Scouting The Chargers From a Jets Perspective & Other Divisional Round Thoughts

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First a few updates:

1. First off, today is a very happy day over here at TurnOnTheJets.com. The site was lucky enough to be honored with the 2009 Fanball Sports Network Blog of the Year Award. I honestly have to say it does feel great to have the work I put in here recognized with such an award but a special thanks needs to be given to many other people: my roommate and good friend James Corbett who puts in a ton of time on TOJ TV, all of the fellow bloggers here at Fanball, Bryan Douglass who hired me, everybody who follows and comments on facebook or twitter, all of the readers and frequent commenters most notably: The Iron Marshall, BruceHarper, Simplysimon2, my oldest friend Dan Donohue who has been fighting about sports with me since we were three years old, my good friend Sean Santagato who spends an hour a day on the phone with me talking NFL, Tom Santagato, who despite hating the Jets finds time to come on the site and comment, and of course my Dad who pays for our season tickets despite being a Giants fan, checks the site daily and comments (under Jetbo) and is a constant reminder that hard work pays off. Finally, my Grandpa who is the reason I became a Jets fan, my Uncle Mike who took me to games when I was little, and my Uncle Frankie and cousins Chris and Rob, who are the only three other Jets fan I know crazy as I am…and yes thank you too Mom.

Since I figure I will never win an Oscar, I might as well get that speech out while I can. Anyway, on to more important things like the Jets playing in the divisional round of the playoffs and Darrelle Revis being robbed of Defensive Player of the Year…

2. What the hell, NFL? Charles Woodson? I don’t care about the stats, did you watch the first round of the playoffs? This requires a whole article, which I have been meaning to write for awhile, well it is going up later in the day…forget about looking for jobs to start my career, this is a much more important issue. Rex Ryan took the time today to congratulate the people who voted for Darrelle Revis, and pointed out the Jets gave up 8 passing touchdowns all year, while Green Bay nearly gave up 8 last week against Arizona!

3. Was I the only person who turned off the TV when Mark McGwire started crying about his steroid use?

4. Braylon Edwards didn’t practice today because of a court appearance related to an incident in Cleveland when he allegedly punched one of  the friends of LeBron James and Lito Sheppard missed because his wife gave birth. Shaun Ellis (knee), Howard Green (knee), Bart Scott (ankle), and David Harris (ankle) were all limited today. Donald Strickland, Dwight Lowery, and Drew Coleman all practiced full today which is great news. Steve Weatherford is expected to punt this weekend, which is also good news.

Scouting The Chargers From a Jets Perspective & Other Divisional Round Thoughts

SAN DIEGO OFFENSIVE STARTERS/KEY RESERVES

  • Quarterback: Philip Rivers – 317/486, 4254 yards, 28 TDs, 9 INTs, 104.4 QB Rating
  • Running Back: LaDanian Tomlinson – 223 carries, 730 yards, 3.3 yards per carry, 12 touchdowns, 154 receiving yards
  • Fullback: Jacob Hester – 21 carries, 74 yards, 24 receiving yards
  • Fullback: Mike Tolbert – 25 carries, 148 yards, 1 touchdown, 192 receiving yards, 3 touchdowns
  • Third Down Back: Darren Sproles – 93 carries, 343 yards, 3.7 yards per carry, 3 touchdowns, 497 receiving yards, 4 touchdowns
  • #1 Wide Receiver: Vincent Jackson – 68 receptions, 1167 yards, 9 touchdowns
  • #2 Wide Receiver: Malcom Floyd – 45 receptions, 776 yards, 1 touchdown
  • #3 Wide Receiver: Legedu Naanee – 24 receptions, 242 yards, 2 touchdowns
  • #4 Wide Receiver: Craig Davis – 6 receptions, 52 yards
  • Tight End: Antonio Gates – 79 receptions, 1157 yards, 8 touchdowns
  • Left Tackle: Marcus McNeill
  • Left Guard: Kris Dielman
  • Center: Nick Hardwick
  • Right Guard: Louis Vasquez
  • Right Tackle: Brandyn Dombrowski

SAN DIEGO DEFENSIVE STARTERS/KEY RESERVES

  • Defensive End: Jacques Cesaire – 26 tackles, 1 sack
  • Defensive Tackle: Ogemdi Nwagbuo – 19 tackles, 1 sack
  • Defensive End: Luis Castillo – 25 tackles, 2 sacks
  • Outside Linebacker: Shaun Phillips – 59 tackles, 7 sacks
  • Inside Linebacker: Stephen Cooper – 102 tackles
  • Inside Linebacker: Kevin Burnett – 66 tackles, 2.5 sacks
  • Outside Linebacker: Shawne Merriman – 36 tackles, 4 sacks
  • Linebacker: Brandon Siler – 67 tackles, 2 sacks, 1 INT
  • Linebacker: Tim Dobbins – 55 tackles, 1 sack, 1 INT
  • Linebacker: Larry English – 36 tackles, 2 sacks
  • Corner: Quentin Jammer – 58 tackles, 3 INTs
  • Corner: Antonio Cromartie – 33 tackles, 3 INTs
  • Corner: Antoine Cason – 41 tackles, 2 INTs
  • Safety: Steve Gregory – 71 tackles, 2 sacks, 1 INT
  • Safety: Eric Weddle – 82 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 2 INTs
  • Safety: Kevin Ellison – 52 tackles, 1 sack
  • Safety: Paul Oliver – 49 tackles, 1 sack, 1 INT

SPECIAL TEAMS

  • Kicker: Nate Kaeding – 32/35 FGs, 2 missed 40-49 yards, 1 missed 50+ yards
  • Punter: Mike Scifers – 45 yards per punt
  • Return: Darren Sproles – 24.1 yards per kickoff return, 7.0 yards per punt return, 1 touchdown

PhotobucketThoughts On the Match-Up – I have confidence in Darrelle Revis on Vincent Jackson. However, I am worried about Lito Sheppard on Malcom Floyd, who has been a big play receiver this season. This is a big game for Sheppard to prove his value to the Jets and earn a chance to get a new contract from them next season. Antonio Gates is obviously going to be an issue, Kerry Rhodes has the physical talent and size to match-up with Gates but he needs to bring his A game. It is alot of pressure on two guys, Sheppard and Rhodes, who have had up and down seasons but have been playing as of late. I am not scared of Tomlinson or Sproles running the football but I am worried about Sproles in the passing game. You know the Chargers have watched the tape of Ricky Williams shredding the Jets on screen passes and they will be dialing them up to counter the Jets pass rush. Beyond that, the Jets don’t have a linebacker who could cover Sproles. I would expect to see alot of Eric Smith or Donald Strickland attempting to cover him in the flats.

On offense, I feel surprisingly good. I think this unit is finally hitting their stride and will put together another 20+ point effort. I think the Jets will be able to run the ball, chew up some clock, and consistently move the football. The success the Jets will have running the ball should open up some opportunities down the field. However, will they take another shot with Braylon Edwards or will they give the deep ball or Jerricho Cotchery or maybe even David Clowney? Edwards will likely get another shot, but my god…catch the damn ball, #17! The Chargers are likely going to over-scheme for Keller, which should open things up for Cotchery, Edwards, and maybe Brad Smith who was quiet last week.

I am worried about Sproles on returns, but I am confident we are going to see a big play from the Jets special teams this week. I don’t know if it is going to be a kick or punt return, or a fake punt at a surprising time or something…but it is on the way.

Other Quick Thoughts On Divisional Round…As of today, I am liking the Cardinals in the upset against Saints. New Orleans is coming in ice cold, and the Cardinals can go point for point with them. I am feeling a 45-42 game. If the Ravens somehow beat the Colts Saturday night, I am going to get 20 percent more confident in the Jets pulling off the upset because that would mean another thing broke their way in this odd 2009 season. I am really looking forward to Brett Favre being knocked out at home and watching him and the Vikings head into a tail spin, culminating with a 33-10 loss in week 7 at new stadium in the Meadowlands, as the Jets rack up 7 sacks and send the Minnesota to a 2-5 start in 2010 leading Favre to retire in half way through the season.

LaDanian Tomlinson Slid His Way To 3.3 Yards Pery Carry

Awesome Defense By Woodson and the Packers

Your 2009 Defensive Player of the Year

Wild-Card Weekend Reaction/First Thoughts On Jets/Chargers

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First a few updates:

1. Great weekend…I am officially exhausted from consuming unnecessary amounts of food and alcohol and screaming happy expletives at all the people around me cheering against the Jets as Shonn Greene, Mark Sanchez, and Dustin Keller shredded the Bengals defense and Darrelle Revis put Chad Johnson on the inactive list. My favorite moment was with the entire room screaming in my face after Benson’s touchdown run cut the lead to 21-14 and the Jets faced a 2nd and 8 and the Jets responded with a 45 yard completion to Dustin Keller, which did a beautiful job of silencing the room as a bunch of Giants fans went back to figuring out how to fix their god-awful defense. Hey, at least they had those Justin Tuck and Michael Strahan Subway commercials to enjoy.

2. The early reports are that Steve Weatherford is expected to play this Sunday. The amount of confidence the Jets have in him will be shown by the amount of punters they bring in this week for workouts.

3. Rex Ryan revealed that Thomas Jones played with a knee brace on and that the cold weather hasn’t been helping his knee bruise. He said the warm weather should help Jones out and he should be near his normal 20 carries again…well not if Shonn Greene is still ripping off 6 yards a carry.

4. Bart Scott will probably be limited in practice this week with an ankle injury.

Wild-Card Weekend Reaction

Photobucket 1. Anybody else feeling that a change of guard in the AFC East is on the way? The Patriots look like a team with a coach and quarterback who have lost more than a few steps, no running backs, a washed up/uninterested Randy Moss, no Wes Welker until October, a fading offensive line, and a crappy defense highlighted by one of the worst secondaries in football.

2. Give the Ravens credit for sticking with the run, which the Patriots were helpless to stop. Ray Rice is one hell of a football player and Willis McGahee provides power off the bench. However, Joe Flacco must play much, much better if they want any chance at beating the Colts. They will be a confident team heading to Indy, but they will need more than 34 passing yards.

3. Can we stop debating about who the Defensive Player of the Year is now? Outside of a forced fumble, Charles Woodson played awful yesterday as a key part of a defense that allowed 51 points. 51! Larry Fitzgerald had 82 yards and 2 touchdowns on him, and Woodson missed a bunch of tackles. It will be nothing short of robbery if Darrelle Revis doesn’t win this award.

4. The Cowboys are playing better than anyone in the NFL right now, which means our old buddy Brett and the Vikings could be in trouble. I wouldn’t be shocked if both road teams in the NFC won this weekend. The Saints are ice cold and the Cardinals can go point for point with them.

First Thoughts On Jets/Chargers

I said on Saturday night that I wanted the Chargers, why?

1. The best way to attack the Jets defense is to run the football. San Diego can’t run the football. They have the league’s 32nd ranked rushing attack and don’t have a back who came near 1,000 yards. LaDanian Tomlinson averaged 3.3 yards per carry this year and Darren Sproles only averaged 3.7.

2. San Diego is not a very good defensive team, finishing 16th in the NFL in total defense. They are ranked 20th in the NFL in rush defense. You can bet on a combined 40 carries from Thomas Jones and Shonn Greene, which will work to keep Philip Rivers off the field and allow Mark Sanchez to be more comfortable.

3. Mark Sanchez should be comfortable, playing in his home state without weather being a factor.

4. The Chargers throw the ball better than anyone in the NFL, fortunately the Jets stop the pass better than anyone in the NFL.

5. Norv Turner is not a big game coach.

However…

1. Philip Rivers is a terrific quarterback who will shred the Jets up if their pass rush can’t get to him. Rex Ryan needs to scheme like crazy this week because Rivers won’t miss all the throws that Carson Palmer did last week.

2. David Harris and Bart Scott are both dealing with ankle injuries. The Jets don’t have a linebacker who could cover Darren Sproles out of the backfield. They will likely need to keep an extra safety or corner out there to help with covering him.

3. Kerry Rhodes is going to have his hands full with Antonio Gates.

4. The Chargers have won 11 games in a row.

Overall, San Diego went 13-3 for a reason, just like the Jets went 9-7 for a reason. They are a better team than the Jets. Yet, that doesn’t mean the Jets don’t match-up well with them and don’t have a reasonable chance at pulling off the upset. If the Jets can withstand the early blows from San Diego, like they did against the Bengals and get into halftime within one possession. They just might be able to steal the game in the second half. The Chargers are going to get their yards but the key is making them settle for field goals instead of allowing them to score touchdowns. The offense is going to have to run the ball to keep San Diego’s offense on the sidelines as much as possible but also hit a big play or two.

Crazier things have happened this season for the Jets…who knows? This just might be our season after all.

The Last Season the Jets Were In the Divisional Round

Grading Out Jets Wild-Card Win

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First a few updates:

1. Oh New England…talk about it all coming crashing down today…nice job by Bill Belichick being completely out-coached, Tom Brady playing like absolute garbage and Randy Moss not giving a crap…33-14? In your own building…yikes. Even the refs couldn’t save a team with no defense, no running backs and a coach who has done a poor job all season.

2. So much for my pre-season Super Bowl pick..c’mon now Philly, that was the best effort you had? Regardless, now I have to hope for Dallas to bring Brett Favre to tears next week.

3. I hope everybody takes the time to call Mike Francessa tomorrow and remind him about what he was saying the whole week leading up to the Jets/Bengals game and e-mail Bill Simmons or Mike Florio about their comments on the Jets all year.

4. Another week of heavy work here at TOJ…you should be able to write a thesis on Jets/Chargers by next Sunday…and we have more TOJ TV on the way.

5. Stats/game highlights…updated.

Grading Out Jets Wild-Card Win

PhotobucketQuarterback (A) – 12/15, 185 yards, 1 touchdown and zero turnovers. Keep in mind that of Sanchez’s three incompletions, one was a dropped 50 yard touchdown by Braylon Edwards, one was a drop by Dustin Keller and one was a batted ball…the guy played near perfect. You aren’t going to see a rookie quarterback play much better on the road in the playoffs. If Sanchez keeps this up, the Jets are going to be one hell of a tough out.

Running Backs (A) – Shonn Greene…the Jets other rookie showed why the Jets traded up for him. He hits the hole hard on every play and always falls forward when he is tackled. Thomas Jones has been dealing with a swollen knee but still showed good burst on his touchdown and was able to contribute 15 carries…regardless, the torch is slowly being passed to Greene as the Jets feature back.

Wide Receivers (B) – How about some love for Jerricho Cotchery? Nobody really seems to appreciate what a good player this guy is. He had a clutch 6 catches for 67 yards, including some unbelievable sideline grabs that converted big third downs. When the money is on the line…he is the Jets number one receiver. Braylon Edwards has unbelievable physical talent but has to concentrate, the Jets can’t afford drops like that from this point on. Quiet day for Brad Smith and the Tiger formation.

Tight Ends (A) – Dustin Keller stepped up in a big way yesterday.  He provided all the big plays in the Jets passing game and sprung Shonn Greene on his touchdown run. The Jets are going to need him to keep playing this way because he is a key weapon for their offense.

Offensive Line (A) – They are the best unit in the NFL and the Jets will go as far as they take them.

Defensive Line (C) – Not one of their best days at the office. However, Shaun Ellis played a very good all around game, recording a sack, a forced fumble and 2 tackles for losses.

Linebackers (C) – Bryan Thomas played arguably his best game of the year, leading the team with 7 tackles and a sack. His play compensated for average games by Bart Scott, David Harris, and Calvin Pace.

Secondary (A) – Darrelle Revis…the best defensive player in football this season, period. Jim Leonhard stepped up with a sack, forced fumble and four tackles. Lito Sheppard played a pretty good game. The Jets need Dwight Lowery and Donald Strickland to get healthy.

Special Teams (A) – I told you I was worried about the kick coverage…however, how about Jay Feely? Hopefully, Steve Weatherford can get healthy and medical clearance for next week but you have to appreciate Feely stepping up the way he did.

Coaching (A) – Great game plan by Brian Schottenheimer on offense…and clearly Rex Ryan has his team believing in him.

Game Highlights

See You In The Second Round: Jets Shut Up Critics, Win 24-14

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I will keep this quick because I am trying to enjoy the rest of this night:

1. How you like us now?

2. Great game by our offensive rookies, the future is looking pretty bright on that side of the ball with Shonn Greene (135 yards, 1 touchdown) and of course Mark Sanchez (12/15, 182 yards, 1 touchdown).

3. Weak game by our rush defense obviously but the pass defense was outstanding, highlighted by Darrelle Revis aka the Defensive Player of the Year, grabbing an acrobatic interception and shutting down Chad Ochocinco.

4. MVP? Dustin Keller who had a key block on the Greene touchdown, 99 yards receiving and a touchdown…and also obviously Revis.

5. Carson Palmer…completely outplayed by Mark Sanchez in his home stadium.

6. One more time…rookie coach, rookie quarterback, no Kris Jenkins, no Leon Washington…second round of the playoffs.

7. I want San Diego in round 2.

Final Thoughts On Jets/Bengals

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Let’s Get It Done

Happy Wild-Card Weekend everybody…let us all enjoy this holiday and most of all enjoy rooting for our Jets proving to the rest of the NFL that they belong in the playoffs.

1. Mark Sanchez…don’t turn the ball over.

2. Thomas Jones…keep doing what you been doing all year.

3. Darrelle Revis…show why you are the best defensive player in the league.

4. Kerry Rhodes…put a disappointing season behind you with a big playoff performance.

5. Braylon Edwards…catch the ball.

6. Rex Ryan…blitz, blitz, and blitz some more.

Get all those things done and we’ll be off to San Diego or Indy.

 

Jets vs. Bengals Prediction: TOJ TV Wild-Card Edition

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First a few updates:

1. David Harris and Donald Strickland are both listed as questionable for Saturday. I’d be shocked  if Harris didn’t start…Strickland should be involved in the Jets dime package.

2. Is anybody else looking forward to calling in to Miked Up after the Jets win and shutting up Francessa?

3. If you haven’t friended me on facebook for the purpose of becoming a Turn On The Jets fan on facebook…please do so now…I can wait, this article isn’t going anywhere.

4. Congratulations to D’Brickashaw Ferguson for being selected to the pro-bowl to fill in for an injured Jake Long.

Jets vs. Bengals Prediction: TOJ TV Wild-Card Edition

I love this match-up for the Jets…am I being biased? Maybe a little, but ever since the Jets moved to 7-6 and back into the playoff picture, I have been telling anyone who would listen that if they managed a first round game against the Bengals, they would have a hell of a chance to advance to the divisional round. For some reason, God has been smiling on the Jets ever since the Atlanta game, they caught a break against the Colts and then demolished a not fully focused Bengals team, along with every other AFC playoff contender melting down when it counted and he continues to smile on them with this match-up.

What do I expect? I expect an ugly first half, while both teams feel each other out. I think Sanchez struggles early but avoids turning the ball over, leading to a 6-3 halftime score in favor of the Bengals. I think in the locker room, the Jets are going to realize they weathered the storm of any early emotion/adrenaline the Bengals had with home field advantage (even though they can’t sell out their game…pathetic) and come out on fire in the third quarter. I think the Jets score two second half touchdowns to go up 17-6, before the Bengals respond to cut the lead to 17-13…because nothing ever comes easy for the Jets.

At this point of the game, the Jets are going to get the ball back with about 3:50 on the clock, with Cincy having two timeouts. Every Jets fan will have visions of the Bengals stopping us and then driving down the field for the game winning touchdown…however, it won’t come to that because Thomas Jones and the Jets offense will convert a pair of key first downs that take away the Bengals time outs and leaves no time on the clock.

Jets win…17-13…see you in Indy.

Other wild-card weekend picks:

Philadelphia – 27 Dallas 20: Too much pressure on Tony Romo and the whole Dallas organization. McNabb isn’t missing a wide open DeSean Jackson this week.

New England – 17 Baltimore – 14: I hate picking them but I think they find a way to win…with some help from the officials.

Green Bay – 30 Arizona – 27: High-scoring battle that the red hot Packers prevail in.

TOJ TV Wild-Card Weekend Edition

Well-Done Craig

Jets vs. Bengals Game Breakdown

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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.

Jets vs. Bengals Position By Position Comparison

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First a few updates:

1. Rex Ryan did what he does best today (except coach defense) and grabbed headlines by saying he believes the Jets should be favorites in the playoffs because of their defense and running game. This story will likely get blown out of proportion, basically Ryan was informed the Jets had the lowest odds (now 50 to 1) of any playoff team and said that he believes in his team and he would personally pick them as favorites…the guy has confidence in his team. Yes, it is crazy to think the Jets should be the favorites in these playoffs but if their head coach doesn’t believe they are going to win it all, why even bother…however that doesn’t mean he needed to say it to the press.

2. You want see Ryan’s impact on the Jets defense? Read this: (http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2010/writers/

kerry_byrne/01/05/ryan/index.html).

3. 11 out of 12? That is the highest I have seen them yet. (http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2010/writers

/don_banks/01/06/playoff.power.rankings/index.html).

Jets vs. Bengals Position By Position Comparison

Quarterback: Carson Palmer (3094 yards, 21 TDs, 13 INTs, 83.6 QB Rating) vs. Mark Sanchez (2444 yards, 12 TDs, 20 INTs, 63.0 QB Rating) – Palmer isn’t the elite quarterback he used to be but is still a good player. This is really his first playoff game since he got hurt on the 1st play of his last playoff game. Sanchez has struggled with turnovers and consistency in his rookie year. Advantage: Jets….just kidding…Bengals.

Running Backs: Cedric Benson (1251 yards, 6 TDs, 4.2 YPC), Bernard Scott (321 yards), Brian Leonard (30 receptions) vs. Thomas Jones (1402 yards, 14 TDs, 4.2 YPC), Shonn Greene (540 yards, 2 TDs), Danny Woodhead (151 total yards) – I will take Thomas Jones over Cedric Benson any day of the week, Shonn Greene has been better than Scott this year despite not starting to play until the middle of the season. Leonard is a valuable third down back and a better player than Woodhead. Advantage: Jets.

Fullback: Tony Richardson (58 total yards) vs. Jeremi Johnson (49 total yards) – Johnson is a good player but Richardson is one of the best in the NFL. Advantage: Jets.

Wide Receivers: Chad Ochocinco (1047 yards, 9 TDs), Laveranues Coles (514 yards, 5 TDs), Andre Caldwell (432 yards, 3 TDs), Quan Cosby (4 catches, 55 yards) vs. Braylon Edwards (541 yards, 4 TDs), Jerricho Cotchery (821 yards, 4 TDs), Brad Smith (270 total yards, 1 TD), David Clowney (191 yards, 1 TD)Ochocinco is a better #1 receiver than Braylon but Cotchery is a substantially better #2 receiver than Coles. Caldwell is a better pure receiver than Brad Smith, but Smith is more of a weapon and big play threat. Clowney might not be active on Saturday. Advantage: Even.

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Tight Ends: J.P. Foschi (260 yards, 2 TDs), Daniel Coats (150 yards) vs. Dustin Keller (522 yards, 2 TDs), Ben Hartsock (1 TD), Wayne Hunter, Robert Turner – Keller isn’t used enough by the Jets but is still a much more productive and dangerous player than anyone the Bengals could line up at tight end. Advantage: Jets.

Offensive Line: Andrew Whitworth, Nate Livings, Kyle Cook, Bobbie Williams, Dennis Roland vs. D’Brickashaw Ferguson, Alan Faneca, Nick Mangold, Brandon Moore, Damien Woody – The Jets front five have started the past 32 games together and are arguably the best unit in the game. They are anchored by All-Pro center Nick Mangold. Advantage: Jets.

Defensive Line: Robert Geathers (36 tackles, 3.5 sacks), Domata Peko (23 tackles), Tank Johnson (29 tackles, 2 sacks), Jonathan Fanene (36 tackles, 6 sacks), Michael Johnson (17 tackles, 3 sacks) vs. Shaun Ellis (53 tackles, 6.5 sacks), Sione Pouha (45 tackles), Marques Douglas (64 tackles, 1.5 sacks), Mike DeVito (28 tackles) – Two underrated units who lack a big name but still get the job done. I will give the advantage to the Bengals because they do a better job of rushing the passer. Advantage: Bengals

Linebackers: Rashad Jeanty (20 tackles), Dhani Jones (113 tackles, 3.5 sacks), Keith Rivers (72 tackles, 1 sack), Brandon Johnson (58 tackles, 1.5 sacks) vs. David Harris (127 tackles, 5.5 sacks), Calvin Pace (55 tackles, 8 sacks), Bart Scott (92 tackles, 1 sack), Bryan Thomas (53 tackles, 2 sacks) – Even if Rey Maualuga didn’t get hurt, I would still give the advantage to the Jets. David Harris should be have been in the pro-bowl and if Calvin Pace didn’t miss the first four games with a suspension he might have made it also. Advantage: Jets

Corners: Leon Hall (71 tackles, 6 INTs), Jonathan Joseph (69 tackles, 6 INTs), Morgan Trent (28 tackles), David Jones (11 tackles) vs. Darrelle Revis (54 tackles, 6 INTs), Lito Sheppard (31 tackles, 1 INT), Dwight Lowery (24 tackles, 3 INTs), Donald Strickland (26 tackles, 2 sacks) – The Jets have the best overall player and better depth but the Bengals have a better starting duo. Advantage: Even.

Safety: Chris Crocker (51 tackles, 2 INTs), Chinedum Ndukwe (89 tackles, 1 INT, 2 sacks), Tom Nelson (25 tackles, 1 INT) vs. Jim Leonhard (76 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 1 INT), Kerry Rhodes (63 tackles, 3 INTs), Eric Smith (48 tackles, 1 INT), James Ihedigbo (2 sacks) – Pretty even here, although Kerry Rhodes is probably the most talented guy in the group despite having a very disappointing season. Advantage: Even.

Special Teams: Shayne Graham (23/28 FG’s), Kevin Huber (43.2 yards per punt), Bernard Scott (1 KR TD), Quan Cosby (11.9 yards per punt return) vs. Jay Feely (30/36 FGs), Steve Weatherford (42 yards per punt), Brad Smith (1 KR TD), Jerricho Cotchery (10.3 yards per punt return) – The numbers are very comparable across the board, although the Jets have pulled four successful fake punts this season. Advantage: Jets.


It's The Quarterback, Stupid

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First a few updates:

1. David Harris is the only player who didn’t practice today. However, the Star-Ledger (http://www.nj.com/jets/index.ssf/2010/01/ny_jets_lb_david_harris_is_exp.html) reported that he is going to play on Saturday and that the sprain is only mild. Rex Ryan didn’t refute that report today. Obviously, this is very good news and I think we are all looking forward to David Harris introducing himself to Cedric Benson.

2. Punter Steve Weatherford was a full participant in practice today.

3. Good article on ESPN.com by Tim Graham on the impact of the Jets pass rush on opposing quarterbacks, along with Carson Palmer’s handling of the blitz all season. (http://espn.go.com/blog/afceast/post/_/id/8743/cincy-might-consider-riot-gear-for-jets-d).

4. The latest line I have seen on the Jets/Bengals game is Cincy at 2.5 favorites. The latest odds I have seen for the Jets winning the Super Bowl is 45 to 1, which is of course the lowest out of any NFL playoff team.

It’s The Quarterback, Stupid

The primary reason for the Jets ending the season winning 5 of their last 6 games was because they finally embraced their identity as a run first offense that was going to rely on their defense to win games. Mark Sanchez’s early season success led to Brian Schottenheimer embracing a more balanced approach and putting too much in his rookie’s hands too early, leading to losses against the Saints, Bills, Jaguars, and Patriots. It has been a weird ride for Sanchez this season, culminating with a 6/12 63 yards Wing-T high school quarterback stat line. I know the Jets are built on their running game and defense but they are going to need more than 63 yards from Mark Sanchez if they want to do any damage in these playoffs. Sanchez is easily the 12th best quarterback in these playoffs but if he could somehow duplicate his early season play for stretches of games, the Jets have enough talent around him to rip off a victory or two or maybe even three? I don’t want to push it. First, let’s run through the odd 2009 season of #6:

Week 1 At Houston: 18/31, 272 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT – Arguably Sanchez’s best all-around game of the season. He was unbelievable on third down in this game and showed good movement in the pocket, poise, and confidence.

Week 2 Vs New England: 14/22, 163 yards, 1 TD – If this wasn’t his best all-around game, it was his most impressive performance since he was going against Bill Belichick and outplayed Tom Brady. He protected the ball and elevated his play in the second half, including two beautiful passes to Jerricho Cotchery and a nice touchdown pass to Dustin Keller.

Week 3 Vs Tennessee: 17/30, 171 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT – Another good performance, although ball security issues began to surface in this game with the interception and a couple of fumbles. Sanchez also added a rushing touchdown this game.

Week 4 At New Orleans: 14/27, 138 yards, 3 INTs – Oh boy…Sanchez directly hands the Saints 14 points and basically costs the Jets a victory wasting a terrific performance by their defense.

Week 5 At Miami: 12/24, 172 yards, 1 TD – A good bounce-back performance, Sanchez threw the ball well down the field in this game. If he can play like this against the Bengals, the Jets will win.

Week 6 Vs Buffalo: 10/29, 119 yards, 5 INTs – I’m not sure I have ever seen a quarterback play a worse game.

Week 7 At Oakland: 9/15, 143 yards, 1 TD – Week one of the “stay the hell out of the way Sanchez” game plan. However, he played well and added a rushing touchdown.

Week 8 Vs Miami: 20/35, 265 yards, 2 TDs – Probably his best game of the year and the second half of this game was easily the best we have seen Sanchez all season. However, this was probably a bad thing because it led the Jets to give him too much freedom the following two weeks.

Week 10 Vs Jacksonville: 16/30, 212 yards, 1 TD, 2 INTs – Played a good fourth quarter but beyond that was pretty bad.

Week 11 At New England: 8/21, 136 yards, 1 TD, 4 INTs – The low point for the Jets season and Sanchez who regressed back to Buffalo game.

Week 12 Vs Carolina: 13/17, 154 yards, 1 INT – The color code system begins and the Jets embrace the “stay the hell out of the way Sanchez” game plan again…if you remove the INT, the Jets could win this Saturday with these numbers from Sanchez.

Week 13 At Buffalo: 7/15, 104 yards, 1 TD – The numbers don’t show it but Sanchez was playing well this game before he got hurt…don’t forget Braylon Edwards dropped an easy 80 yard touchdown pass this game.

Week 15 At Atlanta: 18/32, 226 yards, 1 TD, 3 INTs – Too many passes by Sanchez leads to too many turnovers.

Week 16 At Indy: 12/19, 106 yards – Stay out of the way Mark…although he made some key third down throws in this game.

Week 17 Vs Cincy: 6/12, 63 yards – He didn’t need to throw at all because of the Jets running all over the field…Edwards should have caught a 50 yard touchdown from him.

PhotobucketSo, what do the Jets need from Sanchez to beat the Bengals? They aren’t going to get away with 12 passes. Their offense needs to put Sanchez in third and shorts, which he has shown a decent ability to convert throughout the season. There are going to be opportunities for the Jets to hit big plays down the field and if he could hit one (and this is also on you to catch the damn ball Braylon) it will go a long way to a Jets victory. If Sanchez turns the ball over, the Jets don’t have a chance. Yes, maybe they could overcome one interception but beyond that, they aren’t good enough to win with Sanchez throwing two INTs and having a fumble. We need:

  1. A good third-down conversion rate (aided by the running game setting up third and short/medium).
  2. A big play down the field or at least some intermediate completions to soften the defense.
  3. No turnovers.

The weather is going to be crappy but if somehow Sanchez could duplicate his Monday night performance (12/24, 172 yards, 1 TD) the Jets will beat the Bengals. It may be asking too much for those numbers but the Jets could probably even survive with a 13/18, 130 yards, 1 TD type game. If Brian Schottenheimer is smart he will start Sanchez off with some quick screens to Cotchery and Edwards to get his confidence up, and then gradually move him to some slants/hitches. There is going to be a spot in this game when it is 2nd and 3 from the Bengals 47 yard line and they are going to have 8 in the box, and Sanchez is going to have hit a play down the field. When he is dropping back to throw that pass you want him to be 4/6 for 40 yards or something, not 1/7 for 2 yards with two near interceptions.

Could you imagine if Sanchez hopped in the time machine and played like he did back in weeks 1-3…that would be a scary, dangerous team in the playoffs. Why can’t he do that? Because this is the Jets and that would be too easy…instead we have to cross our fingers for a 55 completion percentage, 130 yards and no turnovers.

Mark Sanchez…Playing Like A Quarterback Who Could Win The Playoffs

Jets vs. Bengals First Look

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First a few updates:

1. David Harris and Steve Weatherford missed practice today. Harris is likely going to be a game-time decision, while I would expect Weatherford to play. James Ihedigbo left practice today with a stinger but did return. Thomas Jones and Tony Richardson were given the day off. The backup to David Harris, Ryan Fowler, was limited with a head injury and if for some reason he and Harris couldn’t play…Kenwin Cummings would start at inside linebacker.

2. Cedric Benson told the media today that he didn’t even know who David Harris was and that he doubted the Jets would struggle without him. Harris is the leading tackler on the Jets #1 ranked defense with 127 stops, along with 5.5 sacks and 2 interceptions. I wonder if Benson knows who Thomas Jones is? The guy he was drafted to replace in Chicago but could never beat out. The guy who despite being 5 years older than him finished with 151 more rushing yards and 8 more touchdowns than him this season and was able to stay healthy enough to play all 16 games, while Benson couldn’t.

3. Condolences to Jets owner Woody Johnson and his family. His daughter passed away yesterday.

4. How about Teddy Bruschi on ESPN saying that the Jets have the best chance to make the Super Bowl out of the two wild-card teams? I think he was trying to jinx them.

5. The Bengals are coming into the came 100 percent healthy with Chad Ochocinco, Chris Crocker, and Domata Peko all expected to start.

6. The Jets finished #12 in ESPN’s Power Rankings, not bad for a team that started the season as ranked #23.

7. Well we know how Jeffri Chadiha of ESPN feels about the Jets (http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/playoffs/2009/columns/story?columnist=chadiha_jeffri&id=4795473), then again this guy is picking Tony Romo to win three playoff games, so I wouldn’t be too worried.

Jets vs. Bengals First Look

Bengals Offensive Starters/Key Reserves

  • Quarterback: Carson Palmer – 282/466, 3094 yards, 60.5 completion percentage, 21 touchdowns, 13 interceptions, 83.6 QB Rating.
  • Running Back: Cedric Benson – 301 carries, 1251 yards, 4.2 yards per carry, 6 TD’s.
  • Third Down Back: Bernard Scott – 74 carries, 321 yards, 4.3 yards per carry.
  • Back-Up Running Back: Larry Johnson – 46 carries, 204 yards, 4.4 yards per carry.
  • Other Third Down Back: Brian Leonard – 27 carries, 84 yards, 3.1 yards per carry, 30 receptions, 217 yards
  • Fullback: Jeremi Johnson – 4 carries, 8 yards, 6 receptions, 41 yards.
  • #1 Receiver: Chad Ochocinco – 72 receptions, 1047 yards, 9 touchdowns.
  • #2 Receiver: Laveranues Coles – 43 receptions, 514 yards, 5 touchdowns.
  • #3 Receiver: Andre Caldwell – 51 receptions, 432 yards, 3 touchdowns.
  • #4 Receiver: Quan Cosby – 4 receptions, 55 yards
  • Tight End: J.P. Foschi – 27 receptions, 260 yards, 2 touchdowns
  • #2 Tight End: Daniel Coats – 16 receptions, 150 yards
  • Left Tackle: Andrew Whitworth
  • Left Guard: Nate Livings
  • Center: Kyle Cook
  • Right Guard: Bobbie Williams
  • Right Tackle: Dennis Roland

Bengals Defensive Starters/Key Reserves

  • Defensive End: Robert Geathers – 36 tackles, 3.5 sacks
  • Defensive Tackle: Domata Peko – 23 tackles
  • Defensive Tackle: Tank Johnson – 29 tackles, 2.0 sacks
  • Defensive End: Jonathan Fanene – 36 tackles, 6.0 sacks
  • Outside Linebacker: Rashad Jeanty – 20 tackles
  • Middle Linebacker: Dhani Jones – 113 tackles, 3.5 sacks
  • Outside Linebacker: Keith Rivers – 72 tackles, 1 sack
  • Corner: Leon Hall – 71 tackles, 6 INTs
  • Corner: Jonathan Joseph – 69 tackles, 6 INTs
  • Safety: Chris Crocker – 51 tackles, 2 INTs
  • Safety: Chinedum Ndukwe – 89 tackles, 1 INT

Special Teams

  • Kicker: Shayne Graham – 23/28 FGs, 28/29 PATs, (1 miss from 20-29 yards, 2 misses from 30-39 yards)
  • Punter: Kevin Huber – 43.2 yards per punt
  • Kick Return: Bernard Scott – 1 return touchdown, 31.5 average
  • Punt Return: Quan Cosby – 11.9 per return.

PhotobucketOffense – The Bengals offense is built like the Jets offense, which means they live by the run. Carson Palmer isn’t an elite quarterback anymore but still had a good overall season. He can be relied on to make some plays if the running game is slowed down, yet the Bengals are weak at wide receiver. Chad Ochocinco isn’t going to be a factor this week, I can promise you that and beyond him the Bengals have nothing at receiver. Laveraneus Coles is washed up and Andre Caldwell is average. They also don’t have a pass catching threat at tight end. Cedric Benson has been very good this year and Brian Leonard has made plays for them on third downs. However, I have a tough time seeing Benson gashing the Jets defense. Honestly, I would be shocked if the Bengals scored more than 17 points unless Sanchez turns the ball over.

Defense – Cincy has been very strong against the run all season. However, they are now missing linebacker Rey Maualuga which will have a negative impact on them. The Jets are going to run the ball, regardless of how many people the Bengals put in the box. I am sure Cincy has spent plenty of time on Brad Smith this week in practice and they should expect more of him this week. The Bengals have two very good corners and talent at safety as well. Mark Sanchez has to be careful against their secondary because there isn’t going to be a ton of space for Braylon Edwards and Jerricho Cotchery to work with.

Special Teams – I am very worried about Bernard Scott ripping off a kick return touchdown against us this week. However, keep an eye on Brad Smith on our kick return unit because he has been improving all season. I think we have an advantage at the kicker position.

Well They Couldn’t Beat Oakland