New York Jets: How To Make A Run

TOJ on how the New York Jets can make yet another late season run

The first two seasons for the New York Jets under Rex Ryan have been marked by extreme peaks and valleys. They go from looking unbeatable to looking like one of the worst teams in the league. Both years have required the team to string together a run or two to make the playoffs and then to ultimately come within a half or a few plays of the Super Bowl.

Let’s look at those runs and try to figure out if they have another one in them —

2009: 4-6 to 7-6

The Jets were effectively buried after falling to 4-6. They responded with three straight wins over mediocre teams (Carolina, Buffalo, and Tampa Bay). The main factors behind this winning streak were really the lack of quality opponents and an excessively conservative (Kellen Clemens played the last game and a half of this streak) game-plan, which allowed the defense to dominate horrible offenses while the Jets own offense didn’t get in the way. I would expect something pretty similar in the next few weeks against Buffalo, Washington, and Kansas City. Although considering the steps back the Jets running game has taken, they will need more from Mark Sanchez…more as in, complete a few passes over 10 yards and don’t turn the damn football over.

2009: 7-7 to the AFC Championship Game

After losing to Atlanta to end their previously mentioned 3 game winning streak. The Jets won 4 straight to make the playoffs and get all the way to the AFC Championship Game. A major factor in the first two wins was quality of competition, notably an Indianapolis Colts team resting starters in the second half and a Cincinnati Bengals team looking ahead to the playoffs. However, the Jets showed the regular season finale wasn’t a fluke by smacking the Bengals around in their own building in the wild-card round and then upsetting the heavily favored San Diego Chargers the next week. Mark Sanchez played well in these four games, particularly in terms of protecting the football. Shonn Greene also got rolling, which took the Jets running game to another level. The defense was very good and Brian Schottenheimer actually strung together a few solid game plans.

2010: 0-1 to 9-2

After an ugly opening week loss, the Jets won 8 of their next 9, basically an unprecedented streak of success in franchise history. The key here was clutch plays by Mark Sanchez and Santonio Holmes, considering the duo hooked up for the game deciding play in half of those wins, with the defense stepping up at the end of the game in a few others.

2010: 9-3 to the AFC Championship Game

After a pair of brutal losses to New England and Miami, the Jets responded by winning 2 out of 3 to end their regular season and coming up with two more road playoff wins. The key here was the defense regaining their dominant form, most notably in the playoffs against Peyton Manning and Tom Brady along with Mark Sanchez getting his confidence back. The stats won’t bear this out but considering the competition and the timing of the game, the three most impressive games I have seen from both Sanchez and Rex Ryan’s defense were the regular season win in Pittsburgh in week 15 and their playoff wins over the Colts and Patriots.

2011: 2-3 to 5-3

The best six quarters of football the Jets have played this season were the second half against San Diego and the full Buffalo game. In retrospect, neither of those teams are very good. However, you saw a dominant defense and a confident Mark Sanchez, noticing a trend here?

Prospects for 2011 Playoff Run

Considering their next three opponents, the Jets have a very real chance to get their defense rolling against subpar offenses. Yes, I am putting Buffalo in that category after watching them play the past three weeks. If this unit can’t get going against the Bills, Rex Grossman, and Tyler Palko they have even further to go than we already think they do. Outside of one ill-advised throw and a dropped snap, Mark Sanchez played very well against Buffalo a few weeks ago. He must start building himself back-up immediately, with support of the coaching staff/game-planning. Even if the Jets do scrape by in the next three, Sanchez must get much better to win in Philadelphia, beat the Giants, and the suddenly hot Miami Dolphins.

He will need support of both Shonn Greene and his offensive line, who have been average at best this season. An offense isn’t a one man show. Greene and the rest of the running backs need to bring balance to the offense and the wide receivers and Dustin Keller must start looking like the playmakers they are supposed to be.

Are the Jets capable of winning their next three and setting us up for an exciting few final weeks? Absolutely. If they can’t win these next three, it is time to blow up big chunks of this team and they know that. Let’s see if they have another run in them.

Depressing New York Jets Statistics

TOJ with a collection of depressing New York Jets statistics

The most depressing statistic of all for the New York Jets is of course their 5-5 record. I give them passes for losses in Baltimore and New England because those are both quality, playoff teams. They were also shorthanded in Baltimore without Nick Mangold. Beyond that, the other three losses were complete embarrassments, particularly the past two.

However, when you look at their current stat sheet, a few things jump off the page…in a bad way.

Shonn Greene – 573 yards in 10 games. I am sorry but 57 yards a game isn’t lead back production. He is on pace to finish with 915 yards and 4 touchdowns with under 4 yards per carry. Greene has been better as of late until his injury in Denver but he needs a strong finish or the Jets may have to look elsewhere for their number one back.

Santonio Holmes – 472 receiving yards…similarly to Greene, 42 yards a game isn’t cutting it for a number one receiver. Some of that blame falls on Mark Sanchez and Brian Schottenheimer but not all of it. If I would have told you before the year that Victor Cruz would be more of a big play threat than Holmes, production-wise, wouldn’t that have made you sick?

Dustin Keller – He hasn’t caught a touchdown since week 2. This is a bizarre ongoing trend with Keller who always starts off the season with high touchdown production and then completely falls off a cliff.

Calvin Pace – The Jets paid him like an elite pass rusher and he is proving not to be one. He has 4 sacks in 10 games.

Rushing Yards – 96.6 yards a game, which is good for 26th in the league.

Opponent Rushing Yards – 116.9 yards a game, which is good for 17th in the league. Isn’t this team supposed to be physical?

New York Jets Defense Needs Immediate Improvement

TOJ on the immediate improvement needed from the New York Jets defense if they are going to contend this season

The New York Jets defense, Rex Ryan’s pride and joy, has been maddeningly inconsistent this season. They dominated in the second half against San Diego, the entire Buffalo game, and then for the first 29 minutes of the New England game. Since then they were embarrassed on a two minute drive, the entire second half against the Patriots, and after handling the Tim Tebow circus for 56 minutes, laid an egg on the final drive.

There are parts of this defense seriously lacking in athleticism and speed. Bart Scott has been a major liability all season and is consistently either missing a tackle, getting knocked down or moved out of place. Calvin Pace is supposed to be the team’s top pass rusher but has 4 sacks in 10 games, 2 of which came against Miami when Matt Moore was receiving his first start and they still hadn’t won a game yet. He doesn’t disrupt the passer enough. Between the two of them and the subpar platoon at Bryan Thomas’ old spot, it has been painful at times to watch the Jets linebackers lumbering around the field.

At safety, we all know what the problem is. Rex Ryan can try to cover for him all he wants in his press conferences but Eric Smith has been terrible this season. Blowing contain on Tim Tebow’s game winning touchdown provided a nice illustration of what he has brought to the defense this year. He can’t cover. He misses too many tackles for a guy supposed to be known for his run defense and has a knack for untimely penalties. Jim Leonhard is an average player at safety, who can’t afford to be complimented by a below average player.

These are all issues the Jets will have to coach around for the rest of the season. They managed to do it last year, but can they pull it off again? A healthy Brodney Pool wouldn’t hurt. Antonio Cromartie playing with some heart and more physicality (not dancing to avoid tackles) would help as well. There are positives on the defense, namely the development of the line, Darrelle Revis, David Harris, and the growth of Kyle Wilson. Rex Ryan and Mike Pettine are good defensive minds but they need to push this unit to the next level immediately to support an increasingly incompetent offense.

The Jets have 12 upcoming quarters to feast on the fading Ryan Fitzpatrick, Rex Grossman, and Tyler Palko. Can they take advantage or will they disappoint us like they did in the final minutes of Thursday night?

New York Jets: Where Do We Go From Here?

Sitting at 5-5 and looking awful in the process, do the New York Jets have a playoff run in them?

We have now had a few days for the dust to settle on a disgustingly disappointing week of New York Jets football. The New York Giants will take some of the media spotlight for laying an egg at home last night against Vince Young and the Philadelphia Eagles. As it stands right now, the New York Jets are 5-5 and somehow still very much alive in the AFC wild-card race.

Basically they are 1 game out as they sit behind the 6-4 Cincinnati Bengals at. Currently, they are also behind Denver and Tennessee because of tie-breakers despite having the same record as them. Be prepared for six weeks of rooting against these three teams, along with Pittsburgh and Baltimore although most of us expect both of them to return to the playoffs.

The Jets schedule is kind to put it mildly the next three weeks. This week they play the only team in the NFL who has been more pathetic than them the past two weeks, the Buffalo Bills. The Jets get them at home and beat them up only a few weeks ago, 27-11. If the Jets can’t take care of them this week, it is time to start firing coaches (cough, cough Schottenheimer) and benching people. After Buffalo, the Jets travel to Washington to face the Rex Grossman show in DC and then host Tyler Palko and the Kansas City Chiefs.

This three game stretch reminds me of the 4-6 Jets in 2009 facing Carolina, Buffalo, and Tampa Bay. The won all three but nobody was all that impressed considering the level of competition. I could see a similar situation unfolding this year as ultimately the Jets will have to find a way to not just win these next 3 but at a minimum take 2 out of 3 from Philadelphia, the Giants, and the suddenly hot Dolphins to end the season.

They aren’t beating anybody if Mark Sanchez doesn’t get his confidence back and start playing with some consistency, most of that is on him but Brian Schottenheimer has to come up with a competent game-plan. Rex Ryan must let Bill Callahan and Tom Moore give more input to assist in this process. I don’t know how to hide Wayne Hunter outside of leaving awful Matthew Mulligan in to help chip block. I suppose they could also try awful Vladimir Ducasse in that spot or give Shawn Nelson a chance if he ever gets healthy. Maybe give Josh Baker a few more reps? There are more questions than answers right now on offense.

On defense, my rant is coming this afternoon. 9 of their 12 last quarters have been terrific. They dominated Buffalo. Played a strong first half against New England and then dominated Denver for 56 minutes. This team needs more. Considering how bad the offense has been, this defense needs to abuse the upcoming three offenses the way they should, despite Bart Scott and Calvin Pace potentially being the slowest two linebackers in the NFL and Eric Smith being arguably the worst starting safety in the NFL.

Optimistic? I wouldn’t say I am. Yet, there is a glimmer of hope left in this season thanks to the 2009 precedent and how bad the team’s next three opponents are.

TOJ Week 11 NFL Picks

TOJ with his week 11 NFL Picks. Who are your best bets?

Last Week: 8-7

Season Record: 75-56-4

TOJ Week 11 Picks (Lines Courtesy of BetUS)

  • Tennessee (+7) vs. Atlanta
  • Miami (-1) vs. Buffalo
  • Baltimore (-7) vs. Cincinnati
  • Jacksonville (+1) vs. Cleveland
  • Minnesota (PK) vs. Oakland
  • Detroit (-7) vs. Carolina
  • Green Bay (-14.5) vs. Tampa Bay
  • Dallas (-7.5) vs. Washington
  • Arizona (+10.5) vs. San Francisco
  • Seattle (+3) vs. St. Louis
  • Chicago (-4.5) vs. San Diego
  • Giants (-6.5) vs. Philadelphia
  • New England (-16) vs. Kansas City

Jets Fail To Escape Denver, And Fear Of Themselves

TJ on a New York Jets team who now plays scared football

To the Jets last night’s 17-13 loss to the Denver Broncos in the church of Tim Tebow, felt more like “The Exorcist,” than a happy go lucky gospel led religious revival. Where that cliched final scene of horror was only a matter of time. Jets fans endured the final moments, watching through their hands like a Friday the 13th film, as the last drive took the Broncos 95 yards to an improbable victory. One that not only placed the Jets into the thin air of uncertainty. It left them trapped in their own fears. With concern and confusion as to what time is the right time for turning up the “risk and reward” dial on either side of the ball.

The Jets had come off of an emotional 37-16 loss to the hated Pats just days prior to this Thursday night matchup. In the altitude against a bizarre, yet effective run based Bronco club, featuring of all things, the option formation. All signs pointed towards a Jet letdown, highlighted by schematic confusion on the field. None of this was to be the case however.

The Jets came out focused on defense, and certainly clear about their intent on offense. One that was to be a mistake free”war of attrition.” Featuring a game long patience to grab any lead, then force the throwing challenged Tebow into trying to gain it back.

The way things were playing out, this shotgun gameplan, put together virtually on the flight out to Denver, was on it’s way to working to perfection. However, an inability to decide upon when to open up the offense, or go for broke and smother Tebow on defense, let things fester for too long. Part of the reason for the decision not to go for the kill, with the ball, was understandable to some degree.

Starting RB Shonn Greene had exited early in the game with a rib injury. Therefore right off the bat, the offense had to deal with more insecurities regarding ball security. Trying to limit mistakes by Sanchez, as the Jets coaches often do, was made more difficult after rookie Bilal Powell fumbled on the Denver goal line, and Joe McKnight, who was the primary ball carrier, fumbled after a long kickoff return. Who could the Jets turn to even if they wanted to put the Broncos away?

A run game in fear of putting the ball on the ground, with a QB who the Jets sidelines are always handcuffing, behind a line that offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer seems to doubt during five step drops or more by Sanchez, made for a unit that was walking on eggshells all night.

Those wondering about where the downfield attack asked themselves “where was Santonio Holmes? Why is the only play to Dustin Keller a rollout throw into the flat? How can a team have any room to work if they don’t make the field longer than a ten yard box?”

Playing in fear of a mistake was of course heightened further after Sanchez erased 40 plus minutes of attrition work, by throwing away 7 points and the lead late in the third quarter. In a game where a touchdown felt like 40 points.

It only made sense then, that on a key third down, with the chance to keep the ball rather than give the angelic Tebow one more chance, the Jets chose to run a draw to Powell. Rather than risk the decision making of Sanchez again. Behind a shaky line, with Broncos Dumervill and Miller (already having big nights) ready to pounce from the blindside and change the game.

Why NOT put the safety of insuring a much needed road win in the hands of a Rex Ryan’s defense, right? Right. Sort of.

When the Broncos DID get the ball back with 5:00  left down 13-10, the Jets needing one negative play, feared the big play. Perhaps an aggressive call to create one from coordinator Mike Pettine could have hurt the Jets but also could have created a loss of yardage. A fake blitz look up front could have caused a Bronco lineman to jump out of concern for a sack. Instead, the Broncos milked the clock, moved the chains, and drained the Jets. Slowly. Horrifically.

In fact, after Jim Leonhard missed his chance to close the deal by over pursuing a screen in the end zone on a play that started the nightmarish drive, the only attack the Jets went on, came on a mortally self inflicted middle blitz package. One where Tebow ran like a Pop Warner QB around the left side, virtually untouched, for the game winner with 0:58 seconds left.

Why blitz then? With third and eight, and the Broncos already in game tying FG position? Why not be the aggressor on the other teams twenty yard line? Because they needed proof that Tebow could do it. So he did. for seventy five yards. Rex Ryan, envisioning a brutal bloody ending, like a Hitchcock film said, “blitz.” From the inside. With no insurance that the edges would be guarded. Too little, too late.

The Jets are not dead yet. 5-5 in a conference where many teams will end the weekend with at least four losses, means that with six games left, there is hope. What makes it FEEL like 2011 is over, is not the record as much as how the Jets looked last night.

They played scared. Afraid of themselves. The Jets were afraid to open up the field and take a shot at knocking that team out of their collegiate strategy. They were afraid to attack defensively, miles away from their end zone. Against an option QB with no arm accuracy whatsoever. They were afraid to close the game out on either side of the ball. So the Broncos thanked them for an opportunity instead, and did it for them.

Fear took over this team last night. As it has for much of the year on offense. THAT’s why the Jets season feels as though it has hit a point of no return.

A Vent On The New York Jets Offense

A much needed vent on the New York Jets offense after last night’s performance

Let’s start with something comforting

Despite a recent rough patch of games, Mark Sanchez still is on the exact same pace that Eli Manning was on to start his career and we see how Eli has turned out. Sanchez is not without blame, he is inconsistent, inaccurate and gets jittery in the pocket.

However, I am still of the belief that he has the physical tools and leadership abilities to be the quarterback on a Super Bowl winning team. Everything he has accomplished the past two years doesn’t get swept under the rug. He needs to get better, now…but the potential is there to be a good to very good NFL quarterback.

I haven’t went crazy on the Brian Schottenheimer hate bandwagon but it is now clearer than ever that he needs to be fired at the season’s end, if not immediately. This is a team that has been thoroughly mediocre on offense through six years and four quarterbacks (Chad Pennington, Kellen Clemens, Brett Favre, Mark Sanchez) with Schottenheimer designing and calling plays.

It is time to see if Mark Sanchez can improve in a new system. A system that somewhat resembles a NFL offense.

Right now the Jets offense is completely predictable and limited. I have watched every snap of the Schottenheimer era and I can call out exactly what the Jets are running at least 25-30 times a game depending on the situation, formation, and field position. I am a digital salesperson, who runs a website on the side that played Division 3 football. What do you think people like Bill Belichick can figure out after breaking down Jets game tape?

Maybe this is a slight exaggeration but at the moment it appears the only two pass plays the Jets run are slants and the occasional boot to Dustin Keller that everybody always sees coming for 3 yards. They refuse to push the ball vertically down the field, which allows defenses to sit on the Jets short routes and jump them. I know Mark Sanchez has the ability to complete long passes down the field, I have seen him do it plenty of times. Where are the double moves? Where are the deep posts?

The problems go beyond Schottenheimer and Sanchez, starting with an offensive line that can’t consistently protect and a very average rushing attack.

The Jets need a new right tackle. They need a new backup tight end. They need a tall, vertical threat at receiver. They honestly may need a new primary running back because I am not sold on Shonn Greene yet. When is a runner on this team going to break a 50 yard run? When is somebody going to take a screen pass for 70?

However, first and foremost they need a new offensive coordinator and a complete change of direction. Schottenheimer is going to finish the season out and that is what it is. We can only hope people like Bill Callahan and Tom Moore can bring some type of influence that creates an offense that resembles ones like others in the NFL.

All You Can Do Is Laugh: Jets Pathetic In Primetime

The New York Jets embarrassed themselves yet again…

Well that is about as bad as it gets.

Two embarrassing losses in primetime in the span of four days. Tonight was an absolute doozy. Football is a team game and the Jets are a bad football team at the moment. They are 5-5 and headed in the wrong direction, with no clue as to who they are. I won’t pull a Rex Ryan and declare them dead from the playoffs cause they aren’t, but any realistic person would admit it doesn’t look like we will be seeing them in January this year.

Let’s not delay the inevitable…blame game time –

Mark Sanchez – He was terrible for the second straight game. The pick six was an absolute killer, especially with the type of game this was. If he doesn’t throw that, the Jets roll to a victory tonight. He must be threatening a league record for points directly handed to the other team. There was also continued struggles with game management and absolute no pressing of the football down the field. Nobody defends this guy more than me but the last two games have been major steps back in his development.

Brian Schottenheimer – Answering who the problem is Sanchez or Schottenheimer, is like the chicken or the egg question but Schottenheimer was awful tonight. Defenses sit on the Jets short passing game because they refuse to press the football down the field. I am convinced the only passing plays in their playbook are slants and bootlegs to Dustin Keller for 2 yards.

Offensive Line – Maybe the Jets can’t press the football down the field because they can’t pass protect anymore. Wayne Hunter can’t be a starting tackle in the NFL and Matthew Mulligan can’t play reps in a NFL offense.

Mike Tannenbaum – For cutting Damien Woody and not finding an adequate replacement. For cutting Ben Hartsock and not finding an adequate replacement. For tampering the chemistry of a successful team by parting ways with Jerricho Cotchery, Shaun Ellis, and yes Braylon Edwards who was the team’s only viable deep threat.

Shonn Greene – Needed him to step up with LT being out and he got hurt, showing his durability issues again.

The Entire Defense – They played great all night but choked with the game on the line. I am looking at you Eric Smith for giving up contain on that final play. Antonio Cromartie for playing soft all night. Jim Leonhard for missing a key tackle on the goal-line that started the drive. Calvin Pace for never generating a pass rush. Bart Scott for continuing to have a below average year.

Rex Ryan – We love you big guy, but you were outcoached badly last week and your team wasn’t prepared tonight. You are going to get heat for writing books and promoting movies while coaching a .500 team and you deserve it right now.

New York Jets: Can We Throw This Guy A Pass?

The New York Jets need to get the ball to their playmakers to score points

He isn’t half bad when given the chance.

How about a deep ball…and by deep I mean in the air for over 40 yards to this guy?

What about a screen to him?

If you want points, get the ball to your playmakers…

Jets vs. Broncos: 12 Pack Of Predictions

12 predictions for the Jets/Broncos Thursday night match-up

Rough week for the 12 pack last Sunday, but we are back on the short week…we will keep it short and sweet in honor of that.

1. Over/under on Tebow completions? 10. And I am taking the under.

2. Joe McKnight will get at least 10 offensive touches. Bilal Powell will chip in 5.

3. Shonn Greene will have over 100 yards rushing.

4. Mark Sanchez won’t have any turnovers.

5. Tim Tebow won’t throw any interceptions and but will fumble at least once and be sacked 3-5 times.

6. David Harris will have at least 10 tackles…he better.

7. This will be a one possession game after three quarters.

8. Nick Folk won’t miss any field goals.

9. Eron Riley will record his first reception as a member of the New York Jets.

10. Santonio Holmes will have at least 70 yards receiving.

11. Willis McGahee will end up playing and have at least 12 carries.

12. The Jets will pull away in the fourth quarter, in not the prettiest game of the year, but a game that will ultimately be a win, 24-9.