12 predictions for the New York Jets Thanksgiving Night game against the New England Patriots
The Turn On The Jets 12 Pack is back with a very special Thanksgiving batch of predictions for Jets vs. Patriots. I am spending the holiday with my mother’s side of the family (The Jets fans side…the slightly crazier side…and ultimately the side I probably most resemble as a person, oh well) so it should it make for an interesting day of excessive eating. The beauty of Italian Thanksgivings is that turkey is never enough. No…no…no there needs to be nine different courses that hit every major unhealthy food group.
We have the 12:30 kickoff with antipasto (salted meats, cheeses and shrimp…damn it there’d better be shrimp). Followed by pasta (with a meat sauce of course!), ham (unnecessary excessive meat usage), and then of course a deep fried turkey. As if that won’t be enough to kill me by 6 PM, I’m sure I’ll eat two cannolis on the ride into MetLife and then promptly die when working my way up to Section 317. The air is so thin up there that Ryan Clark wouldn’t be allowed to sit in my seat.
I could only hope I have enough energy to combat the inevitable group of Patriots fans in the section next to me decked out in their freshly bought Chandler Jones jersey and holding up a “YO SOY FIESTA” sign despite neither Jones or Rob Gronkowski playing. These are the guys who were booing Adam Vinateri (who won them two Super Bowls) last week even though Stephen Gostowksi is kicking at somewhere around 37% this year. “VINAWTERRY??? WICKED BUM, YA COULDN’T SPLIT A SAM SUMMER ALE WITH THAT HARDO AT A BAR IN DAW-CHESTAH. NOW WOODHEAD? THAT’S MY KINDA GUY. BET HE SPENDS OFF-SEASONS WATCHING BRUINS GAMES IN QUINCY”
Anyway (did I get sidetracked there?), on to the predictions…
1. Tim Tebow will play less than 5 offensive snaps in this game. Yet, he will see approximately 49 minutes of camera time on the network broadcast. Thank god I will be in the stands and the only Tebow reference I will see is the guy ten rows in front of me wearing a Florida jersey and holding up a “PUT IN THE FOOTBALL PLAYER” sign.
2. Both Dustin Keller and Jeremy Kerley will have another big game against the Patriots secondary. They will combine for 170 yards receiving and a touchdown between them.
3. Shonn Greene, Bilal Powell and Joe McKnight will combine for 35 total touches on offense. Look for Powell and McKnight to be active in the passing game as checkdown and screen options.
4. Wes Welker is going to have a big day, leading the Patriots in receptions, receiving yards and getting into the end-zone.
5. Tom Brady will throw for at least 250 yards and a pair of touchdowns. However, he will be sacked once and turn the ball over once.
6. Mark Sanchez will throw for 225-250 yards with a touchdown. He will have at least one turnover. His completion percentage will be 55% or higher.
7. The Jets special teams will avoid any catastrophes.
8. Stevan Ridley will have less than 70 yards rushing. Danny Woodhead will less than 50 yards of total offense.
9. Brandon Lloyd will have another quiet game. Aaron Hernandez will have at least 4 catches for 60 yards. Julian Edeleman will make at least two big plays for the Patriots offense.
10. Whether it comes on special teams or offense, the Jets will attempt some type of trick play.
11. Chaz Schilens will see much more playing time than Stephen Hill and make a couple of important third down catches.
12. The New York Jets are going to give us a little (likely misguided) late season hope with a 27-24 upset of the New England Patriots. The defense will be put in position to make a late stop and this time they will come through. Foolish optimism? Maybe. But I think the Jets have this upset in them.
Chris Gross– Jets 24, New England 21: Tomorrow, the Jets will display the same mentality that they had last week in St. Louis, the mindset that their backs are against the wall and they need to swing from the hip to survive throughout the rest of the season. While New York is historically bad under Rex Ryan when facing the Patriots in the clubs’ second regular season matchups, they have yet to play under these circumstances.
In the past, New York has been poised to top New England for the divisional lead in match up number 2, but now they host the Patriots as a team of desperation. How much will this team be willing to do to survive? One thing about the Jets in the Ryan era is that they have fought through a lot of adversity. Expect another aggressive gameplan from both coordinators. Sparano needs to pull out all the stops, including a further commitment to his 3 headed RB approach. Defensively, look for Rex to disguise his pressure schemes, creating the illusion that he is sending more pass rushers than he actually is. Tom Brady is lights out against the blitz (86 attempts, 10 TDs, 0 INTs, 90.0 QBR, 127.2 passer rating), so Ryan must let Brady think he has the Jets right where he wants them, only to drop 7 and rush 4. Blitzes will be neccesary, but it is essential the Jets get to Brady, otherwise it will be lights out. Expect a hard fought, chippy game, one that once again comes down to the wire, only with New York coming out on top this time around.
Rob Celletti – It’s amazing what one win can do. Last week, I truly believed that this team was dead in the water. Granted, they played a weak Rams team that came into a clear letdown situation, and had an extremely poor gameplan to boot (thanks Schotty!). But that win certainly helped lift the gloom off of the Jets season and gives the team and its fans at least half a hope of saving the 2012 season.
And honestly, there are two ways to look at this: 1) be a pessimist, say “get it over with” and expect the Jets to lose; 2) get excited and root hard for the Jets in a game that they certainly have a chance to win, at home vs. New England on a short week. I’m taking the latter. It’s the holiday season after all, which, if nothing else, is a time for positive vibes. The Jets played the Patriots tough and should have beaten them earlier in the season. Mark Sanchez shredded the New England secondary that week, to the tune of 328 yards on 28/41 passing. Expect more of that, plus a stronger dose of the run game. To me, this game comes down to if the Jets can fluster Tom Brady, whose emotional approach to the game can sometimes be his undoing, if he’s rattled. The Jets have done this before (see Week 2 in 2009, AFC Divisional Playoff in January of 2011). What the hell? Jets 30, Patriots 27 – on a late Nick Folk field goal
Mike Donnelly – Everything is set up for the Jets to take this game and make us as fans even more confused as to what kind of team they are. Rob Gronkowski is out and the Patriots only had a short week to prepare for the game without him. The Jets are home, they’re desperate, and home teams always have an advantage on these Thursday games. I laid out my 3 keys to the game in yesterday’s Stock Watch column, and I think the Jets are going to end up putting check marks next to all 3 of them when all is said and done. They’ll protect the football, they’ll harass Tom Brady, and with Gronk out, they’ll find a way to slow down Wes Welker. Let’s be real: The Jets should have won the last time these two teams met in Foxboro a few weeks ago. This time they will get over the hump and pull it out down the stretch, 24-20
Chris Celletti – If I were the Jets, I would throw 40 times on Thursday, right around the same amount they did in Week 7, because that’s how you beat the Patriots. Something tells me the Jets are going to scale Sanchez back a bit and look for a very balanced attack. As for the Jets’ defense, I think people are putting a little bit too much credence into Rob Gronkowski’s injury. He’s a big loss, but this doesn’t mean the Patriots aren’t going to be able to move the ball or score points. It will be up to the Jets’ defense to make a few big plays in the red zone and make New England kick field goals. To me, this game comes down to Mark Sanchez and whether he can hold on to the ball and make plays down the field. The chances will be there, and Sanchez very well could throw for over 300 yards and a few touchdowns. If he does, the Jets win. Give us a nice kickoff to the holiday season boys. Go out and beat the Pats, 27-24
Chris Gross with his weekly Fact or False previewing the Jets/Patriots Thanksgiving Night showdown
Happy Thanksgiving, Jets fans! After a much-needed victory in St. Louis last week, the Jets find themselves in a familiar, yet unfamiliar, spot in the Rex Ryan era. What’s familiar about tomorrow night’s game against New England is that the Jets always seem to find themselves in a pivotal point of their season when matching up against the Patriots for the second time in the 17 week regular season.
In 2009, New York headed to Foxboro at 4-5. A win would have been monumental as it would have not only gotten the Jets back to .500, but it would have completed a regular season sweep of New England for the first time since the 2000 season, when they were still led by the likes of Vinny Testaverde and Curtis Martin. New York fell that week 31-14, aided partly by Mark Sanchez’s 4 interceptions.
In 2010, the 9-2 (!!) Jets squared off with New England in Foxboro for sole possession of 1st place in the AFC East. Heading into that game, New York’s average margin of defeat in their only two losses was a meager 5 points, so naturally most people were optimistic about 2010 finally being the year that the Jets knock Brady’s bunch off of their pedestal and claim dominance in the division for the first time in a decade. What happened that night? The Jets were embarrassed 45-3 on national, prime time television.
Finally, in 2011, the Jets were hosts to the second regular season matchup between the two clubs. New York stood at 5-3 heading into their week 10 matchup with New England, fresh off of a dominant performance against the Buffalo Bills in Orchard Park, NY. The Patriots, on the other hand, were also 5-3, but seemed to be spiraling downward, coming off of a 2 game losing streak to the Steelers and Giants. This was finally it. The Jets had New England right where they wanted them – reeling with an equivalent record, in their own building. It finally seemed that New York was ready to take over the division and earn a home playoff game, something many felt had held them from reaching the Super Bowl in the previous two seasons. Unfortunately for Gang Green, same story, different day. The Patriots smacked the Jets 37-16 in a game that was never close. It seemed as if this habit of dropping the second regular season matchup to New England might never be broken.
Now, the Jets finally have a chance to break that very habit. New York finds itself at a crossroad in their season. Standing at 4-6, this team has been hit from all angles. Darrelle Revis and Santonio Holmes are out for the year with season ending injuries. The media has used Tim Tebow’s presence in various attempts to stir up drama and rip this locker room apart. Ryan, General Manager Mike Tannenbaum, and Owner Woody Johnson, each praised for their brash styles at their respective positions in years past, have all come under heavy criticism. In short, Ryan’s once up and coming Jets have become the punch line for countless jokes revolving around the NFL.
So what does it all mean? It means the Jets face New England for the second time of the regular season in a relatively new position. Instead of being poised to topple the Patriots through a monumental victory that could shift the tide in the AFC East, New York now finds themselves with their backs against the wall. As we all know, Rex Ryan’s squad has done quite well in these situations in the past. Yes, in 2009, the Jets were aided by Jim Caldwell’s decision to pull all of his starters in their week fifteen matchup against the Colts in Indianapolis. However, New York still had to defeat the AFC North champion Cincinnati Bengals in week 16 to secure a playoff spot. As you may recall, New York came out with a vengeance, blanking the Bengals 37-0, propelling them to their first AFC Championship Game run under Ryan.
Similarly, in 2010, the Jets traveled to Foxboro for the AFC Divisional Round game against the Patriots. No one in the world gave New York a chance, considering how lopsided the outcome of the previous matchup between the two clubs was. With their backs against the wall once again, New York pulled off one of the most satisfying wins in franchise history, upsetting the Patriots 28-21, leading to one of the most memorable post game speeches in the history of the sport.
By now, you are asking yourself what this all means for tomorrow night’s game. The answer is simple. These two teams have never faced each other under these circumstances. The Jets, although notoriously laughable in this game under Ryan, will be hosting the Patriots with their backs against the wall for the first time in this situation. You can throw the history books out, because regardless of the outcome, a new chapter will be written in this rivalry on Thanksgiving night. Key players on both teams are out of this competition. Rex is out to prove his worth as a head coach in an attempt to rally his team toward an unprecedented playoff run, a goal that suddenly becomes attainable with a win at MetLife stadium tomorrow, considering the fact that New York’s remaining opponents have a combined record of 17-33. The circumstances are different, but New York has another chance at a monumental victory over their long time foe.
How will it all pan out, though? For the Jets, there are several feats they need to attain to put themselves in a position to reign victorious. Rather than using outright predictions, this week’s New York Jets Fact or False highlights exactly what Gang Green needs to do in order to stage an upset of the Patriots on the biggest stage. Digest these proclamations with your holiday bird, and be sure to give thanks for a full day of NFL madness, regardless of any outcome.
The Jets need Shonn Greene to carry the load of the running game past the Patriots.False. This is a no brainer. New York looked like an entirely new offense last week using a running back by committee approach. While many have attributed their success to a poor opponent, St. Louis actually ranks thirteenth in total defense in the NFL. Are the Rams great? Absolutely not. But Jeff Fisher’s club is certainly not the laughing stock it once was. New York needed a strong offensive effort, and that is exactly what they got, led by the resurgence of Shonn Greene as the battering ram, the emergence of Bilal Powell, who scored his first two career touchdowns, as the elusive scat back, and the somewhat proper utilization of Joe McKnight as the explosive, all purpose back. The result? Mark Sanchez put together his most efficient performance of the season, and New York won in dominant fashion in a must win situation. Sticking to this philosophy is an absolute necessity against New England tomorrow. Control the clock, keep Brady off the field, and give Sanchez something to lean on.
The Jets need to find a way to pressure Brady without a heavy amount of blitzing.Fact. Most people are now aware of the blueprint on how to shut down Brady and the high-powered Patriots offense. Hit the prolific quarterback over and over and over. However, the reason that teams like the Giants have been so successful against New England is because they can do so without a heavy amount of blitzing. Tom Brady has been lights out against the blitz this year – 86 attempts, 10 TDs, 0 INTs, 90.0 QBR, and a 127.2 passer rating. New York needs to find a way to get in his face without using the blitz.
New England has lost three games this season – home against Arizona, and on the road in Baltimore and Seattle. In those three losses, Brady has been sacked 9 times, while being hit 17 times. New England’s offense can surely sputter if opposing defenses can get to Brady. The key is to do it without letting him burn you on the blitz. Rex and his staff need to get very creative disguising their pressure schemes to create the illusion that the Jets are bringing more heat than they actually are, through an effective use of zone blitzes, similar to how they were able to rattle Brady in the 2010 playoffs. Look for Ryan to mix up his fronts, using a variety of four man rushes, led primarily by Muhammad Wilkerson and Quinton Coples. With All-Pro Guard Logan Mankins ruled out for tomorrow, New York will have optimal opportunity to generate a strong interior pass rush. Based on the play of Wilkerson and Coples as of late, New England could easily have their hands full tomorrow night.
Tom Brady is the only part of the Patriots offense that needs to be stopped.False. While Brady is certainly the key to New England’s offensive success, the run game must be stopped at all costs as well. In each of the Patriots three losses this year, they have failed to generate more than 90 total rushing yards as a team. New York needs to make the offense one dimensional, and then worry about getting to Brady. A tall task, yes, but nothing will be easy in achieving the upset tomorrow night.
The Jets need to generate turnovers to win.Fact. Historically, the Jets under Rex Ryan have had their best success against the Patriots when they’ve been able to take the ball away from Tom Brady. In Ryan’s 3 total wins against New England, Brady has thrown a total of four interceptions. In New England’s five victories against Ryan’s Gang, Brady has turned the ball over via interception just once. This trend holds true to two of New England’s three losses this year. Brady has just three interceptions on the season, however one came in the home loss to Arizona, with the other two coming from the loss in Seattle. Another daunting task for the Jets, particularly without Darrelle Revis, but remember, Brady is missing two key pieces of his offense, as well, in Mankins and TE Rob Gronkowski.
The Jets Special Teams need to wake up.Fact. In order to pull off this upset, the Jets need to be nearly perfect in all three phases of the game. New York’s once stout special teams has been a complete disaster as of late. Blocked kicks, big returns, losing focus and succumbing to a surprise onsides kick have haunted the Jets in previous weeks. To quote ESPN’s Cris Carter, “Mike Westhoff, where you at?!” The prolific coach, now a household name thanks to his role in HBO’s 2010 season of Hard Knocks, seems to have lost the grasp of a unit that was once regarded as a crutch for New York in times of struggle. Westhoff must get his unit ready to play. Any lapse on special teams will likely spell disaster for New York. While you may be able to get away with some blunders against mediocre teams, New England is a different animal. Bill Belichick has likely gone through hours of Jets special teams footage, looking for ways to exploit this suddenly weak group. A big play on special teams cannot happen in any way whatsoever if the Jets wish to begin a late season playoff push.
Enjoy the game, enjoy your families and friends, and most of all, enjoy the Jets tomorrow night, folks. From all of us here at Turn On The Jets, we wish you and your loved ones a very happy, healthy, and safe Thanksgiving.
The TOJ staff discusses what match-up they are most looking forward to in the Jets vs. Patriots game tomorrow night
Joe Caporoso – Sanchez. Sanchez. Sanchez. Simply put, the Jets cannot win this game unless Mark Sanchez protects the football and makes a few plays down the field against a suspect New England secondary. He has been boom or bust against the Patriots in the past. If the Jets want to make a late season playoff run and Sanchez wants any semblance of job security for next year, it starts with a big time performance tomorrow night.
Chris Gross – Mike Westhoff vs. Himself: Has the former star of Hard Knocks already mentally checked out, about 8 weeks prior to his official retirement? The Jets once stout special teams play has been a disaster as of late. Most recently, last week in St. Louis, New York avoided an ultimate disaster after a holding penalty negated what would have been a Rams kickoff returned for a touchdown. Add the blocked field goal and failed fake punt, and it’s a miracle that this team was still able to win in a relatively dominant fashion. To pull the upset tomorrow night against the Patriots, the Jets will likely need to play a perfect game in all three phases. This means that New York cannot afford another Special Teams blunder. A blocked kick, big return, or falling asleep on the kickoff return team, resulting in New England successfully executing a surprise onsides kick (See Miami), will all spell disaster for Gang Green. Westhoff needs to have his unit ready, because based on their play over the past few weeks, Bill Belichick is likely licking his chops while thinking about how he can expose the flaws in New York’s special teams
Rob Celletti – Everyone knows that the Patriots have an abysmal secondary, which is why the key matchup this week for the Jets is actually their run game vs. New England’s defensive front. Mark Sanchez has proven to be an effective quarterback when he’s got a run game supporting him, as this opens up misdirection and playaction. n my opinion, the Jets have gotten away from the ground game quickly in their losses this season, even when not trailing by multiple scores. Even if the Jets go down 10-0 quickly tomorrow night, they would be wise to continue handing off to the new backfield committee of Greene, Powell and McKnight. Sanchez should still attempt 30+ passes in this game, but how successful he is on those throws will be tied to how successful the Jets are on the ground
Mike Donnelly – The matchup I’m most looking forward to seeing is the Jets Pass Rush vs. Tom Brady. There is no question that getting in Brady’s face and pressuring him is the only way to throw him off his game and give yourself the best chance to win. Look at what the Giants did to him in those Super Bowls. Look what the Jets did to him in that 2010 playoff game. It can be done, and the Jets need it to be done. Mo Wilkerson is playing like an absolute beast and Quinton Coples is developing nicely along side of him. Bryan Thomas and Calvin Pace are on the downside of their careers, but don’t be surprised to see them step up in what will likely be their last Patriots rivalry game of their careers. Ricky Sapp is getting a longer look lately, and there was ever a time for him to announce his arrival to the NFL, it’s this week. If the Jets are going to have any chance, they need to generate a pass rush, and that’s what I’ll be watching for.
Chris Celletti – The opportunity is in Mark Sanchez’s hands. The Jets’ quarterback can win this game for his team, he just needs to go out and do it. Just as in their Week 7 matchup against the Patriots, Sanchez will have chances all day to throw the ball down the field and rip off big chunks of yards against the Patriots’ spotty secondary. While the Pats’ offense is a bit banged up and missing their biggest weapon, I still wouldn’t bank on them putting up something like 17 points. They’re still the league’s best offense, and there’s that guy Tom Brady under center. So in order for the Jets to pull the upset, as they almost did in Foxboro earlier this year, they’ll need to put up points. The guy that can make sure that happens? Sanchez. Let’s see it, 6.
A recent history of the New York Jets ruining holidays
Being a New York Jets fan certainly isn’t the easiest thing in the world. Generally, it provides a consistent cycle of inevitable let-downs and heartbreak. What has been interesting is that the Jets have found a way to impact numerous holidays in recent years. So much so, that in my 25 years on this planet very few holidays have passed without me having a distinct Jets memory related to it.
December 21st, 1997 – Jets Lose 13-10 in Detroit – As a 10 year old Jets fan, I’d never seen my team anywhere near the playoffs. They always seemed like this enormous thing that my lowly team would never get to be a part of. Yet, all the Jets needed was a win in Detroit to sneak in. The top of my Christmas List that year was a sloppily scribbled “JETS PLAYOFFS” After waking up at the crack of dawn and putting on my Keyshawn Johnson jersey, I watched an early lead trickle away behind interceptions from Leon Johnson (a running back) and Ray Lucas (an early version of Tebow). Why oh why were these players throwing second half passes in the biggest game of the year? My Dad (A Giants fan) could only laugh and tell me…get used to it. What did I get for Christmas that year? A Neil O’Donnell jersey that I cried into all day (pathetic, I know).
December 19th, 1998 – Jets Beat Buffalo 17-10 – I skipped a recreational basketball practice to watch the Jets clinch a AFC East title and was benched for it two days later in our game, which we lost to end our season. Since I was our leading scorer, the entire team was mad at me and refused to hang out with me over Christmas Break. (You can see how unhealthy it is to be a Jets fan already).
December 24th, 2000 – Jets Lose to Baltimore 34-20 – The Jets needing a win on Christmas Eve to clinch a playoff spot? What do you think happened? An obvious 14-0 lead was quickly erased, thanks mostly to Vinny Testaverde throwing an interception that was returned 99 yards for a touchdown right before the half. I spent the night at my Grandma’s hoping the Jets could stil get in because of a Pittsburgh loss in the late game…they didn’t lose. No playoffs. Miserable Christmas Eve.
December 26th, 2005 – Jets Lose to New England 31-21 – A long break in-between holiday memories, I know. I got tickets to this Monday night game as a Christmas present. My only memory is walking into the game and hearing Patriots fans yelling “YA QUARTABACK IS BROOKS BOLLANNGAHHH!” and sadly knowing they were right. The Jets lost by 10.
December 25th, 2006 – Jets Beat Miami 13-10 – Hey, a positive memory! Chad Pennington, Leon Washington and the rest of the upstart 2006 Jets knocked off Cleo Lemon in a primetime thriller to save Christmas and propel the Jets to the playoffs…where they were promptly stomped out by New England.
November 22nd, 2007 – Jets Lose to Dallas 34-3 – Finally some Thanksgiving Jets Football! Nothing like gathering around the television to watch Kellen Clemens, Chris Baker and Justin McCariens get the ever living crap beat out of them by Tony Romo and Terrell Owens. I remember thinking after this game that the Jets were the worst team in professional sports and would likely never reach playoffs again.
November 25th, 2010 – Jets Beat Cincinnati 26-10 – Another Thanksgiving night game for the Jets – this time a much more enjoyable one. The highlight of this game? Brad Smith ripping off two touchdowns, one on a kick return and one on a long reverse. Too bad the Jets only have the poor man’s version of Smith now AKA Tim Tebow.
December 24th, 2011 – Giants Beat Jets 29-14 – Somewhere Victor Cruz is still running.
For the fourth straight year under Rex Ryan, the pivotal moment of their season will come against New England
The New York Jets are holding on to the slimmest of playoff hopes thanks to last week’s victory over the St. Louis Rams and the general mediocrity of the AFC. An upset over the New England Patriots this Thursday night could set the table for a late season playoff run, aided by an alarmingly weak schedule the rest of the way. The Jets don’t play a team with a better current record than 4-6 after this week’s game. Late season games against New England have marked the pivot points of every Rex Ryan led Jets season so far and this year appears no different. Hopefully, the Jets will be able to reverse their recent trend of disastrous performances in these pivot games.
In 2009, the team bottomed out at 4-6 after getting blown out 31-14 in New England thanks mostly to a four interception performance from Mark Sanchez. Ryan responded by benching Kerry Rhodes on defense and drastically scaling back the Jets offense and going even more run heavy than before (remember the color coded wristband?). The Jets won 5 of their next 6 and snuck into the playoffs to make an improbable run to the AFC Championship Game.
In 2010, it was the Monday Night Massacre which ended a four game Jets winning streak with a 45-3 loss. Another three interceptions from Sanchez and another loss to rally around, which the Jets didn’t truly do until they shocked the Patriots in the Divisional Round of the playoffs.
Last year, the 5-3 Jets were coming off an impressive road win in Buffalo and appeared ready to overtake New England for the AFC East lead. What happened? 37-16 New England at MetLife with 2 interceptions from Sanchez. They lost the following week in Denver before going 3-3 down the stretch to miss the playoffs.
The Jets have no margin for error this Thursday. There is no time to rally around another New England blowout loss and Sanchez stink bomb. Simply put, a win makes the Jets very relavant in December. A loss means they are basically playing out the string. They are catching New England without Rob Gronkowski and Chandler Jones, along with a banged up Aaron Hernandez. Yes, the Patriots are still a much better all-around team but the Jets out-played them a month ago and still found a way to lose a heart-breaker in overtime. They should be confident.
Take away the kick return touchdown. Take away the safety. Don’t get gun-shy conservative on defense in a big spot and keep a balanced, yet creative approach on offense. This game will be competitive in the fourth quarter and who knows what could happen then.
The Jets defense played a strong game up until New England’s final two drives in the previous meeting. Rex Ryan is smart enough not to come with the same scheme at Brady twice in one season. Look for Antonio Cromartie to work between Brandon Lloyd and Aaron Hernandez (if he plays), while bracketing Wes Welker in the slot. New England’s running game is more potent than in previous years but you’d rather force the Patriots to put together 12-13 play drives to score points. You can’t let them rip off 25 yards a play in the passing game. Muhammad Wilkerson needs to continue his recent hot streak and generate pressure upfront along with Quinton Coples. The Jets don’t really have the horses to blitz Brady because of their lack of talent at linebacker and if you don’t get to Brady when you blitz, he kills you.
On offense, the Jets got a good push in the running game earlier in the season against New England’s front seven. It will be important to stick with the committee approach, alternating between Shonn Greene, Bilal Powell and Joe McKnight to keep a fresh back. Powell and McKnight also need to be used to make an impact in the short passing game.
When it comes to throwing the ball, Mark Sanchez needs to protect the football above everything. New England is a bad defense but an opportunistic defense. If you don’t let them take the ball away, the Patriots aren’t pulling away in this one. There is going to be chances for big plays down the field, particularly from Jeremy Kerley and Dustin Keller out of the slot. The two combined for 213 receiving yards back in October.
We mentioned a “creative” offense a few paragraphs ago. The Jets still lack overall talent on offense and shouldn’t be hesitant to empty the playbook out a little bit on Thursday. A well-timed reverse or flea-flicker could steal points for an offense that desperately needs any they could get.
This game is a referendum on both Rex Ryan and Mark Sanchez. Can Sanchez protect the football and play well enough to give his team a chance to win, in a game that could propel a late season run that might save his job? Can Rex put together a game plan to steal a victory from a team with vastly superior talent? Any questions about Ryan’s head coaching future here will go radio silent with a national television victory over the Patriots with the current group of players he is working with.
Mike Donnelly is buying and selling for his weekly Turn On The Jets Stock Watch. This week previewing Jets vs. Patriots
It’s a bit of a shame that the Jets play on a short week against the Pats this week because I would like to savor that curb-stomping Rex Ryan and his defense handed to former Jets coordinator Brian Schottenheimer’s current St. Louis Rams offense just a little bit longer. After all, we haven’t had all that much to be pleased with this year, right? It sure was sweet to be on the other side of a patented Schotty game for a change. The Rams were gashing the Jets early with the run but I wasn’t worried at all. I’d seen this movie too many times and I know how it ends. Naturally, he immediately stopped calling run and a smile broke across my face. Just like we had seen for years here in New York, Schotty much preferred the 2 yard outs and 3 yard crossing patterns that repeatedly resulted in incomplete passes. It was all so very familiar, and all so gratifying to watch. Thank you, Schotty, thank you. Finally, you brought me some joy after six painful years.
Now before we sweep the Rams game under the rug, let’s touch on a few things from it before moving on into full-on Patriots Week mode…
SELL: The “Schotty’s Revenge” jokes – It was funny checking my Twitter after the Rams scored that opening touchdown, seeing all the many, many, many, many stupid and ignorant jokes put out there by so many “experts”, reporters, fans, and haters, all based around the premise that Schotty is, was, and forever will be a genius who the Jets stupidly got rid of. Ha-ha, jokes on the Jets, right? By the 2nd quarter, when Schotty was back to doing Schotty things, leading to his offense not moving the ball, I didn’t see a single thing about it. Weird how that works, huh?
SELL: The Mark Sanchez haters – It’s really gotten to the point that even when Sanchez plays well he’s going to get zero credit and zero respect, huh? Prior to the game all I read about was how the Rams defense was going to tear the Jets apart. Didn’t quite happen. Hey Jets fans, Mark Sanchez is the quarterback of the Jets. Regardless of how you feel about him, when he does well, you should be happy. I will never understand this.
BUY: Tony Sparano’s Gameplan – This was probably Sparano’s best game of the season. The use of play-actions, rollout passes, and creativity in getting the Jets’ many bad receivers open in space was great to see. What else? Glad you asked..
BUY: The Jets 3-Headed RB Attack – FINALLY! I re-watched the game tape five times just to make sure that what I thought I had seen on the TV was not a figment of my imagination: We actually had a Joe McKnight sighting on offense! It was pretty funny — and sad — watching the game and hearing the shock and disgust in the announcer’s voice when he said “That was Joe McKnight’s firstcatch of the season!” Tell me about it. After 10 weeks of praying to various Gods, lighting candles, begging, pleading, writing letters, and ritualistically sacrificing a few Patriots fans (ok, the last one may not have actually happened), the Jets FINALLY did what I wanted and got Joe McKnight involved in the offense, and threw him a pass. That’s all I wanted, just one pass to show me the coaches were aware it is in fact legal to throw a pass to the running back.
It was also great to see Bilal Powell get a few touches and turn them into two touchdowns. Who would have known that maximizing the various talents your running backs possess would be a better alternative than just having Shonn Greene stumble into the line 20 times a game?
SELL: Joe McKnight Inside the 5 yard line – I am all for more McKnight, but perhaps using him as a pseudo goal-line back is not the proper time. Let’s go ahead and rip that page out of the playbook and pretend it never happened, Tony.
SELL: Calvin Pace, Kyle Wilson, Ellis Lankster – Just reminding you that they still stink. This game changed nothing.
SELL: Jets Special Teams (other than Joe McKnight) – Also still very bad.
BUY: Mo Wilkerson – Big Mo has started to look like the dominant All-Pro defensive lineman Rex Ryan talked him up as prior to the season. The last few weeks have been especially impressive for the 2011 first round pick. The scary thing is that he’s only beginning to scratch the surface on what he can do on the field as well. As Quinton Coples develops next to him and an edge rusher is presumably brought in to come around the corner and clean up after Wilkerson’s disruption up the middle, he’s really going to look tremendous. Nobody gives more crap to Mike Tannenbaum and his player evaluation ability than me, but I have to give him credit for Wilkerson. Having Mo and other young talent on defense like Coples, Kenrick Ellis, and Demario Davis will set this defense up very nicely up front for years to come.
SELL: Stephen Hill being “raw” – Ok, enough praise of Tannenbaum. The Stephen Hill debacle looks worse and worse every week. All we heard about after the draft was how “raw” Hill was and how he would need time to develop. Well if that was the case, WHY THE HELL would you not bring in a reliable #2 receiver to start while the rookie developed? And not to mention, it’s always been my understand that “being raw” means he runs the wrong route from time to time, or can’t separate from the cornerback at the line of scrimmage. Being raw, to me, doesn’t include “not being able to catch”, because that seems like a pretty basic thing that all wide receivers should have learned sometime around the 6th grade. If Hill doesn’t learn to catch — and fast — he’s going to just be another in the long line of bust wide receivers who can run real fast and jump real high, but aren’t actually good at playing football — which is a pretty important thing.
Now about that little ol’ Patriots game we have coming up this week. Below are my three keys to this game. If I’m not back here next week in this very column buying all of these, there’s a really good chance I’m also going to be loading the column up with more than a few expletives because the Jets will have lost another big game and the season will more than likely be kaput.
1. Pressure Tom Brady – Mo Wilkerson is going to be double-teamed the entire game because quite frankly, Bill Belichick isn’t dumb. He knows Wilkerson can single-handily disrupt the Patriots offense by getting in Tom Brady’s face all night, just like Shaun Ellis did in the 2010 playoffs. So it’s going to be up to Quinton Coples to step up, along with Calvin Pace (doubtful) and Ricky Sapp (maybe) around the edge. Bryan Thomas has also elevated his play of late, and I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see him turn back the clock a little bit and step up in what will likely be his last Jets-Pats game ever.
2. Stop Wes Welker – With Rob Gronkowski out and Aaron Hernandez likely to be slowed a little by his injury, stopping Wes Welker will be an even bigger key to this week’s game than usual. Typically the Jets would be able to just put him on Revis Island and forget about it, but that option isn’t available this week. And as amazing as Antonio Cromartie has been this season, moving to the slot and covering shifty guys like Welker has never been his strong suit. And that means that — sigh — it’s going to be up to guys like Kyle Wilson and Ellis Lankster to play as well as they possibly can (which isn’t very well, unfortunately) and slow Wes down. There’s going to be a ton of bracket coverage played, and don’t be surprised to see Demario Davis play a major role this week covering some of these short passes over the middle. Just writing this paragraph is giving me anxiety. Ugh.
3. NO TURNOVERS!! – This is the biggest one of them all. When the Jets don’t turn the ball over, they win. Mark Sanchez is unquestionably at a crossroads of his Jets career, and a big-time performance this week against the Patriots will go a long way toward building the confidence not just of himself, but all of his teammates, and the fans. We all know the Patriots defense is comically bad, but they thrive on being opportunistic and causing turnovers, so the Jets absolutely can not fall into that trap. The mission statement on offense this week is simple: Protect the ball, find the many, many soft spots in the defense, and win the game. Easier said than done, unfortunately.
TJ Rosenthal goes No Huddle on the Jets crucial win in St. Louis
4-6 is not the type of record to go celebrating in the Meatpacking District over. The way New York athletes often do after big victories. Ending a three game skid and moving beyond a “Terrible Tim” storm that threatened to derail focus on the Rams is. The Jets win over St Louis has seemingly calmed the Florham Park madness down for the time being but more importantly, has moved Gang Green to within two games of a wildcard spot with six games remaining. The hated Pats minus Gronk are next, but a season on the brink was given a breath of life yesterday. Let’s at least be thankful for that at the start of this holiday week.
1 – Unraveling the Mystery That Is Mark Sanchez
Give Mark Sanchez an effective run game, a defense that gets stops, some screen passes with proper spacing, a few roll outs, and receivers who hold onto the ball, and you get a 118 rating. The entire team has to be functioning well in order for Sanchez to manage a game with confidence but when they do, the Jets starting QB can do his job well.
We wonder what minimizing the Tebow substitutions did to his rythym too as well. Should plays or packages that call for 15 more often reappear this season, it will be worth keeping an eye on how the production of Sanchez changes. Hopefully the staff monitors any differences should they arise, as well.
2 – Bart Scott’s Brief Boycott
The Jets animated veteran LB gave his defense post game orders to use the catch phrase “both teams played hard” with the press. The boycott failed after a brief stand, but it’s intent, to combat a media that used unnamed sources to try and splinter a team already struggling with a three game losing streak and an undermanned roster, is understandable. It’s hard to blame the longtime veteran for being angry about the purposeful disruption.
The players though, should all know by now, that the Jets are painted as a circus tent who at times, bring the cartoonish characterization upon themselves. For a colorful team with an open door media policy like the Jets, the all or nothing Big Apple coverage is heightened to the utmost degree.
On the flip side, there is nothing like winning in New York. An upset over the Patriots Thursday will change the storyline from “implosion” to “another Rex late season charge” towards the playoffs.
3 – Three Headed Monster: A Wish Finally Granted
We asked for GM Mike Tannenbaum to acquire one more veteran RB this offseason in order to bolster the ground and pound concept that Tony Sparano was hoping to reinvigorate this year. We didn’t get our wish.
Finally in week 11, we got the next best thing. A three pronged attack that included speedy Joe McKnight and shifty Bilal Powell into the mix. Shonn Greene has been effective as of late, and the help he got Sunday proved that the Jets can aid Mark Sanchez by moving the chains on the ground while setting up play action. Let’s hope this approach continues. There ought to be no going back to the “Greene as Bell Cow Back” daydream ever again.
4 – Gronk’s Injury
Rob Gronkowski got injured in the waning moments of a 59-24 Patriot blowout win against the Colts Sunday. The great TE’s broken forearm was an unnecessary one, especially when you consider that it happened on the extra point blocking team in a 35 point game.
On the one hand we respect Bill Belichick for working on his offense’s playbook and crispness with his starters, even when a victory is in the bag. On the other hand, the mindset comes at a great risk to the health of key starters. New England lost Wes Welker in a meaningless final game three years back, and could have used him during their first round playoff exit at the hands of the Ravens at home weeks later. Team history was there for Belichick to lean on before deciding to take that type of chance again.
What Gronk’s injury means for the Jets is two fold heading into their must win matchup on Thanksgiving night. First, that the only unguardable player in one on one coverage will be out . A reality that will help the Jets at times. Second, that Belichick has often been able to offset an injury in the short term by utilizing backups and other positions anyway.
The Patriots are still the Patriots as long as Tom Brady is the QB and Belichick is the HC. Don’t let any one injury, even to the league’s best player at his position, allow you to think otherwise.
5 – Other Jets/Pats Thoughts
The Jets will take this win over the Rams to believe in themselves again. Rex Ryan told them prior to Sunday, that it was the “Jets against the world” again and the often used tool in Ryan kit worked. As it has on many other occasions. The players’ confidence in Ryan and the coaches game planning, will have a huge effect in how the Jets prepare mentally for Thursday night.
Ryan will now also remind his team that they had the last meeting between the two clubs won, were it not for one failed stop on the game’s final regulation drive. BEFORE Rob Gronkowski, the unguardable one, was lost due to his work on XPT team blocking duties, while up 35 points with seconds left against the Colts.
Rex should also make the team aware that in the short term, Bill Belichick is a master at covering up a key loss by making weapons out of anyone and everyone at his disposal. That keeping a peddle down on the gas is the only to continue climbing out of the big hole Gang Green has made for themselves.
We’ve gotten to a point – and maybe rightfully so – where Mark Sanchez can do no right in the eyes of some Jets fans. Yesterday, Sanchez played a smart, effective, efficient, well-rounded game. He was sharp, confident, decisive and consistent through four quarters. He played turnover-free football. Yet, lots of chatter on Twitter and the like after the game was, “MEH, SANCHEZ STILL SUCKS.”
I’m not here to be reductive, and as a matter of fact, analyzing Mark Sanchez is the same thing as analyzing the Jets’ season. At this point, you have no choice but to take it one game at a time. So regardless of how you feel about the Jets quarterback in a big-picture sense, you can’t deny that he played well yesterday. That was good enough to get a floundering team to 4-6 and keep the lights on for at least three more days.
The Best: Our esteemed editor has pointed out the pump fake as one of those infuriating Sanchez habits that needs to be broken. Yesterday though, Sanchez looked comfortable and under control in the pocket. The pump fake wasn’t a frantic sign of indecision, but rather a tool Sanchez used to move safeties and wait for the play to develop down the field. The touchdown throw to Chaz Schilens was opened up by a feigned screen into the right flat. Sanchez pumped, the defense bit, and Schilens got open behind the defense. The Jets scored a touchdown on a similar play in week 1 against Buffalo.
Perhaps the most encouraging part of yesterday’s game for Sanchez was that on more than one occasion, he went through his progressions and found his second or third receiving options. One of Sanchez’s glaring weaknesses has been tunnel vision and staring down his primary receiver, but he made strides in the right direction in that area yesterday.
The Worst: Very little went wrong for Sanchez yesterday, though they did need a little bit of luck early on. Sanchez was sacked and stripped on the first drive of the game, but the ball bounced right back into his waiting arms. Disaster averted.
The Key Moment: The Jets were up 13-7 and driving late in the third quarter when they faced a 3rd and 3 from the Rams’ 23 yard line. Off of a playaction fake, Sanchez looked to his right for Stephen Hill on a quick slant, but pulled the ball down and instead dumped it in the left flat to a wide open Konrad Reuland. How many times have we seen Sanchez double-clutch in that situation, only to not get rid of the ball and take a sack? Instead, a simple dump off pass to his safety valve led to Bilal Powell’s first touchdown three plays later. When you hear coaches and quarterbacks talking about “positive plays”, this is exactly what they mean. Credit Sanchez for being patient here, getting 18 big yards, and setting up a key score.
So now, Sanchez needs to do it again, in three days. Yesterday’s success is no indicator of future performance, and like the team, Sanchez will be evaluated one game at a time.
Early thoughts on the New York Jets week 12 Thanksgiving Night match-up against the New England Patriots
The New York Jets season received a shot of life with a 27-13 win over the St. Louis Rams. However, it will take an upset over the New England Patriots this Thursday night to truly make them relevant in the AFC playoff picture again. Here is a collection of early thoughts –
1. The big injury news this week is that Patriots tight end Rob Grokowski will not play because of a broken forearm. Considering he is the league’s best tight end and had 2 touchdowns in their early season match-up…yes this is a huge deal. Aaron Hernandez is expected to play and the Jets coverage attention must now shift to him and Wes Welker. It will be interesting to see how the Jets play Welker since Isaiah Trufant, who covered him the majority of the first match-up, is now out of the season. Look for them to frequently bracket him and throw a collection of different corners at him, hopefully led by Antonio Cromartie who is the only one with the ability to cover him man to man.
2. Mark Sanchez’s best game of the season came against the suspect New England secondary, as he went 28/41 for 328 yards with a touchdown (although he did have two turnovers). Sanchez finally looked in rhythm yesterday as the Jets kept Tim Tebow on the bench outside of three plays. This is another game to keep him on the bench. You don’t beat the Patriots with the Wildcat. You beat the Patriots by throwing down the field on their secondary.
3. That being said, the Jets still need to hit 35-40 carries to keep balance on their offense, protect Sanchez and give the play action passing game a chance. We saw the beginning signs of a committee approach yesterday. Bilal Powell merits 10-12 carries a game, along with Joe McKnight deserving at least 5-7. Powell and McKnight also need to remain factors in the passing game. They are both better screen and checkdown options than Shonn Greene. McKnight also has the ability to split out at wide receiver, something the Jets should consider with their lack of depth at the position.
4. Speaking of receiver, it is time to send Stephen Hill to the bench and reduce him to being a role player. The rookie clearly has his confidence shaken and cannot handle major reps. Chaz Schilens should start at split end, with Jeremy Kerley in the slot. Reduce Hill’s workload to 15-20 snaps and build his confidence back up with a few easy catches on smoke screens or hitch routes. Clyde Gates is another player who shouldn’t be seeing more than limited reps in certain packages. He does have very good speed but is a poor route runner.
5. The Jets special teams needs to wake the hell up. There is no way they could beat New England if they have another killer mistake from that unit.
6. An upset victory over New England on national television is the type of win that could start a late season playoff run, especially when you look at the Jets next two opponents (home vs. Arizona and at Jacksonville). The Jets are appropriately 6.5 point underdogs but this is a winnable game. The team should have confidence from the earlier match-up that they should have won and New England’s defense still has many holes.
Rex Ryan must reverse a disturbing trend since he has taken over. Since 2009 (his first year), the Jets are 0-3 in their second regular season match-up against the Patriots with an average margin of defeat of 26.6 points. Mark Sanchez has also played very poorly in all three of those games with 2 touchdowns to 9 interceptions overall. There is no better time to break this trend than right now.