Turn On The Jets Week 14 NFL Picks

The TOJ staff gives their picks for week 14 of the NFL Season


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

CURRENT STANDINGS

1. Rob Celletti (105-82-6)

2. Chris Celletti (97-91-5)

3. Chris Gross (96-92-5)

4. Mike Donnelly (95-94-4)

5. Joe Caporoso (77-110-6)

Joe Caporoso

Last Week (7-9)

  • Redskins (-2) vs. Ravens
  • Chiefs (+6.5) vs. Browns
  • Steelers (-8) vs. Chargers
  • Titans (+5) vs. Colts
  • Jets (-3) vs. Jaguars
  • Bears (-3) vs. Vikings
  • Falcons (-3) vs. Panthers
  • Bucs (-7) vs. Eagles
  • Rams (+3) vs. Bills
  • Cowboys (+3) vs. Bengals
  • 49ers (-10) vs. Dolphins
  • Giants (-5) vs. Saints
  • Seahawks (-10) vs. Cardinals
  • Packers (-6.5) vs. Lions
  • Patriots (-3) vs. Texans

Mike Donnelly

Last Week (7-9)

  • Redskins -2
  • Browns -6.5
  • Steelers -8
  • Titans +5
  • Jets -3
  • Vikings +3
  • Panthers +3
  • Bucs -7
  • Bills -3
  • Cowboys +3
  • Dolphins +10
  • Saints +5
  • Cards +9.5
  • Lions +6.5
  • Patriots -3

Rob Celletti

Last Week (9-7)

  • Redskins (-2) over Ravens
  • Chiefs (+7) over Browns
  • Steelers (-8) over Chargers
  • Titans (+5) over Colts
  • Jets (-3) over Jaguars
  • Bears (-3) over Vikings
  • Falcons (-3) over Panthers
  • Eagles (+7) over Buccaneers
  • Bills (-3) over Rams
  • Bengals (-3) over Cowboys
  • Dolphins (+10) over 49ers
  • Saints (+5) over Giants
  • Seahawks (-9.5) over Cardinals
  • Packers (-6.5) over Lions
  • Patriots (-3) over Texans

Chris Celletti

Last Week (10-6)

  • Ravens
  • Browns
  • Chargers
  • Colts
  • Jets
  • Bears
  • Falcons
  • Eagles
  • Bills
  • Bengals
  • 49ers
  • Saints
  • Seahawks
  • Packers
  • Patriots

Chris Gross

Last Week (7-9)

  • Ravens (+2)
  • Chiefs (+7)
  • Steelers (-8)
  • Colts (-4)
  • Jets (-3)
  • Vikings (+3)
  • Falcons (-3)
  • Eagles (+7)
  • Rams (+3)
  • Cowboys (+3)
  • 49ers (-10)
  • Giants (-4.5)
  • Seahawks (-9.5)
  • Packers (-6.5)
  • Patriots (-3.5)

Jets/Jaguars Roundtable Predictions

Chris Gross – Jets 17 Jaguars 3 – In yet another horribly ugly football game, the Jets defense and run game will carry them to a painful 17-3 victory. All eyes will be on Quarterback Mark Sanchez, who will lead one early scoring drive, extending his short leash throughout the game. Sanchez will commit a turnover in some fashion before the end of the first half, but will not play poorly enough to force Rex Ryan to make a quarterback change. The Jets will run the ball close to 50 times, with Shonn Greene and Bilal Powell each scoring a touchdown and rushing for over 80 yards a piece. Defensively, the Jets will smother the Chad Henne led Jaguars offense, who will be competing with a group that is actually depleted worse than the Jets offensive unit. Don’t expect this one to be too enjoyable to watch, but the Jets will be one game away from .500 by about 4:30 pm today. Who would have thought?

Chris Celletti – So everybody has been asking for Mark Sanchez to stop being coddled by the Jets, to have to feel the pressure of playing for his job. Well, it probably doesn’t get much worse or more embarrassing for a professional athlete, especially a starting quarterback in the NFL, than to get benched and have a backup with one eighth your physical talent to lead your team to victory. The Jets are rightly seeing how Sanchez responds to this, and how he does is going to determine his fate as a New York Jet. And with that, Sanchez probably couldn’t pick a better scenario to kick off his rehabilitation tour, as the Jacksonville Jaguars own the league’s worst record and a bad defense to go along with it. Although if I were running the Jets I would, but I don’t expect them to let Sanchez fling it around. Expect a gameplan akin to what you saw a few weeks ago in St. Louis; a run-heavy approach with a simplified passing game. I think Sanchez will do just fine if that’s the case, throwing for around 200 yards while taking care of the ball. The Jets defense should be rolling a bit after their dominant performance last week, and the already-thin Jaguars’ offense is even more depleted due to injuries. I think the Jets win comfortably, 28-10.

Rob Celletti – The most intriguing stat regarding Sunday’s game involves the number 36.  As in, there are 36 combined players between the Jets and Jaguars that appear on the injury report.  These teams lacked talent to begin with, and now they’re starting third and fourth stringers in some key positions.  Neither team is confident in its quarterback.  The Jaguars are 32nd in the NFL on the ground and 24th through the air.  The Jets offense, especially the passing attack, is downright laughable at time. In other words, this one should be a doozy!

In all seriousness, games like these favor the Jets.  And as our esteemed editor has pointed out, while the Jets have certainly disappointed in many ways this season, they are far from the worst team in the league.  Actually, the Jacksonville Jaguars are the proud owner of that title, with a league-worst 2-10 record.  I’ve predicted lots of games to be ugly this year.  This one’s no different.  Jets win it 23-9.

Turn On The Jets 12 Pack, Week 14 – Jets vs. Jaguars

The Turn On The Jets 12 Pack – With predictions for Jets vs. Jaguars

The Turn On The Jets 12 pack is back with predictions for this week’s “showdown” between the 5-7 New York Jets and 2-10 Jacksonville Jaguars. It is refreshing to remember that despite all the media hype, there are actually bigger circuses in the NFL than the Jets and worse football teams. This is in my mind after looking at the Jets next four opponents (Jacksonville, Tennessee, San Diego and Buffalo) and watching the Oakland Raiders get blown out again last night. Also don’t forget the Detroit Lions, with their own anonymous quotes, players lining up in the wrong spots on purpose and inadvertent challenge flags. Then there is the Philadelphia Eagles…Kansas City Chiefs…Cleveland Browns…you get the point.

The Jets may receive the most attention so that a casual outsider would assume they are 1-11 and easily the biggest circus in the league. In reality, they are a middle of the pack team who plays in the largest media market. It is a credit to head coach Rex Ryan that they aren’t a bottom three team because from a talent perspective they should be there. Yet, it appears they have a reasonable chance to be a .500 team this season. 

On to the predictions –

1. Mark Sanchez will have a stat line that somewhat resembles 15/25 for 198 yards with 2 touchdowns and 1 turnover. It won’t be the kind of performance that will get anybody excited about him turning it around but it will be enough to keep his job for another week.

2. Shonn Greene and Bilal Powell will combine for at least 35 carries and be very effective running the ball on Jacksonville’s porous run defense. Both of them will get into the end-zone.

3. Antonio Cromartie will shut down Justin Blackmon, holding him to under 40 yards receiving and keeping him out of the end-zone.

4. Chad Henne will throw for around 250 yards but also have a pair of turnovers and be sacked at least twice.

5. Stephen Hill will have another encouraging game, finishing with 6 catches for 65 yards. Jeremy Kerley will also be productive finishing with at least 60 yards receiving.

6. Jacksonville will finish with less than 75 yards total rushing. Remember they are basically down to their 4th string running back.

7. Mercedes Lewis will make a few big plays against the Jets secondary in the middle of the field and score a touchdown.

8. Tim Tebow won’t see the field on Sunday.

9. Muhammad Wilkerson will continue his recent tear and finish with 5 tackles, a sack and 2 tackles for a loss.

10. Nick Folk won’t hit the post on any of his field goal attempts.

11. LaRon Landry will force a turnover for the third straight week.

12. The Jets are going to win this one comfortably, 31-13. 31 points? Am I insane? No, Jacksonville’s defense is just that bad and the Jets are going to run the ball all over them, which will set up some easy ones in the passing game. They are also without their top three running backs and top wide receiver on offense. The Jets are bad but much better than what Jacksonville is running out on the field Sunday.

Predicted Game Outcome Record: 10-2 

Turn On The Jets NFL Week 14 Best Bets

Chris Celletti with his Best Bets for week 14 of the NFL season and a brief rant on the Knicks and the NHL Lockout

Week 13 Record: 0-3

Season Record: 13-24-2

Well, at least I’m not in last place in The Race For The Steak (sorry, Joe). At this point my picks are becoming valuable, because you can win some money if you do the exact opposite of what I say. I’m sort of like the new Evan Silva. This sucks.

Before we get to my picks, a few things swirling around my mind other than football, because the Jets are garbage and I suck at picking football games:

-What the hell happened last night? I’m referring to that basketball game played in Miami, where the sans-Carmelo Anthony New York Knicks destroyed the Heat in their building. The Heat have only lost three games by 20-plus points since LeBron Decisioned his way to Florida, and the 2012-13 Knicks are responsible for two of those. Do the Knicks have the Heat’s number? Or are these two wins just a weird anomaly? It’s probably somewhere in the middle. If the Knicks and Heat began a 7-game series tonight, the Heat would still be favored and rightly so. Regardless, the Knicks do match up well with the Heat and that’s not a mistake.

You have to hand it to Glen Grunwald and the Knicks’ brass for building a team with facing Miami in the playoffs in mind. The Knicks are strong in the defensive paint with Tyson Chandler and Rasheed Wallace and whenever-he-gets-healthy Marcus Camby, have good perimeter defenders in Ronnie Brewer, Jason Kidd and Iman Shumpert, and have perimeter shooting with J.R. Smith, Steve Novak, Raymond Felton, ‘Melo, Kidd, etc. What last night proved, if nothing else, is that the Knicks are a true title contender, a Top-5 or so team in the league. And they’re that way because they had a great offseason. They made tough and shrewd decisions, the most scrutinized being letting Jeremy Lin go and replacing him with Felton. Do you think the Knicks win last night with Lin at point guard? Do you remember when LeBron and Co. slapped the breaks on Linsanity in Miami last season? Also, the signing of Kidd looks more each day like the smartest roster move they’ve made in years.

There’s a team or two in New York, a certain football team comes to mind, that could learn a little bit from the Knicks.

-It’s hysterical to me that you can read a report about the NHL Lockout negotiations, the quotes from both sides, the predictions from the media, and if you swapped out the names and locations you could be reading about the Fiscal Cliff. Maybe the parties involved should do just that, swap places altogether and give it a shot. Chris Matthews interviewing Gary Bettman would be epic. “You know, Gary, you guys are like a bunch of bullies, shoving the the younger, littler guys into lockers and stealing their lunch money. This is the United States of America, Gary.  This isn’t Oak Hills Elementary School!”

-The Grammy Nominations came out this week. The Grammys are the most bi-polar awards ever. Some years all the nominees and winners are pop artists, and sometimes the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences straight up trolls pop music (also, the “National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences” is the most asinine, outdated name for the organization that gives out music awards in the 21st century. There is more science to Mark Sanchez trying to parallel park a car than there is to Katy Perry recording a song). Once every five years, the Grammys give out major awards to people you’ve never heard of or artists 40 years past their prime to serve as a reminder that their awards are meaningless. In 2008, Herbie Hancock won the Album of the Year award. 47 people on Earth have ever listened to that album. This year the five nominees are all popular artists, so expect the 2014 award for Album of the Year to go to k.d. Lang.

It will be a grave injustice if “Call Me Maybe” doesn’t win Song of the Year.

Pick time:

Bengals -3 vs. Cowboys – The Bengals like the throw the ball around and the Cowboys aren’t very good at stopping it. Could be similar to the Bengals’ blowout win over the Giants a few weeks ago.

Saints +5 at Giants – You don’t need to watch any Giants football the rest of the year because I’m going to spell out for you everything that’s going to happen to them from here on out. They’ll lose their next two (vs. Saints, at Falcons) to fall to 7-7 and it will be panic time. They’ll go into Baltimore in Week 16 and beat the Ravens on a late touchdown by Eli, then blow out the Eagles at home in the regular season finale to finish 9-7 and with a division title. They’ll host Seattle in the Wild Card round and win 24-14, setting up a date in Atlanta in the Divisional Round. The Giants will win that game 31-10, then visit the Packers in the NFC Title game and win 27-21 in overtime on a 53-yard touchdown to Victor Cruz after Aaron Rodgers fumbles a snap. Of course they’ll play the Patriots in the Super Bowl and win because they own New England. Woody Johnson will respond by firing Rex Ryan and Mike Tannenbaum and hiring Brett Favre as Coach/GM. Rinse and repeat.

Packers -6.5 vs. Lions – Anyone who has Aaron Rodgers in fantasy will win this week.

Bonus Non-Football Bet of the Week (Season Record: 5-7-1) – Boxing again! Should be a fascinating fourth fight between Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez on Saturday. Quick primer: they fought to a draw in 2004 and Pacquiao eked out highly-controversial decision wins in 2008 and 2011. A fourth fight is definitely a bit of overkill, but all three have been absolute wars and this one should be no different. Marquez is maybe the world’s best counterpuncher and because of that he gives Manny fits. But the reason to be excited for this one of that Pacquiao is going to be in total knockout mode, trying to quell any doubts about the first three fights. I think Marquez will be a bit too amped for a knockout himself and may leave himself open. If Pacquiao still has any power left, which is certainly a question at this point in his career, he can score a KO or stoppage in this one. Pacquiao by KO or TKO is +200. Take it.

Turn On The Jets Week 14 Roundtable – Jets/Jags Match-Ups

The TOJ staff discusses what match-ups they are most looking forward to in Jets vs Jaguars

The TOJ staff discusses what match-ups they are most looking forward to this Sunday when the New York Jets take on the Jacksonville Jaguars.  Make sure to give everybody a follow on Twitter –

Thursday Night Picks

  • Joe – Den (-10)
  • Rob – Oak (+10)
  • Chris G – Den (-10)
  • Chris C – Den (-10)

Joe Caporoso – Mark Sanchez vs. himself is without question the centerpiece of this game. He likely be navigating a run-heavy, conservative game-plan but when given opportunities he must play aggressive and smart. Better to go down swinging than tentatively floating the ball into triple coverage off your backfoot right? The chances for big plays will be there, does Sanchez have any fight left in him to be a quarterback in this city?

Chris Celletti – The only thing everyone has to be keeping their eyes on is Mark Sanchez, right? I mean, we can sit here for hours and talk about how the Jets need to establish the ground game with Shonn Greene and Bilal Powell and if they do they’ll win, but all we really care about is how Sanchez does. even if he only drops back 12 times, oh boy he better be good with those 12 throws. The Jacksonville defense is poor, but that doesn’t mean much for Sanchez. While if I were the Jets, I’d let Sanchez wing it around and see how he’s responded to the benching, I expect them to treat him like the rookie he’s played like most of this season. Watch for a run-heavy plan trying to set up the play action and for the Jets to roll Sanchez out and have him read only half the field. You know, sort of like what they did with Greg McElroy last week. Either way, Sanchez is pretty much in a no-win spot on Sunday, and that probably goes for the rest of this season. If he plays well on Sunday, people will write it off since it was against a bad team. Obviously if he plays poorly, he risks losing his job for good. But it’s clearly a must-watch if you’re a die-hard Jet fan, given that there’s a chance Rex Ryan pulls him again if he doesn’t play well now that there’s a precedent.

TJ Rosenthal – Nothing has more intrigue in a matchup between a 5-7 and 2-10 squad, than the battle that will take place between Mark Sanchez and himself. The Jags defense is ranked 31st. There will be makable plays out there. Sanchez either believes in himself and understands that Rex has chosen to jump in the lifeboat with him and Tannenbaum, or wont be able to help any of them. Too beat up mentally from the years of poor guidance, odd personnel choices, and the pressure to save his and other jobs
that are relying on him to snap out of it.

Rob Celletti – All eyes will be on Mark Sanchez on Sunday. Other than that, this is a game between two generally poor football teams. If Sanchez protects the ball, the Jets will probably win the game going away. The key here is simply how Sanchez responds to his first career benching. This is essentially the final straw, the last stand for Mark Sanchez as a Jet. Will he thrive under pressure, as he did in 2009 and 2010? Or will he fall flat, likely ending his reign as this team’s quarterback?

Chris Gross – Mark Sanchez vs. Himself – Can the Jets embattled signal caller finally wake up and show some sign of life against the 31st ranked defense in the NFL this week? Many are questioning Rex Ryan’s decision to stick with the former 5th overall pick out of Southern California, but contrary to popular belief, this was the only choice Rex could make. Dollar figures and guaranteed money aside, Sanchez has been the face of the Rex Ryan era in New York. He was highly scouted by the Jets entire front office, including Ryan, Mike Tannenbaum, and even owner Woody Johnson (I use the term scouted loosely), and it was an organizational decision to make him the centerpiece of the new Ryan/Tannenbaum regime. Despite his struggles, giving up on him now would be an admission that the whole organization missed on such a prominent piece of their building plans. Sanchez has never been benched in his professional career, and whether or not you think Greg McElroy is the savior at quarterback for the Jets, it is only right to see how he responds to his very first minutes as a clipboard holder.

Sanchez needs to prove that he can do what no one believes he is capable of at this point, and that is to become mentally tough and block out all of his detractors, seemingly 99.9% of the team’s fanbase. Is he beyond repair for this market at this stage in his career? Possibly, but it is essential to see how he responds to the events that occured in last Sunday’s win over Arizona. Sanchez cannot afford to be careless with the ball yet again, and he certainly cannot afford to come out with that look of defeat on his face.

Jets fans can live with bad quarterback play. They fought through years of Neil O’Donnell, Ray Lucas, an injury plagued Chad Pennington, Jay Fiedler, Quincy Carter, Brooks Bollinger, Kellen Clemens…you see the point. Sanchez’s maddening incosistent play could be tolerated by a fanbase that has had to stomach so much subpar play at the position over the past 20 years. However, the look of gloom and disaster that Sanchez constantly shows after every single mishap will not be tolerated by this fanbase, nor should it be.

Sanchez will make mistakes for they have become rather habitual at this point in his career. Whether they come this week, or in the 3 weeks that follow, he is bound to make some kinds of mistakes if he is under center. How he responds is what will ultimately decide his fate. He has yet to prove that he has a short term memory, something that is an absolute neccessity at the position, particularly in a town like New York. When these mistakes come, Sanchez needs to display the look of a cool-headed MLB pitcher that gives up a solo homerun in the first inning. Shake it off, regroup, and worry about the next hitter, or play in this case. If he sulks at any point, especially against a team like Jacksonville, the coaching staff, organization, and fanbase will officially write him off. It is the ultimate put up or shut up time for Sanchez, who always preaches the need to get better and continue to work. As Bill Parcells used to say, “Don’t tell me about the labor, just show me the baby.” This is likely the final audition for number 6 in the green and white. How he rises to the calling will determine, not only the ultimate fate of the 2012 Jets, but the fate of his career in New York, as well.

Throwback Thursday: Jets vs. Jaguars, September 25, 2005

Chris Celletti with a look back at a Jets/Jaguars game in 2005 and a needed rant on how Jets fans treat their quarterback

Throwback Thursday is a feature at Turn On The Jets, where we take a stroll down Jets Memory Lane and reminisce about great Jets games in the past against their upcoming opponent. (Word to not take seriously in that last sentence: “great”)

The Jacksonville Jaguars have only been around for 18 seasons, but our beloved New York Jets have faced them quite often despite the teams being in different divisions. This Sunday’s mammoth matchup will be the 11th all-time meeting between the two, including playoffs, so there were a bevy of choices for this week’s Throwback Thursday. There were some real gems in there, like the 2006 41-0 Jags victory, or the 1999 16-6 Jags win – but we’re not going to go back to 1999 and subject ourselves to any more Rick Mirer memories, because one look back at Rick Mirer in a Jets uniform is one far, far too many.

There’s one game in Jets-Jaguars lore that makes almost too much sense to take a look back at in this current time. Before we get there, let’s set the scene:

Jets vs. Jaguars – September 25, 2005 – Giants Stadium

At the time…

Billboard No. 1 Song in the U.S.: “Gold Digger” by Kanye West f/ Jamie Foxx. It’s good that Kanye doesn’t want to deal with with a chick who’s going to be super expensive and high maintenance and all.

No. 1 Movie in the U.S: “Flightplan” starring Jodie Foster. The IMDB description reads:

“A claustrophobic, Hitchcockian thriller. A bereaved woman and her daughter are flying home from Berlin to America. At 30,000 feet the child vanishes and nobody admits she was ever on that plane.”

“Hitchcockian”! Who knew Peter King wrote descriptions for IMDB. This movie made over $223 million. This should be the test for whether or not the U.S. economy is in good shape. Make a horrible movie starring Jodie Foster and if it makes $223 million, we’re doing just fine thank you.

Jets Record Before: 1-1

Jaguars Record Before:  1-1

The 2004 season ended like so many others in Jets history; they ripped your heart out of your chest and used it as a pinata. If you’re a real Jets fan you don’t even need to be reminded, but I’ll do it for you anyway DOUG BRIEN YOU SUCK. In between the 2004 and 2005 seasons, the body of Jets’ starting quarterback Chad Pennington continued its Civil War, as the battered QB underwent surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff in his throwing shoulder. He was the unquestioned starter heading into the 2005, but the Jets brought in veteran Jay Fiedler as his backup. Pennington got off to a rough start in 2005 but the Jets were 1-1 heading into a Week 3 battle with the Jaguars.

The Jaguars took a 10-0 lead in the second quarter on a touchdown pass from Byron Leftwich to Ernest Wilford, but the Jets responded with a 9-play, 80 yard drive that was capped off with a one yard TD plunge by Jerald Sowell. But the third quarter is when things got really interesting at Giants Stadium.

Sometime in the period Pennington was sacked twice in a row, and after the second one came up visibly hurt, hanging his previously-injured right arm limp at his side as he came slowly towards the sideline. I remember this vividly because I was in the building, and it’s not easy to forget what happened next. As the struggling Pennington came towards the sideline, clearly hurting, cheers started cascading down from the Jets “faithful”. The fed-up mob of “fans” were cheering the fact that their quarterback – who had brought them within a field goal of the AFC Championship game less than eight months earlier – was hurt. In came Fiedler, who was clearly going to save the day and lead the Jets and their fans into a decade-long glory period with multiple Super Bowl titles, plentiful food and naked chicks abound. You know, sort of like Greg McElroy.

Well Fiedler played a few snaps and injured HIS right shoulder, which got awesome-if-you-just-give-him-a-chance third stringer Brooks Bollinger warming up on the sidelines. But Pennington fought through and made his way back to the field, and the Bollinger-era would have to wait until a little later in the season.

The Jets took a 14-10 lead in the 3rd on a defensive touchdown, a 33-yard fumble recovery by James Reed. The teams went back and forth; Josh Scobee kicked a field goal and Fred Taylor scored a TD for Jacksonville, and Mike Nugent kicked a field goal to cut the Jags’ lead to 20-17 late in the fourth. Afterwards, Jacksonville receiver Reggie Williams fumbled and David Barrett recovered at midfield and brought the ball to the Jags’ 21, setting up a chance for the Jets to snag a victory late. On third and goal from the seven, Pennington appeared to have won the Jets the game and given a big double middle finger to the crowd, hitting Wayne Chrebet in the end zone. But the play was reviewed and Chrebet was judged to have bobbled the ball, and the Jets had to settle for a game-tying field goal.

On to overtime we went, and the teams traded interceptions before the Jets punted the ball away to the Jaguars from their own end zone. On third down, Leftwich hit Jimmy Smith for a 36-yard winner. 26-20 Jaguars, and the Jets’ poor 2005 season was off and running.

Pennington’s statline was downright awful. Shield you eyes, kids: 9-of-19, 76 yards, 0 TDs, 2 INTs. With a slow start to the season, it was pretty clear that the Jets’ QB wasn’t healthy and likely tried to rush back because he knew if he didn’t play and either Fiedler or Bollinger did, the Jets would go something like 4-12. Well, the Jets went 4-12.

But it’s obvious why this game is so appropriate to look back on with the Jets’ current mess and the toxic atmosphere surrounding the team. I should have taken the cue in 2005 being in that stadium that Jets fans were capable of anything. If last Sunday, Mark Sanchez got hit low and had to limp off the field on one leg, and you DON’T think that the majority of MetLife Stadium would have erupted in joy, well I’ll give you a few bucks so you can go buy a clue.

Don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with fans booing players for poor on-field performance. Actually, few things make me madder than people who say “When your team is down is when you should support them the MOST! Puppy dogs and ice cream!” You pay a lot of money for your seats, and when you go to a game and a player plays awful, boo them all you want. But what is it about Jets quarterbacks that bring out the worst in some of these people? What the hell did Mark Sanchez or Chad Pennington ever do to you that you’d actually cheer for them when they got hurt or root for them to fail – which again, there WILL be Jets fans doing this Sunday, don’t kid yourself. You want to know what Pennington said after this game, with the Jets heading to Baltimore to face the Ravens and their vaunted defense?

“They’ll have to cut it off for me not to play.”

Maybe I’m just as bad because in 2008, when Pennington brought the Miami Dolphins into Giants Stadium and beat the Jets to win the division, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that there was a part of me that was happy. At the very least I felt great for Pennington, who gave a lot of Jets fans what they deserved after the way they often treated him.

All the Jets fans who thought Pennington wasn’t good enough to lead the Jets to victory ended up being right. They didn’t win with Pennington. Those who don’t think they’ll ever win with Sanchez will likely end up being right too. But they didn’t win with Vinny Testaverde, or  Brett Favre, or Ken O’Brien or Boomer Esiason. But when those feelings of rage you get when you see Mark Sanchez start creeping up on Sunday, just remember 2009 and 2010, and remember the names like Rick Mirer, Brooks Bollinger, Frank Reich, Kellen Clemens and Browning Nagle.

You’re a Jets fan. It’s been worse. And there will be times when it is much, much worse than having Chad Pennington or Mark Sanchez.

New York Jets Defensive Film Breakdown: Week 13

Chris Gross with his weekly film breakdown of the Jets defensive performance, looking at how they shut down Arizona

Although it has become an afterthought in the wake of the earth shattering move that replaced the embattled Mark Sanchez with second year pro Greg McElroy this past Sunday, the New York Jets actually provided what was arguably their best defensive effort of the season. While this assertion must certainly be taken with a grain of salt due to the unbelievably poor quality of offensive play from the Arizona Cardinals, there are still several reasons to be excited about what the Jets did last week. Is Ryan Lindley the worst quarterback to start an NFL game this year (and possibly ever)? Yes, probably. However, New York’s defensive performance during this contest goes far beyond the offensive ineptitude of Arizona.

For this week’s defensive film breakdown, we will format this column as we normally do — top performers, individual defensive line play, and positional breakdowns of the linebackers and secondary. However, this week we will highlight the obvious signs of progress from within this unit as we move into the final month of the season.

Week 13 Top Defensive Performers:

Muhammad Wilkerson, DE: No surprises here. Wilkerson has been playing at a high level all season, and is finally beginning to get some of the recognition that he deserves. In Arizona’s first few offensive series, the game plan was obvious — do whatever it takes to neutralize number 96. The film repeatedly shows the offensive line adjusting their line calls and blocking schemes, whether it was a run or pass play, to provide extra help to whichever side of the line Wilkerson was lined up on. On passing downs, if Wilkerson was at a 1 or 3 technique, the center opened toward the second year defensive end 100% of the time. If Wilkerson was at the 5 technique, or on the edge, a tight end or back would stay in to provide help, with the guard to that side also offering assistance with an unoccupied gap over him. If it were a run play, Wilkerson would simply be doubled, or the ball would be run away from him. Throughout the first half of this game, there was not a single play that Wilkerson was unaccounted for. Credit the Cardinals coaching staff for drawing up their game plan based solely around avoiding the Jets best defensive player in the front 7.

Although much attention was paid to Wilkerson, the Cardinals could only hold him off for so long. Wilkerson has been developing an excellent knack for defending the double team, something he has likely been working on all season long with defensive line coach Karl Dunbar, as the mounting double teams have become a surplus this year. Wilkerson’s block recognition has become flawless. On film, he displays excellent instincts to get a pre-snap read on the opposing offensive lineman by noticing “tells” in their stances and the overall offensive formation. He always seems to be one step ahead of who he is lined up against, and that reveals a lot about, not only his knowledge of the game, but the amount of time he puts in in the film room as well.

What really stood out about Wilkerson from this past Sunday was his recovery ability. As excellent as he is in getting these pre-snap reads, there are still some plays where he makes a mental error by taking the wrong step, or peeking his head in the wrong area. In these few cases, Wilkerson displayed a tremendous ability recover from his own mistakes. If he was beat to the outside on a reach block, he screamed to the sideline to regain his outside leverage. If he got hit on a down block, he quickly fought across the opposing offensive lineman’s face to maintain his position.

Simply put, Wilkerson has tremendous physical ability, but his intellect for the game is what is beginning to carry him to the next level. In the few instances where the Cardinals would attempt to block him with only one player, Wilkerson caused havoc. In these cases, he stopped two running plays for minimal or no gain, and recorded a sack. He is an obvious mismatch when offensive lineman attempt to go on an island with him. Combine that with his developing ability to beat double teams, and Wilkerson is becoming a nightmare for the offensive lines he is facing.

Antonio Cromartie, CB: Again, no surprise here. Cromartie held one of the league’s best wide receivers to just one reception for 23 yards, a play that he actually maintained decent coverage on, but was beaten by a tremendous catch from Larry Fitzgerald, combined with what was actually a very good throw from Arizona quarterback Ryan Lindley (realistically, his only one of the contest). Following his sole reception, Fitzgerald was targeted only 6 more times throughout the entire day. By the middle of the second half, Lindley hardly bothered to look his way. Cromartie was on him like white on rice, regardless of the type of route it was. This has been a tremendous year for Cromartie, who has elevated his play to the elite level of NFL defensive backs in the absence of Darrelle Revis. At this point, it is a complete toss up between Cromartie and Wilkerson for this team’s MVP.

Bart Scott, LB: Scott played what was, without a doubt, his best game in the past year and a half. Looking beyond his impressive stat line of 5 tackles, 2 QB hits, and a sack, Scott played extremely fast and aggressive, asserting himself as a player that the entire Arizona Cardinals offense, particularly Lindley, wanted no part of. His reads were incredibly fast, and his reaction time was even faster. Scott came down hill very aggressively all game, and took on lead blockers the way he did when he first became a Jet back in 2009. There were multiple plays where he blew up the leading fullback or wrapping offensive lineman, allowing himself to either make the play on the ball carrier, or freeing up another defender to make the tackle. Combined with his rediscovered swagger, the chip on his shoulder that Scott played with this past week was a microcosm of the entire Jets defensive unit.

LaRon Landry, S: It is difficult to believe anything that Head Coach Rex Ryan says these days, however his claim that Landry played like a heat seeking missile is 100% accurate. Landry was all over the field this past Sunday in both coverage and in the box, defending the run. His interception was a great display of athleticism, and route recognition. Lined up in the center field role, Landry went through his normal coverage progressions, recognized the receiver running a seam route in front of him, and jumped it with perfect timing, taking the ball away before Lindley even realized what was going on. When lined up in the box, Landry was a pure mismatch. Tight ends and receivers lined up close to the line of scrimmage had virtually no chance of blocking him throughout the entire game, as he relentlessly displayed quickness in his hand strikes with impressive strength to rid anyone who attempted to get in his way, while defending the run. In a year of turmoil for Mike Tannenbaum, this is one personnel decision that the embattled GM got right. The Jets would be wise to lock Landry up for the future.

Rex Ryan and the Defensive coaching staff: Again, while the task of game planning for Arizona wasn’t quite the challenge of defending a team like New England, the Cardinals are still an NFL offense with very capable weapons. Ryan’s schematics and in-game adjustments were simply brilliant this past Sunday. Using a surplus of amoeba packages (more on this coming later in the week), Ryan took advantage of Arizona’s rookie quarterback by mixing up the fronts and disguising blitzes and coverage that made Lindley visibly uncomfortable. When Ryan realized Arizona’s plan to shift their passing protection toward Wilkerson, he exploited them. On Bart Scott and David Harris’s combined sack in the second half, Wilkerson was lined up at the 3 technique, with Pace to his left, and two other defenders on the right side of the line. At the snap of the ball, the offensive line again shifted the protection toward Wilkerson, with the center opening up toward him. Realizing the gap that this created in the middle of the line, Ryan and Defensive Coordinator Mike Pettine, sent an inside blitz of Harris and Scott, who timed it perfectly. The guard was forced to pick one of them (Scott) to attempt to block, leaving the other (Harris) with a clear path to the quarterback. Scott beat the attempted block anyway, and the play resulted in a sack of Lindley and a 9 yard loss. Ryan has come under criticism as a head coach this season, but in terms of his defensive mind, he is without question among the best in the NFL.

The overall play of the defense was also a direct reflection of Ryan. The unit played with a obvious sense of resentment toward all of its detractors, displaying the angered attitude that it had played with in the early years of the Ryan era. Give credit to Rex for this. He had his guys motivated, prepared, and ready to make a statement this past week, and that is exactly what they did. Ryan Lindley was so shook by the 4th quarter that he began to badly rush his throws, as he clearly wanted no part of any further contact. Ryan’s goal was the rattle the rookie 6th round draft choice, and he succeeded with the best defensive effort of the season. Well done, Rex.

Defensive Line

Mike DeVito: There cannot be enough said about the value of DeVito’s relentless play and leadership. The veteran defensive tackle has remained a stalwart against the run all season, and continuously occupies blockers the way a player in his position is meant to in this scheme. His motor is above and beyond the majority of players you will see in this league, as displayed by his tenacious play and menacing pursuit. Although he provides little help in the pass rush, DeVito is a staple of this front, one that cannot afford to be lost when he hits free agency this offseason.

Sione Pouha: We’ve been saying this all season, but Pouha is visibly not at full health. Sunday was basically a microcosm of how he has played all season long. On some plays, he seems to have difficulty getting into his stance, as he looks very tight in his bend, making him visibly uncomfortable. When he shows this, he has difficulty getting off the ball, allowing himself to easily be blocked or driven back. Conversely, there are also plays where he looks loose and comfortable in his stance, and this is when he displays the explosion and strength that Jets fans have become accustomed to. When he can get off the ball in a ferocious manner, he commands multiple blockers at all times, and because of this, the entire front seven has one less opponent to worry about, allowing the linebackers and ends to be put in optimal situations. The entire unit is better when Pouha plays well, but unfortunately these plays are becoming few and far between due to his lingering back issue. To his credit, Pouha realizes the lack of depth behind him, with second year NT Kenrick Ellis also nursing an injury, and rigorously fights through his pain and discomfort. Pouha, like DeVito, is a player whose work ethic and leadership cannot be valued enough.

Quinton Coples: Coples played in just 19 snaps this past week, which is the only eyebrow raising decision by the coaching staff, considering the vast potential he has shown. However, in his limited reps Coples displayed a bit of up and down play. He seems to still be coming into his own, trying to find his niche in the defense this season. Like Wilkerson, the Jets like to use Coples’ versatility by aligning him everywhere along the defensive front. Once he begins to become more and more comfortable, Coples will be a force on this line with Wilkerson, as he has all of the tools (speed, strength, agility, explosiveness), and size to be a dominant defensive end in this league. It seems as though the coaching staff is taking their time in developing Coples, which is seemingly the correct move, particularly with how late in the season it is (remember he is a rookie), but the little things he is picking up on are going to help him become that dominant force next season, and in the seasons that follow.

Kenrick Ellis: Ellis also played limited reps, as he appeared to pull up with some type of injury in the second half. However, in those limited reps, Ellis displayed the skill set of a very good 3-4 NT. As he does have the tremendous size and strength necessary for the position, he also displayed the agility that could make him a true difference make as he progresses in his career. One particular play that stands out from Sunday’s game was his use of a flat step technique — a technique that allows defensive lineman to lineup in one gap, while shooting another, and not losing any ground in the process — against Arizona’s center. Ellis lined up in the A gap to the center’s left, and displayed agility that he has yet to show this season, as he seamlessly moved across the center’s face, easily getting into the backfield before the center could come close to recovering. When Ellis can get himself healthy, he will be a key to this defense, and will likely begin to take more and more reps from Pouha, before eventually claiming the full time job.

The Linebackers: Along with Scott, this was the most complete game this unit has played all season. Scott’s improved play seemed to inspire David Harris, who also appeared faster and more explosive than he has all year. Calvin Pace and Bryan Thomas, although heavily criticized for their lack of pass rushing abilities, still remain the two best outside linebackers on the team by a landslide. While each of these guys played with a relentless motor and undying tenacity, they also proved how effective they are at setting the edge and turning plays outside in. Fans are screaming for these two to be replaced, but it will not happen, nor should it at this point. Yes, neither are effective in rushing the passer, but as every down players, they are by far the best available guys to put on the field right now. DeMario Davis saw very limited reps and still seems to be somewhat uncomfortable and unsure at times. While he needs playing time to gain his comfort and familiarity, it is no secret as to why he did not play much considering how well both Scott and Harris performed.

The Secondary: Like the rest of the defense, this was easily the best the secondary has looked all season. Before the game, I questioned the success the Jets would have if they expected to put Ellis Lankster or Kyle Wilson in man coverage on Michael Floyd, Early Doucet, and Andre Roberts. Well, that is exactly what the Jets did, and each of them rose to the occasion. Outside of Wilson’s poor defensive holding penalty early in the game, there was really only one play where he was out of position — a comeback route by Michael Floyd that was poorly overthrown by Lindley. Wilson has struggled with these types of routes all year, as he seems to have trouble changing direction and opening his hips at times, but on Sunday he made tremendous strides toward improving these flaws. Yeremiah Bell was also all over the place, in both his run and pass defense, and clearly provides a leadership element that the younger players in the defense feed off of. Donnie Fletcher saw extended reps and certainly did not do anything noteworthy in terms of mistakes. This unit displayed excellent pre-snap communication, as displayed through their hand motions and calls based on formations and shifts, while seamlessly mastering switches in assignments on crossing routes designed to create miscommunications in the secondary.

Although this wasn’t a great test, the Jets defense showed that they still have the potential to be a dominant unit in this league. Consistency across the board will be key in these final four games, particularly against San Diego and Buffalo who, despite their struggles, still maintain a surplus of playmaking ability.

 

Sanchez Has More Than One Job To Save Now

Woody Johnson wanted Greg McElroy. GM Mike Tannebaum and OC Tony Sparano backed Mark Sanchez. Rex Ryan could have hitched his wagon to the owner while distancing himself from the embattled GM and quarterback. Instead, Ryan jumped into the lifeboat with all three. Now only Sanchez can save the crowded sinking ship.

The mind boggling three quarterback controversy, that never really included Tim Tebow, grew in proportion when it became clear to Ryan that a switch would mean more than McElroy simply getting a late season start. It would signify the possible end of the Sanchez era. Due to one third quarter benching with no reprieve. A price that in the end, Ryan saw as too high to pay in one fell swoop.

Sanchez was given a hefty extension prior to training camp and has had to endure a season with second rate personnel around him. While his two top targets Santonio Holmes and Dustin Keller, have been injured for most of the year.

The greatest problem working against Sanchez has been his demeanor. Sanchez has looked doubtful, glum, and unsure. Too often appearing defeated. Resigned to the fate that the Jets inexperienced receivers will fail him. Traits that hardly bode well for a leader. The distraction of a Tebow-led wildcat package rotating in at any time, has not made life easy for Sanchez either.

All have combined to erode Sanchez’s focus. Like it did on Thanksgiving night, when after calling the wrong play, he tried to dive to the ground towards safety. Only to run into the backside of Brandon Moore, in what is now certain to become a blooper for the ages.

Sanchez’s three interception, 91 yard performance at Met Life Stadium against the lowly Cardinals, truly warranted a mid-game switch. Matching the God awful play of Cards QB Ryan Lindley, was no way to remind anyone about a resume that includes 33 career wins and four playoff victories as a starter.

McElroy had nothing to lose and only a modest task to complete, when he entered the huddle as the Jets trailed 3-0 with 4:58 to go in the third quarter last Sunday. The second year pro simply had to engineer one touchdown drive and not turn the ball over after the fact. However, it was obvious from the minute Sanchez exited, that this was not a simple case of a substitution for a player having an off day. The energy of an entire team and stadium changed. Instantaneously. A fan base that craved seeing Sanchez holding a clipboard instead of a football, went into a frenzy as soon as McElroy began warming up. Key notions that in the end, failed to outweigh Ryan and Tannenbaum’s commitment to Sanchez, as the final decision was being made.

Tannebaum’s future is up in air after a string of poor drafts, and minimal free agent talent brought in to replace important role players who have left. If Sanchez can settle down over the final four games, Tannenbaum may rest easier knowing that he can better justify the extension given.

Ryan has had these past seventy two hours to go in a different direction. Away from his GM, and for a team that rose with McElroy for one quarter of play. He chose not to. The issues for the fourth year head coach are now twofold. Another vote of confidence may not kickstart a player who has none himself. The move may also now put Ryan on notice in the process. Sanchez is back in the pilot’s seat, but will carry a bigger weight than before. Knowing that he has more than his own job to save. In what will be his final chance to prove that he is the long term answer in New York

New York Jets Week 14 – Early Thoughts On Jets/Jags

Early thoughts on the New York Jets week 14 match-up against the Jacksonville Jaguars

Oh hey, remember there is still a football game this Sunday amidst all the quarterback controversy when the 5-7 New York Jets travel to face the 2-10 Jacksonville Jaguars. It is game that will likely be played in front of 10,000 disinterested Jacksonville fans, 10,000 disappointed Tebow fans who came to the game just to watch him stand on the sideline in a sweatshirt and many…many tarps.

1. The Jets may be catching a huge break if both wide receiver Cecil Shorts and running back Rashad Jennings don’t play this weekend due to injury, making an inept Jaguars offense that much worse. They have been more productive since Chad Henne took over at quarterback although he took a step back last week but Shorts in particular would have given the Jets fits. Justin Blackmon will likely be manned up by Antonio Cromartie and now the Jaguars don’t have the playmaking Shorts to eat up Kyle “Finger Wag” Wilson and Ellis Lankster. If Jennings doesn’t play, it leaves special teamer Montell Owens to handle the primary running back role. Basically, Rex Ryan’s defense should be able to beat up on this unit the way they beat up on Arizona last week.

2. You will hear a ton of hype this week about how Chad Henne has “owned” Rex Ryan’s defenses when in reality outside of one big game early in 2009, he hasn’t doen much of anything against them. In his last start against the Jets, Henne went 5/18 for 55 yards and was sacked 5 times.

3. Yes, Mark Sanchez will be under center this week and yes he will have a quick hook. It will be fascinating to see what kind of game plan the Jets come out with. Jacksonville has the league’s 31st ranked defense meaning they are putrid against both the run and pass. Last week Buffalo racked up 232 rushing yards on them. There should be a heavy dose of both Shonn Greene and Bilal Powell but the Jets have to take their shots down the field, if anything just to see how Sanchez handles it.

4. Hopefully wide receiver Stephen Hill can build on his encouraging performance from last week. The Jets worked him in the short/intermediate passing game and it’d be nice to see him as a target on most deep shots…not Chaz Schilens who struggled with them last week.

5. Speaking of rookies, can we see more of Quinton Coples and Demario Davis? Both barely played last week and will be opening day starters in 2013.

6. For you playoff day-dreamers you need to root for the following: Jets win, Colts loss to Tennessee, Pittsburgh loss to San Diego and Cincinnati loss to Dallas…also a New England win over Houston so the Texans have something to play for in week 17 vs. the Colts…good luck!

The Sky Is Falling! Mark Sanchez Named Starting Quarterback

Mark Sanchez will remain the Jets starting quarterback

The New York Jets are staying with Mark Sanchez as their starting quarterback this Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars. While this has come as a shock to many, we detailed here yesterday how there was a reasonable argument for this to happen. Not surprisingly many Jets fans are acting like the sky is falling right now…threatening to abandon the team…cursing out Rex…cursing out Sanchez etc…

Here is the simple reality – Mark Sanchez is getting paid 8.3 million dollars from the Jets next year regardless of whether he is on their team, another NFL team or laying on a beach in California. The Jets are finishing up a playoff-less season against four mediocre football teams. The hope is that he plays well in these games, builds some measure of confidence back up and becomes a reasonable option to start in 2013 (he should still be forced to compete with a veteran next summer).

Believe it or not, this team is going to give every chance possible to a former first round pick who has won more playoff games than any other quarterback in franchise history. Is it worth the risk of playing him the last four games when you are 5-7 and nearly half your team won’t be back next year? Yes…it probably is.

If you want to get mad at somebody, get mad at “cap expert” Mike Tannenbaum for how he structured Sanchez’s contract. Get mad at him for the contradicting actions of doubling down on Sanchez in 2013 and then supporting him by bringing in a PR circus as a backup quarterback and not upgrading running back, wide receiver or offensive line this off-season. Sanchez already took a step back last year but the Jets front office greased the skids on his regression this season by having an awful off-season.

Sanchez has been generally terrible this season but the Greg McElroy infatuation only comes from his last name not being “Sanchez.” Ask yourself this, if McElroy’s fourth quarter interception stood (like it should have) and the Jets lost 9-7, is this debate so heated right now? If McElroy is the savior that many are exaggerating to call him and Sanchez is truly that awful. Guess what? Sanchez will be benched at some point in the next four gams and McElroy will get his chance.

As for the ongoing pity party Jets fans are throwing for themselves. Get a grip on reality. Look around the NFL. Since 1997 the Jets have 12 seasons at .500 or better, 7 playoff wins, 3 AFC Championship Game appearances and yes despite it being over 40 years ago…the Jets have won a Super Bowl. How do you think Bills fans have enjoyed the last 15 years? Lions fans? Eagles fans? Chiefs fans? Browns fans?! The list goes on.

Mark Sanchez starting a week 14 game in a 5-7 year is the straw that broke the camel’s back in your support of this team? Really? Not letting the roster go to crap after  back to back AFC Championship Game appearances? Not the PR-stunt Tebow trade? This is the decision? And people wonder why the general perception of Jets fans is so negative.

There is no reason to be overly optimistic that Sanchez is going to turn it around and have a brilliant final four games but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t logic behind this decision. It also means the most logical thing for any Jets fans to do is root for Sanchez to succeed…otherwise go become a Bills fan.

A couple of appropriate Godfather clips

Turn On The Jets Offensive Film Breakdown – McElroy’s 10 Dropbacks

Breaking down Greg McElroy’s 10 dropbacks in Jets/Cardinals game this past Sunday

We’ve been slacking a bit with our film breakdowns the past few weeks here at TOJ, so we are hitting you with a double dose in the next 24 hours. In this article, I will look at all of Greg McElroy’s dropbacks from his first NFL action this past Sunday. Chris Gross will also provide his regular terrific defensive film breakdown shortly after.

On to McElroy…

1. 2nd and 6 at ARZ 43 yard line – Incomplete To Stephen Hill – The Jets ran a stop and go on each side of the formation out of a standard 2 wide receiver, one tight end look. Jeremy Kerley was out to the right and Hill was out to the left with Cumberland working over the middle. Pre-snap Kerley faced press coverage from Patrick Peterson and Hill had William Gay playing about 7 yards off him. The Cardinals had a one-high safety look, with three linebackers dropping into coverage in the middle of the field, taking away the deep in-route from Cumberland. McElroy makes the right read here but instead of floating the ball deep, he should have realized that Hill ran a poor route and didn’t trick the corner at all with his hesitation. When he saw Gay running 2 yards out in front of him, he should have thrown the ball on a line to Hill’s back shoulder for what would have been an easy completion. Instead he floats the deep ball, which is nearly intercepted. Good read but bad route from Hill and poor throw from McElroy, although understandable considering it was his first NFL pass.

2. 3rd and 6 at ARZ 43 yard line – 8 yard completion to Stephen Hill – The Jets ran tight twins to each side of the formation with Jeff Cumberland in the slot to the left with Stephen Hill outside him. Hill runs a 8 yard speed out with Cumberland running the flag route from the slot, a common route combination. Chaz Schilens runs a short drag route from the slot on the right side of the formation. McElroy made a smart, decisive read as soon as the corner and safety on Hill’s side backed up a step. He didn’t throw a perfect ball but he put it where Hill could make a play on it, which Hill did…elevating to make a very nice catch as he took a big hit from the corner. Well done all around.

3. 2nd and 7 at ARZ 32 yard line – 3 yard run – Jets ran a standard play-action bootleg with Cumberland as the primary option in the flat and Konrad Reuland dragging across as the secondary option. Both were blanketed from the get-go. McElroy recognized this and showed zero hesitation to tuck the ball away and take-off for a short gain. He also drew a 15 yard penalty for taking a hit out of bounds. It is unfair to compare him to Mark Sanchez with a such a small sample size, but this is a play Sanchez frequently hesitates on (at least in 2012), pumping the ball and either takes a sack or throws it away instead of just taking the short running gain.

4. 3rd and 1 at ARZ 1 yard line – 1 yard touchdown pass to Jeff Cumberland – Not much to say here, the Jets completely fooled Arizona on the play-fake and McElroy got a great seal block from Brandon Moore to give him all day on the rollout. He could have ran it in but instead floated it to a completely wide open Jeff Cumberland for a touchdown. Easy.

5. 3rd and 6 at ARZ 35 yard line – 2 yard completion to Kahlil Bell – This was either a poor play-call or poor execution from the Jets wide receivers, as the primary target appeared to be Jeremy Kerley on a short crossing pattern. However, Chaz Schilens also runs a short cross and settles in the middle of the field, clogging up the zone and making it easy for the Arizona linebackers to cover both players. McElroy steps up in the pocket and dumps it off to Bell, who promptly gets hit and fumbles. Considering what the coverage offered, this was the right decision by McElroy and a heady play to swing the ball to Bell instead of trying to run for the first down himself (which he wouldn’t have been able to).

6. 2nd and 11 at NYJ 25 yard line – 5 yard completion to Jeremy Kerley – Another encouraging quick read and throw from McElroy. Kerley ran a speed out from the slot, while Chaz Schilens ran a slant from split end. The linebacker dropped and safety closed, making the window tight for the slant so McElroy hit the speed out…not an easy throw and one that is particularly encouraging considering his reputation for a weak arm. This was also a very nice catch by Kerley.

7. 3rd and 6 at NYJ 30 – Incomplete pass – There was clearly some kind of miscommunication here. McElroy rolls out to the right and all receivers run routes that appear to expect him to roll out to the left (inside receiver out left runs a wheel/stop route, outside right receiver runs drag across the middle) – A safe guess is that McElroy rolled the wrong way but it is impossible to know definitively.

8. 2nd and 7 at ARZ 47 yard line – 4 yard run – The Jets again roll McElroy to the right and he quickly sees his primary options covered up well by the Arizona defense (A Stephen Hill backside drag and a Jeff Cumberland out). He might have been able to throw it quickly to Bilal Powell in the flat but that likely would have resulted in a 4-5 yard gain as well. Considering the coverage, it is hard to fault McElroy’s decision to run here.

9. 3rd and 3 at ARZ 43 yard line – PENALTY – Illegal Contact – We see the good and bad of McElroy on this play and he caught a big break on the illegal contact call which probably shouldn’t have been made. McElroy made a smart protection check pre-snap to bring Jeff Cumberland into the formation to pick-up the outside free rusher. However, after Hill beats the press coverage, McElroy needs to throw the ball on a line before the high safety breaks over the top. He instead floats the ball and it is intercepted. This should have been a big play to Hill. Beyond that, he also has Jeremy Kerley on the backside dig for a big gain.

10. 3rd and 9 at ARZ 37 yard line – 13 yard completion to Jeremy Kerley – The throw of the day from McElroy and the catch of the day from Kerley. They executed a back-shoulder fade against one of the league’s top corners in Patrick Peterson. This required perfect timing and placement from McElroy and a pretty one-handed juggling grab from Kerley. A big-boy conversion in a big-boy spot.

Overall, it was an encouraging debut from McElroy. He wasn’t without his mistakes but considering it was his first NFL action and he received barely any work with the first offense during the week, this was impressive. Before you enshrine him in Canton, remember Mark Sanchez went 18/31 for 272 yards with a TD in his first NFL start.