Jets Receivers: Enough to Win With?

First a few updates:

1. I am not one for bragging, but I am proud to announce that TurnOnTheJets.com was awarded the August Blog of the Month Award by the Fanball Network…and yes I am excited. A big thank you to anybody who takes the time to visit the site, all support is greatly appreciated.

2. I got front row tickets to the Jets pre-season game on Thursday…not exactly Jets at New England in the regular season (I got tickets to those too, but in my normal 313 seats which is just fine with me), needless to say I am excited to watch Erik Ainge throw passes to Britt Davis and Marcus Henry, while Danny Woodhead gets 15 carries. However, it should be fun to watch Michael Vick run around a little bit and see if the Jets linebackers can contain him.

3. 9 days until the NFL regular season opens…

Jets Receivers: Enough to Win With?

Despite the regular season starting a little over a week from today, many people are still expecting the Jets to add a veteran to their receiving core. I got news for you, the cavalry isn’t coming. The guys the Jets have right now is the guys they will attempt to win with in 2009, and I think they may just be enough. On offense, the Jets passing game will run through a variety of players, focused primarily on Jerricho Cotchery, Dustin Keller, and Leon Washington with a committee of receivers battling for reps across the formation from Cotchery. Here is how I see the Jets pass catchers breaking down this season.

1. Jerricho Cotchery – The Jets unquestioned number one receiver should lead the team in catches, hauling in somewhere between 70-80. Brian Schottenheimer will move him around the formation in attempt to get him in single coverage. Cotchery is the type of player who will mix in a few big games, with a few games where you barely notice him on the field. On average, J-Co can give you 4-5 catches for 60-65 yards. Hopefully he will find a way to become a better red-zone receiver in 2009.

2. Dustin Keller – Think of Keller as the Jets #2 receiver. The second year tight end should be in the 60-65 catch range this season. He is an extremely difficult match-up for opposing defenses and will be line up at the traditional tight end spot, H-Back, slot receiver, and split end. Keller should be the Jets primary red-zone target because of his size and leaping ability. A young quarterback’s best friend is a reliable, pass-catching tight end which is one of the many reasons I think Keller can have a pro-bowl caliber 2009 season.

3. Leon Washington – Last year #29 had 76 carries and 47 receptions, expect both those numbers to have an increase this season. While I expect to see Washington approach the 150 carry total, his reception number should be in the 55-60 range. He will frequently be targeted on screens and check downs. Occasionally, the Jets will send him down the field on a wheel route out of the backfield (see Ravens pre-season game) or split him out and throw him a screen pass on the outside.

4. Chansi Stuckey – Stuckey will be the first receiver on the field opposite Jerricho Cotchery but is still part of committee and lower on the pass-catching option list than Keller and Washington. I expect to see Stuckey catch around 50 passes in an expanded role this season, after finishing with 32 in 2008. He should be one the Jets primary targets on third downs throughout the entire season and is a threat to run after the catch.

5. Thomas Jones – Don’t forget that Jones caught 36 passes last year and should be around that number again this season. He has pretty good hands and is always a solid option on screens and check downs. If the Jets put Jones and Washington in the same backfield, they could use the extra attention given to Washington to catch the defense sleeping on Jones out of the backfield as a pass catcher.

6. David Clowney – I would love for him to be what Dedric Ward was for the Jets in 1998. In that season he only had 24 catches but they went for 477 yards and 4 touchdowns. Can Clowney be that type of deep threat for the Jets in 2009? I sure hope so.

Speaking of 1998, Were We Really This Close to the Super Bowl? Enjoy Blake Spence Blocking a Punt and a Curtis Martin Touchdown in the 1998 AFC Championship Game:

Jets Defense in Trouble?

First a few updates:

1. The Jets began to make their roster cuts yesterday releasing quarterback Chris Pizzotti, receiver Huey Whittaker, safety Nate Ness, and linebacker Craig Kobel…no surprises there.

2. Apparently the Jets have no interest in adding Reggie Brown if he gets cut by Philly, according to Dave Hutchinson. The Jets may be satisfied with their group of receivers this late into pre-season. It will be a committee approach that will rely on different players to step up each week.

3. Oh boy, it’s Jets-Eagles pre-season week…there is nothing worse than week four of the pre-season. Thank god tomorrow is September, a month that will hopefully be filled up with the Yankees winning the AL East, the Jets getting off to a strong start, and my fantasy team going undefeated.

Jets Defense in Trouble?

The Jets defense has looked pretty good this pre-season. The first unit is stopping the run, getting to the quarterback, and created two turnovers on Saturday against the Giants. However, there is a growing list of concerns about the unit that could affect their early season play. In their first four games, the Jets play three of the best offenses in football. The Texans have a dangerous collection of weapons, including receiver Andre Johnson, running back Steve Slaton, and tight end Owen Daniels and the Patriots and Saints success speaks for itself. Will the Jets be equipped to handle these high caliber units, despite these problems:

1. No Calvin Pace, Big ProblemPace has been exceptional this pre-season when he has been on the field but unfortunately the Jets will be without him the first four weeks. Vernon Gholston finally showed some signs of life last week as his replacement but only as a pass rusher. The Giants ran the ball right at Gholston, who couldn’t get off his blocks, with a high degree of success. Teams will be targeting Gholston early in the year and the Jets will struggle to stop the run unless he can quickly improve. Jamaal Westerman could begin to see an increase in reps if Gholston doesn’t play well against the Eagles and then in week one against the Texans.

2. D-Line Depth Issues – The Jets already had some serious questions about their defensive line depth coming into the season and now they will be without Shaun Ellis in week one because of a suspension. Making matters worse is now his backup, Mike DeVito, has a pulled hamstring and could also miss some early season action. This will put serious pressure on highly inexperienced players like Ropati Pitoitua and Zach Potter to step up give quality reps. It also increases pressure on newly acquired Marques Douglas to have a strong start to the year and provide some stability to the defensive end position. Also, don’t be surprised if you see Howard Green slide over from defensive tackle to take some reps or Vernon Gholston put his hand in the dirt, while somebody like Westerman steps in at linebacker.

3. Picked On Corners – First it was Dwight Lowery against the Rams, then it was Drew Coleman and Marquis Cole getting beat deep against the Ravens, then it was Lito Sheppard having a rough night against the Giants…the Jets may have some issues opposite Darrelle Revis. Teams aren’t going to target #24 all that often, so Sheppard and Lowery are going to need to step up and be ready to handle a ton of balls coming their way. Yes, the Jets have Revis to counter Andre Johnson but Kevin Walter is a good player opposite him, the Saints have a group of speedy receivers across from Marques Colston, and the Patriots obviously have Wes Welker and Joey Galloway to with Randy Moss.

The pressure is on players like Vernon Gholston, Ropati Pitoitua, Marques Douglas, Dwight Lowery, and Lito Sheppard to improve their play and complement the rest of the talented Jets defense. It doesn’t matter how good Darrelle Revis, Kris Jenkins, and David Harris are, in football you are only as good as your weakest link.

Mark Sanchez Pre-Season Highlights

Jets vs. Giants Highlights, A Day Late (Also Added to the Game Highlights Section)

Grading Out the Jets/Giants Game

First a few updates:

1. We had our fantasy football draft this past Saturday and I must say that I made out like a bandit. How about these receivers? Larry Fitzgerald, Steve Smith, and TJ Houshmanzedah, with Devin Hester coming off the bench? C’mon now…of course I picked up Thomas Jones and Dustin Keller, rounding out the roster I have DeAngelo Williams, Tennessee’s D, Nick Folk, Donovan McNabb, Matt Hassleback, Felix Jones, Julius Jones, Josh Morgan, and Vishante Shinaoce…not bad.

Grading Out the Jets/Giants Game

Quarterbacks: B+ – The rookie didn’t look half bad, did he? Mark Sanchez put together a solid performance against a very good defense that was constantly in his face with their pass rush. He displayed his mobility, ability to make plays outside of the pocket, and arm strength. His touchdown pass to Chansi Stuckey was something that gives hope to the Jets offense this year and for the next decade, it takes some serious arm strength to make that throw under pressure. Another throw which brought me out of my seat (yes, I know it is pre-season but I got issues) was the quick post he threw to Jerricho Cotchery for a 28 yard gain…another big time NFL throw. He showed good command of the offense and played with confidence. I am not saying Mark Sanchez is going to be a pro-bowler this year or anywhere near one for that matter, but he may be plenty good enough for the Jets to win with this season. Erik Ainge…one pass, one touchdown…not bad. Did Kellen Clemens even play?

Running Backs: B+ – Leon Washington averaged 7 yards per carry…imagine if the Jets actually gave him more than 9 carries? This guy better be getting at least 10 carries a game in the regular season, along with 3-5 passes thrown his way…he is far and away the Jets most explosive player on offense. Thomas Jones didn’t have pretty numbers but got the job done on the goal-line, which is important (especially for my fantasy team). Danny Woodhead again failed to distinguish himself.

Wide Receivers: A – That is what you want to see out of your starting receivers. Jerricho Cotchery looked like the player from 2006 who was constantly breaking tackles and adding long runs after the catch. Chansi Stuckey raised up and locked down his starting position with a 4 catch 69 yard, one touchdown performance. How about that run on his touchdown? I didn’t know he could break tackles like that. Aundrae Allison showed off his speed on a 70 yard touchdown. I wouldn’t be shocked if he made the roster as a #6 receiver because of his speed and kick return ability. Brad Smith, David Clowney (nobody is perfect), Britt Davis, and Wallace Wright were all invisible.

Tight Ends: C – Quiet day from this group, Dustin Keller had two catches for 15 yards and Kareem Brown pulled one in for 5 yards and also saw extended time with the first offense as the #2 tight end. Jack Simmons had yet another drop.

Offensive LIne: B – They did pretty good against the pressure the Giants brought and sprung some big runs for Leon Washington. It was good to see the whole starting unit out there for an extended period of time. They will probably only play a series or two against Philadelphia on Thursday. D’Brickashaw Ferguson had a rough night, giving up a sack and getting called for two penalties.

Defensive Line: C+ – They did OK against the run and got a decent push occasionally. However, Eli had a little too much time back there in the pocket and Kris Jenkins jumped offsides in a big spot. Mike DeVito could be out for a few weeks with a hamstring injury, which could be trouble because the Jets are already without Shaun Ellis for week one and have questionable depth behind him.

Linebackers: B+ – They gave up some plays and made some penalties but they also made their share of big plays. As he said, Bart Scott “just wanted it more” than Brandon Jacobs when he ripped the ball out of his hands. David Harris made a diving interception thanks to a Vernon Gholston pressure (yes, that Vernon Gholston) and Scott deflection. Jamaal Westerman and Jason Trusnik had sacks. Gholston had a sack and a forced fumble that was negated because of a helmet to helmet hit. I still can’t believe I just typed Gholston and sack in the same sentence.

Secondary: C – Lito Sheppard had a night he’d like to forget. He got called for two pass interference penalties and was smoked by Steve Smith on what should have been a 90 yard touchdown, fortunately Smith like the rest of the Giants receivers (except for Hakeem Nicks), can’t catch…poor Eli. Sheppard better get used to getting picked on, with Darrelle Revis opposite him. Drew Coleman was beat again for a big play. Eric Smith also got beat.

Special Teams: C – The punting wasn’t good again. Jay Feely made both his field goals.

Battle For Bragging Rights: Jets vs. G-Men Preview

First a few updates:

1. Did anybody see that video of Brandon Marshall from practice that prompted his indefinite suspension from the Broncos? Punting the football away from the ballboys, knocking balls down in pass catching drills and walking around while the rest of the team runs…funny, albeit immature stuff. The guy must really not want to play football anytime soon because he just diminished his trade market substantially.

2. Pretty good debut for Michael Vick, it will be real interesting to see what that Eagles offense can do when his package of plays expands and he gets more comfortable.

Battle For Bragging Rights: Jets vs. G-Men Preview

The Opponent: The Giants are a somewhat similarly constructed team to the Jets. They have a great offensive line, a strong group of running backs, questions at receiver, and a very good defense. Yes, the G-Men do have a much better defensive line but I would argue the Jets have a better secondary and a better group of linebackers (cue argument from my friend Dan). Regardless, the Giants have a proven commodity at quarterback and are coming off a 12-4 season. With both teams starters playing the entire first half, it will be a great test for the Jets to go against one of the NFL’s elite teams. The Giants will attempt to pound the ball with Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw to soften up the Jets D and then hit them over the top with a big play to a guy like Sinorce Moss, Mario Manningham, or Hakeem Nicks. Steve Smith, Domenick Hixon and Kevin Boss are all decent in the shorter passing game. The Jets secondary didn’t do that well against an average group of Ravens receivers last week, so they need to bounce back against the Giants. It will certainly help to have Darrelle Revis back and Kris Jenkins pushing the pocket up front.

Jets Offensive Game Plan – Mark Sanchez has only thrown 12 passes in 2 pre-season games, many of them screens and check downs. Now that the Jets have a healthy offensive line, and their starting offense set in stone, it is time to open it up a little bit and let Sanchez get some throws under his belt. Let’s see him hit a few throws in the intermediate passing game to Jerricho Cotchery and Dustin Keller, and take a few more shots down the field to David Clowney or Leon Washington out of the backfield. We know the Jets can run the football and I’m never going to get tired of watching Thomas Jones and #29 run around but the more experience Sanchez can get in the pre-season, the better. Going back to Keller and Washington, the Giants have struggled the past few years covering pass catching tight ends (Jason Witten) and running backs out of the backfield (Brian Westrbook) so look for a potential big game from both of them. (Nice job by #16 pointing this out in his comments on my last article).

Jets Defensive Game Plan – The Jets defense has looked pretty good so far this pre-season but it is time to cause a turnover. Vernon Gholston will be making the start for Calvin Pace and instead of asking for a sack from him like I do every week (and never happens) I would be satisfied with a couple of tackles or maybe a tackle for a loss. Hopefully, Kris Jenkins can begin the process of getting back into game shape and Darelle Revis will shore up the Jets secondary which has been shaky thus far. Also keep an eye on Jamaal Westerman and Marques Murrell who are pushing Gholston hard for playing time at the outside linebacker position.

Prediction – I’m not crazy about making predictions of scores in pre-season games. However, I anticipate Mark Sanchez playing better than he did last week although I wouldn’t be shocked if he had another turnover. On defense, I think it will be a hell of a battle between the Jets front seven and the Giants offensive line/running backs. For the second game in a row, you have to be real excited about pre-season football.

Knowshon Moreno Struggles Adjusting to Training Camp:

Jets vs. Giants: What to Watch For

First a few updates:

New Pages Alert – Across the top of the site, you will find two new pages “Jets Commercials” and “Jets Game Highlights.” Commercials is a collection of Jets commercials, 2009 preview videos, and other funny video clips involving our team. Game Highlights is an ongoing collection of highlights from all of the Jets games this year, so far I have both the Rams and Ravens highlights in there.

1. The Jets appear to be completely healthy in terms of their starters and primary backups. The only two people who were working on the sideline today were Shonn Greene and reserve linebacker Joshua Magua. Rex Ryan said in today’s press conference that Greene has some cartilage issues in his ribs and that he will be out against the Giants and likely against the Eagles. Good thing the Jets didn’t trade Thomas Jones, right?

2. In response to Greene being banged up, the Jets signed undraftedrookie running back Anthony Kimble who played at Stanford. Look for Kimble and Danny Woodhead to get a ton of carries in that last pre-season game against Philly to save Thomas Jones and Leon Washington’s legs.

3. Ryan took another dig at New England today (although in a joking manner) when discussing the tampering rules. He was kidding around about the roster being nearly set and said unless somebody like Ed Reed came available he had an idea of who would make the team, he then commented he made sure that didn’t mention any New England players (referencing the Pats filing tampering claims a few years ago against the Jets when looking at Deion Branch)…always entertaining stuff from Ryan.

4. Ryan also confirmed that David Clowney would be seeing more reps with the first team against the Giants. Also, he stated the final roster spots at receiver aren’t set and implied that either Marcus Henry, Britt Davis, or Aundrae Allison could grab one of the 53 spots. When talking about the tight ends, he said nobody has emerged as the clear #2, although he expressed confidence in Wayne Hunter taking reps there.

5. Vernon Gholston will start and play the majority of the snaps with the first team against the Giants…oh boy.

Jets vs. Giants: What to Watch For

1. Doesn’t Get Any Easier, Rook – Mark Sanchez doesn’t get a break this week, as he will face another one of the NFL’s elite defenses. The Giants have the best collection of defensive lineman and pass rushers in the NFL, which will provide another test for Sanchez to adjust under constant pressure and different blitz packages. He will likely play into the third quarter and you would like to see him protect the football, take a few shots down the field, and get into some type of rhythm with Jerricho Cotchery who is yet to catch a pass from Sanchez this pre-season. Overall, the last thing you want to see is Sanchez implode after being named the starter, but judging from how this summer went that doesn’t seem likely to happen.

2. More Run D – The Jets run defense looked very good last week against Baltimore without Kris Jenkins, so logically they should be that much better on Saturday with him. Rex Ryan’s Ravens got embarrassed by the Giants running game last year and he hasn’t forgotten that. It will be a great test for the Jets front seven to go against the Giants offensive line and Brandon Jacobs/Ahmad Bradshaw.

3. Get After Eli – If there is an area I think the Jets have a nice advantage in against the Giants, it is their secondary against the G-Men’s receivers. Darrelle Revis will be back, rounding out a talented, deep Jets defensive backfield. The Giants have an inexperienced group of receivers and lack a legit #1 (and maybe even a legit #2 for that matter). I want to see the secondary smothering Steve Smith, Domenick Hixon, Sinorce Moss, Mario Manningham and whomever else the Giants throw out there. The Jets pass rush has been great this pre-season and the secondary’s coverage should help produce even more sacks on Saturday night. The only problem is that Vernon Gholston is starting and playing the majority of first team reps instead of Calvin Pace and that certainly won’t help the pass rush.

4. Who Is Catching This Ball – David Clowney will see a good amount of first team reps, so let’s see him make some plays against the Giants first team defense. Brad Smith is hanging by a thread as a player who will get meaningful reps. Chansi Stuckey has been quiet this pre-season and is slowly losing his spot to Clowney. Jerricho Cotchery needs to catch a few balls and start looking like a #1 receiver. I keep hearing hype about Britt Davis, but he hasn’t made any big plays. Also, at the tight end spot look for Sanchez to target Dustin Keller often. A young quarterback’s best friend is a pass catching tight end.

5. Can Anybody Punt – Rex Ryan didn’t hold back the criticism of his punters in today’s press conference. Hopefully, Reggie Hodges can step up and finally seize the job.

A Little Break From the Football Videos…

Sanchez Is Starting…Duh, But What Now?

First a few updates:

1. RIP Ted Kennedy.

2. Darrelle Revis, Kris Jenkins, Donald Strickland, and Jay Feely all returned to practice. Hopefully, the Jets will be at full strength for the Giants game this Saturday, which should see the starters play into the 3rd quarter.

3. The Jets waived offensive lineman Tavita Thompson.

4. Tonight is my first night of extensive graduate school homework but what better way to procrastinate than with an article about the Jets. Also, the Yankees are on ESPN tonight and Hard Knocks is on at 10…could be a late night.

Sanchez Is Starting…Duh, But What Now?

Today’s big news is that Mark Sanchez has been named the starting quarterback for the New York Jets. If you have been following the Jets all summer, you knew this was coming and it was only a matter of when not if Sanchez was going to be named the starter. Any individual who has kept track of the Jets on a daily basis would tell you it has either been a draw to this point or that Sanchez has slightly outplayed Clemens. Rex Ryan made the right decision. Kellen Clemens couldn’t outplay the rookie despite having 4 years of experience in this offensive system and showed no reason to believe he could be a reliable veteran quarterback that would protect the football. He consistently turned the ball over more than Sanchez, despite taking less risks down the field. In reality this decision was a no-brainer for Ryan, you don’t hold back your franchise quarterback for somebody of Kellen Clemens’ talent level.

So now what? First off, Jets fans need to accept the reality that Mark Sanchez is going to take his lumps, which should be an obvious. Yet, they also need to understand the type of football the Jets will be playing this year. This team has been built to win through their defense and running game. Sanchez isn’t going to  be airing it out or putting up pretty statistics. There is going to be plenty of times this season when it is 3rd and 9 and the Jets are on their own 30 yard line, down 7-3 in the third quarter and they are going to hand the ball off to Leon Washington and then punt…this is okay and smart football. You punt, play defense and wait until you have better field position. A good game for Sanchez this year could be 10/15 for 139 yards with 0 TD’s and 0 INT’s, if the Jets win. Gradually the offense will begin to open up more as his experience grows.

In terms of what is around Sanchez, apparently Mike Tannenbaum said in a recent interview that “nothing was imminent” in the contract talks with Leon Washington. Give the guy his 6 million a season and get the job done. He is their most valuable offensive player and a proven game-breaker. Washington is the type of guy you want spending 12 seasons in green and white, especially as your 60 million dollar quarterback grows…there are certain times to play hardball and certain times when you need to pay your stars, it is time to pay your star running back.

At the wide receiver position, David Clowney was working extensively with the first team today. It is about time. If you are evaluating the receiver position right now, Cotchery and Clowney should be starting with Stuckey playing the slot and working in alongside Cotchery on certain plays. Brad Smith is a few notches back and should be a #4 receiver used in certain packages of plays. There are rumors swirling about the Jets desperately looking to acquire another receiver in a trade, but at this point who are they going to get? It appears things are starting to go smoother with Brandon Marshall and the Broncos and he would also have a monstrous price tag. When looking at a few lower profile guys to consider, how about Reggie Brown on Philly or DJ Hackett on Washington?

The Jets offense has potential to be better than people think. Let’s not forget they have a top flight offensive line, a great stable of running backs, a very good fullback, a playmaking tight end, and a competent number one receiver. They also appear to have a legitimate deep threat in David Clowney. Mark Sanchez is going to be handing the ball off alot, throwing a ton of screen passes and intermediate passes to Dustin Keller and Jerricho Cotchery. He will probably only be taking a few shots a game to a guy like Clowney or Keller down the seam. Beyond that, the Jets will look for the big plays to come from their running game or Leon Washington turning a screen pass into a 30 yard gain. They will also fool around with the wildcat with Brad Smith behind center and use him on some reverses.

An Awesome Video Made by JetNaton.Com, Put Chills Down My Spine…How Many Days Until We Play Houston?

Grading Out the Jets/Ravens Game

First a few updates:

1. John Clayton speculated it would take a 1st and 4th round pick for the Jets or any other team for that matter to acquire Brandon Marshall from the Broncos…that is a steep price for the Jets, who only drafted three players last year and still badly need to add depth/talent to the WR, TE, and OL/DL. However, how much better would Mark Sanchez be with a guy like Marshall to throw to? It is an interesting debate, as of now I still wouldn’t expect anything to happen.

2. The Rex Sox just acquired Billy Wagner…did somebody say desperate? Also, it is really historically unbelievable how bad the Mets season has gone, in terms of injuries and everything else that has happened around the team.

3. I just found out you can download something called “NFL Replay” which allows you to watch any NFL game on your computer within 24 hours of it ending. Thank god…I was contemplating not going to Italy with my family because I would miss the Jets/Colts week 16 game.

4. My fantasy football league is holding our live draft this Saturday…and I am stuck the #5 pick. Suggestions are still welcome.

Grading Out the Jets/Ravens Game

Quarterbacks: D+ – Yeeesh. Let’s be honest here, outside of one play it was an ugly, ugly night for Mark Sanchez. The rookie threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown (a ridiculously athletic play by Haloti Ngata), threw another ball right into the arms of Ray Lewis, fumbled an exchange, had two delay of game penalties, and a miscommunication with Jerricho Cotchery. Yes, he did make an athletic play and a great throw on a 19 yard touchdown pass to Leon Washington on a third down, which shows some character and a short memory, both necessary for a successful quarterback but outside of that play, he was simply bad. Hopefully, this night be will remembered as an important part of his development and learning curve as a NFL QB. The Ravens in their building are as good as it gets in the NFL…Sanchez will learn from last night and be better prepared the next time around.

Kellen Clemens had a real shot to make the quarterback battle alot more interesting last night but didn’t respond to the challenge. He threw a horrible interception at the end of the first half, which was returned for a touchdown and only completed 50 percent of his passes. He did drop in a nice 28 yard touchdown to David Clowney (who else?) and threw a beautiful long ball to Brad Smith that was dropped (shocking…I know).

The Jets are built to play defense and run the ball. They need a quarterback who can protect the football and not give points to the opposing team. If you take away the 2 INT’s for touchdowns last night, the Jets win that game handily. They can’t have turnovers from the quarterback position, period.

By the way, Erik Ainge looked pretty good last night and is probably on his way to being the #2 quarterback next year when Clemens isn’t resigned.

Running Backs: A – Pay Leon Washington. Pay Leon Washington. Pay Leon Washington. Pay Leon Washington. #29 is the engine the keeps the Jets offense running. He put on a display last night that clearly showed his value to the Jets. 48 rushing yards on a 6.0 yards per carry (just like last season…give him more touches), 2 receptions for 35 yards including a 19 yard touchdown, and a 52 yard kickoff return. Pay Leon Washington. Thomas Jones also looked like he was in 2008 form with 32 yards on 8 carries. Shonn Greene had a nice 15 yard catch but took a rib shot that limited his action. I am still not that impressed with Danny Woodhead, who isn’t going to make the roster. Brock Christopher looked pretty good filling in for Jehuu Caulcrick. Good to see Tony Richardson back out there.

Wide Receivers: D – Nothing from Jerricho Cotchery or Chansi Stuckey, who combined for 1 catch for 7 yards. Brad Smith dropped a touchdown and had an offensive pass interference penalty. Britt Davis dropped a long touchdown. Marcus Henry couldn’t get open on the 2 point conversion that could have won the game. Wallace Wright was quiet. On the positive side, David Clowney just keeps making plays as he caught another touchdown pass, using his speed to blow by Frank Walker. How can Clowney not be the Jets #2 receiver right now? Everybody talks about how much they love Stuckey in the slot, so put Clowney and Cotchery on the outside and have Stuckey work the slot.

Tight Ends: C – Quiet night from Dustin Keller. Jack Simmons had a drop and Kareem Brown didn’t have a catch, although they all deserve some credit for strong blocking in the running game.

Offensive Line: B+ – It says alot about Nick Mangold and Alan Faneca that they strapped it up last night…that is exactly what you want to see from your veterans, that they are excited about the team/season and are raring to get back out there. The offensive line did a great job opening up holes in the running game and did decent in pass protection, considering the amount of blitzes the Ravens threw at them. Wayne Hunter played much better filling in for Damien Woody than he did last week.

Defensive LIne: B+ – Very strong games from both Howard Green and Ropati Pitoitua, who both recorded a sack and are showing that the Jets have pretty good depth along their defensive line. The run defense was great and the entire line got a solid push all night. It will be a huge boost to get Kris Jenkins back in the next couple of days.

Linebackers: B – David Harris is going to record alot of sacks in Rex Ryan’s defense. He continued his terrific pre-season with 5 tackles and a sack. Bart Scott missed a tackle in the backfield on third down that would have ended a drive. Bryan Thomas and Calvin Pace both had productive games, including another sack from Pace who the Jets are going to miss badly for the first four games this year. Kenwin Cummings and Marques Murrell were both active. Vernon Gholston did nothing except get out-run by Joe Flacco.

Secondary: C – They badly miss Darrelle Revis. Dwight Lowery and Drew Coleman were picked on all night. Coleman had a nice pass deflection but was toasted deep by Derrick Mason. Lito Sheppard was beat a couple of times. Kerry Rhodes was pretty active and had a nice pass deflection, to break up a screen play. Marquice Cole had a nice interception but was beat deep later in the game. James Ihedigbo had an interception called back on a penalty.

Special Teams: C – Average punting, decent kicking, a big kick return by Leon Washington, a nice job on punt returns by Jim Leonhard and a near turnover by Aundrae Allison.

Highlights From the Game Last Night:

Monday Night Football: Jets vs. Ravens Preview

First a few updates:

1.  The Yankees took care of business this weekend, grabbing 2 out of 3 from the Red Sox. It would take a colossal Mets type meltdown for them not to win the division now. How about the season Hideki Matsui is putting together?

2. Television/Movie Discussion of the Day – Entourage was pretty good last night. They finally moved away from E’s relationships dominating the story line and introduced a few new interesting characters in the agency he is working in. Also it is always good to see Bob Saget back on the show…I saw Inglorious Bastards over the weekend, great movie that I highly recommend.

Jets vs. Ravens Preview

The Main Story Lines: Mark Sanchez makes his first start, with a chance to end the quarterback battle. Rex Ryan goes against his former team, that snubbed him for a head coaching job in 2008. The Jets offense faces arguably the best defense in football. The Jets defense will be without their two best players, Kris Jenkins and Darrelle Revis for the second straight pre-season game. The offensive line will be without Alan Faneca and Damien Woody, also for the second straight pre-season game.

The Best Case Scenario– The Jets offense holds their own against the Ravens defense, putting together a couple of scoring drives and not turning the football over. They are able to establish a running game and protect Sanchez, who is able to make Baltimore pay for stacking the box by hitting a big play deep. The defense continues to put pressure on the quarterback and forces a few turnovers.

The Worst Case Scenario – The Jets are completely out-classed by the Ravens on national television. Sanchez struggles immensely and keeps the quarterback battle alive for at least another week or two. The Jets defense can’t stop the Ravens running game and the backups forced to start look shaky, increasing questions about their depth on both sides of the ball.

You’d Like to See – Jerricho Cotchery and Chansi Stuckey….the Jets starting receivers make some plays. Vernon Gholston have an active game at outside linebacker. Somebody seize control of the punting job. Shonn Greene continue to improve. Sione Pouha and Howard Green lead a strong run defense. Dwight Lowery have a strong bounce-back performance. Kerry Rhodes make a big play in the secondary.

Prediction – The Jets offense moves the ball but is forced to settle for a few too many field goals. Sanchez does well enough to end the quarterback battle. The defense struggles a little bit without Jenkins and Revis. Final Score….Ravens- 23 Jets-16.

Jets vs. Ravens: Five Players to Watch

First a few updates:

1.  The Jets had their first annual “King Ugly” contest which names the three ugliest players/coaches in the organization. According to the beat writers and David Clowney’s twitter (also an interesting follow), first place was James Ihedigbo, second place was defensive coordinator Mike Pettine, and third place was Leon Washington. Hey, it’s not a big deal guys…you play a sport with helmets on and I am pretty sure Pettine will be tucked safely away in the booth.

2. I was cleaning out my closet today and went through all my NFL Jerseys, which was obviously overloaded with Jets no longer on the team and WR’s and CB’s from other teams. For some reason when I was in high school I  wasted hundreds of dollars on jerseys of receivers and corners cause I played both positions. Anyway, look at this depth chart of jerseys and please if you are interested in buying any of them except for the guys currently on the Jets, feel free to let me know:

Jets Jerseys:

Still On The Team – Dustin Keller, Jerricho Cotchery, Kerry Rhodes

Legends – Curtis Martin

Out of Date – Santana Moss, Laveranues Coles, Curtis Conway (Yes, Curtis Conway), Jonathan Vilma, Chad Pennington, #9 Caporoso Jersey (a horrible gift from an ex-girlfriend)

Other NFL Jerseys:

Recievers: Anquan Boldin, David Boston, Issac Bruce

Corners: Terrence Newman, Phillip Buchannon, Charles Woodson, Quentin Jammer

Jets vs. Ravens: Five Players to Watch

I am going to do a full preview of the game before Monday Night but for now here is five players in particular to watch out for when the Jets play the Ravens:

Mark Sanchez – Obviously…the rookie is making his first start and it is on the road against one of the NFL’s best defenses. What will be the most interesting to see is how he handles the intense amounts of pressure the Ravens will throw at him. Can he avoid sacks and move the pocket? Can he make the proper check at the line to a quick pass? Can he find the back or tight end to dump the ball off too? Even better, will he make the Ravens pay for crowding the box? Leading a scoring drive against the Rams is one thing but if Sanchez can put up some points against Baltimore’s first defense, that would be pretty impressive and leave us all feeling better heading into the season.

David Clowney – Can the speedy receiver keep up his pre-season dominance and more importantly, can he stay healthy? I would like to see Clowney catch a few balls that aren’t deep bombs (obviously in addition to catching a deep bomb or two) to show that he could work in traffic and be a complete receiver. Teams are going to start respecting his deep speed, which will open up the deep curl and comeback for him. Clowney has had some issues catching the football, so he needs to prove he can pull in a few difficult passes. Also, we’d all like to see him catch another touchdown and do that bizarre dance.

Vernon Gholston – Paging Mr. Gholston…paging Mr. Gholston….will you ever record a sack? Even in a pre-season game? Why can Kenwin Cummings get a sack last week but you can’t? I am tired about hearing how strong he is at the point of attack and how he has all the tools. It is time for Gholston to make a pass rush move and use his speed to put the quarterback on the ground.  We are all sick of seeing the #6 pick in the draft end of the game stats be 2 assisted tackles and 0 impact plays.

Dwight Lowery – The second year corner is coming off a rough outing against the Rams and should start again in place of Darrelle Revis and also see extended reps because Donald Strickland is sitting out with a sore toe. Lowery apparently struggled last game because he was dealing with some personal issues involving a friend nearly being deported. Hopefully, he can put that behind him, go out and have a strong bounce-back performance. You can never have enough depth in the secondary and Lowery is a talented guy who has a chance to be a big part of the Jets nickle and dime packages on defense this season.

Wayne Hunter – The backup tackle will start again for Damien Woody. Hunter struggled last week, giving up a 3rd down sack to Leonard Little of the Rams. It would be nice to see Hunter have a solid performance against a top tier defense, showing the Jets have somewhat decent depth on the offensive line. Also, keep an eye out to see if he gets any reps at tight end with the second offense.

Another Funny Jets Commercial, this time starting Fireman Ed:

Sanchez Nears Knockout Punch in QB Battle

First a few updates:

1. We got a nice long weekend of sports coming up. The Yankees and Red Sox start up tomorrow, hopefully the Yankees will deliver the knockout punch in the divisional race over the next three games. Fortunately, the Jets will prevent me from getting too depressed on Sunday night since they are on Monday Night Football against the Ravens, with Mark Sanchez making his first start under center.

2. I got my fantasy draft next weekend and I am still very undecided on my #5 pick. Although I am leaning towards Drew Brees or Larry Fitzgerald…yes Fitzgerald, I’m not shy about taking a WR at #5. Yes, I am also excited about taking Thomas Jones and Dustin Keller in the late rounds because nobody in my league touches any Jets because they are too high and mighty as Giants fans.

3. Minor Jets roster moves – They released guard Dennis Conley and signed safety Nate Ness.

Sanchez Nears Knockout Punch in QB Battle

Today was the final day of practice up in Cortland, New York and similar to how he exited mini-camp, Mark Sanchez ended with a bang. In the situational drills, which were set up to imitate the final play of the game with the Jets needing a touchdown from the 5 and 15 yard line, Sanchez twice found Brad Smith for a touchdown. Kellen Clemens on the other hand went 0-2 with an interception. Prior to the situational drills, Sanchez also hit Jerricho Cotchery with a 35 yard touchdown strike and Clemens was intercepted by backup DB Rashad Barksdale. Can anybody else read the writing on the walls? Unless Clemens lights it up on Monday night and Sanchez completely tanks or gets hurt, #6 will be under center for the first snap of every game in the 2009 season.

Up to this point both quarterbacks have been slightly inconsistent, trading good days with rough days and being overall pretty average. However, Sanchez is learning a new offense and adjusting to play at the NFL level. This is Kellen Clemens fourth year in the system and he hasn’t improved as camp went on. In fact, if you remember early on Clemens had a clear lead on Sanchez but slowly squandered it away. The rookie will take his lumps this year but should be able to stay healthy behind a premier (please stay healthy) offensive line and supported by a strong running game. In the long run, Sanchez will benefit from being thrown into the fire with a team that harbors playoff expectations. I believe he could play as well as Joe Flacco did last year and that he won’t impede the Jets from being a playoff contender.

What about the other training camp battles? We have had a strong camp by Chansi Stuckey, slowly being forgotten because of the recent resurgence of David Clowney who remains the Jets only legit home run threat at the position. Expect to see alot of Stuckey in the slot, with Clowney and Brad Smith (also quietly having a good camp) splitting out alongside Jerricho Cotchery. I expect the Jets to keep 6 receivers, with Wallace Wright and promising UDFA Britt Davis rounding out the depth chart.

Over at tight end, nobody has really stepped up behind Dustin Keller and I am still waiting for the Jets to bring in another veteran after roster cuts are made. Regardless, expect Jack Simmons and Wayne Hunter to see the majority of the #2 TE reps for now. At outside linebacker, neither Vernon Gholston or Marques Murrell has done anything that impressive this summer, with UDFA Jamaal Westerman arguably outplaying both of them. On the positive side, Bryan Thomas has had a very good camp and Calvin Pace looked like a beast in the Jets first pre-season game.

In terms of injuries, the Jets haven’t sustained anything major but rather a handful of minor injuries. As of right now, it doesn’t look like they will be missing anyone week one because of an injury. I would expect Darrelle Revis, Kris Jenkins, Tony Richardson, and maybe Alan Faneca to play in the third pre-season game and wouldn’t be surprised if Nick Mangold suited up on Monday.

Kerry Rhodes and Nick Mangold compete in throwing contests to prove who deserves the higher Madden rating: