the games and different decisions, but the bottom line is that the Jets weren’t stopping Indy, period. Even if the Jets made both field goals, Shonn Greene stayed in the game, and on and on…the Colts still would have scored enough points to win.

2. There will be a few tweaks in the site for the off-season, the final stats and game highlights for the 2009 season have been put up. I switched out the 2009 schedule with the Jets 2010 opponents, and there will likely be a few other changes here and there. We are done with our in-season schedule, so there won’t be 6-7 articles a week here. I will be laying out an off-season schedule in an article in the next day or two as I finish up Jets/Colts coverage. Obviously, we will have free agency/draft coverage, reflections on the past season, individual articles grading out each player’s performance this season, and plenty of other things that I will figure out later.

3. Since a new Collective Bargaining Agreement hasn’t been figured out yet, the Jets will be under specific free agency rules. Tim Graham breaks them down here (http://espn.go.com/blog/afceast/post/_/id/9749/jets-have-29th-pick-ufa-limitations) Basically, the Jets won’t be able to sign a free agent, unless one of their free agents signs with somebody else. However, this won’t impact their ability to make trades which we all know Mike Tannenbaum loves to do. In terms of the draft, the Jets will have the 29th overall pick in the first round.  I don’t know the rest of their picks as of right now, but I am pretty sure they don’t have a 3 or 4 because of the Braylon Edwards/Lito Sheppard trades…if anybody knows exactly, please post it.

4. Shaun Ellis will be replacing Robert Mathis in the Pro-Bowl.

5. Nobody chokes in a big spot like Brett Favre…last pass as a Packer was a brutal interception in the NFC Championship Game that cost his team the game. He choked down the stretch for the Jets and now his likely last pass as a Viking was a brutal interception in the NFC Championship Game that cost his team the game. Good article by Mike Florio and Favre being delusional and thinking he went out on top: (http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2010/01/25/favre-cant-walk-away-yet/).

Grading Out The AFC Championship Game

Quarterback (A) – Mark Sanchez played arguably his best game of the season in the biggest spot of the year, which is a good sign for the future. He stood in the pocket, took huge hits, and delivered accurate passes especially on the touchdown to Dustin Keller. Sanchez is only going to get better with another off-season in the offense and even more time to work with Braylon Edwards, Dustin Keller, and Jerricho Cotchery. I really believe the Jets made the right choice trading up for this guy and that their offense is on the way to catching up with their defense with Sanchez under center.

Running Back (C) - Shonn Greene is going to be the Jets feature back next season and they missed him badly after he left. However, Greene had injuries throughout his rookie season and he is going to have to find a way to stay healthy next year. Thomas Jones was clearly worn down or his knee injury was worse than the team was letting on. It will be very interesting to see if he is back next season. 

Wide Receiver (A) - Braylon Edwards and Jerricho Cotchery both stepped up with 100 yards games. They are a good duo of starting receivers for Sanchez to grow with. However, the Jets need better depth behind them. Brad Smith isn’t really a receiver. He is a more of gadget/special teams player. They need to find a quality slot guy.

Tight End (A) - Dustin Keller stepped up in the playoffs, with a touchdown reception in each game. It is good to see him and Sanchez on the same page because he has the talent to be a pro-bowl caliber type player.

 Offensive Line (B) – They were excellent in pass protection but didn’t have their best game against the run. How about this unit starting the past 35 games together?

Defensive Line (C) – Not a great overall day for this group. Ellis was clearly limited because of his hand injury and they couldn’t generate a pass rush or slow down the Colts running the ball.

Linebackers (C) – David Harris played a terrific game, racking up 11 tackles and 2 sacks. Calvin Pace made a huge play by forcing that fumble but beyond that he didn’t get to the quarterback. Bart Scott and Bryan Thomas barely played because the Jets were using so many defensive backs.

Secondary (F) – I think it is illegal in most states what Peyton Manning and Pierre Garcon did to Dwight Lowery. I don’t think you will be seeing Lowery, Drew Coleman, and Lito Sheppard in a Jets jersey next season.

Special Teams (C) – You need as many points as you can get against the Colts so the misses by Jay Feely hurt.

Coaching (C) – The Jets had no answer for Peyton Manning on defense. People have been criticizing Brian Schottenheimer but I thought overall he called a good game. The double move to Braylon was well-timed and he finally broke out the pass play for Brad Smith.

Jets/Colts Highlights

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