Jets vs. Jaguars: Game Breakdown

Offense: For the second week in a row the Jets are facing a defense that will be more susceptible to the pass than the run. Jacksonville is solid up front and won’t be easy to run the football on. However, that doesn’t mean the Jets need to be dropping Mark Sanchez back 44 times in this game. You would like to see them try to establish some type of balance and get Shonn Greene rolling with some type of confidence. The Jets are going to have favorable match-ups in the passing game that will be there to exploit, but being able to create the threat of the run will only open that up more.

Sanchez needs to do a better job of protecting the football this week and getting the offense off to a quick start. He can contribute to that by getting Plaxico Burress and Dustin Keller involved early.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see Joe McKnight get a few reps on offense this week, along with Jeremy Kerley maybe getting a longer look. The Jets are going to show the Wildcat at some point and using Kerley and McKnight in the backfield together could be a good way to break through against the Jaguars tough front seven.

Also keep an eye out for former Jets defensive backs Dwight Lowery and Drew Coleman, who both have quickly picked up large roles on the Jacksonville defense. Coleman had a sack last week and Lowery recorded an interception.

Defense: Jacksonville is lacking on major offensive threats in a big way. Maurice Jones-Drew is a beast but if the Jets can contain him, which they are equipped to do, Jacksonville doesn’t have many options to turn to. Mercedes Lewis is a very good tight end who would have the ability to gash a Jets defense that struggles to stop his position but he isn’t expected to play on Sunday. Their top two receivers, Mike Thomas and Jason Hill, shouldn’t be able to get free on Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie. Yet, let’s hope Cromartie is motivated to return with a strong game after a weak opening performance.

The Jets took the time to look at multiple pass rushers on the free agent market this week, including Tully Banta-Cain. It Is time for Jamaal Westerman to break through and make a statement if he wants to be a major part of this defense moving forward. I would also like to see Muhammad Wilkerson come up with an impact play or two. Jacksonville will be running right into the teeth of the Jets defense early and often, so Wilkerson should be able to fill up the stat sheet a little bit.

Luke McCown is going to be asked to manage the game and not make any turnovers. If the Jets can establish an early lead, they should tee off on McCown who is lacking in experience. I simply can’t see him being able to find open receivers down the field with a myriad of Jets blitzes coming at him.

Special Teams: It was hard not to be very impressed with both Nick Folk and TJ Conley last week. Let’s hope they can keep it up and maintain some degree of consistency. Mike Westhoff said this week Antonio Cromartie is going to handle the majority of kick return duties, with Joe McKnight occasionally spelling him. Cromartie has the natural ability to be one of the league’s best returners but he needs to refrain from trying those 109 yard returns. Jeremy Kerley will continue to handle punt return duties and did a nice job fielding the ball last week.

Jets Won’t Force It, Yet Better Find Their Rushing Attack

The flexibility in Rex Ryan’s approach to gameday was needed and welcome last Sunday night but the Jets running game must deliver better in 2011 than it did against Dallas. Otherwise, Mark Sanchez and the Jets defense must both reach much higher levels of output, in order to help Gang Green return to playing games in late January.

At a press conference earlier this week Rex Ryan spoke about a coaching error he made halfway through the 2010 campaign that may have played into his thinking against the ‘Boys. The mistake occurred in Detroit, when Ryan declared that the club HAD to run the ball a specific amount of times. Thirty five times to be exact, against the Lions. The rushing attack then of course struggled all day. Worse, the albatross of having to reach a carries quota almost did the entire team in. Ryan jumped ship though, reneging on that plan. This allowed the Jets time for some late heroics through the air, on their way to a 23-20 comeback win in OT.

Fast forward to the Cowboys, where the Jets abandoned the run sooner than anyone expected them to. Sixteen carries for a paltry 45 yards. A 2.8 average that forced Ryan and offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer to rethink things at halftime, trailing 10-7.

Ryan admitted Tuesday, that since the Lions game, he’s gone with the idea that the method of attack will be based not upon a script to follow, but in assessing the flow of the game and what opposing defenses want to take away. Hopefully for the Jets, Ryan’s talk of reacting rather than force feeding rushing attempts, is not a cover up for a “Ground and Pound” mentality that has been grounded more than it has pounded since the departure of Thomas Jones prior to the 2010 season.

The original plan as far as bringing in future Hall of Fame RB LaDainian Tomlinson was NOT to switch the 2009 roles of a backfield that let Jones plow ahead for three quarters while letting Greene add the final punishing late game blows to a worn out opposition. It was rather to expand the variety. Tomlinson was seen as a player who could open up the screen game and widen the field while Greene was projected as a younger version of the hard hitting inside running Jones.

However, Greene struggled right from day one in the feature role. Greene’s careless week one fumble late in the first half against the Ravens not only sent the momentum of a tight game to Baltimore (10-9 winners over the Jets that night), it sent Greene back to the bench.  LT was then forced back into the top billing. A status that his long time former team, the Chargers, had felt was beyond his current capabilities as a back in the latter stages of an amazing career. The very reason for LT’s availability on the open market prior to the start of last season.

Monday night the Jets were set to try it again. “Take two” if you will, using Greene as the primary, and Tomlinson as the added ten touch flavor. However, Greene struggled again with just ten carries for 26 yards.

The Jets then flipped the script on Rob Ryan’s run heavy defense. A unit also aided by the dominating pass rushing prowess of DeMarcus Ware. By using LT with screens, the Jets killed two birds with one stone. They covered up an inability to gain yardage on the ground AND slowed down the devastation that Ware was leaving in his wake on the Jets passing game.

It worked. LT was key in the come from behind win. Catching balls and moving chains the entire second half. The Jets won the game, yet there are those who wonder if we are witnessing another painfully slow start for Greene in 2011.

Greene HAS been a force though late in seasons, and especially in the playoffs for two years straight. Greene has amassed 502 total yards and three TD’s with a five yard plus per carry average in five and a half postseason games (he got injured and missed the entire second half of the AFC championship at Indy in 2009).

This year though, the Jets may not be able to wait until the year is half over. Hated AFC rival the Patriots look as explosive as ever. A three game road stretch that includes the Raiders, (where the Jets always struggle), Baltimore and Pats follows Sunday’s battle with the Jaguars. Falling behind in the standings early would mean that the Jets would be playing for a wildcard before Greene typically heats up. A troubling scenario that again would leave the Jets to have to fight their way out of the AFC playoff field on the road.

Maybe the Jets in fact, whether they want to admit it or not, wont become the pre 2010 backfield hybrid design of Greene inside and LT sprinkled in through the passing game. Rather, they will end up as one that runs and dumps off screens equally.

If so, there will be those who will find this potential “flex” like blueprint for the backfield to be a slow death sentence. Concerned with any ideas of rebranding the Ground and Pound into the Run and Screen. One of those is former Jets OL and current ESPN analyst Damien Woody who told us via twitter this week:

“that’s all good but you have to be able to run the ball in November and December.”

Sunday’s game against the 1-0 Jaguars, who have alot of late newcomers on defense due to the NFL Lockout, seems like a good place for the Jets run game to start kicking it into gear. Ryan won’t force things if it doesn’t  though, and that’s a good thing. However, if Rex has to keep pulling the plug on the run, then the onus will REALLY be on Sanchez and a Jets defense that still lacks a game changing pass rusher.

The Jets won’t shove the Ground and Pound down anyone’s throat in 2011, but they better see signs of life from Greene and co. before we reach Halloween on the calendar. Otherwise, as Woody alluded to, November and December could become empty and cruel to a franchise that has for the past two years, lived for the cold weather.

TOJ Video Round-Up

Outside of constantly babbling on and on about the New York Jets. I am also a writer at Gunaxin, on “media and cultue”…I suppose that is the best way to put it. Anyway, here is a round-up of my latest work over there the past week if you are interested, if not…don’t worry the Jets/Jaguars game breakdown is coming shortly.

A Random Rant on New York City public transportation

NBA Lockout Withdrawal Videos

Toy Story Meets Dark Knight

George Brett Has An Accident

How Can She Slap

Interview With Rapper Chris Webby

TOJ Week 2 Roundtable: Jets/Jaguars Key Match-Up

What is the key match-up in the Jets/Jaguars game?

Joe Caporoso: I am going to say the New York Jets linebackers against Maurice Jones-Drew. With Mercedes Lewis likely out, Jones-Drew is the only person who you have to worry about gashing the Jets defense. It is key the Jets keep him contained and force Luke McCown to make some throws to keep the game competitive and considering the Jaguars wide receivers versus the Jets secondary, I doubt that will happen.

TJ RosenthalGround and Pound vs Jags run defense: The Jaguars come into the game second in the NFL against the run. We know. It has only been one week and a rusty Chris Johnson had a mere nine carries last week for the Titans. However, the Jets come into the game still searching for their rushing attack. The Cowboys took the run away from the Jets. The Jags have a slew of free agents that were added to Jack Del Rio’s unit. It is time for Shonn Greene to get it going early in a season.

Rob Celletti: The key match-up this week – and it is one I think the Jets will ace – is their front seven vs. the Jags rushing attack (Maurice Jones-Drew).  To me, MJD is the only person that can really hurt the Jets and make this game close if he has a huge day. The Jets got some great play from Mike DeVito, Sione Pouha and Bart Scott in week 1, so if those same guys contribute again and are joined by the rest of the bigs up front, the Jets will stuff the run and – absent some truly boneheaded plays on offense and special teams – be on their way to a win.

Shonn Greene In The Crosshairs

We spent a good chunk of the off-season hearing the hype about Shonn Greene becoming the lead back for the New York Jets. Many writers, including myself, were excited about the prospect and carry the belief that Greene has the ability to be a true lead back if given the appropriate amount of carries.  A strong finish to last year and a good pre-season seemed to fuel that belief.

Despite that, week one of the 2011 season was reminiscent of the early portions of the 2010 season. It was Greene not making much of an impact, while LaDainian Tomlinson was finding a way to consistently come up with big plays in a similar number of snaps. It is too early to rush to any judgment on Greene for this season. Yet, he needs to show a little punch this week against the Jacksonville Jaguars

I am aware the Jaguars have a tough run defense and the Jets gameplan will likely be more pass centric for the second week in a row. However, Greene needs to break through and at least get to the second level a few times. He will receive more than 10 carries this week, but he needs to   do more with those carries. Let’s not even worry about him ripping off the long run, how about a few 8-12 yard runs to get some confidence going?

Nobody is expecting to Greene to register a 22 carry, 150 yard performance against Jacksonville, but if he can give the Jets a solid 15 carries for 70 yards it would be a step in the right direction.

Preliminary Thoughts: Jets vs. Jacksonville

The Jets will stay at home in week two to face the Jacksonville Jaguars as 9.5 point favorites, which should make just about every fan nervous. Being such a large favorite still isn’t a comfortable spot for this team. However, this should be a very favorable match-up for the Jets. There is no reason they shouldn’t be leaving for Oakland next week without a 2-0 record.

Jacksonville surprised people around the league by releasing starting quarterback David Garrard right before the opener and handing the reigns over to Luke McCown. Despite the move, they won their opener at home against the Tennessee Titans 16-14. In the game, Jacksonville showed an ability to run the football and completely shut down the run, but not too much else. Matt Hasselbeck was able to rack up 263 yards passing and a pair of touchdowns, while Kenny Britt had a monster day, finishing with 136 yards receiving and 2 touchdowns on the Jags defense. On offense, Luke McCown managed the game, going 17/24 for 175 yards.

Even though we’d like to see the Jets establish their running game, the match-up may dictate the Jets spread out Jacksonville’s suspect secondary and attempt to pick them apart with Santonio Holmes, Plaxico Burress, Derrick Mason, and Dustin Keller. I am sure they won’t want Mark Sanchez throwing 44 passes again, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him somewhere in the 30s. On defense, the Jets are equipped to handle Jacksonville’s power rushing attack and beyond equipped to handle their meager passing threat. Their most dangerous weapon is tight end Mercedes Lewis who would be a nightmare for the Jets but there is a good chance he will miss the game with a calf injury.

Former New York Jet cornerback Drew Coleman will returning to face his old team. He recorded a sack in his Jaguars debut last week.

Jets Fans Hate Blue And Gold Jerseys

It was announced today that the Jets will be wearing their blue and gold New York Titans throwbacks this Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars, here is some reaction via Facebook and Twitter –

@TurnOnTheJets: Jets wearing Blue and Gold New York Titans jerseys this week, thoughts?

@P_Rut5: i hate whenever the Jets wear anything other than Green at home, and this includes when they wear their normal whites at home

@CMSexton: Please no.

@Chrisp2213: Screw the old Titans jerseys. Give me some 80’s retro kelly green. Looks silly. Fan base with green, team blue/gold.

@JetsFanFlorida: DESPISE throwback Jerseys. Coming to game from Florida this weekend and GangGreen won’t be GREEN = Stupid! No one likes!

@ChrisMitro: no no no no no no yuck

@Chris_Leach_NYC: doesn’t make any sense…save it for the bills or something.. If so, go white jersey gold pants…

@ZazzyJets: As long as the offensive line improves, and we win, they can wear pink for all I care.

NFL Week 1 Review

It is too early to throw around Power Rankings, so here are 5 observations from week 1 of the NFL

1. The Colts are a one man organization. They haven’t drafted well in recent years. They have done nothing in free agency in recent years. The competency of their coaching staff, including Jim Caldwell, is questionable. When you latch all your success on to one individual it is poor management. Peyton Manning is gone and isn’t coming back this year. It looks like the Colts are ready to tuck their tail between their legs and become a 4-12 team. It sure wouldn’t hurt to have a guy like Rex Ryan being your head coach in their situation to put a little fire into that lifeless bunch who was whipped by Houston.

2. Nobody likes poking fun at our uptight neighbors more than me, but the New York Giants were truly awful in week one. When are they going to improve their special teams? How will they overcome their injuries on defense with such questionable depth? Is Eli Manning really good enough to carry a team with mediocre surrounding talent? The Giants need to take advantage of an easy start to their schedule, beginning with their home opener versus the Steven Jackson-less Rams or they will be looking at a 5-11 season.

3. It isn’t very often you see the Pittsburgh Steelers manhandled the way they were on Sunday. It will be interesting to see how each team responds to such a surprising week one outcome. I would still bet they will be battling for the AFC North title into the final weeks of the season. One other comment on Pittsburgh, it is a little sad to see Jerricho Cotchery still injured and eventually coming back into a #5 receiver role on the Steelers behind Hines Ward, Mike Wallace, Emmanuel Sanders, and Antonio Brown.

4. I won’t go crazy with Buffalo hype because I don’t think Kansas City is good. Yet, the Bills will be a fun team to watch and should flirt with a .500 record this season. The Jets two games against them this year won’t be gimmes by any stretch of the imagination. New England and Miami set defensive football back about 100 years on Monday night. Then again, the Jets did almost allow 400 yards, so I shouldn’t say too much. Yet, seriously New England…you are going to let Chad Henne throw for over 400 yards on you?

5. A few games to look forward to this week –

  • Philadelphia at Atlanta – The Mike Vick show comes back home, while the Falcons badly need a win.
  • San Diego at New England – Good barometer for the Chargers early in the year
  • Green Bay at Carolina – Should be fun to watch Cam Newton off his 400 yard performance against the Champs.

Final Thoughts On Jets/Cowboys

A few final thoughts on Jets/Cowboys…

Game MVP – It is hard to nail down a specific one, as so many individuals made plays in crucial times. I will go with Plaxico Burress, who came to life in the second half and brought some much needed energy to the offense. He finished the game with 4 receptions for 72 yards.

Game Goat – Antonio Cromartie had a rough night at the office, getting beat for two touchdowns, including one where Miles Austin pulled the ball away from him.

Play of the Game – I am taking the blocked punt. I have never heard the stadium louder.

Trending Up

  • LaDainian Tomlinson – 6 receptions, 73 yards
  • Jeff Cumberland – First career NFL reception went for 33 yards
  • Bart Scott – 8 tackles, 2 for a loss and a sack
  • Mike DeVito – Key strip sack in the 4th quarter

Trending Down

  • Shonn Greene – 10 carries, 26 yards
  • Wayne Hunter – Beat like a drum by DeMarcus Ware all night
  • Jeremy Kerley – 1 offensive play logged
  • Derrick Mason – Didn’t seem on the same page as Sanchez and dropped a touchdown pass

1. Greene needs to show more as the starting running back or we will start to see more and more LaDainian Tomlinson, who already played an equal amount of snaps to him last week. Joe McKnight will likely also get a shot at some point on offense and Bilal Powell always remains an option off the bench if Greene continues to struggle.

2. Jamaal Westerman didn’t record a stat last week, hopefully he can get going as a pass rush threat in the coming weeks. It was good to see Calvin Pace finally on the field in week one and coming up with a sack.

3. Very encouraging performances by TJ Conley and Nick Folk in week one, should calm some of the nerves about the Jets special teams.

TJ Rosenthal reviews his five keys from the game

1. SANCHEZ, YEAR THREE BEGINS: We said “This is Mark Sanchez’s team now. He will be judged according to where the Jets end up.”

27-24. Late comeback. Again. It didn’t start out so rosy but winners grind and losers find ways to lose. Sanchez is a winner, who also put up 335 yards. Enough said

2. KEEP ROMO CONTAINED: We said “The Jets pass rush up front has provided little pressure this preseason. What they CAN’T do is compound that by allowing Romo to escape the pocket where he likes to sling it Brett Favre style. Often times with downfield success. Even worse for the Jets, Romo has Jason Witten.”

So much for that. The Jets couldn’t stop Romo. He stopped himself. Twice in the fourth quarter. Witten killed the Jets all night.

3. CROMARTIE VS BRYANT AND AUSTIN: We said: “Balls will be flying like Juy 4th fireworks in CB Antonio Cromartie’s work area.With the game breaking combo of Dez Bryant and Miles Austin coming to town, “Cro” can ill afford a night like the one he had LAST year in week one against the Ravens.”

Whew. Cro almost had a repeat of that dismal night. Two TD’s on his watch and the ‘Boys were aiming for a third. Just got out of dodge with that matchup.

4. KELLER AND WITTEN: We said: “ Jason Witten is the template for how an All Pro tight end should perform and be employed in the passing game.Keller has been “emerging” since his rookie year. It’s time For number 81 to be that weapon that the Jets don’t make excuses about anymore.

Keller was a force with five catches and a TD that brought the Jets back to 10-7. Witten was not only a force, he was a threat. Still, the play of Keller helped stave off Dallas.

5. SCHOTTY VS ROB RYAN: We said: “A stalemate in this one on one battle of the headsets will keep the Jets in the game. Anything less may leave the Jets at 0-1 and prepping for Jacksonville.”

Ryan owned the Jets for three quarters. Schotty adjusted to the screen game and a tiring secondary late. Call it a stalemate if you want because one big quarter can nullify three solid quarters and it did Sunday night.

Week 1: Near Misses, Big Wins, and the Buffalo Bills

As a Jets fan I have to root for the Bills 14 games a year. They’ve been awful for 10 years yet I feel they’re finally picking up some much needed steam. The play of Ryan Fitzpatrick, Stevie Johnson and Marcell Dareus will define how far they go this year.

While I did not see the Bills game live, I did get to see the Ravens destroy the all powerful, all aging defense of the Steelers while Terrell Suggs, Haloti Ngata, Ed Reed and Ray Lewis prove that they still have the best defense in the AFC North. Ray Rice was a machine, and Ben Roethlisberger looked like his scrambling is not always going to end up with a 30 yard pass down the field. The Ravens proved that if you stop the Steelers run game, things get a little bit shaky when you mix coverages and blitz schemes.

The Rams! The Rams, like a few other franchises, seem to be flailing on all fronts. Steven Jackson rips one off for a 50 yard touchdown and then pulls a quad and misses the entire game. Sam Bradford looks like a rookie again and the Rams receiving core looks like a bunch of second stringers on any other team. Two rookie receivers and a rookie tight end who looks undeserving of a second round draft pick.

Michael Vick and the Eagles got lucky. Yes. Lucky. Name one good player on the Rams defense. Exactly, there aren’t any. Let’s see Vick go against the Ravens defense and see if he can run all over the field like that.

On to the Redskins, I said one thing to my dad (who is a Redskins fan) on the phone today. Redskins defense and Ryan Kerrigan will have to win the game. So what happens? Well there is currently 5 minutes left in the game and the Redskins are up 28-14. Ryan Kerrigan deflected a pass for an interception on the 9 yard line and ran it in for a touchdown. I also predict the length of marriages.

Colt McCoy didn’t look like the greatest quarterback of all time, despite many watching him in the preseason and proclaiming such. The Bengals will enjoy this one, and will again having fun watching the AFC north slip away for yet another year.

Calvin Johnson again proves Cris Carter wrong, and Matthew Stafford is proving that the 2009 QB draft class (Stafford, Sanchez, Freeman) may be one of the best in recent memory.

So how have things changed? Washington leads the NFC East, the dream team Vikings are no more, the NFC South is all even at 0 wins. A useless NFC West is tied between the Ted Ginn & Company 49ers and the Arizona Cardinals, Ryan Fitzpatrick understands the science of football. The Bengals lead the NFC north. Jacksonville leads the AFC South and San Diego actually won a game before the first snowfall in the East.