It's The Quarterback, Stupid

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First a few updates:

1. David Harris is the only player who didn’t practice today. However, the Star-Ledger (http://www.nj.com/jets/index.ssf/2010/01/ny_jets_lb_david_harris_is_exp.html) reported that he is going to play on Saturday and that the sprain is only mild. Rex Ryan didn’t refute that report today. Obviously, this is very good news and I think we are all looking forward to David Harris introducing himself to Cedric Benson.

2. Punter Steve Weatherford was a full participant in practice today.

3. Good article on ESPN.com by Tim Graham on the impact of the Jets pass rush on opposing quarterbacks, along with Carson Palmer’s handling of the blitz all season. (http://espn.go.com/blog/afceast/post/_/id/8743/cincy-might-consider-riot-gear-for-jets-d).

4. The latest line I have seen on the Jets/Bengals game is Cincy at 2.5 favorites. The latest odds I have seen for the Jets winning the Super Bowl is 45 to 1, which is of course the lowest out of any NFL playoff team.

It’s The Quarterback, Stupid

The primary reason for the Jets ending the season winning 5 of their last 6 games was because they finally embraced their identity as a run first offense that was going to rely on their defense to win games. Mark Sanchez’s early season success led to Brian Schottenheimer embracing a more balanced approach and putting too much in his rookie’s hands too early, leading to losses against the Saints, Bills, Jaguars, and Patriots. It has been a weird ride for Sanchez this season, culminating with a 6/12 63 yards Wing-T high school quarterback stat line. I know the Jets are built on their running game and defense but they are going to need more than 63 yards from Mark Sanchez if they want to do any damage in these playoffs. Sanchez is easily the 12th best quarterback in these playoffs but if he could somehow duplicate his early season play for stretches of games, the Jets have enough talent around him to rip off a victory or two or maybe even three? I don’t want to push it. First, let’s run through the odd 2009 season of #6:

Week 1 At Houston: 18/31, 272 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT – Arguably Sanchez’s best all-around game of the season. He was unbelievable on third down in this game and showed good movement in the pocket, poise, and confidence.

Week 2 Vs New England: 14/22, 163 yards, 1 TD – If this wasn’t his best all-around game, it was his most impressive performance since he was going against Bill Belichick and outplayed Tom Brady. He protected the ball and elevated his play in the second half, including two beautiful passes to Jerricho Cotchery and a nice touchdown pass to Dustin Keller.

Week 3 Vs Tennessee: 17/30, 171 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT – Another good performance, although ball security issues began to surface in this game with the interception and a couple of fumbles. Sanchez also added a rushing touchdown this game.

Week 4 At New Orleans: 14/27, 138 yards, 3 INTs – Oh boy…Sanchez directly hands the Saints 14 points and basically costs the Jets a victory wasting a terrific performance by their defense.

Week 5 At Miami: 12/24, 172 yards, 1 TD – A good bounce-back performance, Sanchez threw the ball well down the field in this game. If he can play like this against the Bengals, the Jets will win.

Week 6 Vs Buffalo: 10/29, 119 yards, 5 INTs – I’m not sure I have ever seen a quarterback play a worse game.

Week 7 At Oakland: 9/15, 143 yards, 1 TD – Week one of the “stay the hell out of the way Sanchez” game plan. However, he played well and added a rushing touchdown.

Week 8 Vs Miami: 20/35, 265 yards, 2 TDs – Probably his best game of the year and the second half of this game was easily the best we have seen Sanchez all season. However, this was probably a bad thing because it led the Jets to give him too much freedom the following two weeks.

Week 10 Vs Jacksonville: 16/30, 212 yards, 1 TD, 2 INTs – Played a good fourth quarter but beyond that was pretty bad.

Week 11 At New England: 8/21, 136 yards, 1 TD, 4 INTs – The low point for the Jets season and Sanchez who regressed back to Buffalo game.

Week 12 Vs Carolina: 13/17, 154 yards, 1 INT – The color code system begins and the Jets embrace the “stay the hell out of the way Sanchez” game plan again…if you remove the INT, the Jets could win this Saturday with these numbers from Sanchez.

Week 13 At Buffalo: 7/15, 104 yards, 1 TD – The numbers don’t show it but Sanchez was playing well this game before he got hurt…don’t forget Braylon Edwards dropped an easy 80 yard touchdown pass this game.

Week 15 At Atlanta: 18/32, 226 yards, 1 TD, 3 INTs – Too many passes by Sanchez leads to too many turnovers.

Week 16 At Indy: 12/19, 106 yards – Stay out of the way Mark…although he made some key third down throws in this game.

Week 17 Vs Cincy: 6/12, 63 yards – He didn’t need to throw at all because of the Jets running all over the field…Edwards should have caught a 50 yard touchdown from him.

PhotobucketSo, what do the Jets need from Sanchez to beat the Bengals? They aren’t going to get away with 12 passes. Their offense needs to put Sanchez in third and shorts, which he has shown a decent ability to convert throughout the season. There are going to be opportunities for the Jets to hit big plays down the field and if he could hit one (and this is also on you to catch the damn ball Braylon) it will go a long way to a Jets victory. If Sanchez turns the ball over, the Jets don’t have a chance. Yes, maybe they could overcome one interception but beyond that, they aren’t good enough to win with Sanchez throwing two INTs and having a fumble. We need:

  1. A good third-down conversion rate (aided by the running game setting up third and short/medium).
  2. A big play down the field or at least some intermediate completions to soften the defense.
  3. No turnovers.

The weather is going to be crappy but if somehow Sanchez could duplicate his Monday night performance (12/24, 172 yards, 1 TD) the Jets will beat the Bengals. It may be asking too much for those numbers but the Jets could probably even survive with a 13/18, 130 yards, 1 TD type game. If Brian Schottenheimer is smart he will start Sanchez off with some quick screens to Cotchery and Edwards to get his confidence up, and then gradually move him to some slants/hitches. There is going to be a spot in this game when it is 2nd and 3 from the Bengals 47 yard line and they are going to have 8 in the box, and Sanchez is going to have hit a play down the field. When he is dropping back to throw that pass you want him to be 4/6 for 40 yards or something, not 1/7 for 2 yards with two near interceptions.

Could you imagine if Sanchez hopped in the time machine and played like he did back in weeks 1-3…that would be a scary, dangerous team in the playoffs. Why can’t he do that? Because this is the Jets and that would be too easy…instead we have to cross our fingers for a 55 completion percentage, 130 yards and no turnovers.

Mark Sanchez…Playing Like A Quarterback Who Could Win The Playoffs

Jets vs. Bengals First Look

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First a few updates:

1. David Harris and Steve Weatherford missed practice today. Harris is likely going to be a game-time decision, while I would expect Weatherford to play. James Ihedigbo left practice today with a stinger but did return. Thomas Jones and Tony Richardson were given the day off. The backup to David Harris, Ryan Fowler, was limited with a head injury and if for some reason he and Harris couldn’t play…Kenwin Cummings would start at inside linebacker.

2. Cedric Benson told the media today that he didn’t even know who David Harris was and that he doubted the Jets would struggle without him. Harris is the leading tackler on the Jets #1 ranked defense with 127 stops, along with 5.5 sacks and 2 interceptions. I wonder if Benson knows who Thomas Jones is? The guy he was drafted to replace in Chicago but could never beat out. The guy who despite being 5 years older than him finished with 151 more rushing yards and 8 more touchdowns than him this season and was able to stay healthy enough to play all 16 games, while Benson couldn’t.

3. Condolences to Jets owner Woody Johnson and his family. His daughter passed away yesterday.

4. How about Teddy Bruschi on ESPN saying that the Jets have the best chance to make the Super Bowl out of the two wild-card teams? I think he was trying to jinx them.

5. The Bengals are coming into the came 100 percent healthy with Chad Ochocinco, Chris Crocker, and Domata Peko all expected to start.

6. The Jets finished #12 in ESPN’s Power Rankings, not bad for a team that started the season as ranked #23.

7. Well we know how Jeffri Chadiha of ESPN feels about the Jets (http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/playoffs/2009/columns/story?columnist=chadiha_jeffri&id=4795473), then again this guy is picking Tony Romo to win three playoff games, so I wouldn’t be too worried.

Jets vs. Bengals First Look

Bengals Offensive Starters/Key Reserves

  • Quarterback: Carson Palmer – 282/466, 3094 yards, 60.5 completion percentage, 21 touchdowns, 13 interceptions, 83.6 QB Rating.
  • Running Back: Cedric Benson – 301 carries, 1251 yards, 4.2 yards per carry, 6 TD’s.
  • Third Down Back: Bernard Scott – 74 carries, 321 yards, 4.3 yards per carry.
  • Back-Up Running Back: Larry Johnson – 46 carries, 204 yards, 4.4 yards per carry.
  • Other Third Down Back: Brian Leonard – 27 carries, 84 yards, 3.1 yards per carry, 30 receptions, 217 yards
  • Fullback: Jeremi Johnson – 4 carries, 8 yards, 6 receptions, 41 yards.
  • #1 Receiver: Chad Ochocinco – 72 receptions, 1047 yards, 9 touchdowns.
  • #2 Receiver: Laveranues Coles – 43 receptions, 514 yards, 5 touchdowns.
  • #3 Receiver: Andre Caldwell – 51 receptions, 432 yards, 3 touchdowns.
  • #4 Receiver: Quan Cosby – 4 receptions, 55 yards
  • Tight End: J.P. Foschi – 27 receptions, 260 yards, 2 touchdowns
  • #2 Tight End: Daniel Coats – 16 receptions, 150 yards
  • Left Tackle: Andrew Whitworth
  • Left Guard: Nate Livings
  • Center: Kyle Cook
  • Right Guard: Bobbie Williams
  • Right Tackle: Dennis Roland

Bengals Defensive Starters/Key Reserves

  • Defensive End: Robert Geathers – 36 tackles, 3.5 sacks
  • Defensive Tackle: Domata Peko – 23 tackles
  • Defensive Tackle: Tank Johnson – 29 tackles, 2.0 sacks
  • Defensive End: Jonathan Fanene – 36 tackles, 6.0 sacks
  • Outside Linebacker: Rashad Jeanty – 20 tackles
  • Middle Linebacker: Dhani Jones – 113 tackles, 3.5 sacks
  • Outside Linebacker: Keith Rivers – 72 tackles, 1 sack
  • Corner: Leon Hall – 71 tackles, 6 INTs
  • Corner: Jonathan Joseph – 69 tackles, 6 INTs
  • Safety: Chris Crocker – 51 tackles, 2 INTs
  • Safety: Chinedum Ndukwe – 89 tackles, 1 INT

Special Teams

  • Kicker: Shayne Graham – 23/28 FGs, 28/29 PATs, (1 miss from 20-29 yards, 2 misses from 30-39 yards)
  • Punter: Kevin Huber – 43.2 yards per punt
  • Kick Return: Bernard Scott – 1 return touchdown, 31.5 average
  • Punt Return: Quan Cosby – 11.9 per return.

PhotobucketOffense – The Bengals offense is built like the Jets offense, which means they live by the run. Carson Palmer isn’t an elite quarterback anymore but still had a good overall season. He can be relied on to make some plays if the running game is slowed down, yet the Bengals are weak at wide receiver. Chad Ochocinco isn’t going to be a factor this week, I can promise you that and beyond him the Bengals have nothing at receiver. Laveraneus Coles is washed up and Andre Caldwell is average. They also don’t have a pass catching threat at tight end. Cedric Benson has been very good this year and Brian Leonard has made plays for them on third downs. However, I have a tough time seeing Benson gashing the Jets defense. Honestly, I would be shocked if the Bengals scored more than 17 points unless Sanchez turns the ball over.

Defense – Cincy has been very strong against the run all season. However, they are now missing linebacker Rey Maualuga which will have a negative impact on them. The Jets are going to run the ball, regardless of how many people the Bengals put in the box. I am sure Cincy has spent plenty of time on Brad Smith this week in practice and they should expect more of him this week. The Bengals have two very good corners and talent at safety as well. Mark Sanchez has to be careful against their secondary because there isn’t going to be a ton of space for Braylon Edwards and Jerricho Cotchery to work with.

Special Teams – I am very worried about Bernard Scott ripping off a kick return touchdown against us this week. However, keep an eye on Brad Smith on our kick return unit because he has been improving all season. I think we have an advantage at the kicker position.

Well They Couldn’t Beat Oakland

Final TOJ NFL Rankings & Other Thoughts on Regular Season/Jets vs. Bengals

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First a few updates:

Note: This terrific picture above was created by JetsFan_MD and posted on www.jetsinsider.com. Considering my two favorite things in the world are the Jets and the TV show LOST…this is about as good as it gets for me.

1. Rex Ryan didn’t sound too confident about David Harris practicing this week with his sprained ankle. He may end up being a game time decision. Ryan Fowler would step in, although he had a head injury apparently so he could be replaced by Kenwin Cummings…ut-oh.

2. Ryan didn’t say anything else too notable in his press conference. He was pretty low key and respectful of the Bengals, which is the right approach to take. However, he did affirm that the Jets goal is to make the Super Bowl and that they aren’t just happy to be in the playoffs.

3. Not too much love from Mike Francesa on WFAN today, who didn’t give the Jets much credit for last night. He did say he thought they had a decent shot to win on Saturday but he seemed more anxious to talk about Jason Bay or John Mara…you have to love how salty Giants fans are today.

4. Yes, of course there will be a playoff edition of TOJ TV coming this week. I am also trying to set up a question exchange with the Bengals FanBall blogger.

5. In case you are curious, I have insane amounts of free time on my hands this week since I am on winter break and all my friends work full time (you know because they enjoy having money, unlike me who would rather accumulate student loan debt), so yes this web-site and the facebook page will be updated so much that you will be fully convinced I have no life…oh well.

Final TOJ NFL Rankings & Other Thoughts on Regular Season/Wild-Card Weekend

Long title, right? Now, I am not one to pat myself on the back but check out (http://turnonthejets.com/2009/09/07/2009-nfl-predictions/):

  • I picked 5 out of 6 AFC playoff teams right, my only miss was on the Bengals winning the North (I picked Pittsburgh). My wild-card picks? Jets and Ravens.
  • I picked the Dolphins (7-9), Titans (8-8), Browns (5-11), and Jacksonville (7-9) record correctly and missed by one game on Denver, Buffalo, Chiefs, and Chargers.
  • I picked 4 out of 6 NFC playoff teams right, my only misses were on the Saints (yikes) and Cowboys. I had the G-Men (ha) and Falcons in the playoffs.
  • I picked the Cardinals (10-6) record correctly and missed by one game on the Eagles, Packers, Bears, and Lions.
  • Just for reference I picked a San Diego/Philly Super Bowl.

Just call me young Nostradamus. Better pay attention to my playoff picks.

And then check out (http://turnonthejets.com/2009/09/07/40-predictions-for-2009-new-york-jets-season/) and see how many Jets specific things I missed including gems on Mark Sanchez’s stats, Lito Sheppard’s INT total, Vernon Gholston’s sack total, and plenty more.

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Final TOJ NFL Rankings

  1. Indianapolis Peyton Mannings (14-2) Going into the playoffs on a 2 game losing streak (by their backups).
  2. San Diego Chargers (13-3) Going into the playoffs on a 11 game winning streak…watch out.
  3. New Orleans Saints (13-3) Going into playoffs on a 3 game losing streak…ut oh.
  4. Minnesota Vikings (12-4) You can bet I will be rooting against them.
  5. Dallas Cowboys (11-5) Need a playoff win in the worst way.
  6. Green Bay Packers (11-5) Very dangerous team.
  7. Philadelphia Eagles (11-5) They are better than they showed last week.
  8. Arizona Cardinals (10-6) Risky to sleep on them after last year.
  9. New England Patriots (10-6) Too bad about Wes Welker’s injury (and I am being serious, no matter how much I hate him and New England you never want to see anyone get hurt, especially somebody as good as him).
  10. Cincinnati Bengals (10-6) Well at least they are going in with some momentum, right?
  11. Baltimore Ravens (9-7) They can run and play defense, which  means they are dangerous.
  12. New York Jets (9-7) They can run and play defense better than anybody in the NFL, which means they are dangerous.
  13. Pittsburgh Steelers (9-7) Too little, too late for the defending champs.
  14. Houston Texans (9-7) They can thank Kris Brown for missing the playoffs.
  15. Tennessee Titans (8-8) 8-2 over their last 10 games.
  16. Atlanta Falcons (9-7) Two straight winning seasons for the dirty birds.
  17. Miami Dolphins (7-9) Have fun sitting at home.
  18. Jacksonville Jaguars (7-9) Not a bad year for a young team.
  19. Denver Broncos (8-8) They should be embarrassed.
  20. Carolina Panthers (8-8) Strong finish with Matt Moore at QB.
  21. New York Giants (8-8) Embarrassed themselves the past two weeks and final 11 games for that matter.
  22. San Francisco 49ers (8-8) Only .500 because they get to play the Seahawks or Rams 4 games a year.
  23. Chicago Bears (7-9) They felt worse than 7-9. Jay Cutler stunk the joint up.
  24. Cleveland Browns (5-11) Finished the season on a 4 game winning streak…go Mangini.
  25. Oakland Raiders (5-11) All they do is beat playoff teams…and lose to everyone else.
  26. Buffalo Bills (6-10) Consistently mediocre.
  27. Washington Redskins (4-12) And so ends the Jim Zorn era.
  28. Kansas City Chiefs (4-12) I guess Matt Cassell isn’t a franchise quarterback.
  29. Seattle Seahawks (5-11) The most irrelevant team in the NFL this year.
  30. Tampa Bay Bucs (3-13) Showed some fight occasionally.
  31. Detroit Lions (2-14) A two game improvement from last year.
  32. St. Louis Rams (1-15) Well then…

Some final Regular Season Observations

PhotobucketDo you think Jim Zorn just had Bruce Springsteen playing into his headset during the second half of the season?…I know the Giants fired their defensive coordinator today but when you allowed 40+ points every week, the problem goes beyond the coaching…Denver was 8-4 the past two years and both times lost out to miss the playoffs, cough cough…At least Jason Taylor can now get an early jump on next season of Dancing With the Stars…The 49ers are Texans are between 7-9 and 9-7 every year and then picked to make the jump by all the experts for the following season, only they just go 8-8 again and miss the playoffs, I look forward to this repeating again next year…My favorite non-Jets regular season games – Steelers vs. Titans opening night, Colts vs. Patriots on Sunday night, Saints vs. Patriots on Monday night, Dallas vs. Giants on Sunday night in week two, Saints vs. Redskins, Denver vs. Patriots, Ravens vs. Chargers, Titans vs. Texans on Monday night, Titans vs. Cardinals.

Bye Bye Miami

Beautiful Night At The Meadowlands: Jets Heading To Playoffs

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I just got back from the Meadowlands and have finally got feeling in my hands again, allowing me to type this article. Simply put tonight was a complete and utter beatdown. The Bengals played their starters the entire first half minus Cedric Benson and were beat 27-0. Carson Palmer went 1/11 for 0 yards with an interception. Chad Ochocinco was obviously shut down by Darrelle Revis (like we didn’t see that coming) he also had two drops and was flattened by Kerry Rhodes over the middle.

I love how bitter the rest of the NFL is about the Jets making the playoffs. Bengals fans making excuses, saying Cincy lost on purpose because they wanted to avoid playing the Texans? The Texans?! You remember them right, their quarterback was nearly in tears when the Jets shredded them up back in week one. Dolphins fans are wiping their tears away over their 7-9 record (which I brilliantly predicted, along with a Jets playoff berth in the pre-season). I love how Jason Taylor left for a year, they made the playoffs, he comes back and they are back to being mediocre and sitting home in January. Steelers fans are crying, like they earned a playoff spot by losing to the Chiefs, Browns, and Raiders.

The bottom line is that Cincy tried to compete tonight in the first half and they were steamrolled by the Jets. Can I get me some Brad Smith? The Jets “tiger” formation ripped apart the Bengals, as Smith had 92 rushing yards and a touchdown. Thomas Jones added 78 more yards with two touchdowns and Shonn Greene chipped in 62 yards on 4.8 yards per carry. Their defense allowed one completion in the first half and shut down the running game, along with pulling an interception (Dwight Lowery). Mark Sanchez had only one stat that matter…zero turnovers.

You would have to be stupid to think the Bengals confidence isn’t somewhat shaken by tonight’s game. But, I really look forward to the whole world to picking Cincy to beat the Jets on Saturday…I do. They are already 4 point favorites and can I already see all the NFL experts penciling in a Bengals victory, don’t worry I will be keeping track of them all week.

It is playoff time, which means it is time to put in work around here. One article a day isn’t going to cut it, so look for two a days starting tomorrow. You are going to be able to right a thesis on the Jets/Bengals match-up by the end of the week, along with all the other wild-card games. I will be tracking all of the coverage and all the disrespect from the national media, that will hopefully be motivating the team this week and of course be doing plenty of gloating tomorrow to Giants and Dolphins fans.

In the end, the team with a rookie quarterback and rookie head coach is playoff bound. The team that lost Kris Jenkins and Leon Washington still found a way to get it done.  After the 37-0 beatdown was over, my two cousins and I walked out savoring one of the few great moments we got to enjoy as Jets fans. I drove away from the stadium still covered in confetti. It was more than likely the last game I will ever attend in Giants Stadium, a building that I have been coming to Jets games in since I was 4 years old and a building that I won a high school state championship win (LL ’05 I see you). As I took off down Route 3, I turned up the Rex Ryan press conference, looked in my rear view and saw the Empire State building brightly lit in a nice shade of Jets green, and just smiled to myself…picture me rolling.

By the way, the Jets are playing at 4:30 this Saturday in the playoffs does anyone know what time the Giants or Dolphins are playing? Anyone? I can’t seem to find this information anywhere.

It Is Good To Be Back: Jets Prepare For Win and In Sunday Night

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First a few updates (or more accurately a little background):

1. What a day. I returned from Italy at about 3 PM today. Somehow I successfully went my entire vacation without finding out a single word about the Jets/Colts game and the wait proved to be well worth it. During week 16 I happened to stumble into a bar in Venice around 9:30 PM which was playing the 4th quarter of the Ravens/Steelers game. I sat down…Houston beat Miami? New England beat Jacksonville? The Steelers were going to hold off the Ravens? The Giants lost 41-9 to Carolina? The football gods were clearly smiling on the Jets.

I somehow communicated to the bartender a question about which game was on next, he grabbed the remote and showed Jets/Colts with a 10:15 PM kickoff. I thought about it…I could sit there until 1:30 AM, scare all the Italians in the place by pacing around the bar like a maniac during the game, and likely be disappointed by a season ending loss, have to get up 6 AM the next day for touring the rest of the trip and be in a bad mood for the next 4 days. I decided against it, I left and went back to my hotel room. I tried to sleep, but I couldn’t. I tried counting hypothetical Mark Sanchez interceptions in my head, but I still toss and turned all night wondering what the hell was going on.

PhotobucketThe next day on the tour bus, somebody in our group tried to offer me an American newspaper with all the NFL scores in it. I took it…folded it up and threw out at our next stop. I instructed my family to wait it out and that nobody was allowed to find out the score…we were waiting until we made it back to Ringwood. Somehow I made it back without hearing anything. I saw a guy in a huge Colts jacket in Florence and my Dad started up a J-E-T-S chant to gauge his reaction but he kept walking, while people gawked at us.

Anyway, I got back today to a VHS copy of the game. I sat down with my family (which I is something I never do, I prefer my Jets suffering in solitude) and promised if they somehow won, dinner was on me tonight. Well it was the best 40 dollars I ever spent on some local takeout…because the Jets are playing the day after tomorrow for a playoff spot on Sunday night football…who would have thought?

It Is Good To Be Back: Jets Prepare For Win and In Sunday Night

Some scattered observations as I try to get my stuff together before unpacking and then heading off to a full day of tailgating for the Jets/Bengals game on Sunday (just bought my ticket).

1. On Jets/Colts – Very weird game. The timing of the Colts starters being benched seemed off to me. I am not sure why a 15-10 score inspired it but believe me I didn’t relax until the clock was 0:00. I was waiting for Manning to come back in down 21-15 and even 29-15 to lead a comeback and yes if a Colts starter or a fan, I would be royally pissed.

2. All the critics of the Jets (which I have caught up on the past few days) and how they have a chance to make the playoffs…cry me an ‘effin river. This is a franchise that never receives any type of break or luck and finally got one, took advantage of it and now has a chance to close out Giants Stadium the proper way (not by being humiliated by a 6-8 team by 32 points…owch G-Men). I am sorry but who deserves the AFC wild card more than the Jets? The Broncos and their 2-7 record after their 6-0 start? The Steelers and their three straight losses to the Chiefs, Browns, and Raiders? Trust me Lamar Woodley nobody is scared to play a defense that lets Bruce Gradkowski drive down the field in their building for a win. The Dolphins who choked against the Titans and Texans the past two weeks? Ha! The Jaguars who didn’t even get off the bus in New England for their week 16 game? The Texans who were embarrassed by the Jets in their building?

The Jets have the league’s #1 ranked defense and #1 ranked running game, why don’t they deserve a shot to play for a playoff spot?

3. I thought Mark Sanchez played well in a big spot. Not great…but he protected the football and made some tough throws on third downs and converted both two-point conversions. How about our other rookie Shonn Greene stepping up with 95 big yards? The Jets are obviously going to be extremely run heavy the rest of the way so Greene needs to keep it up to support TJ.

4. Brad Smith’s kick return couldn’t have come a better time. It gave the Jets the shot of the confidence they needed and obviously needed points because our offense still can only score about 10 a game. Calvin Pace is quietly putting together another very good year and Marques Douglas has been a big upgrade over Kenyon Coleman.

5. I think the back and forth between Revis and Ochocinco has been entertaining as hell. They are friends and will provide a great match-up to watch Sunday night. You think Revis is going to allow Ochocinco to do his O-C-H-O chant in our end-zone? I think not.

6. Speaking of Revis, congrats to him, Nick Mangold, and Alan Faneca for making the pro-bowl. David Harris and Brandon Moore also deserved a spot on the roster.

7. I am pretty confident New England will play their starters and beat the Texans, locking the Bengals in to the #4 seed. I wouldn’t be shocked to Cincy backups in the second half but honestly remain confident even if the Jets see their starters the whole game. Maybe that is crazy but I like the Jets on Sunday in a low scoring, defensive battle and if they do win…trust me that I am going to like them the following week in Cincy during wild-card weekend.

Photobucket8. I like how the Jets match-up with the Bengals offense, which has struggled throwing the ball all season and lacks big play capability. The front seven is good enough to slow down Cedric Benson and Revis can take care of Ochocinco. Carson Palmer isn’t very mobile which will aid the Jets pass rush and while Laveranues Coles (haven’t had to type that name in awhile) will get his catches on Lito “toast” Sheppard, he won’t kill the Jets with big plays. The Jets offense will have a tough time throwing on a strong Bengals secondary but if they lean on TJ, Greene and a short passing game that allows Braylon, Cotchery, and Keller to run after the catch they could be alright.

9. Stats and game highlights are updated…better later than never.

10. I hope to see you at the stadium on Sunday…let’s send it off the right way.

11. Only a Jets win could give me the energy to write this at 2 AM with extreme amounts of Jet lag.

We Have to Run This Town Sunday Night

Off to Italy: Jets vs. Colts/Week 16 Predictions

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First off, Merry Christmas everybody. I am about to head off to the airport for 7 nights back in the old homeland where my forefathers likely rooted for the worst soccer team in the country and passed that tradition down to me as a Jets fan when my family came to America. If you never see this blog updated again, it is likely I pulled a Michael Corleone found my Apollonia and will be settling down as a simple grape farmer in the hills of Italy, with no concerns about rookie quarterbacks, graduate school, playoff scenarios, or student loans. However, in the more likely case I will return a week from today to write about Jets/Colts which I will be viewing on DVD and the upcoming Jets/Bengals game.

I don’t expect to be coming home for a meaningful week 17 game but I can keep up some bizarre hope the next 7 days. I will be rocking my brand new white Titans Darrelle Revis jersey as a final show of support on the plane today. What do I think will happen in week 16 while I am paddling down the canals of Venice?

1. I think the Jets will put a good fight but ultimately fall short to the Colts 27-17. I expect most of the Colts key players to play the bulk of the game and that should be enough for them to get a victory. The defense will play well but in the end Peyton Manning will be too much and Mark Sanchez won’t make enough plays for the Jets to get a victory.

2. I think the Miami Dolphins will beat the Houston Texans fairly easily and set themselves up to be playing for a playoff spot in week 17…yuck.

3. I think the Titans will knock off the Chargers tonight to keep their slim playoff hopes alive.

4. I think the Steelers will win a close one over the Ravens, muddling the AFC playoff picture even further.

5. I think New England will beat Jacksonville and wrap up the AFC East.

6. I think the Bengals will beat Kansas City and wrap up the AFC North.

7. I think Dallas will hold off Washington and the Giants will beat Carolina keeping the NFC race interesting for another week.

And with that…I’m off to Italy.

Jets vs. Colts: Game Breakdown

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First a few updates:

1. The Jets announced their team awards today: Darrelle Revis was the team MVP (no-brainer), Thomas Jones won the Dennis Byrd Award for most inspirational player, D’Brickashaw Ferguson won the Marty Lyons Award for his off the field work, and David Harris won the Ed Block Courage Award.

2. The Jets appear to be 100 percent healthy heading into the Colts game, with backup offensive lineman/tight end Robert Turner returning from injury.

3. How about those Knicks? 11-17? They have been bad enough the past ten years that I am excited about a 11-17 record. Quick shout out to my friend Dan who is still an adamant Nets fan despite them just losing to the Timberwolves to fall to 2-28…yikes. Don’t worry Dan, you can keep voting for Brook Lopez for the all-star game 28 times a day to counter all those losses. At least the Cowboys will probably choke and allow the Giants to get in the playoffs so you can watch me suffer through another year of watching them playing in January, while the Jets head off on their yearly vacation.

4. Here’s hoping Santa brings the following to the Jets: Better hands for Shonn Greene and Braylon Edwards, the ability to read a defense for Mark Sanchez, the ability to compose an intelligent game-plan for Brian Schottenheimer, the ability to impersonate Darrelle Revis for Lito Shepppard and Donald Strickland, the ability to become a NFL player for Vernon Gholston, and the ability to become a holder for Kellen Clemens.

Jets vs. Colts: Game Breakdown

Offense: The Jets need to hold the ball and gain a significant advantage in time of possession. Thomas Jones and the Jets running game needs to prove they are the league’s best rushing attack by chewing up clock and taking the pressure off Mark Sanchez. However, Sanchez is going to have to protect the football, as in zero turnovers and convert some short throws to keep the chains moving. Can the Jets complete a screen pass? Thomas Jones has 9 catches this season and Shonn Greene has zero. Dustin Keller hasn’t caught a screen since week one. The Jets need to find a short passing game that can substitute for a running game occasionally.

I don’t want Sanchez taking shots down the field. The Colts have an opportunistic defense and will make big plays. I want to see Sanchez go 14/18 for 150 yards with zero turnovers. Thomas Jones and Shonn Greene will have to do the heavy lifting and be the guys who put the ball in the end-zone. You would figure for the Jets to have a chance they are going to need at least 24 points and some of those are going to probably have to come from their defense or special teams.

PhotobucketDefense: The league’s #1 ranked defense, who can’t seem to find a stop when it matters most is going to have to play the game of their lives. I have faith in Darrelle Revis to do his job on Reggie Wayne. I have faith in the Jets front seven in slowing down the Colts anemic running game. What I am worried about is Lito Sheppard, Donald Strickland, and Kerry Rhodes matching up with Pierre Garcon, Austin Collie, and of course Dallas Clark. Beyond that, I am worried about the Jets getting to Peyton Manning. The Jets are a defense that need to blitz to get pressure and Manning is the type of quarterback who makes teams pay for coming after him.

The Jets need sacks and turnovers to win this game. They need a defensive touchdown or the defense to at least set up easy points for the offense. Manning has to be hit early and often. They need to have Jim Caldwell considering pulling Manning because he is hitting the turf too many times.

Special Teams: The Jets must win this third of the game. They need to make all their field goals, create a big play with a return or fake punt and avoid allowing the Colts any cheap big plays on special teams.

I Think A Major Upset Over the Colts Every 40 Years Is Reasonable

Jets Playoff Pipe Dream: Week 16 Viewing Guide

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First a few updates:

1. The Jets brought in former Bengals running back Chris Perry for a workout. I am not sure what the motivation is behind looking at him. Obviously, with Leon returning from an injury, Thomas Jones being at the end of his contract, and Shonn Greene having fumbling problems, running back will be an interesting position to watch this off-season.

2. I am really enjoying the diva Brett Favre revealing himself to be the selfish player he is. When the Jets don’t make the playoffs, you can bet I will be rooting for an early exit for the Vikings. Imagine the media storm that would rain down on a different player, if they refused to come out of the game when their coach pulled them?

Jets Playoff Pipe Dream: Week 16 Viewing Guide

Ignorance is going to be bliss for me in week 16. This Friday I will be leaving for Italy and not returning until the following Friday. I will have my cell phone off and no access to computers, which will allow me to walk around for a whole week with the bizarre hope that everything broke the Jets way in week 16 and they will be playing for a playoff spot in week 17. When I return from the airport, I will have a DVD copy of the game waiting for me, then watch it and then look over all the week 16 scores.

Are the Jets still alive as of today? For some off reason…yes. Basically, here is what the Jets need:

  • The Jets must beat both Indy and Cincy.
  • Jacksonville must lose 1 of their last 2 (against New England or Cleveland).
  • Denver must lose 1 of their last 2 (against Philly or Kansas City).
  • Miami must lose 1 of their last 2 (against Houston or Pittsburgh).

Under this scenario, the Jets and Ravens would make the playoffs.

New York Jets (7-7) at Indianapolis Colts (14-0) – The playoff pipe dream likely comes to end when the Jets travel to Indianapolis to the face the undefeated Colts. I would expect the Colts starters to play most of the game and if it is close, to play the entire game. The Jets simply don’t have enough offense to win this game, unless Mark Sanchez finally decides to play like a NFL quarterback.

Jacksonville Jaguars (7-7) At New England Patriots (9-5) – We need our old friends in New England to take care of the Jaguars because in the scenario where the Jets beat Indy, you don’t want to be relying on Eric Mangini and the Browns to beat Jacksonville in week 17.

Denver Broncos (8-6) At Philadelphia Eagles (10-4) – The Eagles have been red-hot and should be able to handle the fading Broncos, who are only 2-6 after their 6-0 start.

Houston Texans (7-7) At Miami Dolphins (7-7) – I think if the Dolphins lose one of their final two, it will be the following week against Pittsburgh but there is no reason not to root for the Texans to knock them out this week.

Baltimore Ravens (8-6) At Pittsburgh Steelers (7-7) – The Jets have a tie breaker with Pittsburgh but not with Baltimore so root for the defending champs, who we will also need to beat Miami in week 17.

So your saying there’s a chance?

NFL Week 15 Recap/Jets vs. Colts First Look

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First a few updates:

1. I really enjoyed Rex Ryan completely changing his tune in his Monday press conference…pretty funny stuff going from the “we are completely done..we suck” to the “hey are probably we going to the playoffs and we are going to fight like hell” attitude.

2. The game highlights section has been updated.

AFC East Observations

New England Patriots – I have had enough of hearing the Tom Brady/Randy Moss/New England storylines. Why does the 10thbest team in the NFL get the most coverage? Randy Moss didn’t dominate on Sunday, he had 70 yards receiving. Tom Brady went 11/23 for 115 yards with a INT…wow pro bowl stuff right there. The only reason New England won’t be one and done in the playoffs is because the NFL has already penciled them in to the Saturday night wild card game and they are planning to dump 19 feet of snow on the field. I can already see something like Jacksonville vs New England on Saturday night in a blizzard with the Pats running it up.

Miami Dolphins – Tough loss for the Dolphins who have decided to join the Jets in mediocrity at 7-7, thanks to their quarterback throwing three interceptions. I don’t see Miami getting in the playoffs, but if they do and play in New England in the first round, I will be watching LOST re-runs instead of that game.

Buffalo Bills – Why waste article space on this horrific franchise?

Other NFL Observations

How does Denver lose a game of that importance at home to Oakland? They are like the Jets with the December meltdowns…I am thinking Kansas City is regretting that Matt Cassell trade…Watch out, the Cleveland Browns are on a two game winning streak…The Giants/Redskins game was one of the least competitive football games I have ever seen…Yes, I am really enjoying the meltdown Minnesota is about to have, they are going to play themselves right into a first round exit, nice.

TOJ NFL Power Rankings (Only teams with a playoff pulse are ranked, no matter how weak that pulse is)

  1. Indianapolis Peyton Mannings (14-0) – Rest is always a good decision Jim Caldwell.
  2. San Diego Chargers (11-3) – Looking forward to that Colts/Chargers AFC title game.
  3. New Orleans Saints (13-1) – Still can’t believe they lost to Dallas.
  4. Philadelphia Eagles (10-4) – Desean Jackson is a beast.
  5. Minnesota Vikings (11-3) – I guess Favre is the coach and the quarterback now, which will make it double sweet when their playoff run flames out.
  6. Arizona Cardinals (9-5) – Life is easy in the NFC West.
  7. Green Bay Packers (9-5) – Where Defensive POY Charles Woodson during those 503 passing yards?
  8. Cincinnati Bengals (9-5) – Better effort than I expected in San Diego.
  9. Dallas Cowboys (9-5) – Biggest win of Tony Romo’s career last Saturday night.
  10. New England Patriots (9-5) – Another AFC East title.
  11. Baltimore Ravens (8-6) – Huge game coming up in Pittsburgh.
  12. Tennessee Titans (7-7) – Won 7 of their last 8.
  13. New York Giants (8-6) – Still breathing in the NFC wild card race.
  14. Denver Broncos (8-6) – Lost to Oakland…really? About to lose in Philly.
  15. Jacksonville Jaguars (7-7) – Don’t see them winning in New England.
  16. Pittsburgh Steelers (7-7) – Huge game versus Ravens.
  17. Miami Dolphins (7-7) – Should handle Houston at home.
  18. New York Jets (7-7) – Received all the help in the world and couldn’t capitalize.
  19. Houston Texans (7-7) – The bottom of all the 7-7 teams.

Jets/Colts First Look

This whole thing comes down to how much the Colts starters will play. I expect the Jets to blitz the crap out of Manning in the first quarter and try to get some shots on him to convince Jim Caldwell to pull him, yet Manning coaches the team anyway so it might not matter. Can’t you see the Jets beating the Colts backups 20-10 in the fourth quarter, running their mouths like they always do, pissing Peyton Manning off who then decides to check himself back in and lead his team to a 24-20 victory? I can. Realize this, if the Colts starters play the whole game, the Jets can’t win.

Grading Out Jets/Falcons Game

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First a few updates:

1. I’m not going to get on Rex Ryan for thinking the Jets were mathematically eliminated from the playoffs after yesterday’s game. Who could figure out this AFC mess, where somehow the Jets still remain within reasonable distance of a playoff spot? I spent an hour today messing with that Yahoo playoff generator and it is scary how alive the Jets still are…of course all scenarios involve them winning football games, a difficult task for a team with a choke artist defense, a terrible quarterback, and no kicking game…well maybe that was harsh but I am still bitter from yesterday.

2. Here is some more bitterness…glad to see Chad Henne throw three picks and blow the game for Miami in OT…tired of seeing the Randy Moss “silence his critics and is still dominant” story angle, the guy had 5 catches for 70 yards against Buffalo…the Buffalo Bills who haven’t made the playoffs since I was in like 6th grade. There I got my shots in on all the AFC East teams.

3. The stats have been updated…20 interceptions…yes 20.

Grading Out Jets/Falcons Game…quick and sarcastic version

Quarterbacks (F) – Well at least he only threw 3 interceptions, not 4 like against New England or 5 like against Buffalo. Why not throw 3 picks against the worst secondary in football? Mark…there is safeties on a defense…they play over the top, they are the guys who keep stepping in and intercepting your passes. This isn’t a USC September game against Oregon State…oh wait, never mind you lost to them too.

Running Backs (C) – Tough day for Thomas Jones who gets a pass because he has been great all year…obviously the unsportsmanlike penalty is unacceptable. Shonn Greene was also quiet. You have a better chance of seeing Mark Sanchez making a Pro Bowl than seeing Danny Woodhead break a tackle.

Wide Receivers (B) – Great day from Braylon who is earning that new contract. Cotchery did his job as usual. Brad Smith is starting to play well on a weekly basis.

The Tight Ends are too irrelevant on this offense to be assigned a grade.

Offensive Line (D) – One of their worst games of the year…the penalty on Alan Faneca at the end of the game was a terrible call however.

Defensive Line (C) – Good job against the run but zero sacks….and zero snowballs thrown by Shaun Ellis.

Linebackers (C) – Nobody has talked more trash on a more average team than Bart Scott. Bryan Thomas has done his best Vernon Gholston impression most of the season.

Secondary (B) – Darrelle Revis is as good as it gets but if he has one thing to improve on, it is catching the football. Kerry Rhodes played his best game of the season.

Special Teams (F) – Kellen Clemens would a great holder/#3 quarterback in the USFL.

Coaching (F) – Do I need to explain?

Jets “Highlights”