TOJ NFL Power Rankings: Week 11

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It’s that time of the week again, as always feel free to express your feelings on my stupidity:

1. Atlanta Falcons (7-2) – An impressive win for Atlanta over Baltimore. Matt Ryan and Roddy White are playing at a high enough level to be considered the favorite in the NFC…for this week.

2. New York Jets (7-2) – How could you have them over New England after the Patriots just handled the Steelers in Pittsburgh, you homer? Here is how: the Jets beat New England by 14 and a week after Cleveland beat the Patriots by 23, the Jets went into Cleveland and beat them, and if you look at the stats, you saw that the Jets actually dominated Cleveland.

3. New England Patriots (7-2) – I don’t know what is going on with that hair but you have to respect the fire Tom Brady was playing with Sunday night. The annual classic between him and Peyton Manning is up next.

4. The Mike Vick Show (6-3) – Overreaction? Nobody is beating the Eagles in the NFC if Mike Vick keeps playing at this level.

5. Baltimore Ravens (6-3) – They can take out all their anger on the Panthers this weekend.

6. Pittsburgh Steelers (6-3) – It looks like they are back to abandoning the running game too soon and having more struggles than expected on defense.

7. New Orleans Saints (6-3) – It will be interesting to see if the Saints can regain their Super Bowl form entirely out of the bye week.

8. Green Bay Packers (6-3) – Time to send Brett Favre into retirement.

9. Indiannapolis Peyton Mannings (6-3) – It will be beyond impressive if Peyton Manning can lead this group of Colts to a victory in New England.

10. New York Giants (6-3) – A swift punch back to reality for the Giants, who are banged up and can’t protect the football. Good luck defending Vick in Philadelphia this weekend if you can’t stop Jon Kitna.

11. Oakland Raiders (5-4) – They can make quite a statement with a victory over the Steeleers this weekend.

12. Tampa Bay Bucs (6-3) – They win the games they are supposed to, which is saying alot in the NFL this season.

13. Chicago Bears (6-3) – Do us a favor and take care of the Dolphins and their third string quarterback this Thursday night.

14. Miami Dolphins (5-4) – I can’t see them sticking around the playoff race much longer with Tyler Thigpen under center.

15. Tennessee Titans (5-4) – Randy Moss…all he does is lose.

16. San Diego Chargers (4-5) – The AFC West is there for the taking and they have to be the favorite with the way Phillip Rivers is playing.

17. Jacksonville Jaguars (5-4) – I just don’t know how this team is 5-4…oh wait, they won a game on a hail mary and a 59 yard field goal

18. Kansas City Chiefs (5-4) – It looks like things are starting to fade fast for one of the surprise teams in the first half of the season.

19. Seattle Seahawks (5-4) – Well, they can beat the other crappy teams in their division.

20. Houston Texans (4-5) – Oh, you are surprised everybody overrated Houston this pre-season and they can’t meet expectations?

21. Cleveland Browns (3-6) – If they were in the NFC West, they might be 6-3.

22. St. Louis Rams (4-5) – It will be interesting to see how this young team hangs with Atlanta at home this weekend.

23. San Francisco 49ers (3-6) – The NFC West…where 3-6 and Troy Smith make you a legitimate contender for the playoffs.

24. Washington Redskins (4-5) – Nothing like allowing the old 59 spot at home to drop down the rankings.

25. Denver Broncos (3-6) – Where did that beat-down come from?

26. Cincinnati Bengals (2-7) – Carson Palmer couldn’t be any further from a franchise quarterback right now, unless he was Derek Anderson.

27. Arizona Cardinals (3-6) – Larry Fitzgerald must be counting the seconds until he can get the hell out of Arizona.

28. Dallas Cowboys (2-7) – Amazing what happens when you put a little effort forward.

29. Minnesota Vikings (3-6)  – I can’t take much more of Brett Favre asking himself questions and then answering them in his press conferences.

30. Buffalo Bills (1-8) – Got one!

31. Detroit Lions (2-7) – I guess we can stop with the talk that Detroit is better than their record. They are just another crappy Lions team.

32. Carolina Panthers (1-8) – It could get out of hand versus Baltimore by the time they step off the bus.

Plays of the Week

A Word On Jerricho Cotchery And The Jets Receivers Moving Forward

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It has been a tough couple of weeks for Jets wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery. He suffered his worst game as a professional in their week 8 loss to the Green Bay Packers with a collection of drops no seasoned Jets fans could believe, considering his history with the team. The problem followed him to Detroit where he dropped a couple of more passes and was officially demoted out of the starting line-up after holding down the position since the start of the 2006 season.

Cotchery has rightly been a fan favorite since becoming a starter on the team. He is a gutsy player with terrific hands, who always had a knack for making a big run after the catch. He has developed a reputation as a humble, hard-working, team first player who couldn’t represent the Jets organization on or off the field in a better way. (http://www.cotcheryfoundation.com/)

As we all expected he would, Cotchery bounced back in week 9 with a strong performance. I spent plenty of time this off-season writing about what an ideal fit he would be as a slot receiver and how he would be a killer weapon for the Jets on third downs, and that is exactly what he demonstrated yesterday. The stats (3 receptions, 43 yards, 1 TD) don’t jump off the page but look a little closer:

  • He pulled in a 25 yard touchdown on a 3rd and 8 in the second quarter, where he operated the scramble drill to perfection with Mark Sanchez.
  • He had a 8 yard reception on a 3rd and 6 in the fourth quarter, which helped lead the Jets to a field goal, giving them a 20-13 lead.

And then of course, the play none of us will soon forget –

What can you really say? Just an awesome football play.

Unfortunately, the Jets will now be without Cotchery for at least a few weeks. Similar to hamstrings, groin pulls are tricky to recover from and Cotchery expressed how much pain he was in after the game. You would  hope he could be back by December 6th for Monday Night football in New England but that could be wishful thinking, so what will the Jets do moving forward?

Keep in mind the Jets only carry 4 active receivers on their roster: Santonio Holmes, Braylon Edwards, Brad Smith, and Cotchery. You can say that Smith could bump up to take Cotchery’s reps but that limits what the Jets can do in their “Tiger” formation with Smith, which as we saw yesterday is a big part of their offense. Beyond that, Smith is a very good all-around football player but not a true wide receiver. He has never demonstrated great route running or the hands needed of a true slot receiver.

The Jets could give their old friend Laveranues Coles a call. If he has been keeping himself in shape, maybe he could provide 20 quality snaps a game. Patrick Turner could be given a shot off the practice squad but he is very inexperienced. Another thought is that reserve rookie tight end Jeff Cumberland could finally get a bump to the active roster and take reps. Keep in mind, Cumberland played wide receiver in college and the Jets love his receiving skills, which is why he remains on the 53 man roster.

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TOJ at SB Nation – Grading Out Jets/Browns

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 TOJ’s weekly grade report, hosted at SB Nation…along with further reaction to the game yesterday –

http://newyork.sbnation.com/new-york-jets/2010/11/15/1815281/grading-out-jets-browns

http://newyork.sbnation.com/new-york-jets/2010/11/14/1814185/lucky-i-dont-care-new-york-jets-just-keep-winning

Initial Reaction – Heart Attack. Jets Keep Stressing Us Out But Keep Winning

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A collection of thoughts from today’s 26-20 overtime win over the Cleveland Browns –

The Good:

  • Mark Sanchez – Can any talk about Sanchez holding the Jets back this year come to a stop? He played a terrific all around game, avoiding pressure countless times and making big plays down the field. Sanchez is now at the point where you have to feel very confident about this team in any close game when he has the ball in his hands.
  • The Running Game – This is what I have been talking about…20 carries for Shonn Greene who finished with 72 yards rushing, along with 3 receptions for 23 yards and 18 carries for LaDainian Tomlinson who finished with 57 yards rushing, along with 6 receptions for 53 yards. Beyond that, Brad Smith had an expanded role today with 5 carries for 39 yards and a reception for 6 yards.
  • Jerricho Cotchery – It is a shame he will now probably miss a few games but what a gutsy play in overtime to convert a key third and nine.
  • Santonio Holmes – How clutch is this guy? Two straight games he has won for us in overtime. It does wonders for your offense when you have a player who could turn a simple slant route into a game winning 37 yard touchdown.
  • The Run Defense – For all of the Peyton Hillis hype, the Jets held him to 84 yards and forced a fumble. Our defensive lineman may not be able to rush the passer but they can stop the run.
  • Drew Coleman – Just a big time play in overtime to strip Chansi Stuckey.

The Bad

  • Game Management – I absolutely hated the decision to let time run out in regulation. The Jets should always be playing aggressively for the win, especially with how well Sanchez has been playing late in games.
  • Nick Folk – Are we headed back to 2009? Folk gets a pass for one week because of his strong start in 2010 but he better get his act together back in his home stadium the next two weeks.
  • The Defense Overall – The Jets aren’t an elite defense in 2009. You can’t claim to be one and then allow a rookie quarterback to drive down the field in the final minute to tie the game. The pass rush is also way too inconsistent. Evan Moore, Darrelle Revis? Evan Moore. Eric Smith and Jim Leonhard remain major liabilities in pass coverage and tight ends are continuing to kill the Jets.

A few other thoughts…

  • Kyle Wilson played a good game today. He had a big tackle to stop a third down conversion and a nice 18 punt return. It will be interesting to see if he can settle into the nickel role.
  • Eric Mangini was awfully animated on the sideline today. Did you see him celebrating those missed field goals?
  • Braylon Edwards put together a strong game in his homecoming. He has been reliable this year and appears to have got over the drops that plagued him the previous few years.
  • Brian Schottenheimer finally seemed to find his rhythm as a play-caller today.

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Jets vs. Browns: 12 Pack of Predictions

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Nothing better or more refreshing than a 12 pack from TOJ to start off your weekend

1. I like the under (38) in this game. It is going to be a physical, defensive struggle in which I think the first team to 20 is going to win. Both units with be throwing a myriad of confusing looks at the opponent’s young quarterbacks who will need time to adjust.

2. It is All-Disappointment week for the Jets, with Vernon Gholston likely starting, Kyle Wilson moving back into the nickel role, and Joe McKnight being active for the first time since week 4. I predict Gholston won’t be getting his first NFL sack, Wilson will show some improvements from earlier in the year, and McKnight will actually get an offensive touch that isn’t in garbage time.

3. Inactive list – Marquice Cole, Kellen Clemens, Jarron Gilbert, Marcus Dixon, Josh Mauga, Vladimir Ducasse, Jeff Cumberland, Jamaal Westerman.

4. This is the week it finally happens…Shonn Greene gets more carries than LaDainian Tomlinson and starts to look like the Jets #1 back.

5. Braylon Edwards is going to have his first 100 yard game of the season and get in the end-zone. Get ready for the Dougie, Dawg Pound.

6. The Browns will pull at least one trick play on offense and one trick play on special teams. Mangini will be dumping out the playbook to upset his former team.

7. Mark Sanchez and Colt McCoy will both turn the ball over, whichever team takes bigger advantage of the opposing quarterback’s mistakes will go a long to deciding the outcome.

8. I think there will be a Calvin Pace sighting this week. He is too good of a player to be quiet this many weeks in a row. Jason Taylor? I think he might be moving into being a major disappointment this year.

9. Jerricho Cotchery is going to play less than 30 reps this week, as his demotion into the #3 receiver role is fully cemented.

10. Peyton Hillis is going to run for less than 100 yards. I got faith in Sione Pouha, Mike DeVito, Shaun Ellis, Bart Scott, and David Harris to keep doing what they’ve been doing all season.

11. Abram Elam is giving up a big play in the passing game…because, he is Abram Elam after all.

12. I like the Jets in an ugly, sloppy game that won’t quiet any questions about when they are going to finally put it all together. I am taking them 16-13.

Week 10 Picks (Lines Courtesy of BetUS)

  • Peyton Manning (-7) vs. Bengals
  • Jaguars (PK) vs. Texans
  • Titans (-3) vs. Dolphins
  • Vikings (-2.5) vs. Bears
  • Bills (-3) vs. Lions
  • Bucs (-7) vs. Panthers
  • Chiefs (-2.5) vs. Broncos
  • Rams (+5) vs. 49ers
  • Cardinals (-3.5) vs. Seahawks
  • Giants (-13.5) vs. Cowboys
  • Steelers (-4) vs. Patriots
  • Eagles (-3.5) vs. Redskins

New York Jets: We Have Our Franchise QB, Standing Up For Sanchez

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It isn’t easy to find a consistent opinion on Mark Sanchez. Yet, for the most part you will find negative perceptions on his future as a franchise quarterback for the New York Jets. There are always questions surrounding his development, his demeanor, his set of physical skills. When there are discussions about young quarterbacks in the league, most analysts would rather take a Matthew Stafford or a Chad Henne for the next ten years than Sanchez.

The Sanchez/Henne debate was a popular one this off-season and from what I read, it was usually Henne who came out on top. Everybody loved his arm strength and overall set of physical tools. The Dolphins owner was already throwing out Dan Marino comparisons. Personally, I didn’t get it. What did Henne do last year to inspire so much confidence? His numbers weren’t impressive and more importantly when his team was 7-6 and in position to make a run for the playoffs, Miami went 0-3 and tanked out at 7-9, thanks in large part to Henne.

Nobody is saying Sanchez lit the world on fire in 2009. His regular season statistics were ugly. Yet, anybody who watched every snap he played last year knew the potential was there. His statistics were destroyed by a few horrific games but overall there were enough strong performances to be optimistic about the future. Then in the playoffs, Sanchez truly gave reason for hope by playing a great game on the road in the wild-card round, a strong fourth quarter in the divisional round, and maybe his best game of the year in the AFC Championship Game on the road.

How many rookie quarterbacks in recent years have won 2 road games in the playoffs?

In 2010, Sanchez has clearly demonstrated progress since his rookie campaign. He protects the football and is hitting the big play down the field with more frequency. Yes, his completion is still lower than you’d like to see but he has two come from behind wins in the 4th quarter already and most importantly has his team off to a 6-2 start.

I can’t define what the “it” factor is with quarterbacks that make them winners and keepers as franchise quarterbacks, but Sanchez has it. He has it because he plays better in bigger spots. He has it because he lived in the Jets training facility this off-season and organized a “Jets West” camp for his receivers. He has it because he has the emotion and swagger that fit Rex Ryan’s team. He has it because you can tell that football is the most important thing in his life and he genuinely wants to be a great player for this franchise.

Chad Henne can have all the arm strength in the world but he comes up small in big spots and doesn’t win football games as well as Mark Sanchez, which is why he is headed to the bench. The great deep ball quarterback in Henne has Brandon Marshall averaging 11.9 yards per catch, while Braylon Edwards is pulling in 18.1 yards per catch from Sanchez.

Sanchez may be inconsistent at times but don’t believe the BS for a second that the Jets can’t win a Super Bowl with him, this season. They were 20 minutes from winning one with him last year and he is already a much better player than he was in January. We have our quarterback of the future. Miami? Chad Henne can join John Beck in the category of failed attempts to find their quarterback of the future.

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New York Jets Offense: More Shonn and Santonio Please

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Despite being loaded with talent at the skill positions and having one of the best offensive lines in football, the Jets have been inconsistent at best at moving the football and scoring points. Despite strong individual starts by LaDainian Tomlinson and Braylon Edwwards, offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer must focus on getting the ball in the hands of Shonn Greene and Santonio Holmes more often.

As TOJ good friend, Jeff Capellini pointed out on Twitter this week, here is a look at LaDainian Tomlinson’s yards per carry the past four games:

  • Week 5 vs. Minnesota: 4.7 yards per carry
  • Week 6 at Denver: 3.4 yards per carry
  • Week 8 vs Green Bay: 3.4 yards per carry
  • Week 9 at Detroit: 3.7 yards per carry

In comparison, here is Shonn Greene’s:

  • Week 5 vs. Minnesota: 5.7 yards per carry
  • Week 6 at Denver: 4.8 yards per carry
  • Week 8 vs Green Bay: 3.7 yards per carry
  • Week 9 at Detroit: 4.6 yards per carry

I think we have a situation where Shonn Greene started the season a little overweight and unprepared to be the Jets top back. Meanwhile, LaDainian Tomlinson started the year off like a man on a mission to prove to the world he wasn’t finished yet. Yet, now that we have 8 games in the book it looks like the 25 year old in his second year is starting to hit his stride, while the 31 year old in his 10th is starting to wear down a little bit.

I am not saying that Tomlinson is going back to his 2008-2009 production level in San Diego but he will if the Jets aren’t smart with his touches. The Jets need LT as close to 100 percent as possible for December 6th in New England, December 12th vs Miami, and December 19th at Pittsburgh: the three games that will ultimately decide where this Jets season is headed. It is time right now to get him down to 15 touches a game, while letting Greene get closer to 20 so he can keep building momentum for the stretch run.

Ideally, you will have a fresh Tomlinson and Greene hitting his stride as December starts up. The Jets absolutely cannot afford to have Tomlinson get hurt or become ineffective down the stretch, considering we don’t have a capable #3 running back (yes, I am looking at you Joe McKnight).

Over at receiver, we got a glimpse of the damage Santonio Holmes could do last week with his 5 receptions for 114 yards. He has the ability to take a simple square in and turn it into a 52 yard reception at a crucial moment. Beyond that if Sanchez didn’t underthrow him on his interception, he easily would have had a 50 yard touchdown.

Teams have to continue respecting Braylon Edwards and Dustin Keller because of their production, which is going to leave favorable match-ups for Holmes. Brian Schottenhiemer and Mark Sanchez have to get the ball in #10’s hands in one on one situations.

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