TOJ Roundtable Week 10 – Jets/Patriots Predictions

The TOJ writers submit their picks for the Jets/Patriots week 10 showdown

Joe Caporoso: 12 Pack

Rob Celletti: January has come early, it seems, as the Jets host the Patriots in what is rightly being called the most important game played in MetLife Stadium since it opened. I expect Jets fans to answer the call and show up big, getting the Jets off to a good start, but to think they’ll roll to a double-digit victory on that energy seems a little foolish.  These Jets/Patriots clashes always turn into close games, and as much as the Patriots are not the force they have been for most of the previous decade, they will come out desperate.

Both teams will need to absorb punches from the other side, and this will turn into a classic seesaw affair. The Jets defense will play well, but Brady is Brady, and he’s angry, so he’s going to will his team to a few scores. However, I expect the Jets to again thrive with a balanced offensive attack of their own against a defense that simply does not have the talent to keep up with Greene, Holmes, Keller, Burress and yes, Mark Sanchez.

A late touchdown from Sanchez to Keller (he’s gonna score again at some point this year, right?) puts the Jets ahead 27-24, a lead the Jets won’t relinquish as they move to 6-3 on the year and grab a stranglehold on the AFC East.

TJ Rosenthal: The Jets win if: They continue to exemplify balance on offense, maybe adding some better finishes to early drives. They win if Darrelle Revis shuts down Welker. The TE twins can hurt the Jets but they don’t have to destroy them. We don’t see BenJarvus Green-Ellis, even if he is the Pats focal point, ripping off 136 yards again. The Jets are tackling better now. Surrounding the ball better. Faster too. Limit yards after catch, and get the entire offense involved. That’s the formula.

The Jet lose if: Sanchez continues to make early mistakes that give the Patriots defense just enough of an engine boost to remain under 24 points given up on the day.. They lose if Welker roams free and there is poor tackling up by the Jets defensive line up  front on running plays.

Chris Celletti: Right now, the Jets are a better football team than the Patriots. But New England has lost two in a row and are going to come in pissed off. You don’t want to be facing a pissed off Tom Brady. However, the Jets defense is playing as well as it ever has under Rex Ryan, and the Patriots’ defense is laughable. It really is. I expect both teams to put up points, but I think the Jets will used a balanced attack to keep Brady off the field just enough. If the Jets win the turnover battle, they win. I expect just that to happen: Jets 27, Patriots 23.

Justin Fritze: I think it’s going to come down to the Jets being able to run twice for every pass they throw. Lots of underneath stuff, a few down the sideline. I think the Jets will take this one 28-27. Jumpy Tom Brady, one interception, and about 250 passing yards by Brady. Two field goals for New England. A few glasses of red wine or three shots of Cuervo will make this game much easier to watch for all parties involved.

Jets vs. Patriots: A Deeper Look At Two Rivals, Part 2

Part 2 of our roundtable series discussing Jets/Pats featuring TOJ, The Jet Report, Pats Propaganda, Green Lantern, and NBC’s Bruce Beck

In part I of “A Deeper Look” we broke down the main characters such as Rex, Belichick, Sanchez and Brady. As we continue today with the second installment of our three part roundtable series breaking down the Jets/Pats showdown, we look at other members of the backfield, as well as how these teams fared during free agency.

Once again we are joined by TJ Rosenthal from The Jet Report, Mike Dussault from Pats Propaganda, WFAN’s Jeff Capellini and NBC’s Bruce Beck:

Q. Darrelle Revis: Explain how his play effects the entire Jets defense and teams that try to attack it.

Capellini: Besides basically shutting off half the secondary on passing downs, Revis is also a very good tackler. He’s very good against the run. He forces opponents to overload one side of the field, which causes congestion and a better chance of tipped balls and interceptions. Cromartie, Wilson and the linebackers have already shown great prowess at ball-hawking. If you narrow a team’s options throwing the football and cut off the real estate they have to play with, turnovers happen with greater frequency. Last week Ryan Fitzpatrick was picked off twice in the center of the field by linebackers, this while Stevie Johnson was one-on-one on the outside. That right there is the Revis factor in a nutshell.

Caporoso: He is the league’s only true lock down corner and his skill set gives Rex Ryan the ability to be so comfortable in man coverage. Some teams choose to avoid Revis entirely but this season teams seem to be taking more chances on him, which is leading to a monster year for him in terms of creating big plays (see Dallas and Miami game).

Q. Neither club seems to be on their way to leading the league in rushing. The Jets struggled early on defensively and the Pats have had their problems there seemingly all year. Can a team in the modern day NFL win a Super bowl without a solid running game? Without a shutdown defense?

Caporoso: I think the answer has to be yes, just from looking at Green Bay last year. I wouldn’t say they had a solid running game or a shutdown defense yet their passing offense was so ridiculous and their defense created enough turnovers that it compensated for it. Every team has a different formula for winning based on their coach and personnel. For the Jets to win a Super Bowl, they need a solid running game and a shutdown defense.  

Dussault: The Patriots seem to think you don’t need an elite running back, though they drafted two of them in the third round this year. Benjarvus Green-Ellis is the perfect Patriots runningback. He runs hard, doesn’t lose yards, doesn’t fumble, and as an undrafted free agent he doesn’t cost much. That said he’s not going to make plays by himself. Danny Woodhead has lacked the explosive plays this year, but I believe Kevin Faulk should be the big factor against the Jets this weekend assuming he’s healthy. They’ll need his pass protection smarts to pick up the complex Jets blitzes. I’d expect to see him out there more than any other back.

As for a shutdown defense I’m not sure one exists. You need an offense that can finish and a defense that can make the stops in the key moments. Usually these are veteran defenses like Jets and not young defenses like the Pats. But you’re not going to ever fully shutdown the top offenses in the game, you just have to stop them when it counts most.

Capellini: The Colts and Pats from some years back had ample enough running games and defenses to win it all and they did. Even last season the Packers, for all their airing it out with Aaron Rodgers, still had a scoring defense and got big efforts from the likes of James Starks when it mattered. I think you can live without the running back to an extent if you have a good committee, but without the defense you are not going to win a championship. If the Patriots are not worried about this right now they have their heads in the sand.The Jets are more complete on both sides of the ball and just recently have started to show it. The onus will be on all 53 to keep up this consistency or they, too, will be watching come January.

Q. What player on your club has been the biggest pleaseant surprise so far in 2011? Biggest disappointment?

Dussault: The Patriots biggest pleasant surprise has to probably be Kyle Arrington with his league leading 5 interceptions. His emergence really made Leigh Bodden expendable and he’s able to play both outside and in the slot. He may be undersized but he’s tough, though he’ll give up his share of completions. Brandon Spikes is another player who is emerging as arguably the Pats best linebacker. For all the love Jerod Mayo gets it’s really Spikes who is becoming the heart of the defense. Too bad it looks like he’ll be out on Sunday with a sprained MCL.

Biggest disappointment has to be Devin McCourty after a breakout rookie year.He’s looked better the last couple weeks though, now he just needs to start making plays on the ball.

Caporoso: Joe McKnight has gone from being from the team goat to a terrific all-around playmaker. So he is the biggest surprise. The biggest disappointment? I will go with Derrick Mason, considering the way his entire situation went down and the early turmoil it created on the team.

The Jet Report: We’re with Joe on this one. McKnight has made huge plays and made people forget about Brad Smith who was a huge part of this team. Especially when considering how many roles Smith played, how often the Jets, who have had red zone issues in the Sanchez era pre Plax, needed big plays from him. McKnight has done the same, maybe even in a more explosive way. Disappointment? The offensive line has taken a while to get into gear. That has hurt the run game. Mangold is back now so all things seem to be settling down up front.

Capellini: Believe it or not, Plaxico Burress has begun to provide a stability on offense. He’s nearly at game speed now and you can see it in his route running and concentration. I think he more than any other player this side of Sanchez will tell the tale for the Jets on offense going forward. Defensively, I love what Sione Pouha is becoming. I think if the Jets can get him and unsung Mike DeVito going together going forward you will be talking about a serious two-headed run-stuffing monster.

Q. Where do both clubs need to improve the most?

Caporoso: For the Jets, it is Mark Sanchez and the passing attack. If they continue to improve, the Jets are going to be a very difficult team to beat. For New England, it is the defense and in particular the secondary who needs to improve substantially. 

Dussault: For the Pats it has to be communication in the secondary. We’ve seen when this defense is all on the same page they’ve been very effective at shutting down some very good offenses. This is characteristic of a young defense. If they continue to improve and show more consistency the Patriots will be a better team than they were in 2010. They’ve been especially better recently on 3rd down and in the red area which is encouraging. They just need to do it game in and game out.

Capellini: The Patriots’ secondary is a mess. Besides bringing in new guys, which is always a crapshoot, it’s on master Belichick to scheme things the way he has in the past. So far, he hasn’t. The Jets still need a pass rusher. I’m not breaking news here. They totally shut down the high-flying Bills last week without getting a single sack. Now imagine what they could be if they could get to the quarterback more?

The Jet Report: The Pats come into the is game 32nd in the NFL on defense against the pass AND run. That has to get better. They don’t have to become the Steel Curtain, but they have to exit THAT territory. The Jets are getting into a groove defensively, have their special teams set up now with McKnight and Kerley and have figured out a balance on offense. They have to stop shooting themselves in the foot in the first half. Those stunted drives that end in turnovers not only hurt on the scoreboard, they impair the team emotionally. It takes them through halftime until they regain their flow again. Finish early drives guys.

Q. Let’s go back in time for a minute. Free agency resembled the “Wild West” this past August. Has the production level put forth by free agent pick ups so far warranted the decisons to release others who once held their positions? (you answer this based on FA’s  Pats picked up and let go)

Caporoso: For the Jets it appears at this point, it was the right decision to part ways with Braylon Edwards and Brad Smith considering the production of Plaxico Burress and Joe McKnight. I can’t argue with Shaun Ellis leaving either since he hasn’t done much in New England combined with the fact that Muhammad Wilkerson has held down his previous role well. I would have liked to keep Jerricho Cotchery to mentor Jeremy Kerley, especially considering how Derrick Mason worked out. I think in retrospect New England would look elsewhere for their deep threat at receiver instead of Chad Ochocinco and would have focused more on improving the secondary.

Dussault: Brian Waters has been a great acquisition filling a big hole at right guard though the Pats offensive line has been less than stellar as of late. Chad Ochocinco has been under a lot of criticism but against the Giants he truly looked like he was starting to get it, Brady just had trouble delivering the ball to him when he was open. His ability to beat press man coverage is why he was brought in and they will really need something out of him against the Jets.

Capellini: If you consider the Pats’ two biggest pickups are now basically not involved, then I would say New England didn’t do the greatest of jobs this past offseason. Haynesworth ended up being the problem many people thought he would be and OchoCinco, as stated earlier, has been a major disappointment. Burress justifies letting Braylon Edwards walk. McKnight justifies letting Brad Smith walk, at least as far as special teams go.

The Jet Report: Haynesworth and Ochocinco were just trimmings. Albert is gone but Ocho still could help out if he and Brady get on the same page down the stretch. The Jet choices were all solid. We would have liked to see a bit of shopping for a backup QB though. The problem was that Sanchez loves Brunell as a mentor so that wasn’t going to happen. We also wonder what would have transpired that first week of free agency had Asomugha not been such a focal point for the Jets.

Q. Albert Haynesworth was released on Tuesday. Derrick Mason was traded weeks back. Did you expect alot more from them? Why did both veteran players fail to become part of the equation in Foxboro and Florham Park.

Caporoso: I thought Haynesworth had potential to be a contributor but shame on me for forgetting how lazy and what a lost cause he was. I also did think Mason could succeed here but shame on me again, for forgetting his history of creating issues in a locker room. I just think neither player bought into the system and locker room of an already tight, successful team.

Dussault: Haynesworth is who the critics thought he was. He looked dominant at times and other times he looked like the worst defensive lineman on the team.  It’s disappointing because he clearly has the talent to dominate if he wanted to.Schematically he wasn’t a perfect fit for what the Pats do, but he could’ve made a real impact as an interior sub-rusher. The Pats brought him along carefully and gently but it was all for naught, and it looks like his career is probably over now.

Capellini: Temperament goes a long way in this league. I wish Mason had just kept his mouth shut and worked on helping the Jets, but you knew what you were getting when you signed him. He’s a great talent, has been for years, but he’s also a powder keg. To basically get kicked off the Jets, who never shut up, shows you just how much he didn’t fit in. Haynesworth, like I said above, became a problem because he, too, couldn’t keep his mouth shut, not to mention the fact that he just didn’t perform all that well. But like the Jets, the Pats knew what they were getting themselves into. It shows that even in a football factory, where there’s a clear right way and wrong way to do things, even the mighty Pats can make a bad personnel decision on an older player.

Q. What makes this Patriots Jets rivalry so special?

Caporoso: The players and coaches going back and forth between the two franchises. The recent success of both teams. The number of large games, including two playoff meetings in recent years. Rex Ryan’s attitude compared to Bill Belichick’s.

Dussault: Of course you have the history of being divisional rivals for so long, but what makes it truly special now is the stark contrast in approaches. In just about everything they’re complete opposites yet both styles have proven effective. There’s a great balance to the rivalry and they’ve split the games since Rex Ryan joined the Jets. There also a balance to the Jets having a veteran defense and an offense around a young quarterback, while the Pats have a veteran offense with a young defense. Just about every element of the rivalry has balance and that makes it a lot of fun. Rex brings a lot to it all by himself, I can’t think of another coach I’d rather have coaching my team’s rival. He makes it a lot of fun because you want to beat him so badly. I’m sure Belichick does the same for Jets fans in his own way.

Capellini: It’s really not about New York and Boston. It’s a matter of combustible personalities and fan bases colliding. It’s about one perennial doormat finally getting its act in gear and challenging the status quo. It’s about the rightful throne holders not liking the new kids on the block because they know one day their reign of terror could end, mostly because the usual also-rans now have a plan. It’s also about the lesser team being tired of hearing about and watching the great gods from up north continue to destroy and conquer. The Jets envy what the Pats are as much as the Pats fear what the Jets are becoming. It’s a symphony on the field two or three times a year.

The Jet Report: The history. The storyline. The characters involved. From the AFL’s onset up until the 1990’s, these teams were division rivals but never eternal enemies. Once Bill Parcells left New England to become the Jets head coach, and Bill Belichick left the Jets to return to New England, the entire battle went from trench warfare to Civil War style. With both sides fully armed, heading full steam towards each other. Add New England’s magnificent run with Brady, followed by Eric Mangini ditching Bill, getting locked out in Foxboro, then calling out his boss with “Spygate,” and you have the need for NATO intervention. All of this mind you, BEFORE REX RYAN showed up in Florham Park. It’s been nothing but great drama, great strategy, and classic games for a long time between these two. Both of whom have now earned a mutual respect for each other in the process. As hard as that may be for some of the players involved to admit.

Beck: The atmosphere will be electric. Jets-Pats — the best rivalry around, outside of Yankees-Red Sox. Sunday Night Football on NBC. As Mills Lane used to say, “let’s get it on.”

Look for Part III of “Jets vs Patriots: A Deeper Look at Two Rivals” Saturday

TOJ Week 10 NFL Picks

TOJ with his week 10 NFL picks. Who are your best bets?

Last Week: 9-5

Season Record: 66-59-4 (already 0-1 this week, as I picked San Diego last night)

TOJ Week 10 NFL Picks (Lines Courtesy of BetUS)

  • Pittsburgh (-4) vs. Cincinnati
  • Denver (+3) vs. Kansas City
  • Jacksonville (-4) vs. Indianapolis
  • Tampa Bay (+4) vs. Houston
  • Carolina (-3.5) vs. Tennessee
  • Miami (-4) vs. Washington
  • Dallas (-5) vs. Buffalo
  • Philadelphia (-12.5) vs. Arizona
  • Atlanta (PK) vs. New Orleans
  • Chicago (-3) vs. Detroit
  • St. Louis (+3) vs. Cleveland
  • Baltimore (-7.5) vs. Seattle
  • San Francisco (-3.5) vs. Giants
  • Jets (-2) vs. New England
  • Minnesota (+13.5) vs. Green Bay


Jets vs. Patriots: 12 Pack Of Predictions

12 predictions for the Jets/Patriots Sunday night showdown for first place in the AFC East

What else can I say? 12 Pack. Jets vs. Pats. It doesn’t get any better.

1. Tom Brady is getting sacked at least three times and will turn the football over at least once. He also won’t crack 300 yards through the air.

2. The other quarterback? Mark Sanchez will put together a performance very similar to the one he had in the playoffs last year.

3. Shonn Greene will be the leading rusher in this game. He will also score another touchdown.

4. Rob Gronkowski will have a big game against the Jets secondary after not doing in much in their first meeting.

5. Santonio Holmes and Plaxico Burress will combine for 150 yards receiving and a pair of touchdowns.

6. Joe McKnight is going to outplay Danny Woodhead.

7. Chad Ochocinco…will have at least 1 reception. How is that for a bold prediction?

8. Wes Welker will have 75 yards receiving and a touchdown.

9. Dustin Keller will have less receiving yards than both Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez.

10. Calvin Pace and Bart Scott will both record sacks. Scott will see a substantial bump in playing time after not playing much in the week 5 meeting.

11. Jeremy Kerley will have at least 40 yards receiving.

12. If you haven’t been able to tell, I am pretty confident in the Jets this week. Actually as confident as I have ever been for a Jets/Pats game. The Jets will win 31-21 and began their march to a AFC East title.

Jets vs. Patriots, Round Two: Game Breakdown

TOJ breaks down what the New York Jets need to do to seize control of the AFC East this Sunday night

Offense: There have been calls from some in the media to let Mark Sanchez loose against a weak New England secondary. While I agree to an extent, the Jets still need to give Shonn Greene his 20 carries and have LaDainian Tomlinson/Joe McKnight chip in another 10. You don’t ignore your running game, you use it to set up your down field play action passing attack. A run first offense doesn’t mean Mark Sanchez can’t take his shots and can’t be aggressive.

I don’t think Santonio Holmes, Plaxico Burress, and Dustin Keller should have a tough time getting open when the Jets do decide to air out. If they can make the most of their opportunities, there is no reason this offense can’t put up a 30 spot this Sunday night. The key is going to be for Mark Sanchez to avoid any costly turnovers or red-zone mistakes. They won’t get away with them like they did last week against Buffalo.

Defense: Attack. The Jets need to come after Tom Brady and get him rattled in the pocket from the opening whistle. I expect to see an aggressive scheme from Rex Ryan, which will use more man coverage and won’t be anywhere near as defensive back heavy as their week 5 approach. The defense has been doing a better job of setting the edge lately and if they keep it up, BenJarvus Green-Ellis won’t have anywhere near the impact he did in the last meeting.

This unit’s confidence should be at an all-time high for this season after their performance last week and watching game tape of New England from the previous two weeks. If they can force Tom Brady into a turnover or two, like they have in the past, New England is going to have a very tough time winning on the road.

Special Teams: This unit has been simply terrific all season. Joe McKnight is a Pro Bowl returner. He has had a toe injury this week and if he can’t go, look for Antonio Cromartie back on kick returns. Nick Folk is having a career year and TJ Conley does appear to be rounding into form at punter. In what should be a tight game, the Jets special teams could make a huge difference.

The Truth And The Myth Of The New England Defense

Justin takes a look at the myth and realities surrounding the New England Patriots much maligned defense

A year ago, no one would argue that the first round pick of the New England Patriots was a far better immediate return than the Jets first round pick Kyle Wilson. Devin McCourty nearly got the nod for Defensive Rookie of the Year, something that eventually went to one of the greatest defensive players of his draft class and someone who should have won the Heisman as a defensive tackle, Ndamukong Suh.

Ras I Dowling, the 33rd overall pick of the 2011 draft, may have been the next Mccourty, but since he was put on IR, the Patriots pass defense has suffered.

So why is this year’s Patriots pass defense ranked 32nd in the league? Before getting to details, remember we are only halfway through the season. The experiment the Jets had on offense is the same one New England has had on defense. While I do not make assurances to Patriots fans on a regular basis, I will offer one for the fanatics. They will be in the top 20 by the end of the year. This is the age of reason. Beat writers unfortunately need something to write about on a daily basis, and constant praise does not sell papers.

Was there a turning point for this year’s slide against the pass? No. It started before the season began, when the once mysterious Belichick, who at one time utilized all sorts of corner blitzes, 1-5-5 formations, and various types of zone blitzes, pretty much proclaimed to the world that he was going with a 4-3 (probably to calm the nerves of Albert Haynesworth). This immediately sent a red flag to Patriots fans, as Belichick usually lets no one know anything before he does it.

So they went with the 4-3 and abandoned the 3-4. If you are going to go with a 4-3, as the Lions have done, you are going to need guys who play hard on every play and have a deep rotation of defensive tackles. Drafting a “can’t miss” top 5 defensive tackle two years in a row as the Lions have done makes things pretty easy for a defensive line coach.

A 34 year old Shaun Ellis, a 30 year old Vince Wilfork, and a 30 year old “seriously lacking in competitiveness when he has over $10,000,000 in the bank” Albert Haynesworth does not. The other glaring issue with the Patriots defensive line? Chemistry. Shaun Ellis, Albert Haynesworth, Mark Anderson and Andre Carter have not played double digit games together. They haven’t even played double digit games for the Patriots. The defensive line rotation is, to put it mildly, a work in progress.

The Patriots currently have 9 defensive lineman in the starting rotation. They’ve got pass rushers and they’ve got run stuffers, but if they’re going to have success as a unit, it’s going to know exactly how to rotate them depending on the opposing offense that is going to keep their secondary from becoming vulnerable against 20 yard post routes.

To compare to a friendly rival, Rex Ryan drafted two defensive players this year, one last year. It took Rex Ryan a full year to give Kyle Wilson a starting nickel job, and Kenrick Ellis won’t become the starting nose tackle until next year. If not for necessity, Muhammad Wilkerson wouldn’t be a starting defensive end. Only two of the seven lineman have not been on the team for more than a year. Most have been on the team for at least 4.

Even more than offense, defensive players need the trust of their coach. They need the same eyes their coach has, to see when a run is coming, to see when a pass is coming, to see the play action, etc. etc. The Patriots defense is already 6th against the run, the pass will catch up.

Jets vs. Patriots: A Deeper Look At The Two Rivals, Part 1

A roundtable discussion of Jets/Patriots featuring TOJ, The Jet Report, Green Lantern, Pats Propaganda, and NBC’s Bruce Beck

When the Jets host the Patriots on NBC’s Sunday Night Football, they will be bringing along with them, a shared history that has turned into a pro football border war over the past ten years. The game not only features marquee names on both sides, it crosses the paths of two clubs who have traveled different roads in 2011, only to have landed at the same stop simultaneously: As part of a three way first place tie with Buffalo, for first place in the AFC East.

To help us break down what has become for both clubs, the most highly anticipated opponent on the schedule, we were joined by TJ Rosenthal from The Jet Report, Mike Dussault from Pats Propaganda, NBC’s Bruce Beck and WFAN’s Jeff Capellini.

Here is Part I of a three part series:

1. Talk to us about the first half of the season for the Pats. What kind of trip has it been?

Dussault: The first half of the Pats season has been a steady decline in offensive production and consistent inconsistency on defense. Tom Brady has been uncharacteristically sloppy and is already 4 interceptions away from his career high. The defense has shown improvement and looks to have a higher ceiling than they did in 2010 but they need to come through in clutch spots like they did against the Cowboys.

Capellini: I wonder if the Pats just got old in a hurry, because their offense was unreal over the first five games, but has looked rather un-Pats-like over the last three. Now, granted, their last three foes have been three very good teams, but when has that stopped New England from bludgeoning anyone in the past? I think they really need Branch and Och to stretch the field, but so far they haven’t.

Ocho has been a disaster and the passing attack has really relied almost too heavily on the tight end combo of Gronkowski and Hernandez. Sure, Welker is awesome in this system and will continue to be, but without a really solid running game and really no deep threats the Pats aren’t, at least lately, ripping off the big chunks of yardage we’re used to seeing from them. Defensively, there’s nothing to see here, which is quite stunning considering Belichick’s prowess as the master game planner and schemer, mixed with the fact that the organization has drafted countless defensive players over the last five years. How many are stars now? Not many at all.

2. Are the Jets and Patriots where you expected them to be heading into the second half record wise, and performance wise?

Caporoso: I thought both teams would be about a game better at this point. The Jets struggled more early on than I expected and New England is struggling more now than I expected. In the end, both are going to compete for this division title down to the final weeks but neither will likely establish themselves as a truly dominant team, similar to how the Packers are right now.

Beck: The Jets are the better team right now. They have momentum and confidence. The Patriots look puzzled. Brady looks mortal.

Cappellini: Yes and no. I expected them to be at the top of the division, but I figured one would be either undefeated or have one loss and the other to have no more than two losses. The Jets had their problems early, but have fought out of the abyss. The Patriots are sort of in one now, but I’m not sure we’ll see the same vaunted Pats again for the reasons I stated earlier.

3. The two head coaches, Rex Ryan and Bill Belichick are so interesting to compare and contrast. Help us do that, from their work on the sidelines to their media presence during the week as they get ready for an opponent.

Beck: The difference in the coaching styles is dramatic. Rex is a whirling dervish — a bundle of energy — a cheerleader of the highest degree. Belichick is as stoic as Landry — as unemotional as any Coach in the game. Their styles may contrast but they both burn inside with a incredible desire to succeed and in this case — kick the other guy’s butt!

Caporoso: Clearly their personalities, at least their public personalities couldn’t be any more different. Regardless, I do think there is a high level of mutual respect between the two of them and an example that there are different, effective ways to motivate a successful team. These two teams know each other inside out at this point, which is what makes watching the game plan process so interesting. How can Belichick compensate for his lack of talent on defense? How can Rex attack Tom Brady and his variety of weapons? This is a chess match between two unique, interesting head coaches.

Dussault: This might surprise some Jets fans but I am a big Rex Ryan fan. I’ve read his book and love what he brings to the rivalry. I think both coaches can make things more difficult on themselves with their respective styles at times, but clearly both are effective at preparing their teams to play. The fun part is that their styles couldn’t be more opposite so it brings a great balance to the rivalry.

4. Let’s breakdown the work of the quarterbacks so far. How they’ve played, where they might want want to improve going forward.

Dussault: For Tom Brady it’s about making better decisions. He’s been under duress a little more this season, especially in the last few games and has been the victim of a number of tipped ball interceptions. If Brady can get back to playing consistent the Patriots offense should start to roll again. It will also require his wide receivers to start beating press man coverage more consistently and for Brady to deliver the ball quickly and accurately. I’m confident that he will turn it around, I just hope it’s this weekend.

The Jet Report: Sanchez and the Jets have owned three personalities on offense this season. Initially, they tried to become a pass first offense, with Burress and Mason as additions to the WR corps. Then, the coaches decided to return to the Ground and Pound. Recognizing that this was too drastic of a measure, a balance was found against San Diego. Sanchez has done well spreading it around during this stretch, but can’t continue to throw early interceptions. THAT habit will haunt the Jets someday soon if it continues.

Capellini: Brady is a fiery guy who leads by example, but if you’ve watched his demeanor of late he seems like he realizes that if this team doesn’t get its act together in a hurry all of New England may be in for a major disappointment. Slamming water bottles? Barking at everyone? I think he realizes the urgency of the situation. On the field, sure, he’s thrown more interceptions this year, but iit s hard to kill the guy when you compare so-called “down” or “average” Brady years to the immortal seasons he’s put together in the past. He’s still the same guy. The rest of his team isn’t.

Sanchez has become more of a team leader this season, but only because his performance has improved. He’s on pace for career high in every positive statistical category. Until he’s a hardened veteran I think he’s content to be a co-leader. The most important thing about Mark is he’s avoided long tailspins. He hasn’t allowed his dumb mistakes to snowball or fester. This is a different guy than from his first two seasons.

5. What do Jets fans think of Tom Brady as a player? What do Pats fans think of Mark Sanchez as a player?

Caporoso: I respect the hell out of Brady as a football player and a leader but hate the way he whines to the officials. As Jets fans, we hate Brady because he has won and because he quarterbacks our rival team. Yet, you can’t argue that he is one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time.

Dussault: I really respect what Mark Sanchez did vs. the Pats in the playoffs last year. He needed to play perfectly and he did. However I know that he can be dreadfully inconsistent. I believe it all starts with stopping the Jets running game. If they’re able to run it takes the pressure of Sanchez and opens up their play action and short passing game. He’s the kind of quarterback that you can’t let get going. If you allow him to build confidence he will only get better over the course of the game. But if you make him uncomfortable, or build a lead on him, he can implode.

The Jet Report: We’re more concerned about what Jets fans think about Mark Sanchez (laughs). Brady’s Brady. The smart football fan recognizes his greatness, his ability to incorporate the ballboy in a crossing route if necessary .Sanchez, is getting the old Phil Simms treatment in New York. Called out for his mistakes much more often than he is highlighted for his attributes, for which he has many. The most greatest of them, being his ability to elevate his play late in games and win. Period.

Capellini: The answer is totally based on results. Jets fans secretly admire Brady because he’s the standard by which all other quarterbacks should be measured. Simply, you hate him because he lights you up. However, Patriots fans, I believe, have little respect for Sanchez the QB. They have actually earned the right to be skeptical because until the day comes when Sanchez can at least be on the fringes of the conversation with a player like Brady, he’s just not at the level they expect for a “great.” It’s fair that they think this way. The Jets talk until the cows come home that he’s the face of the franchise. They’ve made their own bed with opposing fans. Hey, being hated means your respected, but as far as individual players go, the NFL is the “show me” state.

6. Both backfields split up the workload differently. Are you satisfied with the current distribution of touches among Jets running backs?

Caporoso: Yes, I think they are moving in the right direction. Shonn Greene needs 17-25 carries every week to be successful . LaDainian Tomlinson is all you can ask for as a third down back and Joe McKnight is becoming more involved each week. I think Brian Schottenheimer finally has a grip on how to use all three.

Capellini: It’s getting better, but at the same time I don’t want to see the Jets lessen Greene’s load now that he’s got his game in gear and the offensive line is blocking like it has in the past. Schottenheimer still needs to use Tomlinson more as a receiver, but he did a nice job going to LT inside the red zone against the Bills. McKnight is the change-of-pace guy. Keep getting him the ball at least seven times per game as a runner and the Jets will be very hard to decipher on the ground.

7. Gronkowski and Hernanadez: So special. So hard to defend. Why?

Dussault: It really starts with Gronkowski because of his ability to be dominant as a blocker and receiver. He forces teams to show their hand defensively. Hernandez is being treated more and more like a receiver and that limits his effectiveness somewhat. Opposing defenses have been pressing them both at the line and neither have the true quickness to gain separation instantly. That has been a huge factor in the slowing down the Pats offense recently. However in the red zone there is no combination in the NFL that is more dangerous. Look at the clutch touchdowns from the Dallas and Giants game: Hernandez has two of them and Gronk has one.

The Jet Report: Who does this? Nobody. Who thinks of an approach to attack downfield like this? Only Belichick. We know other teams have utilized two tight ends in the passing game, but not as hybrid receivers with size, power and their own individual toughness. We can only imagine how much more devastating these two can be if and when one more talented WR joins the huddle up in Foxboro.

Capellini: Both are really wide receivers. Both are extremely gifted physically, have great hands and each can make things happen after the catch. It’s a very unique situation when you get an Antonio Gates-like talent at tight end. It’s even more unique when you have potentially two tight ends that can do it.

8. Bruce, watching the Jets from a vantage point that few if any have, how does Mark Sanchez handle himself emotionally after mistakes? Who are the emotional leaders on the team, the ones that others follow for advice or inspiration?

Beck: Sanchez is mature beyond his years. His composure is remarkable. He does not get rattled by an early mistake — or two. Just last week in Buffalo, he was awful in the first half and very solid in the final thirty minutes. His leadership abilities are outstanding. During the lockout, he ran his quarterback camp in Calif for his teammates — and then took them all to the Lakers game. That stuff goes a long way. It is not something you can teach. You are born with it. He has the “it” factor!

Bart Scott is the vocal leader. His brashness reflects his head coach. His bravado irks opponents. LaDainian Tomlinson is a classy, quiet leader. He prefers to set an example for others to follow. Nick Mangold and Darrelle Revis are both outstanding players, whose professionalism and work ethic are beyond reproach. They exhibit fire on occassion and a quiet calm on others. They clearly are leaders of this football team

CHECK BACK FOR PART II TOMORROW

New York Jets Offense: They Can Do It All

TOJ on why there is no reason for the New York Jets offense not to have a monster game this Sunday night

The New York Jets offense has seemed like a perpetual work in progress the past couple of years. In the past few games, we have seen steps in the right direction. The shift to a greater focus on the running game with a play action passing attack working off it has given the Jets back the identity they have thrived in.

There was a reason behind the chest puffing from members of the offense in the pre-season. There is a high talent level on this unit, enough talent to consistently put up around 30 points on a weekly basis. You have a legitimate number one, slot receiver, a split end who is rounding into form as a big time target over the middle and in the red-zone, a tight end with the ability to stretch the field and an improving rookie slot receiver. In the backfield, you have a good north/south runner who fits in well behind a very good offensive line, complimented by a more than capable third down back and a potentially electric change of pace back.

The quarterback is still developing, still prone to occasional bonehead mistakes but on the whole is continuing to improve and is more than capable of putting together big games, particularly in big spots.

WIth the defense they are facing this week, there is no reason the Jets can’t do it all and play to their true potential. The running game should absolutely take the lead but don’t handcuff Mark Sanchez. When New England starts stacking the box, their personnel has no chance of matching up with Santonio Holmes, Plaxico Burress, and Dustin Keller. Take the play action shot down the field.

Brian Schottenheimer needs to be able to find the mix of exploiting New England’s secondary, while still allowing his running game to keep rolling. Shonn Greene can get his 20 carries with Sanchez still taking his shots down the field.

The Jets put up 21 in New England back in week 5. Considering their progress since then, there is no reason they shouldn’t be able to put 31 this time around.

Saying My Piece On Joe Pa

Saying my piece on Joe Paterno and the situation at Penn State

Not unlike everybody else who has followed the horror story surrounding Penn State the past week, I am disgusted, angry, and confused…confused about our priorities in this country, confused about how certain people think and prioritize things. An institution, a tradition, and the myth surrounding a man taking precedence over the safety of defenseless children is something I will never be able to wrap my head around.

I continue to have back and forth with certain individuals who think we need to hold our judgement on Paterno and that he should be able to have one last victory lap finishing out this season. People who think it is okay for students to be camped out in front of Paterno’s house cheering for him and chanting fight songs about Penn State’s game against Nebraska.

Let’s make this clear, Paterno had a moral obligation to do every single thing in his power to end Jerry Sandusky’s actions and get him behind bars. Forget the legal obligation. As a human being, he had the moral obligation, never-mind as a human being who prides himself on maintaining such a righteous attitude.

Here is the reality, spelled out in this well written piece by Ian O’Connor

That day in 2002 he decided to protect himself, and the notion of State College as Camelot, rather than do everything in his power to save a 10-year-old boy who was allegedly raped by Sandusky in the locker room showers — that was the day Paterno surrendered his moral authority to lead and teach any group of young adults.

So he should’ve been ousted years ago, if only some Penn State administrators weren’t just as eager to treat an eyewitness account of Sandusky forcing anal intercourse on a child as though it were a bad scouting report from an inexperienced coach.

Of course, even if the grad assistant in question, Mike McQueary, was too traumatized or intimidated to tell Paterno the unfathomable particulars of what he saw (and we’ll see how that story develops), Paterno knew a naked Sandusky didn’t belong anywhere near a naked grade schooler in the shower.

In his original statement on the case, after denying that McQueary informed him of “the very specific actions contained in the Grand Jury report,” Paterno went on to concede that “it was clear that the witness saw something inappropriate involving Mr. Sandusky.”

I am sorry, if you are informed that you saw something inappropriate in your team’s locker room shower involving your coach and a young child, don’t you do everything you can to make sure he is not only off your staff but never near young children again? Don’t you make sure he is at least investigated by the police? You don’t pass the buck and hope somebody else takes care of it, and then go on living your life. Not when you are “Joe Pa”…not when you are anybody.

Retiring at the end of the season isn’t good enough. Retiring today is good enough. Paterno isn’t the only one at fault, everybody at Penn State who swept this under the rug to protect the institution’s reputation needs to leave immediately.

To the students and the Paterno supporters, I understand having pride in your college. Yet, sometimes human decency rises above football. Take the time you are chanting in front of Paterno’s house and defending him to pray for the victims of Sandusky’s unreported crimes. It is now looking like there could be over 20 of them and how many of those could have been avoided if he was arrested back in 1999 when he should have been? Joe Paterno, Matt McQueary, Graham Spanier and anybody else at Penn State with knowledge of his action stood by and let him run a camp for grade school boys up until last year. They let him on campus as of last month.

Leave now, Paterno…tell everybody in your front yard to go home. Tell them they should take a Saturday off from cheering for your University. I’d prefer to see Penn State not have a home game the rest of the year. Does that suck for the players? Absolutely, but as adult men, they should understand. How can anybody stomach watching people cheer for PSU and Paterno this Saturday?

Standing Up for Sanchez

Jets fans need to come to grip with reality, when it comes to their criticism of Mark Sanchez

Two and a half seasons into the Rex Ryan era – which is, by the way, one of the most successful stretches in the history of the New York Jets – it seems a little crazy to have to do what I’m about to do.

I need to defend the quarterback.

Because even though the Jets have won 25 of their last 40 regular season games, plus 4 playoff games, a large segment of the media and Jets fan base remains thoroughly unconvinced that Mark Sanchez is capable of leading this team to their ultimate goal of winning the Super Bowl.

The modern NFL fan lives in the Golden Age of Overanalysis.  Anyone with a computer can pontificate on a sport that is nearly impossible to reduce to simple and absolute terms.  The easiest target for praise and criticism is of course, the quarterback. It is bad enough that ESPN, which sets the agenda for all sports discussion, has declared this “The Year of the Quarterback” and has even devised their own ratings system to try and replace the traditional NFL Passer Rating statistic.

For these reasons, Jets fans have spent the last three years debating Sanchez.  So allow me to make it easy for you: Mark Sanchez is indeed more than good enough to lead the Jets to the promised land.  You can relax now.

This past Sunday’s game against Buffalo was a microcosm of Sanchez’s career so far.  At halftime, there was hysterical panic among Jets fans because of the two costly errors Sanchez made: a drive-killing endzone interception and a botched snap after the Jets’ defense had produced a turnover late in the second half.

However, as he has on numerous occasions throughout his career, Sanchez raised his game in the second half.  He led the Jets on four consecutive scoring drives which provided more than enough points to beat the Bills, who were struggling to get yards against a ferocious Jets defense.  Outside of the interception, Sanchez was nearly flawless on the day, completing 71% of his passes and firing a laser of a touchdown to Santonio Holmes, the type of throw that proves Sanchez has some pretty impressive raw ability when he puts it all together.

And that’s really the key with the Sanchez debate: the when.  In this age of instant gratification, fans are tired of hearing the argument that he’s young and still developing.  But the truth is that he is. He’s 24 years old.  Some perspective: Aaron Rodgers, the “Elite (there’s that damn word again) Quarterback Du Jour” didn’t start an NFL game until his age 25 season.  By the way, the Packers went 6-10 in Rodgers’ first season.

Really, Sanchez never needs to be Aaron Rodgers, or Drew Brees, or Peyton Manning.  He just needs to be the best possible version of himself.  The version that shows up in big games and in the playoffs.  The version that outplayed the best – Tom Brady – in Foxboro last January, giving Jets fans their most memorable and important victory since Super Bowl III.

Here’s the thing though: he’s going to make more mistakes.  I hate to break that to you, but it is true. He’s going to have more bad games. To expect that he’s not, is foolish. What should comfort every Jets fan is that this is true of every single quarterback in the league, Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady (who, by the way, has thrown 10 interceptions this season; Sanchez has thrown 7) included.  Mistakes and interceptions happen.  That’s just football.

And so, we need to be fair to Sanchez, which I don’t think a lot of people have been. Every bad throw cannot be a referendum on his career. Instead, look at his statistical progress. Look at his performance in important games. Look at the team’s record since 2009.  Most importantly, look at his youth and the fact that the Jets have stability at the most important position for the first time in a long time.  Look at some of the other teams in the NFL, who are currently quarterbacked by guys named Beck/Grossman, Jackson, Moore, McCoy, Painter, Gabbert, Tebow, Ponder and Skelton.

Wouldn’t you rather have Mark Sanchez?  I know I would.