New York Jets Fact or False: Hits & Misses of 2012 Edition

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Welcome back to another season of New York Jets Fact or False! Last year, we introduced this column to provide some entertaining predictions throughout the entire season, with topics beginning from OTAs in early May all the way through the end of the season when we just began to predict whether or not Mark Sanchez could last an entire series without doing something idiotic.

For our return edition of Fact or False, we take a look at our biggest hits and misses from the 2012 season. While there were plenty of issues we predicted with pinpoint accuracy, there are probably more we completely whiffed on. Today, we will look at the three biggest points we hit on the head, and the three biggest points we couldn’t have been more wrong about.

Biggest Misses

From May 17, 2012 – Post Draft Edition

What we said then:

Tony Sparano will revive the Jets’ dominant run game. Fact. Word out of OTAs is already extremely complimentary of new Offensive Coordinator Tony Sparano. Sparano’s ideals seem to be identical to what Rex Ryan wants his offense to be. The Jets have a very talented group of running backs in Shonn Greene, who was able to rush for more than 1,000 yards last season despite playing for the philosophically confused Brian Schottenheimer. The Jets have more viable running threats to complement Green in the often under utilized Joe McKnight, new comer Tim Tebow, and promising rookie Terrance Ganaway. If the Right Tackle situation works out, the Jets will undoubtedly have an elite run offense once again.

What we say now:

GreeneGood Lord. Could this have been any more wrong? Sparano did orchestrate the 12th ranked rushing offense in the NFL in terms of yards per game, but with the 6th most attempts in the league as well. This resulted in a rushing offense that averaged a lowly 3.8 YPC, good for 23rd in the entire NFL. Not exactly “dominant.”

Sparano was shipped out after one season; a year that gave us an abundance of Shonn Greene 3 yard runs, more of seeing Joe McKnight have little to nothing to do with the offense, and Tim Tebow who…well, no one is really sure what Tebow did all last season. Oh and that Ganaway guy? Yeah he got cut before the season only to be picked up by ex-Jets offensive coordinator, Brian Schottenheimer in St. Louis, where he did not receive one carry, did not pass go, and did not collect $200. We learned one simple lesson last season – do not trust a man who fist pumps while wearing sunglasses at night.

From August 2, 2012 – The Tweeter’s Choice Edition

What we said then:

“Mayhem” will play on more than just passing downs. Fact. Aaron “Mayhem” Maybin is already earning high praise from the media and coaching staff in the early stages of training camp. He has reportedly bulked up to 240+ pounds, which will help him greatly against the run. Calvin Pace will likely remain on one side of the field for the majority of downs, however the other side is open for competition. While most expect Bryan Thomas to retain the spot opposite Pace which he occupied prior to his season ending injury last year, there is a good chance we could see him in a limited role this season. While he has had success setting the edge on run-downs in the past, the praise Maybin has been receiving for his added size and relentless motor could propel him into an increased role to play a surplus of downs in a variety of spots on the outside. His versatility will be a huge weapon for Rex Ryan and Mike Pettine this season. Expect them to utilize that to the fullest extent.

What we say now:

If I had my current brain the day this was written, I probably would have stopped after “is already earning high praise from the media” and just deleted the whole thing. Unfortunately, I don’t have access to Doc Brown’s DeLorean and I can’t go back to last year (although I would love to get my hands on Grays Sports Almanac). The fact of the matter is that, while Maybin came off a promising 6 sack season and looked decent with added weight in the offseason last year, he came out the gate, stumbled, and could never quite get up, resulting in his release on November 13 after recording just one tackle without any sacks in a situational role.  For what it’s worth, Maybin did record 9 quarterback hits over the 10 contests he played in.

The problem with Maybin never lied in his motor or effort last season, it was just his lack of ability to develop a complete arsenal of pass rush moves. The added weight didn’t propel him to the full time role we envisioned, and when you become a one trick pony who can’t quite execute that one trick anymore, you are destined for the glue factory. Maybin’s signature “sprint upfield as far as I can and see what happens” pass rush move didn’t take in 2012, as he relentlessly ran past opposing quarterbacks, only to be ridden upfield with minimal effort from opposing tackles and basically becoming a waste of a body on the field. “Mayhem” was short lived, and kind of fun while it lasted. Oh well.

From August 31, 2012 – Preseason Review Edition

What we said then:

Austin Howard will start the entire season at Right Tackle. False. While Howard certainly played well in his first start against Carolina this preseason, he showed some signs of struggle against Philadelphia last night. Although he is seemingly an upgrade over Wayne Hunter, the Jets gave the newly acquired Jason Smith extended reps in last night’s action, and the former 2nd overall pick looked quite impressive. The entire line was playing against the Eagles’ second and third string, but Smith’s play was encouraging, and undoubtedly noticed by the Jets offensive staff. A new environment and good combination of veterans may be just what Smith needs to prove why he was so highly sought after coming out of Baylor in 2009. Howard will begin the season as the starter, but he will be under the microscope, and the slightest slip up could cost him his job.

What we say now:

howard63 is eligible! It was tough to predict at that point in time, but having success against the backups of a 4-12 team should not have been an indicator of anything. Smith was used as a gimmick tight end and became a punchline by the end of the season, while Howard slowly improved all year. While he certainly had some areas of struggle, his progress was promising and gives New York a RT situation to feel good about heading into 2013, particularly with the depth added via free agency and the draft. Hats off to you Mr. Howard, you made me eat my words.

Biggest Hits

From June 14, 2012 – Mini-Camp Edition

What we said then:

Tim Tebow will be playing just about everything other than “traditional” Quarterback this seasonFact. While Tebow is the backup quarterback, he was not brought to New York for that reason. Conversely, he was not brought here to be the starter either. The Jets traded for Tebow to be the excellent football player they know he is. He has reported to mini-camp at a career high 249 lbs, and reports indicate that the Jets would still like him to add weight. By traditional standards, there aren’t any 250 lb athletes with the overall football skills of Tebow serving as pocket passers. The added weight will allow Tebow to serve more effectively as an all around football player, particularly in an H-Back, Running Back type role. Over his two seasons in the NFL, Tebow has rushed for 887 yards and 12 touchdowns, with a very impressive 5.4 yards per carry.

There will surely be a good amount of Wild Cat QB thrown in for Tebow as well, especially with the newly hired Tony Sparano’s knowledge of the system, coupled with Rex Ryan’s infatuation with it. In fact, since Ryan has come to New York, the Jets have the highest total yards per play out of the Wildcat in the entire NFL during that time frame, at 6.1 YPP. Expect Tebow to serve as a jack-of-all-trades for Gang Green this season, while seeing very little, if any, time as the regular quarterback.

What we say now:

TebowOkay, we realize the logic behind this was somewhat cloudy, but the fact of the matter is that Tebow did not play one significant down as the team’s signal caller last season. Although he did nothing more than serve as the team’s punt protector, generate played out media headlines, have a pass bounce off of his helmet in Miami, and occasionally flex, he was clearly never viewed as a viable option at quarterback, as displayed not only by his lack of reps in any package, but by the team’s decision to start Greg McElroy when Sanchez was benched, then to go back to Sanchez after McElroy was injured following the 11 sack debacle against San Diego. Tebow was recently released and remains unemployed, despite receiving offers to join Ron Jaworski’s arena football team and the Omaha Beef of the IFL – that is not a joke.

From June 28, 2012 – New Jets Edition

What we said then:

Quinton Coples will have the largest impact of all rookies. Fact. DeMario Davis is another candidate here, however with Coples likely to crack the starting lineup right out of the gate this year, he will ultimately have more opportunity to provide a greater impact to the team this season. We’ve repeatedly gone over the physical intangibles of Coples here at Turn On The Jets, not to mention how the shift toward more four-man fronts will benefit his skill set. However, what has not been discussed to a great extent is the work ethic Coples has been displaying since joining the Jets.

Heading into the draft, Coples unfairly saw his character and work ethic come into question, although review of his college game film proves he is anything but lazy and unmotivated. So far, we have yet to hear these concerns about Coples. The first round selection out of North Carolina has displayed nothing but high character and a tremendous work ethic during OTAs and Mini-Camp practices, and has earned praise from the coaching staff and media alike. Coples has the ability to fill the void the Jets defense has been truly lacking since the days of John Abraham, a pass rusher that opposing offenses must game plan around. Rex Ryan will use his vast defensive knowledge and creativity in order to ensure Coples is in every position possible to succeed.

What we say now:

coples sackNot only did Coples have the greatest impact of all the Jets rookies last season, he ended up leading the team in sacks with 5.5. Although he did not start in the early part of the season like we expected, he eventually worked his way into the starting lineup and improved each week with added reps. Combined with Muhammad Wilkerson, Coples did end up becoming a player that opposing offensive lines needed to game plan around, but with just two players like this in the entire front seven, it was difficult for either to put up stellar numbers. Ryan surely utilized Coples’ versatility in the second half of the season last year, and the former first round pick out of North Carolina is poised to have an even larger role moving forward for what should be an exciting defensive line for New York with the additions of first round pick Sheldon Richardson and free agent Antonio Garay.

From November 22, 2012 – Thanksgiving and Rivalry Edition

What we said then:

The Jets need to generate turnovers to win. Fact. Historically, the Jets under Rex Ryan have had their best success against the Patriots when they’ve been able to take the ball away from Tom Brady. In Ryan’s 3 total wins against New England, Brady has thrown a total of four interceptions. In New England’s five victories against Ryan’s Gang, Brady has turned the ball over via interception just once. This trend holds true to two of New England’s three losses this year. Brady has just three interceptions on the season, however one came in the home loss to Arizona, with the other two coming from the loss in Seattle. Another daunting task for the Jets, particularly without Darrelle Revis, but remember, Brady is missing two key pieces of his offense, as well, in Mankins and TE Rob Gronkowski.

The Jets Special Teams need to wake up. Fact. In order to pull off this upset, the Jets need to be nearly perfect in all three phases of the game. New York’s once stout special teams has been a complete disaster as of late. Blocked kicks, big returns, losing focus and succumbing to a surprise onsides kick have haunted the Jets in previous weeks. To quote ESPN’s Cris Carter, “Mike Westhoff, where you at?!” The prolific coach, now a household name thanks to his role in HBO’s 2010 season of Hard Knocks, seems to have lost the grasp of a unit that was once regarded as a crutch for New York in times of struggle. Westhoff must get his unit ready to play. Any lapse on special teams will likely spell disaster for New York. While you may be able to get away with some blunders against mediocre teams, New England is a different animal. Bill Belichick has likely gone through hours of Jets special teams footage, looking for ways to exploit this suddenly weak group. A big play on special teams cannot happen in any way whatsoever if the Jets wish to begin a late season playoff push.

What we say now:

SanchezWelp, the Jets lost the turnover battle 1-5, gave up a special teams touchdown, and had two fumbles returned for scores in what will forever be known as “The Butt Fumble Game.” Brady didn’t turn the ball over once, and the Jets looked as if they hadn’t even practiced in the week leading up to this game. New York was embarrassed on national television, playing victim to one of the most bizarre 52 second spans of football in the history of the sport. The Jets needed to be nearly perfect in all three phases of this contest to even have a chance. They were anything but…pun very much intended. Here’s to hoping none of us ever have to live through anything like that again.