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.
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