First a few updates:
1. Shaun Ellis was limited in practice, which is standard while everybody else practiced full…good news. Ryan also did a nice job standing up for Thomas Jones today, when reporters were trying to press him into saying Shonn Greene was the Jets #1 back and would be their #1 back next year. Don’t underestimate how important Jones still is for the Jets rushing attack.
2. There is some good stuff in the Daily News today on the Jets/Chargers match-up…worth checking out. I won’t bother to link all of them but Hank Gola does a nice job breaking down how the Jets could grab a win.
3. Congratulations to Darrelle Revis and Nick Mangold for being selected to the All-Pro Team. David Harris finished second team, which was well deserved.
Jets vs. Chargers: Game Breakdown & TOJ TV Divisional Round Edition
Offense: We have heard about it all week…the Chargers struggle stopping the run and the Jets run the ball better than anyone in the NFL. Sometimes things are just simple, the Jets need to be themselves and do what they do on offense. Shonn Greene has earned the right to get 20 carries this week and Thomas Jones should be healthier this week, which will allow him to also be around 20 carries. It isn’t about ripping off huge runs, it is about pounding the Chargers average front seven, chewing up clock and wearing them down. If the Jets can put together long, time-killing drives led by their running game, it keeps them in control, keeps Philip Rivers off the field, and could lead the Chargers to start pressing on offense. The Jets have the best offensive line in the NFL and two very good running backs , so let’s ride them into the AFC Championship game.
When it gets beyond handing the ball off to #23 or #20, it would be nice to see a little more from Brad Smith and the Tiger package. The Bengals obviously weren’t going to be gashed by it two weeks in a row, but that doesn’t mean the Jets should abandon it against the Chargers. It is time for Schottenheimer to use some of that world famous creativity and come up with a few new wrinkles in the formation. It is time for Smith to fake the handoff, roll to his right and let one fly to Dustin Keller because I guarantee he will be wide open.
When the Jets throw the football, there is nothing wrong with keeping it simple. It is becoming clear what the strengths of Mark Sanchez are. He throws the ball well on the run, he does a good job on the slant route and he throws a pretty deep ball. The Chargers are going to commit to stopping the run, which is going to open the chance for Braylon Edwards to get down field again. I can’t emphasize enough how the Chargers aren’t the Bengals and how the Jets are going to need every point they can get their hands on this week, which means Braylon needs to have a big day. He is playing for a new contract and a chance to stay with the Jets, because honestly if he gives us 2 catches for 12 yards with another key drop, the Jets can’t pay for him to come back. However, if Edwards can man up and play to his talent level, give the Jets 100 yards and a touchdown in a big game, then we are talking about showing him the money next year.
Jerricho Cotchery needs to keep being Jerricho Cotchery, which means coming up big on third down conversions and running well after the catch. I am sure the Chargers spent plenty of time this week figuring out how to take Dustin Keller away, which means somebody like Brad Smith or David Clowney will have to step up and make a big play as a receiver.
Defense: I think the Jets are tired of hearing about all the weapons San Diego has and how difficult it is going to be to stop them. This is one hell of an opportunity for the defense to shut everybody up in the NFL, who won’t give the Jets credit as a great defense. You can’t say anything if they go into San Diego and hold the Chargers under 20 points, which of course is going to be a difficult task. The Jets pass rush must get to Philip Rivers early and often, while still being to defend against the screen pass. Darren Sproles has the ability to kill them if they don’t account for him coming out of the backfield. Honestly, he is player I am most worried about on the San Diego offense. I don’t know if it is going to be Donald Strickland, Dwight Lowery, or Eric Smith but the Jets need a defensive back tracking him all over the field.
Another player who is obviously a huge concern is Antonio Gates. Kerry Rhodes did a great job against Tony Gonzalez a few weeks ago when he was matched-up with him man to man. He needs to duplicate his performance against Gates. All of the inconsistency and criticism Rhodes has faced all year is completely erased if he comes up with a big time performance in this game. If Gates is held in check and Sproles doesn’t kill the Jets with a long touchdown, expect a victory. Yes, I am confident Darrelle Revis is going to do his job against Vincent Jackson who might make a play or two but won’t have a large impact in the game. Malcom Floyd is a concern but I think the Jets will roll some help towards Lito Sheppard occasionally. I am aware Floyd is a big play threat but Sheppard is a savvy veteran and I don’t think Ryan is going to leave him on an island all day with a 6 foot 5 receiver.
I hope the Chargers come out committed to running the football. They could hand off all day as far as I am concerned because that means they aren’t doing what they do best. San Diego is going to get their yards, the key is going to be holding them to field goals instead of touchdowns.
Special Teams: The Jets can’t allow a big return on kicks or punts, allowing easy points to the Chargers is suicide in this game. Their coverage units have been pretty awful all year, so yes I losing sleep over Sproles on special teams this week. If the Jets are punting around mid-field, don’t be shocked to see them attempt a fake…they are overdue for one.
TOJ TV Divisional Round Edition…Enjoy A Bunch of Jets Haters Eating Their Words During Wild-Card Weekend