First a few updates:
1. David Harris did practice today, although he was limited. However, from all reports he looked pretty good and should start at linebacker on Saturday. Donald Strickland was the only other player who was limited in practice and he could be a game-time decision. Steve Weatherford (who complimented my prediction skills on facebook) was practicing full and should be 100 percent for Saturday.
2. It is looking like somewhere between 10-20 degrees with a chance of flurries on Saturday at 4:30 PM…you are a long way from USC Mark Sanchez.
3. Rex Ryan continued to argue for Darrelle Revis as the Defensive Player of the Year today…you focus on the Bengals, Rex…I am going to argue for Darrelle’s cause a little later in the day.
4. Stop by (www.greenrewind.com) to check out Marty Schupak’s latest podcast, which features an appearance by yours truly along with plenty of other Jets writers/bloggers. Also check out the Fantasy Buffet radio show at (http://www.blogtalkradio.com/fanball/2009/12/21/fantasy-buffet) where I will be making an appearance tomorrow around 11 AM.
5. Don’t forget to friend me on facebook and then become a fan of the Turn On The Jets page to find extra commentary, links to other Jets article, along with all the stuff you could here on this site.
6. A new episode of TOJ TV has been filmed and should be posted tomorrow afternoon or maybe even tonight if I decide to avoid being lazy.
Jets vs. Bengals Game Breakdown
Offense: The playoffs is not the time for the Jets to abandon what got them there. It is time to run the football. I have to give Brian Schottenheimer and Bill Callahan credit for their creativity with the Jets rushing attack. Teams know the Jets are going to run the ball and try to keep it out of Sanchez’s hands but they have still found a way to get the job done. Expect to see plenty of Wayne Hunter and Robert Turner off the bench, which means the Jets are going to have seven lineman in the game and are basically saying “we are running the ball, we know you know it but you can’t stop it.” You can bet on Thomas Jones getting his 20-25 carries and Shonn Greene adding on another 12-15.
The key for the Jets running game is going to be setting up third and short for Mark Sanchez, where the Jets have a reasonable option to both run and pass. One of the Jets favorite plays in a 3rd and 3 type situation is putting Jerricho Cotchery in the slot, bringing him in motion over the center and then sprinting him back out towards the slot, having Sanchez roll out and throw a quick 3 yard out to him, if you fast forward to 6:44 in this clip below, you will see a variation of this play. I don’t have the exact numbers on this play but by my count the Jets are about 10 for 10 on this play this year (they also ran it with Keller as the 2 point conversion vs the Colts, as you could see in the other clip below at the 2:46 mark and with Edwards against Jacksonville as you could see in the clip below that at the 2:59 mark). The point is that, they need to put themselves in situations where they could run this play and other ones they are comfortable with/have a high success rate with on third down.
You will also see plenty of the Jets “Tiger” formation. I don’t care how much time the Bengals spent on Brad Smith this week, NFL teams are not used to defending all the variations of option the Jets could run with Smith under center. It is a tremendous advantage that Smith can’t not only run the traditional “Wildcat” but is comfortable taking direct snaps. He has shown an ability to execute the pitch relationship with Shonn Greene and convert the pitch to him if the defensive end gets out in front of him. Also, let’s not forget Smith threw for 8,000 yards in college and I can promise you one of the first “Tiger” plays the Jets run will involve Smith throwing a pass (likely a short one to be safe) just to make the Bengals think twice every time Smith rolls out and if they hesitate, there is no reason this can’t happen again:
It would go a long way towards a Jets victory if Mark Sanchez and Braylon Edwards can convert on a big play down the field. The Jets obviously struggle scoring points and if they could grab a quick seven, it would be a huge boost in a low scoring game and soften up the Bengals defense against the Jets run. Sanchez has done a good job on deep balls this season but hasn’t always been helped by his wide receivers. Here are three clips of Sanchez throwing and connecting on a well-thrown deep ball. Finally, it has been said a thousand times but Sanchez must protect the football at all costs. If he doesn’t turn the ball over, there is no reason the Jets can’t be off to Indy or San Diego.
Sanchez to Cotchery at 3:04
Sanchez to Braylon at 0:51
Sanchez to Clowney at 2:02
Defense: The key for the Jets is to slow down Cedric Benson and the Bengals rushing attack. The Jets defensive line has overachieved all season and Marques Douglas, Sione Pouha, Mike DeVito, and Shaun Eliis need a big game. We need David Harris to continually introduce himself to Benson throughout the game and force the Bengals into third and long, and then eventually abandon their running game. The bottom line is that the Bengals can’t throw on the Jets. Darrelle Revis will do his job on Ochocinco and they have nobody else who can hurt the Jets down the field. However, it goes beyond the Jets limiting the Bengals rushing attack and preventing big plays in the passing game. The Jets need to force turnovers and sack the quarterback, to help their offense score points.
Outside of Cedric Benson, the Bengals starting offense played last week for the entire half and was completely embarrassed. Whether or not they ran a vanilla package and hid some things, don’t tell me there isn’t some doubt in their mind about their ability to move the ball on the Jets defense. It isn’t like they just had a bad half of football…a bad half is getting shut out but still gaining some yards and completing some passes. Carson Palmer was 1/11 for 0 yards with an interception and the only first down the Bengals got was on a questionable penalty on the Jets. If the Jets can get off to a fast start on defense and force a few 3 and outs, the Bengals are going to start questioning themselves and maybe trying to force some things.
Special Teams: This is going to be a low scoring game, which means a big return could swing the final results. It has to be the Jets who get good field position or a touchdown because of their special teams units, not the Bengals. One of the things I am most worried about is a big return from Bernard Scott on kickoffs. However, don’t be shocked to see a fake punt from Mike Westhoff and the Jets special teams units.