Initial Reaction – Needed Relief: New York Jets Finally Win

Initial reaction to the New York Jets 27-13 victory over the St. Louis Rams

It has been awhile hasn’t it? The New York Jets ended their three game losing streak with a dominant win over the St. Louis Rams, 27-13. After allowing an early touchdown drive, the Jets defense took over by forcing three turnovers and constantly staying in the face of Sam Bradford who was completely overwhelmed all afternoon. Shockingly, Brian Schottenheimer’s offense countered the Jets with confusing play calls and poorly timed short passes…or not shockingly to every Jets fan in the world.

Muhammad Wilkeson had another strip sack and is starting to look like the All-Pro the coaching staff was hyping him up to be this summer. In the back end Antonio Cromartie, LaRon Landry and Yeremiah Bell all played very good games. Landry had 8 tackles and forced a fumble, Bell had 2 tackles for a loss and a pass defensed and ‘Cro kept being ‘Cro. Since the second half of the Houston game, the Jets defense has generally been pretty good and it needs to keep improving with the Patriots on the way in four short days.

On offense, Mark Sanchez played an encouraging game finishing 15/20 for 178 yards with a touchdown but most importantly ZERO turnovers. The Jets finally moved Sanchez out of the pocket a few times, did a relatively good job protecting him and he responded with an accurate, savvy day. Most encouragingly, we saw him look off his main target and come back across the formation for his secondary target a few times. Chaz Schilens had a strong game with 4 catches for 48 yards with a touchdown. Schilens needs to be put in the starting line-up for Stephen Hill who looks overwhelmed right now…and that’s being kind.

The running game got a good push all day. Shonn Greene led the way with 18 carries for 64 yards. But in the second half, the Jets started leaning on Bilal Powell more often and he responded with two touchdown runs. He had a nice overall day with 11 carries for 42 yards and 2 receptions for 18 yards. This could be a sign of the Jets moving more towards more of a committee approach as Joe McKnight also chipped in 4 carries for 14 yards.

Overall, it was a badly needed victory against a mediocre team. The Jets are on the fringes of the AFC playoff race and could make some noise if they pull an upset at home on Thanksgiving against New England.

For a few days at least…all is good in Jets land.

New York Jets Defensive Film Breakdown: Week 10

A defensive film breakdown of the Jets vs. Seattle with a preview of how they match-up against St. Louis

With 10 weeks and 9 games already in the books for the 2012 New York Jets, the team’s record is extremely reflective of their overall team play. The Jets seem to only play well in stretches, on one side of the ball. This team has struggled mightily in two thirds of the game over the past few weeks. Luckily, we’re here to break down the sole third that has not been an entire disappointment for the better part of this season.

The Jets week 10 defensive effort was actually stellar for the most part of their matchup at Seattle. This unit was forced into some tough spots, field position wise, on multiple occasions throughout this game, and, for the most part, did a fantastic job of not giving up their ground in tough situations. Outside of about 2 possessions through the first three quarters, the defensive play of New York was lights out. Unfortunately, with virtually no support from the offense and special teams, this group was worn out by the fourth quarter, resulting in the inflated score that now shows on the stat sheet.

However, don’t be fooled by the numbers. Defensively, New York played much better than the box score shows. The front seven, particularly the defensive line, was the most impressive unit on the field, among other individuals as well. Rookie Quinton Coples and 2nd year Defensive End Muhammed Wilkerson have not put up monstrous stats thus far, but each of them continue to prove that their worth on this defense is virtually invaluable. Among the two young promising defensive ends, this group as a whole was quite impressive, outside of a few subpar performances and lapses in play.

For this week’s defensive film breakdown, we will highlight the group’s top individual performers, followed by our usual format of breaking down each group as a whole, with an emphasis on the defensive line. We’ll then take a look on what it all means for Sunday’s must-win game in St. Louis.  Lets jump right in.

Week 10 Top Defensive Performers:

Antonio Cromartie, CB: Cromartie continues to assert his dominance since the loss of Darrelle Revis in week 3 to a season ending ACL tear. Coverage wise, the contest in Seattle seemed effortless for Cromartie. When matched up with Golden Tate, the same player who took joy in facing Kyle Wilson, Cromartie was extremely physical and aggressive, not allowing Tate to get off the line easily. On film, Tate’s frustration when lined up across from Cromartie was obvious. While matched up with Sidney Rice, Cromartie was on him like…well, white on rice (see what I did there?). The sole play that Rice was able to get a step on Cromartie, Seattle’s attempted flea flicker, was a fantastic display of the type of athlete Cromartie really is. Trailing by nearly 5 yards, Cromartie demonstrated make up speed that can only be seen when watching a handful of NFL defensive backs. Still, Rice had a chance to make a tremendous catch, but all hope for that was lost thanks to a heads-up, last minute, punch at the ball from Cromartie. The Jets defacto defensive leader also displayed his high level of football intelligence (save the Children’s names jokes, we’re talking about football here), as well as a phenomenal feel for the defense, as he repeatedly sniffed out routes before the ball was even released by Seahawks’ QB Russell Wilson, as he abandonded his coverage to jump the route of the would be intended receiver on more than one occassion. It’s hard to think about where this defense would be this season if not for the efforts of Cromartie up until this point.

Quinton Coples, DE: Many casual observers of this team, and league in general, have been deeming Coples as a poor selection by the Jets in last year’s draft simply because he has yet to put up a massive stat line. This assertion could not be farther from the truth. Coples may not be jumping off of the stat sheet just yet, however his play on the interior of the defensive line has been fantastic thus far, and continues to improve week to week. The strongest point in Coples game right now, outside of his pure athleticism, is his growing ability to utilize his length. Coples’ reach is that of defensive stalwart, and the extension he has been getting on opposing offensive lineman is becoming a serious problem for the rookie’s opponents in every game. Also playing with great leverage, Coples’ effective use of his long arms allows him to get excellent separation against the run and pass, giving him the ability to dictate what he wants to do more often than not. The sacks and double-digit tackle games are sure to come down the road, but for now Coples is getting better on the little things — footwork, hand technique, leverage, separation, block recognition, etc.– with every rep he takes. Jets fans should be ecstatic over this selection, as a year or two from now Coples could very well be considered among the NFL’s top defensive lineman, if the trend of improvement continues.

Muhammed Wilkerson, DE: Like Coples, Wilkerson has had his doubters this year, simply because he isn’t putting up monster numbers. However, consider this: Wilkerson is, by far, the best player in the entire Jets front seven this year. Think about what that means for a second. Wilkerson is the best performer in a front 7 that has struggled greatly this season. Do you think that maybe, just maybe, opposing offenses recognize this and circle number 96 on their gameplans every single week. Considering the attention he has drawn, as displayed by the vast amount of double teams he faces on a weekly basis, along with the fact that teams are seemingly sliding their protection toward him on passing downs, it suddenly isn’t very difficult to undertand why Wilkerson isn’t putting up the huge numbers that many were projecting heading into 2012. When taking all of this into account, it is truly impressive that he has still been as productive as he has been. In a recent ranking of the top defensive ends in the NFL, Pro Football Focus put Wilkerson second to only JJ Watt, based on their grading criteria which takes all aspects of defensive line play into account. Wilkerson is the foundation of this front seven, and proved why yet again last Sunday in Seattle, where he proved to be adapting to all of the attention he is getting by effectively separating double teams, recognizing shifts in protection toward him, and playing with an overall confidence that is displayed by only a few on this entire roster. Pair Wilkerson and Coples with a healthy Nose Tackle and an effective pass rushing Outside Linebacker, and all of a sudden people are talking about this Jets defense as having one of the most effective front sevens in all of football.

Mike DeVito, DT: I haven’t been able to say enough about what DeVito brings to this team in terms of motor, energy, and leadership all season long, a trend that continued in Seattle. While DeVito certainly isn’t the flashiest guy you’ll see, he is the prototype for what a blue collared player really is. With a relentless motor, and strong grasp of assignment, DeVito continues to lead through example. We could easily break down the plays in Seattle where he mugged opposing offensive lineman, resulting in a tackle for loss, or for short gain, plus his strip sack, but even that wouldn’t justify DeVito’s overall body of work. He continues to be plugged in all over the line, at the 1, 3, and 5 technique spots, and rarely ever lets down. The 1 technique is probably his weakest position, due to the fact that he does not possess the elite strength and size to consistently battle double teams, however his versatility as an interior lineman, although often overlooked, should not be something viewed as expendable. An impending free agent, DeVito should be offered a new contract by New York following the season. His numbers will likely not break the bank, and one would think he would be fine with a cap friendly deal, so there should be no reason for him to be playing elsewhere next year. That is, of course, unless Mike Tannenbaum continues his trend of letting blue collared veterans with great leadership ability walk out the door (See Jones, Thomas; Richardson, Tony; Faneca, Allen; Ellis, Shaun; Ihedigbo, James; Cotchery, Jerricho; Washington, Leon).

Bart Scott, ILB: You did not misread that. Although he hasn’t been the player he was in 2009 and 2010 for much of the past two season, Bart Scott actually played with a similar level of intensity and aggressiveness that made him such a force during the Jets’ back to back AFC Championship game seasons. Scott looked quicker and more aggressive than he has all year against Seattle, as he displayed the ability to fly downhill, take on lead blockers, and completely stuff any run headed his way. Hell, he even registered a rare sack for a veteran his age, nursing a toe injury, in the loss. Is the Madbacker of old completely back? I don’t think he will ever be. However, the flashes of his former self that were on display last Sunday are surely a sign of encouragement entering the final seven weeks.

Defensive Line:

Sione Pouha – Pouha has clearly not been himself this season, seemingly nursing a back injury that has prevented him from playing with the level of explosion and leverage Jets fans have become accustomed to. However, the Seattle game showed more glimpses of the old Sione than we have seen all season long. He was finally able to show some explosion and strength off of the ball, resulting in him occupying multiple blockers on numerous occasions. This team’s lack of ability to defend the run this season stems a vast amount from the lack of play at the NT position, with Pouha not playing at 100%, and Kenrick Ellis missing extensive time. However, Pouha’s play on Sunday was a major contribution to why the front seven players listed in our top defensive performers were able to excel. Pouha’s ability to clog the middle with multiple blockers sprung linebacker Bart Scott to be able to roam free, fly around, and make the plays he made, while also creating more one on one scenarios for Coples and DeVito. Wilkerson still drew a good amount of double teams, but if Pouha can continue to increase his play, it will likely begin to limit the attention that can be paid to big Mo. While he proved to still be virtually useless in rushing the passer, a healthy Pouha’s value against the run is indispensable.

Bryan Thomas – This was probably one of the best performances, if not the best performance, that Thomas has put on all season. While he still struggles in space, and rushing the passer on a grand scale, Thomas was able to effectively set the edge against the run, while actually proving to be a handful for Russell Okung. Thomas displayed solid leverage, and a good feel for the overall blocking scheme of Seattle, helping contribute to his team high 7 tackles, while adding half a sack as well. A good sign, but one that must keep Jets fans skeptical, based on his overall performance up until this point of the season. Cerebrally, Thomas is great. Physically, he is at the point in his career where it is difficult to put together performances similar to his against Seattle on a weekly basis.

Calvin Pace – Pace, like Thomas, put together a rather surprising performance to the outside observer. However, if you have been reading these breakdowns throughout the seaon, Pace’s performance was right on point with what we have been saying since week 1. Pace is very solid against the run, can set the edge well, has excellent technique, but just lacks that second gear at this point in his career. Well, last week’s game summed that up to perfection. Pace was his usual tenacious self inside the box, and proved once again, to have a variety of pass rush moves, effective to get beyond the opposing tackle, yet not quite enough to actually get to the quarterback in a timely manner. Mike DeVito’s sack strip was actually caused by a ferocious rush by Pace that forced Russell Wilson to become frazzled to the point where he carelessly stepped into Mike DeVito’s interior rush, without protecting the football, resulting in one of the best defensive plays of the day. Pace still struggles greatly in coverage, but at this point he and Thomas are still the best options as everydown OLBs on the roster, which tells you all you need to know about how poorly this team’s depth has been constructed.

Garrett McIntyre – McIntyre continued to show a high motor against Seattle, recording a couple tackles in situations where he came off the backside unblocked, but he is a perfect example of how poor the depth is at the position. I am unsure if I can think of another NFL team that he would be getting meaningful reps with.

Linebackers:

With the exception of Scott, the overall play of this unit was just slightly above average. David Harris looked better than he has in recent weeks, but he is far from being the dominant force on the inside that the Jets were hoping he’d become. He did a much better job of taking on lead blockers, with the correct shoulder, either forcing run plays into his help, or allowing him to make the plays himself.

DeMario Davis was used a bit more as an edge rusher last week, where he seemed quite comfortable. On one particular play early in the game, Davis came off the edge with great closing speed, and should have had a sack on Wilson, who was forced out of the pocket on the play, but was held by Seattle’s Right Tackle, without a call from the official staring directly at the line of scrimmage. Davis, unfortunately, did have more lapses in coverage last week, however, and seemed to be caught out of position on some run plays. One play that stood out was an edge run to his side, in which Calvin Pace spilled the lead blocker to force the back to the edge, assuming he’d have the help of Davis to make the play, but the rookie linebacker was nowhere to be found, turning what should have been a 1-2 yard gain into about an 8 yard gain. Physically, Davis is proving to be quite substantial, but mentally, he still has lightyears to go.

Marcus Dowtin and Ricky Sapp flashed some of their athleticism and potential, however, there has yet to be a large enough sample of their play to give a fair evaluation at this point. Sapp did make an inexperienced move, however, on Marshawn Lynch’s fumble that, if recovered, would have given the Jets the ball inside the Seattle 10 yard line. Sapp had a clear chance to simply fall on the ball and secure it for New York, but he instead tried to pick it up with a clear path to the endzone, causing him to take his eyes off of it, thus allowing Seattle to pounce on the ball and maintain posession. Hard to fault a guy just signed from the practice squad for wanting to make a game changing play, but fundamentally, this was a major lapse. To use Tannenbaum’s company line, a recovered fumble there may have changed the complexion of the game. Who knows?

Secondary:

Kyle Wilson’s faults are magnified to their highest degree, and rightfully so. Wilson struggles tremendously in man coverage, and is notorious for the finger wag that has been highly documented here at TOJ. However, despite the Golden Tate touchdown on the first drive, Wilson responded rather well, with the exception of his ability to change direction. Wilson did a good job of covering the deep ball after Tate’s touchdown, but where he really struggles is on any type of hitch or comeback routes. His stop and go ability, and route recognition, is quite poor, something that can surely be taken advantage of.

Ellis Lankster has proved to be effective as a blitzer and in some zone coverage schemes, however, like Wilson, he struggles mightily in man coverage. Sidney Rice’s touchdown is a perfect example of his struggles. Lankster completely mugged Rice, who somehow was still able to make the catch over the out of position DB. Unfortunately, like OLB, I am unsure of who else New York could turn to at this point, particularly with Isaiah Trufant recently placed on the injured reserve list.

The Safeties played their usual game – solid against the run, looked for the big hit, and didn’t give up any real significant plays. The only poor play that comes to mind is LaRon Landry’s pass interference penalty in the endzone, but to me, that was a highly questionable call considering there was little contact and the ball seemed rather uncatchable. Landry proved again to be effective in the box, while Bell played another smart game with a high display of veteran savvy.

This Jets team is at a breaking point right now. There are two ways the season can go at this point – somewhat average, or a complete disaster. How they respond this week in St. Louis will be a sign of things to come for the 6 games to follow. Defensively, this unit is a healthy nose tackle and a pass rushing OLB away from being dominant once again. Inside Linebacker may end up being an issue if Davis contiues to struggle mentally, but I don’t neccesarily see that happening. Of course, Harris will need to regain form as well, but he is slowly beginning to play more effectively than not lately.

This week in St. Louis, the Jets front seven seems to hold the advantage against St. Louis’s offensive line, however the key comes down to Danny Amendola. If Rex Ryan and Co. think that they can put Lankster or Wilson on Amendola in man coverage, expect a 8-10 catch, 100+ yard game for the WR. With the way Coples and Wilkerson have been playing, this could easily be the week that they each register a sack. Stop the run, put Cromartie on Amendola, and get Bradford to the ground are all very realistic possibilities that should lead to defensive domination for New York on Sunday.

 

Turn On The Jets Week 11 Roundtable – Jets vs. Rams Predictions

The TOJ staff gives their predictions for Rams vs. Jets

Joe Caporoso – 12 Pack 

Chris Gross –  Jets 23-Rams 17: Can New York turn a week of internal turmoil into enough motivation to grab a road victory in a must win situation? At what point does this team develop a chip on their shoulders for all the doubters and perceived negativity they are subject to, week in and week out? If I am Rex Ryan, my pregame speech is similar to Lou Brown’s in Major League:

“I’m not much for giving inspirational addresses, but I’d just like to point out that every newspaper in the country has picked us to finish last. The local press seems to think that we’d save everyone the time and trouble if we just went out and shot ourselves. Me, I’m for wasting sportswriters’ time. So I figured we ought to hang around for a while and see if we can give ’em all a nice big sh*tburger to eat!”

Will the Jets channel their inner “Wild Thing Rick Vaughn” and go on a fairytale run into the postseason? Probably not. But, at the very least, they can salvage some respect heading into 2013, starting with a great effort in St. Louis on Sunday, amid a week of drama, finger pointing, conspiracy, anonymous sources, and a poor display of interview ability from their owner, general manager, and head coach.

New York needs to come out swinging, not taking their foot off the gas pedal for 60 straight minutes, in all 3 phases of the game. The Jets once stout Special Teams play has become a liability in recent weeks, subjecting their defense to an even greater responsibility to carry this team, something that they are clearly ill-equipped to handle at this point. Offensively, New York needs to do a couple of things.

First, the run must be established. San Fransisco rushed for a team total of 183 yards in last week’s tie with the Rams. Do the Jets have Frank Gore ability in their RB stable? Absolutely not. However, there is no reason that Shonn Greene shouldn’t be given the ball 20 times, with newcomer Kahlil Bell contributing with a minimum of 10-12 carries. Offensive Coordinator Tony Sparano must get creative with this run game, meaning some possible end-arounds, jet sweeps, and shuffle passes to Jeremy Kerley. Let Kerley play a Percy Harvin type role this week, as he is one of the Jets very few consistent offensive players. Kerley must touch the ball at least 10-15 times through a variety of carries and receptions. There is no time left to keep thinking within the box. New York is at, what seems to be, a breaking point in the Rex Ryan era. Nothing can be held back at this point. (Disclaimer: I refuse to comment on Tebow’s role in these predictions until the Jets prove to have any type of coherent plan on how to use him).

Second, the Jets need to get Mark Sanchez out of the pocket more often than not this week. Prior to the season, our very own Editor-In-Chief Joe Caporoso highlighted the most effective ways to put Sanchez in a position to succeed. Among them was getting Sanchez out of the pocket on designed roll outs and play action passes. St. Louis had a team total of 5 sacks last week against San Francisco’s Colin Kaepernick and Alex Smith, two players known for their mobility. St. Louis did an excellent job of containing them, as their fierce pass rush racked up the sacks. If the Jets can get Sanchez on the move, they should be able to effectively move the chains on medium down (3-7 yards) situations. If he is forced to sit in the pocket, however, things could get very ugly for this offense.

Defensively, New York needs to attack throughout the entire game. Last week, San Francisco was able to register only 2 sacks on Sam Bradford, resulting in a 275 yard, 2 Touchdown performance from the former #1 overall pick. The Jets don’t have anything close to the pass rushing talent of the 49ers, so Rex Ryan and Co. will have to be extremely creative with their blitz and pressure packages once again. If New York can effectively pressure Bradford, and get some big hits on him, they will be in an excellent position on the defensive side of the ball.

Aside from getting to the Quarterback, New York needs to do two things. First, Stephen Jackson needs to be shut down at all costs. The Jets actually did an effective job of shutting down Marshawn Lynch last week, despite the back’s 4th quarter surge that was a result of a defense that had been worn down both physically, and mentally at that point. Jackson accumulated 101 yards last week against San Francisco, but was only able to muster up a 3.5 YPC average. New York needs to key him on 1st downs and short yardage situations, as limiting him to 75-85 rushing yards will be essential to victory.

Finally, the Jets need to put Antonio Cromartie on Danny Amendola in any man coverage scheme. Ellis Lankster and Kyle Wilson’s documented struggles in man coverage are very real, something Amendola and the Rams are well aware of. Ryan needs to challenge the remainder of St. Louis’s receiving corps to beat his secondary by shutting Amendola down. The only way to do that this week is by putting Cromartie on him for the majority of the contest.

If New York can do each of these things on both sides of the ball, while not having any special teams meltdowns, this game shouldn’t even be close. However, this is a Jets team that has seemingly made more mental errors all season than most of us can remember. There will be breakdowns in all facets of the game, but I think New York will finally respond to them this week. Expect a hard fought, back against the wall, fight for survival from the Jets, resulting in a game won through a total team effort. There won’t be any single player on the offense or defense that is going to put up a monster stat line, but through a cohesive, aggressive game plan, and proper execution of the little things, the Jets will ultimately top the Rams in St. Louis by 6.

Mike Donnelly – Jets 20-13 

Rob Celletti –  When it comes to sports, and the teams I root for, I try to be an optimist. If I’m watching a hockey game (remember hockey?) and the Rangers go down by three goals early, I usually think to myself, “if they gave up three that quickly, they can score three of their own just as quickly.” Needless to say, things don’t usually work out that way. Especially when it comes to the New York Jets.

Is it possible that the Jets find a way to eke out a win on Sunday and at least give themselves half a chance at meaningful December football in a weak AFC?  Well yeah, ANYTHING is possible. It’s also possible that the Mayans were right, and that Earth will get sucked into a black hole in 35 days, rendering all of this discussion moot. The Rams win Sunday, 17-10.  It will be, as usual, an excruciating three hours for Jets fans. Last time things were this bad going into Thanksgiving, Kellen Clemens was playing quarterback.

Chris Celletti – For some reason, and I really can’t explain this, or justify it with football reasons, but I think the Jets are going to win this game. Maybe it’s because I’m all giddy about the Knicks (they were 6-0 at the time of my filing of this), or maybe it’s because the Rams aren’t any good . They employ Brian Schottenheimer. And Wayne Hunter. And Matthew Mulligan. Although I have no faith in the Jets’ offense (or defense or special teams or PR department or the Kraft Tee Kids at Metlife, for that matter), I do think this will be a tight, low scoring, close game that is there for the taking. Can Mark Sanchez engineer like two scoring drives? If so, pop a defensive score or a special teams one and BANG, there’s your fourth win of the season. Jets 15 (why not?), Rams 10

Turn On The Jets Week 11 NFL Picks

The TOJ Staff gives their picks for week 11 of the NFL season

The Race for Steak continues. Note that last week’s record includes the most recent Thursday Night game –

CURRENT STANDINGS

1. Rob Celletti (79-63-5)

2. Chris Gross (75-68-4)

3. Mike Donnelly (74-70-3)

4. Chris Celletti (72-71-4)

5. Joe Caporoso (60-83-4)

Joe Caporoso

Last Week (3-11!) Good Lord!

  • Redskins (-3.5) vs. Eagles
  • Packers (-3.5) vs. Lions
  • Falcons (-9) vs. Cardinals
  • Panthers (+1.5) vs. Bucs
  • Cowboys (-8) vs. Browns
  • Jets (+3.5) vs. Rams
  • Colts (+9) vs. Patriots
  • Jaguars (+14.5) vs. Texans
  • Bengals (-3) vs. Chiefs
  • Saints (-4.5) vs. Raiders
  • Broncos (-7.5) vs. Chargers
  • Ravens (-3) vs. Steelers
  • 49ers (-4.5) vs. Bears

Mike Donnelly

Last Week (4-10) Good Lord! 

  • Eagles +3.5
  • Packers -3
  • Cards +9.5
  • Panthers +1.5
  • Browns +8
  • Jets +3.5
  • Patriots -9
  • Jaguars +14.5
  • Chiefs +3
  • Raiders +4.5
  • Chargers +7.5
  • Steelers +3
  • 49ers -4.5

Rob Celletti

Last Week (10-4)

  • Redskins (-3.5) over Eagles
  • Lions (+3.5) over Packers
  • Falcons (-9) over Cardinals
  • Panthers (+1.5) over Bucs
  • Cowboys (-8) over Browns
  • Rams (-3.5) over Jets
  • Colts (+9) over Patriots
  • Jaguars (+14.5) over Texans
  • Bengals (-3) over Chiefs
  • Saints (-4.5) over Raiders
  • Broncos (-7.5) over Chargers
  • Ravens (-3) over Steelers
  • 49ers (-4.5) over Bears

Chris Celletti

Last Week (11-3)

  • Eagles
  • Packers
  • Falcons
  • Panthers
  • Browns
  • Jets
  • Pats
  • Texans
  • Bengals
  • Saints
  • Broncos
  • Ravens
  • 49ers

Chris Gross

Last Week (9-5)

  • Eagles (+3.5)
  • Packers (-3)
  • Cardinals (+9.5)
  • Panthers (+1.5)
  • Cowboys (-8)
  • Jets (+3.5)
  • Colts (+9)
  • Texans (-14.5)
  • Kansas City (+3)
  • Saints (-4.5)
  • Broncos (-7.5)
  • Ravens (-3)
  • Bears (+4.5)

Turn On The Jets 12 Pack, Week 11 – Jets vs. Rams

12 predictions for the New York Jets week 11 game against the St. Louis Rams

The Turn On The Jets 12 pack is back with 12 refreshing predictions for your 3-6 New York Jets who this week travel to St. Louis to face Robert Turner, Brian Schottenheimer, Matthew Mulligan, Kellen Clemens, Wayne Hunter and the rest of the 3-5-1 Rams. You may laugh at those names but the Jets are appropriately 3.5 point underdogs because in the game of football you need to score points and the Jets cannot do that. 

1. Shonn Greene, Joe McKnight and Khalil Bell will combine for 35 touches on offense. The Jets are going to run early and often on offense and I expect plenty of Mark Sanchez checkdowns, some completed and some knocked down at the line.

2. Danny Amedonla will take advantage of the plays Antonio Cromartie isn’t near him and lead the Rams in receptions and receiving yards, with 7 for 85.

3. St. Louis will struggle to run the ball on the Jets front seven. Steven Jackson will finish with less than 55 yards rushing and Daryl Richardson with finish with less than 35 yards.

4. Dustin Keller will lead the Jets in receptions and receiving yards, having a nice bounce-back game after his disastrous performance last week.

5. Mark Sanchez will have another fairly ugly stat-line, barley completing 50% of his passes, throwing for under 200 yards and having another turnover. He will also be sacked at least twice.

6. Sam Bradford will throw for 200 yards and a touchdown but will also have at least one turnover. The Jets will sack him at least twice.

7. Stephen Hill will have less than 25 yards receiving. Jeremy Kerley will again be the only Jets receiver who makes any type of impact on the game.

8. Tim Tebow will finish with 30 total offensive yards. Yawn.

9. Joe McKnight won’t get the chance to return any kicks because of Legatron.

10. There will be 3 or less total touchdowns in this game.

11. #63 will in fact be eligible…for at least 10 plays this week.

12. The entire week I picked the Jets to lose this game, including in my Q&A with the Rams Herd, yet something about it almost seeming too obvious to pick them to lose and the fact that St. Louis is coming of a full five quarter emotional tie in San Francisco…what the hell? I am taking the Jets 17-16.

Predicted Game Outcome Record (8-1)

 

New York Jets Playoff Pipe Dream – Week 11 Hail Mary Edition

You still think the New York Jets have a chance at the playoffs, don’t you…you crazy SOB?

You are a sick person aren’t you? Sure, you have appropriately ripped your New York Jets all week to anybody who would listen. Sure, you swear you won’t waste time watching another game. But we all know that you will. You will be glued to your TV at 1 PM this Sunday, wondering in an anxious horror if your football team can truly get any worse…or if maybe, just maybe they could have some professional pride and show signs of life.

You are even thinking way in the back of your head…hey, the Colts and Patriots are playing this week, one of them has to lose right? The Steelers are playing with Byron Leftwich at quarterback the next 4-5 games, what if they start losing because Leftwich…well is, Leftwich. Look at how easy our schedule is!

Let me be the first to tell you that you need help buddy. But let me also be the first to guide your crazy aspirations in a well-structured article.

There are three main teams you should focus on in your crazy hopes: Indianapolis, Pittsburgh and New England. The Jets are currently three games behind all of them and only hold a tie-breaker as of right now with the Colts. Yes, there are other teams between them in the standings but for the time being let’s hold on to the thought that San Diego, Cincinnati, Oakland, Miami, Tennessee and Buffalo will all finish 8-8 or worse.

In terms of catching the Colts, the Jets would have to finish 6-1 (!) and have the Colts finish 3-4. Indy finishes with the following schedule –

  • At New England
  • Vs Buffalo
  • At Detroit
  • Vs Tennessee
  • At Houston
  • At Kansas City
  • Vs Houston

Not that easy. Yet, keep in mind Houston could be resting starters in those two games, particularly in the week 17 game. The hope here is that Indy is a young team who hasn’t played particularly well on the road.

The Jets currently don’t have the tie-breaker with Pittsburgh but it isn’t inconceivable that they could get it. They are currently 3-4 in the AFC and Pittsburgh is 3-3. If the Jets win 6 of their last 7 (!) and Pittsburgh finishes 3-4, they’d likely have the tie-breaker. Here are the Steelers final 7 games –

  • Vs Baltimore
  • At Cleveland
  • At Baltimore
  • Vs San Diego
  • At Dallas
  • Vs Cincinnati
  • Vs Cleveland

This schedule really isn’t that bad on paper but with Leftwich under center who knows?

Finally, the mighty Patriots who are ready to roll to another AFC East crown. Obviously the Jets need to beat them head to head and beat Buffalo at the end of the season, along with hope New England loses another division game and then a few more conference games…basically this ain’t happening unless something screwy goes on in Foxboro. Here are their final 7 –

  • Vs Indy
  • At Jets
  • At Miami
  • Vs Houston
  • Vs San Francisco
  • At Jacksonville
  • Vs Miami

In the real world, you are probably looking at a 5-2 type finish for the Patriots that gets them to 11-5. It actually isn’t that crazy to think either the Steelers or Colts will finish 9-7, what is crazy is to think the Jets could win 6 of their last 7 with the way they are playing right now.

Only Rex Can Lead Jets Out Of Circus Tent

TJ Rosenthal on Rex Ryan being the only person who could stop the Jets circus

After a week filled with ridiculous circus-like sideshow drama, the Jets bizarre traveling show lands in St Louis for another must win Sunday. As the 3-6 Jets look to avoid another nail in the coffin in a season currently on life support, only Rex Ryan can reel in a team that is now being portrayed as jugglers, tricksters, and liars again. To do so, he must forget relying on a pre game speech, and go dominate offensive coordinator and current Rams OC, Brian Schottenheimer instead.

Since the Jets last left us on an actual playing field in Seattle, Jets fans have been privy to yet another uncanny weekday soap opera. One that has included, unnamed sources bashing Tim Tebow, one former Jet (Ladainian Tomlinson, now of the NFL Network) guessing aloud who the anonymous quotes belonged to (Antonio Cromartie and Bart Scott, both who deny the charge from their former teammate) an owner calling for a press conference to justify the signing of Tebow as a football decision (not one to sell jerseys, a theory most Jets fans have especially when considering how little Tebow has been implemented despite the shroud of secrecy his Wildcat package was treated with during the summer), a running back (Shonn Greene) backtracking hours after his own statement that a QB change might be a good thing, and a team that now believes the original “sources” were contrived by the Daily News simply for a story.

Those Gang Green sideshows are growing again. So are the shadowy voices. Both of whom combined to bring the Jets unity down in 2011. In a year that Ryan admitted after the final game, was one where he lost a feel for the locker room.

With self implosion staring the undermanned (and you can blame that on injuries, Mike Tannenbaum, the coaching staff’s inability to develop talent, or all of the above) Jets in the face, it is down to one man now. Rex Ryan. A coach with Jet bloodlines (father Buddy was architect of the Jets Super Bowl III defense) who upon taking over the team with the shattered psyche, one that starved for acceptance and an identity, single handedly changed the attitude of a franchise wallowing in self pity, from top to bottom in his first two seasons at the helm.

Ryan can continue to search for a leader to join him in Florham Park, but he will have a hard time finding it these days. Especially in QB Mark Sanchez, who is often times too busy moping on a sideline bench, daydreaming of a whole new WR corps, or a run game that can mask his spotty mechanics and decision making. Ryan can also rule out the recently emerging locker room force Cromartie (the defacto leader of the defense with Darrelle Revis out), now that “Cro” is embroiled in “Terrible Tim Gate.”

GM Mike Tannenbaum? After refusing to add veteran depth at receiver or RB, the strategy for Tanny lately has been “Hide, Deny, and Deflect.” Forget him for the time being too, Rex. Woody Johnson is tied up too we’re afraid. Fresh off of dropping millions of dollars and countless time spent on the unsuccessful Mitt Romney Presidential campaign, the Jets owner is too busy calling for press conferences that insure the signing of Tebow was done solely to improve the team. An ironic notion when you consider that Tebow, the only possible leader of men Ryan COULD call upon right now, barely plays at all.

Ryan has to simply look in the mirror. The only leader this team has, will be staring right back at him. Rex should kick things off in this final attempt to salvage the team by guiding it, through showing that the decision to show Brian Schottenheimer the door, was the right one. Not an easy trick to pull when you yourself (Jets) are the 30th ranked offense in football. Schottenheimer has taken a Rams offense that averaged 12 points a game an has helped to increase it to 18. However, this scoring “surge” hardly leaves St Loo in any “high powered”category.

The Jets defense showed last weekend, even in defeat (28-7 to the Seahawks), that it can slow down a great running back (Marshawn Lynch) and shake down a non elite quarterback (Russell Wilson). Ryan, a defensive genius in the eyes of many around the league,  has to take the Rams Sam Bradford and Steven Jackson Daryl Roichardson RB tandem by the horns in the same way as Lynch and Wilson were treated for much of last week’s game.. Anything less, may shine an even greater circus spotlight on the current Jets mess and the notion that OC Tony Sparano was a better fit for the job.

Talk is cheap. You’d figure that the Jets would have learned that by now. Yet just last weeek Cromartie called the club a playoff team. Ryan later echoed his cornerback’s statement. Ryan will of course roll out the “us against the media” rallying speech before the game but in truth, the real statement must start on the field. Led by Ryan in out foxing Schotty, Jets Nation’s old friend and nemesis. Who while in New York,  often times called plays that many diehards saw as more detrimental to the Jets than purposeful.

Leadership starts with action. Ryan’s is the final card in the deck the Jets can play before the house of cards crumbles, and he knows it.

Turn On The Jets Week 11 Best Bets: Or Worst Bets?

Chris Celletti with his weekly Best Bets for Turn On The Jets

Week 10 Record: 1-2

Season Record: 11-18-1

Week 10 Record in Race For The Steak Picks: 10-3

For this week, I think it’s apropos to rename this piece “Worst Bets”, considering what happened last week with my picks. In the 13 games your Turn On The Jets staff picked from Week 10 of the NFL season, I went 10-3. The three games I did not get right were the Bears over the Texans, the Chargers covering against the Bucs and the Giants over the Bengals. If you recall (I’m sure my picks are ingrained in your mind), I picked the Bears and Chargers in my Best Bets from Week 10, and so desperately wanted to choose my Giants pick because I thought that game was a foregone conclusion. Then Eli Manning turned all Mark Sanchez on us.

Before we get to my picks for this week, I wanted to weigh in on a  few things, as I’m wont to do in this space:

-People have to stop with the “Poor ol’ Timothy Tebow!” shtick. Please. Yeah, he’s a good guy. He doesn’t deserve to wake up one day to see his teammates trashing him in the “media” – regardless of if the story is true or not. But let’s not get all worried about how unfair this whole thing is to Tim Tebow. Newsflash: the world of pro sports is a tough business. People love you, people hate you, the media is horrible, the fans are horrible, etc. But I don’t feel like I need to worry about the feelings of a guy who has won two National Titles in college, a Heisman trophy, was a first round pick in the NFL, is a MILLIONAIRE, and is dating Camilla Belle. I’m supposed to feel bad for this guy because of a fabricated news story that said that some teammates think he sucks? Excuse me if I felt worse for Chad Pennington when the home crowd cheered him getting injured and replaced by Jay Fiedler.

But the Jets only have themselves to blame for the mess they’re in, and I for one am glad in a way that the Tebow thing is blowing up. In a perfect world, this would be the wake up call Woody Johnson needs to learn that it’s not good to try and be Jerry Jones, and just hire competent football people (read: NOT Mike Tannenbaum), and let them run the show. Sadly, I don’t see that happening, because Woody Johnson is a horrible owner.

Along with many on this site, I’ve been a big time defender of Mark Sanchez (I would love to see him coached by Bill Cowher), but I would bench him on Sunday if the Jets had a viable backup (I don’t know, maybe someone like Drew Stanton? That name just popped into my head, I really have no idea why). They don’t. The worst possible thing that could happen to the Jets is to insert Tebow and win a few fluky games like the Broncos did last year, enough wins for the coaching staff to think that he could be the long-term solution at QB. Thankfully it doesn’t look like it’s going to go that way, and that’s a good thing. I have no idea who is going to be the Jets’ QB next year, but I know it shouldn’t be Tim Tebow.

-The Knicks are for real. You can no longer just say “The Knicks are off to a good start.” Did people say that about the Spurs, who started 7-1? No. People just said “Of course the Spurs have a good record, they’re a good team”. The Knicks are a damn good team, and anyone who doesn’t think so just isn’t being fair. This isn’t to say the Knicks are going 82-0 (although they might!) or that they’re beating the Heat and winning a title. But they’re a good team, one of the league’s best, and it’s going to be a fun season at MSG.

-I wonder what the narrative would have been if Jeremy Lin was still on the Knicks and did what Raymond Felton did against the Spurs, outplaying Tony Parker and dropping 25 while leading the Knicks to a huge win, while Carmelo Anthony scored nine points.

Okay, on to the picks.

Broncos -7.5 vs. Chargers – I’ve went with the Broncos for two straight weeks and they’ve done good for me, so I’m sticking with them. I also took the Chargers last week, which was patently moronic.

Eagles +3.5 at Redskins – I know, I know, the Eagles are just as bad a mess as the Jets, and Andy Reid is all but fired, but this is the exact game the Eagles ALWAYS win. Of course they’re going to win Nick Foles’ first start! This is how the Eagles do. Remember all the times they won games with Ty Detmer? Same thing. Philly fans are going to overreact like the South after Obama’s reelection when Foles leads them to a win on Sunday, and it’s going to be glorious when they start 1-4 next year and Foles has a QB rating of 61.

Packers -3.5 at Lions – Pack have won four in a row, heating up at the right time. Watch out, NFC.

Bonus Non-Football Bet of the Week (Season Record: 4-5-1)

Let’s see if we can hit a 3-way NBA parlay (chances: highly unlikely). Hawks -2 at Kings, Jazz +1 at Sixers and Timberwolves -2 vs. Warriors.

Ten Things New York Jets Fans Never Need To See Again

Ten things New York Jets fans never need to see again

New York Jets fans have been subjected to a generally crap product this season. However, these ten things in particular stand out as things they never need to stomach watching again. Fans of other teams…consider yourself lucky you don’t have to watch them on a weekly basis –

1. The Kyle Wilson Finger Wag

Everybody who has followed the Jets since 2010 knows Kyle Wilson is a textbook first round bust. At first the excuse was that he was being forced to play in the slot and “didn’t have the sideline to help him”…even though he was equally awful on the outside. The thing about Wilson is that he doesn’t know how to play the ball in the air, has terrible footwork and not much make-up speed. The most infuriating thing? His tendency to wag his finger after incompletions. He does it after he is beat by 10 yards and the wide receiver drops it. He does when he interferes with the receiver. He does it after he is beat for a touchdown earlier in the game and then somehow forces an incompletion later in the game. I look forward to Wilson not being brought back next year and settling into to a comfortable career of being Jacksonville’s 4th corner.

2. The Stephen Hill Flag Beg

Hill is a very raw rookie with a good amount of potential. However, he hasn’t yet mastered how to get open in the NFL. Actually he isn’t even really close yet. That is okay, most of us expected that in his first year. What we didn’t expect was Hill incessantly begging for a flag after an incompletion thrown his way, including on ones where there is clearly no penalty or he just drops the ball. I wonder where Hill learned to beg for a flag like that, hmmm….

3. Calvin Pace Rushing The Passer

The Jets paid Pace about $500 million dollars before the 2008 season to be their elite pass rusher (that number is only a slight exaggeration). He posted 7 sacks in 2008, then improved to 8 sacks in 2009. Here he comes! Not really, since then he declined to 5.5 sacks, 4.5 sacks and now only 2 sacks so far this year. Every year Pace gets just a little slower as we are forced to watch him struggle towards the quarterback while the quarterback calmly makes a sandwich in the pocket before lofting a pass over to the wide receiver old “Finger Wag Wilson” is covering.

4. Tim Tebow 2 Yard Runs

The Jets have been utterly clueless about how to use Tim Tebow this season. However, lost in the shuffle is how generally crappy he has been running the football when given a chance. He has 27 carries for 92 yards, for a whopping 3.7 yards per carry. What is worse is that when you take out his one outlier 22 yard scamper against Pittsburgh, he is averaging 2.5 yards per carry! Of course Tebow can always silence the criticism after his runs by flexing and yelling at the sideline. Things like that make announcers weep with joy…”My God…what a FOOTBALL PLAYER.”

5. Shonn Greene 2 Yard Runs Followed By The SLOWWWW Get-Up

Shonn Greene is the Webster’s definition of “Plodding,” after Greene plods for a 2 yard run to set the Jets up with 2nd and 8, he has a tendency to get up extremely, extremely slow giving off the appearance of being hurt. He then lumbers back to the huddle, as the Jets frantically shift personnel so they could set up for their inevitable 2nd and 8 miscommunication/incompletion followed by the 3rd down sack. Where’s the punt team?!!

6. The Mark Sanchez Pump Fake

Sanchez frequently chooses to pump fake when he has a wide receiver wide open in order to give the defensive back a chance to get into place for an interception. Whenever Sanchez starts pumping, if you listen closely enough you can hear every Jets fan in the tri-state area going “NOOOOOO….JUST THROW IT AWAY! AHHH”

7. The Clyde Gates First Down Point

This only happened once but it is the type of thing that drives fans insane. The Jets were down 27-3 in the 4th quarter against Miami when Gates (maybe the worst active WR in the NFL right now) caught a meaningless first down. He immediately got up and gave a prolonged first down point. Where would he learn such an idea? Hmmm….

8. The Muffed Punt

The Jets might have muffed 19 punts and kicks in the last 2 seasons. It is at the point now, where I’d be more comfortable if they just sent 11 at the punter and didn’t put a returner deep…but that would likely just lead to an Eric Smith personal foul for roughing the kicker.

9. Eric Smith

What are your five most memorable Eric Smith plays with the Jets? Mine are botching the blitz on Tebow against Denver last year (FOOTBALL PLAYER!), missing the tackle on Victor Cruz for the 99 yard touchdown (SALSA!), 4,000 helmet to helmet hits blended together for killer 15 yard penalties (HARD NOSED), him draped off Gronk’s leg when he caught his 8th touchdown against us on Sunday night last year (SPIKE), and when he had that interception back in 2009 (see this isn’t all mean-spirited and bitter).

10. #63 Is Eligible! 

Do you know any other team in the NFL that uses an offensive lineman at tight end 20+ snaps per game? I guess the Jets are just smarter than the 29 other offenses they are ranked behind who you know…use actual tight ends and wide receivers in their proper positions.

TOJ TNF PICKS (AFC EAST TURD BOWL)

  • Joe (Bills -2.5)
  • Chris C (Bills -2.5)
  • Rob  (Bills -2.5)
  • Chris G (Bills -2.5)
  • Mike D (Miami (+2.5)

New York Jets vs. St. Louis Rams – Q&A with Rams Herd

A Q&A previewing Jets vs. Rams with Will Horton, owner of RamsHerd.com

One of the first games I circled on the New York Jets schedule when it was released was the upcoming game against the St. Louis Rams. Why? Because I knew we could break the game down with our good friend Will Horton of Rams Herd, without question the top Rams site out there. Will and I worked together back in the day at the Fanball Network when TOJ was just a little baby. When Fanball shut down TOJ would have died with it if it wasn’t for Will’s guidance in migrating the site to our own domain. Since then, he has consistently provided help to me in keeping the site running fluidly. So if you like TOJ, make sure to thank Will because it wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for him. Anyway on to the game – 

RH – The New York Jets seem to be bottoming out under Rex Ryan, after going to the AFC Championship game twice in his first two seasons. Are you ready to  blow this team up at this point, or do you still have hope for a turnaround the season?

TOJ – There won’t be any kind of major turnaround happening this season. From a talent standpoint, this team has the worst group of skill position players in the NFL and I’m not saying that as a hyperbole. On defense they lack a pass rush and remain too slow at the linebacker position. Realistically, they need about 4-5 new starters on both sides of the ball in 2013 so I suppose I do advocate blowing it up.

RH – The Jets hardly lack for lightning rods, and you have two of them at quarterback in Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow. How do you handle the two of them for the remainder of the season, and does Greg McElroy enter into the picture?

TOJ – Mark Sanchez is going to start the remainder of the season. The decision to bring in Tim Tebow was pushed on to the coaching staff by Owner Woody Johnson. They very clearly had no desire for him and no plan on how to use him. Tebow will remain a poorly used gimmick. McElroy isn’t a factor at all. There have been desperation calls for him from some Jets fans but he is a 7th round pick with zero experience. Rex will lose the locker room if he hands the job to him with two quarterbacks on his roster who have won playoff games.

In 2013, Sanchez will be back because of how his contract is structured. Tebow will be traded or cut. And the Jets will likely bring in a veteran to compete for the starting job with Sanchez in camp. Maybe a Matt Moore type player.

RH – Obviously, age and injuries have caught up with this team in a big way. How different is this season if you still have Darrelle Revis and Santonio Holmes in the starting lineup?

TOJ – Not that different. GM Mike Tannenbaum will use that as an excuse to keep his job this off-season but this team had major problems even with those guys on the field. They are thoroughly mediocre at right tackle, guard, running back, quarterback, wide receiver and linebacker…and that has nothing to do with Holmes or Revis.

RH – The Rams rebuilt their team with a sizeable number of Jets castoffs, starting with offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer. Meanwhile, the Jets continue to struggle on offense under Tony Sparano. Would you take Schottenheimer back at this point?

TOJ – No. Sparano’s incompetence doesn’t cover for Schottenheimer’s incompetence and stubbornness when he was here. I don’t blame Schottenheimer’s struggles on Sanchez either because his offense was poor under Chad Pennington, Kellen Clemens, and Brett Favre as well.

RH – Despite the cloud of negative press surrounding the team, the Jets have shown an ability to step up and play good football from time to time (vs Bills, Pats, Colts, and first matchup with Miami). What are their keys to playing well, and can they find success against the Rams?

TOJ – The Jets play well when their defense is stopping the run and forcing turnovers, and their offense is running the ball well opening up a downfield play action passing game…all things they are very inconsistent at. I think they will play well on defense against the Rams, creating a close, low-scoring game. Ultimately I just don’t have enough faith in their offense to pull a win out though. I’d take the Rams in 16-10, 17-13 type game.

TOJ – Jeff Fisher seems to immediately have changed the culture in St. Louis. Can you talk about the tangible differences in the type of the team the Rams have this year as compared to the previous couple of years?

RH – There are a lot of ways to answer to this question. This just feels like a radically different team this season than the one before, even though most of the primary playmakers – Sam Bradford, Steven Jackson, Chris Long & James Laurinaitis –  remain the same. The major differences are in experience, in the roster, and in the attitude.

The Rams won Jeff Fisher over this offseason by giving him complete say over the organization. In Miami, he would have had to work with Jeff Ireland. Here, he hired his own GM, and assembled a very experienced coaching staff. Then, he went very young with his roster. This is a complete 180 from last year’s Rams, which had coaches learning on the job and a roster of veteran role-players half-assing it through the season.

Two key additions that Fisher brought with him from his Titans days are Cortland Finnegan and defensive assistant Dave McGinnis. Both of these guys fully embrace Fisher’s old-school football mentality that the physical battle has to be won before you can accomplish anything else. After beating up on Robert Griffin III and the Redskins (and being called “dirty” in the process), McGinnis sounded off: “I’ve been in this league 27 years and have never been on a dirty defense. I’ve been on some damn tough ones. Never been on a dirty one.”

TOJ – How would you evaluate the performance of former Jets on the roster, most notably Brian Schottenheimer and Wayne Hunter?

RH – I won’t say Brian Schottenheimer has been a revelation as offensive coordinator, but his offense is like a breath of fresh air compared to the Josh McDaniels days. McDaniels’ intricate pass routes work fine when you have protection like Tom Brady does, and you can hang out in the pocket for days. When you don’t have that, your quarterback gets ground to a fine paste.

What makes Schottenheimer’s offense really click, and turned Wayne Hunter into a surprisingly useful player along the way, has been the work of offensive line coach Paul Boudreau. Fisher lured Boudreau from Atlanta, where he built a near-impenetrable wall around Matt Ryan, and he has been a perfect fit here. The OL coach doesn’t require top-shelf talent, which is good because the Rams don’t have it. The mere fact that Hunter washed ashore in the final week of preseason and was starting by week 2 tells you all you need to know about the talent level here.

Two more ex-Jets have been valuable contributors as well. Robert Turner has been invaluable as a fill-in center, covering Les Snead’s ass for spending big bucks on a constantly-injured Scott Wells. And Matthew Mulligan is good for 30 or so snaps of quality blocking at tight end.

TOJ – What is the opinion of most Rams fans on Sam Bradford? Is there a strong confidence that he is the long term guy at quarterback? Do you hear complaints about not keeping that #2 pick and just taking RG-3?

RH – Sam Bradford is getting increased scrutiny in season three, for sure. He is far from a rookie now, and guys like Cam Newton, Andrew Luck, RG3 and even a little shrimp like Russell Wilson have been stepping into the limelight.

It’s a good thing, then, that Bradford is finally showing signs of being that franchise guy. He regressed badly last year in his pocket presence, and never established a deep-threat. This year, behind Boudreau’s line, he looks much more confident. And with Chris Givens reeling off 50-yard plays on a weekly basis and Danny Amendola dramatically expanding his game from being just a short-crossing-route guy, Bradford’s game is taking off in a hurry.

That said, he needs to get more consistent from week to week and start reeling off more multi-score games like last week’s. Even though Fisher loves to run the ball, you have to be able to win games in the air in today’s NFL.

TOJ – How far away is this team from competing with San Francisco and Seattle for a division title? What are the areas they need to improve in before reaching that level?

RH – Well, so far the Rams are 2-0-1 against their division after playing tooth-and-nail against a very good 49ers team in their own house. I think they are well positioned to hang in with each of their division opponents. Their biggest area of improvement has to come on the road, where they’ve yet to win a game this season, and against the upper-tier teams of other divisions. The 49ers and Seahawks have made hay outside the division this year, with 8 wins in 11 matchups. The Rams have won just one of six outside the West.

TOJ – Finally, what is your prediction for Sunday? And are most Rams fans very confident in winning this game?

RH – A lot of Rams fans will find it pretty easy to focus on all the stories of disarray surrounding the Jets, and have this game circled as a win on the schedule. I certainly have a lot more confidence in Bradford than I do in any of the Jets’ QBs, but it is a team game and there have been holes in our game over the last several weeks. Also, I’m interested to see what Rex Ryan has in store for his old offensive coordinator and vice versa, after spending so many years practicing against each other.

The difference in this one could be the fans. The Rams have been playing inspired football at home all season (I am not counting the London game as a “home” game, no matter what the NFL schedule says). Big hits from our defense and big plays from the offense should keep the fans energy high, and help push the Rams over the top.