Jets vs. Jaguars: Grade Report

Quarterbacks (C) – It wasn’t Mark Sanchez’s finest effort (17/24, 182, 2 TDs, 2 INTs) but it was more than enough. He must do a better job of protecting the football and not forcing passes into traffic. Sanchez and this offense are capable of being one of the AFC’s best as we saw on their two scoring drives, but they must find more consistency.

Running Backs (C) – Tough sledding for Shonn Greene with 16 carries for 49 yards. He had a little more punch than last week but the running game still has a ways to go. LaDainian Tomlinson was quiet with 15 total yards.

Wide Receivers (B) – A quiet day after the Santonio Holmes touchdown on the first drive. Plaxico Burress didn’t record a reception and the Jets must do a better job of getting him involved early. Derrick Mason had only one catch for 7 yards and still doesn’t appear to be on the same page as Mark Sanchez.

Tight Ends (A) – Another big game for Dustin Keller who finished with 101 yards receiving and a touchdown. Matthew Mulligan and Jeff Cumberland also played extensively, with Mulligan even chipping in 2 receptions.

Offensive Line (D) – Nick Mangold’s high ankle sprain is obviously bad news for this unit, who was struggling anyway. Hopefully he can be back before the New England game, if not Brandon Moore and Matt Slauson will have to help Colin Baxter hold his own. Wayne Hunter had his second straight rough outing. Where you at Damien Woody?

Defensive Line (A) – Very exciting to see rookie first round pick Muhammad Wilkerson break through for his first sack and turn it into a safety. Mike DeVito led the Jets with 5 tackles.

Linebackers (A) – Bart Scott had another sack and Calvin Pace was in the face of Luke McCown all day. Josh Mauga recorded his fist career interception.

Secondary (A) – Two interceptions from Antonio Cromartie, along with blanket coverage from him and Darrelle Revis. Kyle Wilson is looking better each week in the nickel role. Eric Smith grabbed an interception and should have had at least two more.

Special Teams (A) – 3/3 on field goals from Nick Folk and a pair of big returns from Cromartie.

Coaching (A) – Hard to give them anything else after a 32-3 win, although I do think Sanchez should have been pulled a little earlier.

New Jets Leave Perfectionists Rooting With Short Term Memory

We hear and see the complaints every day. From Twitter, to sports talk radio, to general conversations on the street: These Jets, despite two straight trips to the AFC championship game and a fast start in 2011, are still seen by some Jets fans with the glass half empty. A distinction must be made though, between being angry about a miserable football team and concerned over the details that turn a very good team into great.

The current NY Jets are not a flawless football team. They are a very good one, with some great players and units that can knock opponents out given the matchup. The Jets of today are a far cry from their predecessors. Guys who let windy days in Shea Stadium swirl wins into inexplicable losses. They are not the Jets of Giants stadium either, ones who turned hope by exit 16W into tragic endings that ruined once promising seasons.

Nowadays, Jets fans seem to be most unhappy with the fact that third year QB Mark Sanchez is not Tom Brady yet. That Shonn Greene has not become Walter Payton. That the Jets don’t score enough, or early enough. That the front four is not the Steel Curtain. What is missing from many of these arguments is the inclusion of one simple fact. The one that acknowledges that Rex’s Jets win. They win the trap games that the Same Old Jets would lose. They win on the road. They win in the playoffs. They come from behind. They win games they shouldn’t win, not vice versa. Yes, the Sanchez’s and Greene’s must improve, but they don’t have to wind up in Canton in order for the Jets to get where they want to go.

Sunday’s 32-3 win over Jacksonville was the perfect example of how some fans and media experts now expect artistry, not just W’s. The Jets led 15-3 at the half. During the halftime show, CBS’s Boomer Esiason noted first and foremost that Sanchez needed to pick up his play. An opinion that summed up much of what we read from Jets fans using social media at that time.

Boomer was right that Sanchez had made a few poor decisions, ruining some drives and overall field position. However, the score at the half wasn’t even THAT close. In fact, aside from the fear of a long Maurice Jones Drew run or two in the second half, or an unforgivable mistake by the Jets, the Jaguars lacked the firepower to win that game. A notion that was obvious from the start for those who dedicate Sundays to watching football. By the third quarter when the lead ballooned to 29-3, it should have come as no surprise to anyone.

The Jets are not perfect. In fact they are beatable, should certain elements combine within a game that leave them too far back to pull of a comeback that many now wait around expecting, as if it is some birthright. If you’ve lived through the tough times of the early 70’s, the late 80’s and the Kotite era though, you might see all of the critical talk that surrounds the Jets lately as overkill. If so, it would be hard to argue with you.

Being perfect is not a championship requirement. Winning consistently is. A Super Bowl can be won as a result of many different key strengths. Some have done it through the air. Others on the ground, or with a smothering defense. In the modern day NFL, the Jets and GM Mike Tannenbaum are doing THEIR winning via late game toughness, a plethora of All Pro players, and a flexible scheme based defense. That’s the Jet way. Their own way.

In the very least, the Jets have finally achieved what they have failed to do in the past as a franchise. They’ve put themselves in position to compete for the Vince Lombardi trophy on a yearly basis. They’ve also become interesting. This thanks to Rex Ryan.

The bar on the field has been raised, especially by Rex himself who links the notion of “Super Bowl ” and the “Jets” every chance he gets. His players have in turn, fed off his energy. Some have even become outspoken themselves. Owner Woody Johnson sees the theater in allowing players to express themselves and has chosen not to edit them as a result.

If Ryan’s boasting about titles, and the Jets new brash demeanor has helped cause expectations for the Jets to soar nationwide, it can at least be taken with a grain of salt by the fan base. Ryan has from the start, been part entertainer, part salesman ,while spending the majority of his time leading his teams to wins. The players love playing for him and speak openly about how much they love being a Jet. Imagine that.

We bet if you were to travel in a time machine back to ask fans of the past with bags over their heads if they’d be ok with the chance to win it all given the current culture of the Jets, they’d take it in a second. No, they’d take it in a nanosecond.

This Jets team has to be better. There is no question about it. We write about who must pick it up on the Jet Report page on a weekly basis. Still, the disapproval by many who bleed Green and White for what is happening now, and has transpired here over the past two years, is hard to understand. Maybe for those who are unhappy with HOW games are WON, it’s simply a case of forgetting truly how far this franchise, once a laughingstock, has come.

2-0 is a record that many talented Jets teams of the past would have failed to achieve. Something somehow, would have simply gotten in the way for those Jets clubs. Games that were supposed to be won on paper like Sunday’s matchup against the Jags, would have slipped away. Not for the “New” Jets though. When push comes to shove, they take care of business most of the time now. There is no reason to settle for being almost Super, but let’s not forget the fact that things have been pretty great around here lately either.

Antonio Cromartie Shows His Potential

When the Jets signed Antonio Cromartie before last season it was with the thought that he could provide a playmaker opposite Darrelle Revis. The corner who plays opposite the best in the game needs to be able to handle constantly being challenged. This means he is going to give up some plays based on the sheer volume of balls coming his way, yet he needs to compensate for those plays allowed by creating some of his own. Cromartie has the ability to do this and we saw that on display today.

It is one thing to be able to intercept the ball, It is another thing to be able to completely change field positon after you catch it. Cromartie totaled 63 return yards on his two interceptions today. On the first interception he took it from the goal-line out to near midfield. On the second, he ran it back from outside the 20 to inside the 1 yard line. He is a playmaker with the football in his hands, which is why we are now seeing him in all three phases of the game.

Cromartie has the ability to be the league’s best kick returner, especially in Mike Westhoff’s system. He ripped off two big ones today and you have to feel it is going to be sooner rather than later before he takes one back. The Jets have even used Cromartie on offense in each of their first two games, faking a reverse to him in week one and handing him a reverse today. Keep an eye on him moving forward.

NFL Week 2 Review: Strange Times On The Sabbath

The second week is better than the first. 16 teams are undefeated. There has been separation. Now some undefeated will go win again while the list of the undefeated gets shorter. 2-0 teams feel good. Week 2. Some teams are lost at quarterback, and even for the good teams, things often go sideways.

Break this down. The Jets beat the Jaguars, who beat the Titans last week, who beat the Ravens this week, who beat the Steelers last week. Who beat the Jets last year in the AFC Championship.

The Buffalo Bills let Al Davis take one right in the mouth. That track team defense of Skinny Al let Ryan Fitzpatrick march right through his secondary, causing mass paralysis amongst the fat and wheezing Raider Nation. Dreams of Jason Campbell slowly turn to nightmares.

Who cares about the President’s approval rating? The Redskins are leading the NFC East. Yes it is a beautiful fact. Scott Van Pelt has finally taken out the old Redskins hat, and fit it like aged leather. They already owned the Giants last week, who are looking less and less likely to make the playoffs with every victory by the Eagles and Cowboys.

Monday Night Preview? The Giants will be forced to put on a show on defense tomorrow night, because the axes for Coughlin will get sharp if Eli tosses it all over the place against the Rams defense and gets picked more than once. A loss to the Rams on Monday Night loses the mystique of the Giants as a playoff contender for the rest of the year. Guaranteed.

Tony Romo put the Cowboys on his back against the Spikesless 49ers, which at the moment edges him ahead in the Jay Cutler poll of weakness in big games. Anyone see Taylor Mays?

Where did the Ravens go? Jets in the AFC Championship? What happens in Tennessee? Matt Hasselbeck doesn’t get sacked by the Ravens defense?

Donovan Mcnabb at the end of the rope? Adrian Peterson will soon regret any year longer than the next on his contract. Peterson is on a team that has no idea what it wants to do on offense and can’t get any younger on defense, a strange directionless ship without engines.

Will this be the year of Stafford? Could be. He has Calvin Johnson and Brandon Pettigrew, which seems to be the only thing you need when your defensive line is one of the best in the league. Keep him upright and feast on the carcass of Chicago and Minnesota towards the end of the season.

Can the NFC West do something relevant at any point this season? No. No exciting offense or defense will get you no love in the league of the Packers offense and Jets defense. If you don’t dominate on at least one side of the ball, you’ve got no room. 32 teams. Only 12 are relevant for longer than a week. And only 12 make the playoffs.

Initial Reaction: Brutal Beatdown – Jets Roll 32-3

They won’t use this game film to teach offensive football, especially on the Jacksonville side but the Jets beat up on a severely inferior Jaguars team today, winning 32-3. The primary story of the day was quarterback Luke McCown’s general awfulness, along with the domination from the Jets defense, who recorded four interceptions, a safety, and two sacks. Antonio Cromartie had a hell of a bounce-back performance with two interceptions and two big kick returns. Muhammad Wilkerson recorded the safety on his first ever NFL sack.

You never felt for a second that Jacksonville had a chance in this game, despite the Jets offense being frustratingly inconsistent. After a brilliant first drive that ended in a Santonio Holmes touchdown, Mark Sanchez struggled throwing two interceptions. He did put together a nice second half drive ending in a Dustin Keller touchdown, as the Jets tight end finished with 101 yards receiving. However, you would like to see better than 17/24, 182 yards, with the 2 interceptions.

The main negative story out of this game was the Jets offensive line. Nick Mangold left in the first half with what is currently being reported as a high ankle sprain. He is expected to miss at least a few weeks. Undrafted rookie Colin Baxter came off the bench and struggled as anyone would expect him to. What was even more disconcerting, was how bad Wayne Hunter was for the second straight week. The running stats weren’t pretty again. Shonn Greene finished with 16 carries for 49 yards with a touchdown.

The Jets will now gear up for a rough three game road trip, starting in Oakland this week. Let’s hope for a speedy recovery from Nick Mangold and that the Jets front office still has Damien Woody’s number.

Jets/Jaguars Final Updates

Inactives: Kevin O’Connell, Logan Payne, Emmanuel Cook, Bilal Powell, Rob Turner, Caleb Schlauderaff, Kenrick Ellis

No real surprises here. The good news is that Santonio Holmes and Eric Smith are both active and expected to start. Let’s hope Holmes is doing the smart thing by not resting today with games against Baltimore and New England on the horizon.

By the way, that Jason Hill scrub is inactive for Jacksonville.

TOJ Week 2 NFL Picks

Last Week’s Record: 9-6

Season Record: 9-6

Week 2 Picks (Lines courtesy of BET Us)

  • New Orleans (-6.5) vs. Chicago
  • Detroit (-8.5) vs. Kansas City
  • Jets (-9) vs. Jacksonville
  • Oakland (+3.5) vs. Buffalo
  • Washington (-4) vs. Arizona
  • Baltimore (-7) vs. Tennessee
  • Pittsburgh (-14.5) vs. Seattle
  • Green Bay (-11.5) vs. Carolina
  • Tampa Bay (+3) vs. Minnesota
  • Cleveland (-2) vs. Indianapolis
  • Dallas (-4) vs. San Francisco
  • Houston (-3.5) vs. Miami
  • San Diego (+7) vs. New England
  • Denver (-3.5) vs. Cincinnati
  • Atlanta (+2.5) vs. Philadelphia
  • Giants (-6) vs. St. Louis

TOJ Roundtable: Jets/Jaguars Picks

Joe Caporoso: See the 12 pack.

Justin Fritze: Looking at this with the scientist’s eye, I notice a few things. The Jets defensive line should have a field day. 4 down lineman, 5 man rush should be sufficient. They’re going up against a bunch of scrubs, a 3rd round rookie out of Lehigh (Editor’s Note: again not thrilled with the shot at Lehigh), and a former first round pick in Eugene Monroe. Kenrick Ellis and Muhammad Wilkerson should see serious playing time, and the Jets can probably sit back and have some fun confusing Luke McCown, mixing up coverages, perhaps bringing the famed “cloud coverage” back and tee off from there.

What else do I like about this game? The Jaguars have nobody at linebacker. The Jets will have to run it to death, for one because they need to find out if Joe McKnight can be the change of pace they need, if Shonn Greene can tire a defense, and if Jeremy Kerley and the wild Hornfrog can create some confusion.  The Jets will also occasionally play action with Keller and take a few shots over the middle with Plaxico Burress as he outsizes all the Jaguars DB’s by 3 feet, give or take a few inches. I may be crazy, but I’m gonna go Jets over Jaguars by 6. Don’t ever count out the short man with a “bum knee”. Lot’s of Jets field goals.

Chris Celletti: I think the Jets get this done fairly easily…by Jets standards. I just simply can’t see them having too much trouble with the Jaguars’ offense and Luke McCown specifically. The Jets’ defensive strength is in their run stopping, and the Jaguars lean heavily on Maurice Jones-Drew. While MJD is one of the top runners in the league, the Jets should keep him in check. Mark Sanchez and the Jets offense won’t put up a ton off points, because I think Brian Schottenheimer and Co. will try to really pound the run and get Shonn Greene going. The Jets play an overall solid game, get a few turnovers on defense, and roll to a 24-7 victory.

Rob Celletti: I was originally going to pick the Jets to win in a close game, because as a Jet fan, I know not to get too confident in this team, especially when they’re favored by more than a touchdown.  But Jason Hill’s (who?!) comments today, calling the Jets’ defense “overhyped”, might light an early fire under the team and particularly their defense, so now I expect them to dominate.  Luke McCown is going to have a miserable game with less than 125 yards passing. Maurice Jones-Drew, Jacksonville’s only credible threat, will have a decent game, but not much of an impact.  The Jets will get back to a more balanced attack on offense and be able to dominate time of possession, holding the ball for around 35 minutes.  Plaxico Burress, Derrick Mason and Shonn Greene will get in the endzone in a 27-7 Jets win.

TJ Rosenthal: Jets Win: If the Jets start fast and begin to show they are putting all phases together together Sunday, we see them winning 31-10. This scenario has Shonn Greene with a 100 yard day and a deep ball to Holmes or Burress for a TD. Keller will shine in this type of game as well. Maurice Jones Drew will cut the Jets lead to a harmless 21-10 at some point with a short yardage TD.

Jags Win: The Jags win 17-10 if the Jets continue to struggle on offense and come out of the gates slowly. The snails pace by Sanchez and co. will allow the Jags to settle in until they can find a few spots to pull off a big run or long completion in order to pull of the upset.

Jets vs. Jaguars: 12 Pack Of Predictions

Nothing is better than the cold weather and a 12 pack along with it. It feels like football outside today, which is a beautiful thing.

1. Joe McKnight will receive at least three touches on offense, as the Jets reward him for his game changing special teams play last week. What he does with those plays will determine how much of a role he starts to have moving forward. Also look for John Conner to play more reps this week and a catch a pass out in the flat. His hands are an underrated part of his game.

2. After this game, still nobody will know who the hell Jason Hill is.

3. Luke McCown is going to have a rough time against the Jets defense. He will throw for less than 175 yards, be sacked at least 2 times, and have at least one turnover.

4. Maurice Jones-Drew will have a solid day at the office but won’t rip off the big run that will kill the Jets. He will finish with 22 carries for 95 yards and a touchdown.

5. Mark Sanchez won’t turn the football over this week and will throw somewhere between 25 and 30 passes.

6. Santonio Holmes and Eric Smith are both questionable to play this Sunday. Both will suit up but will have a more limited role than usual. Look for more action from both Derrick Mason and Jeremy Kerley on offense and for more Brodney Pool on defense than last week.

7. Plaxico Burress will have another big game, finishing with over 70 yards receiving and another touchdown. He will also be more involved in the first half.

8. For the first time in just about forever, the Jets will score a first quarter touchdown.

9. Antonio Cromartie will have a much better performance than last week, recording an interception and ripping off a big kick return.

10. Shonn Greene will rush for less than 80 yards but will have an improved yards per carry from last week. LaDainian Tomlinson will have at least 4 receptions.

11. Calvin Pace will record a sack for the second straight week.

12. The New York Jets won’t pull away in this one until the fourth quarter but will ultimately win 24-13. Hello 2-0.

NFL Week 2 Picks: Saints & Texans Good Bets

Chris Celletti goes over the best bets for week 2 of the NFL

The mass uncertainty heading into an NFL Week 1 has come and gone, and while there are teams (ahem, the Giants) for whom the sky is falling, there is also extreme optimism across half the league. Week 2 should get everyone back to normal. Those teams who had a rousing Week 1 win, like the Bears, may get a reality check – while all will likely be right in Steelerland on Monday morning. Taking a look at the Week 2 NFL schedule, there are actually a lot of pretty miserable games on tap. The only thing that could make some of them watchable (Redskins vs. Cardinals, Browns vs. Colts – ouch), is what makes the NFL the most popular sport in the country anyway – betting!

Saints -6.5 vs. Bears

I love the Saints in this one. First off, because if you’ve ever been to New Orleans (and remember it), you know that the only things that matter in the Big Easy are food, alcohol, jazz, and the Saints (not necessarily in that order), so the Superdome will be rocking. Drew Brees looked silly-good against the Packers in Lambeau last Thursday, so I expect big numbers in the dome on turf. Despite missing Marques Colston, New Orleans will still be able to move the ball. The Saints D’ will come up with enough big plays, intercepting Jay Cutler a few times, and I think they win by more than a touchdown.

Texans -3 at Dolphins

The Texans’ defense is better than the Patriots’. Yeah, I said it. I’m sorry, Chad Henne is not throwing for 400 yards again this week. And while Matt Schaub is no Tom Brady, did you see the Dolphins’ defense in Week 1? My goodness. Add Andre Johnson into the mix, and the Texans should roll to 2-0 while covering this spread.

Steelers -14 vs. Seahawks

I usually stay away from a spread this high, but the Steelers are pissed after getting routed by the Ravens last week. Good night.

Bucs +3 at Vikings

I need to see something from Donovan McNabb to prove that he’s not a walking corpse before I have any confidence in the Vikings. I’ll give you Adrian Peterson, but outside of him Minnesota is weak. I think Tampa was overhyped last year and was the classic “new coach out of nowhere 10-6 team (see 2006 Jets under Eric Mangini), but I think they keep this a low-scoring affair.

Bonus Non-Football Bet of the Week!

Floyd Mayweather Jr. by KO over Victor Ortiz (+200)

Looking at the odds for the Mayweather-Ortiz fight, I think any Mayweather by KO odds are sneaky good bets. Especially if you can find someone to give you the Vegas lines that ESPN’s Dan Rafael tweeted yesterday, where a Mayweather KO in rounds 9-11 is at 12-1. Mayweather is no knockout artist but I can see this fight being eerily similar to Floyd’s December 2008 fight with Ricky Hatton. Ortiz is going to try to get inside and make it a brawl, and may have some moments in the early rounds. But by round four or five Mayweather will have adjusted, which he does better than anyone in boxing, and will be systematically picking apart Ortiz. Ortiz won’t pull a Shane Mosley and give up, he’ll keep coming in, hoping to land a big shot. As he tires, he’ll be ripe for the picking by Mayweather, and I think a 10th or 11th round stoppage is a good possibility.

Please don’t blame me if you lose all your money this weekend.