New York Jets: Can Somebody Cover The Damn Tight End?

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A big reason the Jets pass defense has struggled so much this season (they are currently ranked 20thin the NFL) has been their inability to stop opposing team’s tight ends. The overwhelming bulk of this blame falls on safeties Jim Leonhard, Eric Smith, and Brodney Pool, who are all having disappointing seasons on the defensive side of the football.

First off, here is a quick run through of what opposing team’s tight ends have done to the Jets this year –

  • Week 1 – Todd Heap – 6 receptions, 72 yards
  • Week 2 – Aaron Hernandez – 6 receptions, 101 yards
  • Week 3– Anthony Fasano – 2 receptions, 14 yards, 1 TD
  • Week 4 – David Nelson – 4 receptions, 75 yards/David Martin – 1 reception, 4 yards, 1 TD
  • Week 9– Brandon Pettigrew – 3 receptions, 18 yards, 1 TD/Tony Scheffler – 2 receptions, 22 yards
  • Week 10 – Benjamin Watson – 5 receptions, 74 yards

So while it appeared the Jets had solved this problem with a three game streak of shutting down the tight end against Minnesota, Denver, and Green Bay, the problem has now reappeared. Teams aren’t hesitating to throw on the Jets safeties and with good reason.

Jim Leonhard has been scrappy as usual and good in run support. Yet he only has 2 passes defensed and 0 interceptions. It is difficult for him to match-up on most tight ends because of his height. Eric Smith has 1 pass defensed and 0 interceptions. Both have been called on numerous pass interference and illegal contact penalties this season. Brodney Pool does have 5 passes defensed and an interception (back in week 2) but doesn’t seem to be around the football enough, with only 22 tackles.

One the pieces that is still missing in Rex Ryan’s defense is a big time, playmaking safety.

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TOJ NFL Power Rankings: Week 11

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It’s that time of the week again, as always feel free to express your feelings on my stupidity:

1. Atlanta Falcons (7-2) – An impressive win for Atlanta over Baltimore. Matt Ryan and Roddy White are playing at a high enough level to be considered the favorite in the NFC…for this week.

2. New York Jets (7-2) – How could you have them over New England after the Patriots just handled the Steelers in Pittsburgh, you homer? Here is how: the Jets beat New England by 14 and a week after Cleveland beat the Patriots by 23, the Jets went into Cleveland and beat them, and if you look at the stats, you saw that the Jets actually dominated Cleveland.

3. New England Patriots (7-2) – I don’t know what is going on with that hair but you have to respect the fire Tom Brady was playing with Sunday night. The annual classic between him and Peyton Manning is up next.

4. The Mike Vick Show (6-3) – Overreaction? Nobody is beating the Eagles in the NFC if Mike Vick keeps playing at this level.

5. Baltimore Ravens (6-3) – They can take out all their anger on the Panthers this weekend.

6. Pittsburgh Steelers (6-3) – It looks like they are back to abandoning the running game too soon and having more struggles than expected on defense.

7. New Orleans Saints (6-3) – It will be interesting to see if the Saints can regain their Super Bowl form entirely out of the bye week.

8. Green Bay Packers (6-3) – Time to send Brett Favre into retirement.

9. Indiannapolis Peyton Mannings (6-3) – It will be beyond impressive if Peyton Manning can lead this group of Colts to a victory in New England.

10. New York Giants (6-3) – A swift punch back to reality for the Giants, who are banged up and can’t protect the football. Good luck defending Vick in Philadelphia this weekend if you can’t stop Jon Kitna.

11. Oakland Raiders (5-4) – They can make quite a statement with a victory over the Steeleers this weekend.

12. Tampa Bay Bucs (6-3) – They win the games they are supposed to, which is saying alot in the NFL this season.

13. Chicago Bears (6-3) – Do us a favor and take care of the Dolphins and their third string quarterback this Thursday night.

14. Miami Dolphins (5-4) – I can’t see them sticking around the playoff race much longer with Tyler Thigpen under center.

15. Tennessee Titans (5-4) – Randy Moss…all he does is lose.

16. San Diego Chargers (4-5) – The AFC West is there for the taking and they have to be the favorite with the way Phillip Rivers is playing.

17. Jacksonville Jaguars (5-4) – I just don’t know how this team is 5-4…oh wait, they won a game on a hail mary and a 59 yard field goal

18. Kansas City Chiefs (5-4) – It looks like things are starting to fade fast for one of the surprise teams in the first half of the season.

19. Seattle Seahawks (5-4) – Well, they can beat the other crappy teams in their division.

20. Houston Texans (4-5) – Oh, you are surprised everybody overrated Houston this pre-season and they can’t meet expectations?

21. Cleveland Browns (3-6) – If they were in the NFC West, they might be 6-3.

22. St. Louis Rams (4-5) – It will be interesting to see how this young team hangs with Atlanta at home this weekend.

23. San Francisco 49ers (3-6) – The NFC West…where 3-6 and Troy Smith make you a legitimate contender for the playoffs.

24. Washington Redskins (4-5) – Nothing like allowing the old 59 spot at home to drop down the rankings.

25. Denver Broncos (3-6) – Where did that beat-down come from?

26. Cincinnati Bengals (2-7) – Carson Palmer couldn’t be any further from a franchise quarterback right now, unless he was Derek Anderson.

27. Arizona Cardinals (3-6) – Larry Fitzgerald must be counting the seconds until he can get the hell out of Arizona.

28. Dallas Cowboys (2-7) – Amazing what happens when you put a little effort forward.

29. Minnesota Vikings (3-6)  – I can’t take much more of Brett Favre asking himself questions and then answering them in his press conferences.

30. Buffalo Bills (1-8) – Got one!

31. Detroit Lions (2-7) – I guess we can stop with the talk that Detroit is better than their record. They are just another crappy Lions team.

32. Carolina Panthers (1-8) – It could get out of hand versus Baltimore by the time they step off the bus.

Plays of the Week

A Word On Jerricho Cotchery And The Jets Receivers Moving Forward

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It has been a tough couple of weeks for Jets wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery. He suffered his worst game as a professional in their week 8 loss to the Green Bay Packers with a collection of drops no seasoned Jets fans could believe, considering his history with the team. The problem followed him to Detroit where he dropped a couple of more passes and was officially demoted out of the starting line-up after holding down the position since the start of the 2006 season.

Cotchery has rightly been a fan favorite since becoming a starter on the team. He is a gutsy player with terrific hands, who always had a knack for making a big run after the catch. He has developed a reputation as a humble, hard-working, team first player who couldn’t represent the Jets organization on or off the field in a better way. (http://www.cotcheryfoundation.com/)

As we all expected he would, Cotchery bounced back in week 9 with a strong performance. I spent plenty of time this off-season writing about what an ideal fit he would be as a slot receiver and how he would be a killer weapon for the Jets on third downs, and that is exactly what he demonstrated yesterday. The stats (3 receptions, 43 yards, 1 TD) don’t jump off the page but look a little closer:

  • He pulled in a 25 yard touchdown on a 3rd and 8 in the second quarter, where he operated the scramble drill to perfection with Mark Sanchez.
  • He had a 8 yard reception on a 3rd and 6 in the fourth quarter, which helped lead the Jets to a field goal, giving them a 20-13 lead.

And then of course, the play none of us will soon forget –

What can you really say? Just an awesome football play.

Unfortunately, the Jets will now be without Cotchery for at least a few weeks. Similar to hamstrings, groin pulls are tricky to recover from and Cotchery expressed how much pain he was in after the game. You would  hope he could be back by December 6th for Monday Night football in New England but that could be wishful thinking, so what will the Jets do moving forward?

Keep in mind the Jets only carry 4 active receivers on their roster: Santonio Holmes, Braylon Edwards, Brad Smith, and Cotchery. You can say that Smith could bump up to take Cotchery’s reps but that limits what the Jets can do in their “Tiger” formation with Smith, which as we saw yesterday is a big part of their offense. Beyond that, Smith is a very good all-around football player but not a true wide receiver. He has never demonstrated great route running or the hands needed of a true slot receiver.

The Jets could give their old friend Laveranues Coles a call. If he has been keeping himself in shape, maybe he could provide 20 quality snaps a game. Patrick Turner could be given a shot off the practice squad but he is very inexperienced. Another thought is that reserve rookie tight end Jeff Cumberland could finally get a bump to the active roster and take reps. Keep in mind, Cumberland played wide receiver in college and the Jets love his receiving skills, which is why he remains on the 53 man roster.

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TOJ at SB Nation – Grading Out Jets/Browns

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 TOJ’s weekly grade report, hosted at SB Nation…along with further reaction to the game yesterday –

http://newyork.sbnation.com/new-york-jets/2010/11/15/1815281/grading-out-jets-browns

http://newyork.sbnation.com/new-york-jets/2010/11/14/1814185/lucky-i-dont-care-new-york-jets-just-keep-winning

Initial Reaction – Heart Attack. Jets Keep Stressing Us Out But Keep Winning

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A collection of thoughts from today’s 26-20 overtime win over the Cleveland Browns –

The Good:

  • Mark Sanchez – Can any talk about Sanchez holding the Jets back this year come to a stop? He played a terrific all around game, avoiding pressure countless times and making big plays down the field. Sanchez is now at the point where you have to feel very confident about this team in any close game when he has the ball in his hands.
  • The Running Game – This is what I have been talking about…20 carries for Shonn Greene who finished with 72 yards rushing, along with 3 receptions for 23 yards and 18 carries for LaDainian Tomlinson who finished with 57 yards rushing, along with 6 receptions for 53 yards. Beyond that, Brad Smith had an expanded role today with 5 carries for 39 yards and a reception for 6 yards.
  • Jerricho Cotchery – It is a shame he will now probably miss a few games but what a gutsy play in overtime to convert a key third and nine.
  • Santonio Holmes – How clutch is this guy? Two straight games he has won for us in overtime. It does wonders for your offense when you have a player who could turn a simple slant route into a game winning 37 yard touchdown.
  • The Run Defense – For all of the Peyton Hillis hype, the Jets held him to 84 yards and forced a fumble. Our defensive lineman may not be able to rush the passer but they can stop the run.
  • Drew Coleman – Just a big time play in overtime to strip Chansi Stuckey.

The Bad

  • Game Management – I absolutely hated the decision to let time run out in regulation. The Jets should always be playing aggressively for the win, especially with how well Sanchez has been playing late in games.
  • Nick Folk – Are we headed back to 2009? Folk gets a pass for one week because of his strong start in 2010 but he better get his act together back in his home stadium the next two weeks.
  • The Defense Overall – The Jets aren’t an elite defense in 2009. You can’t claim to be one and then allow a rookie quarterback to drive down the field in the final minute to tie the game. The pass rush is also way too inconsistent. Evan Moore, Darrelle Revis? Evan Moore. Eric Smith and Jim Leonhard remain major liabilities in pass coverage and tight ends are continuing to kill the Jets.

A few other thoughts…

  • Kyle Wilson played a good game today. He had a big tackle to stop a third down conversion and a nice 18 punt return. It will be interesting to see if he can settle into the nickel role.
  • Eric Mangini was awfully animated on the sideline today. Did you see him celebrating those missed field goals?
  • Braylon Edwards put together a strong game in his homecoming. He has been reliable this year and appears to have got over the drops that plagued him the previous few years.
  • Brian Schottenheimer finally seemed to find his rhythm as a play-caller today.

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Jets vs. Browns: 12 Pack of Predictions

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Nothing better or more refreshing than a 12 pack from TOJ to start off your weekend

1. I like the under (38) in this game. It is going to be a physical, defensive struggle in which I think the first team to 20 is going to win. Both units with be throwing a myriad of confusing looks at the opponent’s young quarterbacks who will need time to adjust.

2. It is All-Disappointment week for the Jets, with Vernon Gholston likely starting, Kyle Wilson moving back into the nickel role, and Joe McKnight being active for the first time since week 4. I predict Gholston won’t be getting his first NFL sack, Wilson will show some improvements from earlier in the year, and McKnight will actually get an offensive touch that isn’t in garbage time.

3. Inactive list – Marquice Cole, Kellen Clemens, Jarron Gilbert, Marcus Dixon, Josh Mauga, Vladimir Ducasse, Jeff Cumberland, Jamaal Westerman.

4. This is the week it finally happens…Shonn Greene gets more carries than LaDainian Tomlinson and starts to look like the Jets #1 back.

5. Braylon Edwards is going to have his first 100 yard game of the season and get in the end-zone. Get ready for the Dougie, Dawg Pound.

6. The Browns will pull at least one trick play on offense and one trick play on special teams. Mangini will be dumping out the playbook to upset his former team.

7. Mark Sanchez and Colt McCoy will both turn the ball over, whichever team takes bigger advantage of the opposing quarterback’s mistakes will go a long to deciding the outcome.

8. I think there will be a Calvin Pace sighting this week. He is too good of a player to be quiet this many weeks in a row. Jason Taylor? I think he might be moving into being a major disappointment this year.

9. Jerricho Cotchery is going to play less than 30 reps this week, as his demotion into the #3 receiver role is fully cemented.

10. Peyton Hillis is going to run for less than 100 yards. I got faith in Sione Pouha, Mike DeVito, Shaun Ellis, Bart Scott, and David Harris to keep doing what they’ve been doing all season.

11. Abram Elam is giving up a big play in the passing game…because, he is Abram Elam after all.

12. I like the Jets in an ugly, sloppy game that won’t quiet any questions about when they are going to finally put it all together. I am taking them 16-13.

Week 10 Picks (Lines Courtesy of BetUS)

  • Peyton Manning (-7) vs. Bengals
  • Jaguars (PK) vs. Texans
  • Titans (-3) vs. Dolphins
  • Vikings (-2.5) vs. Bears
  • Bills (-3) vs. Lions
  • Bucs (-7) vs. Panthers
  • Chiefs (-2.5) vs. Broncos
  • Rams (+5) vs. 49ers
  • Cardinals (-3.5) vs. Seahawks
  • Giants (-13.5) vs. Cowboys
  • Steelers (-4) vs. Patriots
  • Eagles (-3.5) vs. Redskins

Jets vs. Lions: 12 Pack Of Predictions

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After a bit of a hiatus, the 12 pack is back…

1. There is no way that Rex Ryan didn’t get the message across to Brian Schottenheimer to start running the football more. Maybe it is just wishful thinking but LaDainian Tomlinson will get 20+ carries and Shonn Greene will get 14+ carries. If this prediction is wrong than be mad at Schotty for his ignorance, not me.

2. Darrelle Revis is going to man up Calvin Johnson at least 80% of the time this week. Megatron is going to make a few plays but Revis will keep him under 100 yards and out of the end-zone. The first signs of the Island resurfacing will be in place.

3. Mark Sanchez is going to complete 60 percent of his passes. I predict this because I don’t think the Jets will throw the ball frequently and when they do, I think there will be a good amount of high percentage throws.

4. Jerricho Cotchery isn’t going to drop a pass this week. This guy has been too consistent for too long to let one game throw him into a funk that carries across multiple games.

5. I am feeling a big week for the Jets special teams after their weak performance last week. Nick Folk won’t be shanking any kicks. Steve Weatherford will be punting and not running and Brad Smith will break off at least one big return.

6. The Lions tight ends, Brandon Pettigrew and Tony Scheffler are going to have big days. The Jets did a poor job against Todd Heap, Anthony Hernandez, Anthony Fasano, and David Nelson earlier in the year and I am sure the Lions noticed that and will be looking to their tight ends often.

7. The Jets are going to be more aggressive on defense than they have been in previous weeks. This will lead to a few more sacks and maybe a turnover or two but will also allow Lions to create a few big plays of their own.

8. Less of a prediction and more of a general comment – This is the kind of the game where you want to jump out to a quick 10-0 lead and take the crowd out of it. If you let the Lions get off to a fast start they are going to build confidence and that place will be rocking.

9. Inactives – Joe (I can’t believe we spent a 4th round pick on this guy) McKnight, Vladimir (I can’t believe we spent a 2nd round pick on this guy) Ducasse, Kellen Clemens, Jamaal Westerman, Jeff Cumberland, Marcus Dixon, Josh Mauga, Jarron Gilbert.

10. I don’t think we will be seeing much of the Tiger formation this week.

11. Brandon Moore will do a great job on Ndamukong Suh, continuing his All-Pro caliber campaign.

12. The Lions are going to make their share of plays and I don’t think Mark Sanchez is playing well enough right now for this to be a blowout. Detroit will be in this game into the fourth quarter but the Jets will ultimately prevail in a tight one 27-21.

Week 9 Picks (Lines From BetUS)

  • Buffalo (+3) vs. Chicago
  • San Diego (-3) vs. Houston
  • New Orleans (-7.5) vs. Carolina
  • Minnesota (-8) vs. Arizona
  • Tamp Bay (+8) vs. Atlanta
  • Miami (+5) vs. Baltimore
  • Cleveland(+5.5) vs. New England
  • Giants (-7) vs. Seattle
  • Oakland (-2) vs. Kansas City
  • Philadelphia (-2.5) vs. Peyton Manning
  • Green Bay (-7.5) vs. Dallas
  • Pittsburgh (-6) vs. Cincinnati

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Jets vs. Packers: Game Breakdown

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Offense: The Jets should be able to take advantage of Green Bay’s struggling run defense with both LaDainian Tomlinson and Shonn Greene. This would be the time of the year to start getting Greene more involved in the offense to insure that Tomlinson is fresh for the stretch run in December and January. I do hope the Jets don’t become too conservative after Mark Sanchez’s erratic performance against the Denver Broncos a few weeks ago, which is no reason to go into the week one shell.

When the Jets are throwing the ball, expect to see more reps and targets for Santonio Holmes. Green Bay’s pass defense has been in the middle of the pack and there should be chances down the field for Holmes, Braylon Edwards, Dustin Keller, and Jerricho Cotchery. The Jets offensive line will have their hands full with the Green Bay pass rush, led by Clay Matthews. It would make sense for the Packers to predominantly send Matthews at Damien Woody instead of D’Brickashaw Ferguson.

I am still waiting to see a little more out of the Jets Tiger formation, perhaps another pass from Brad Smith or an option pass from Tomlinson.

Defense: It will be interesting to see if the Jets are even more aggressive than usual with their blitz package, considering the supposed improved health of Darrelle Revis. Aaron Rodgers certainly has the ability and weapons to make the Jets pay against the blitz so Rex Ryan is going to have to mix and match his approach and occasionally be slightly less aggressive.

The Packers haven’t really been able to run the football this season, making them one-dimensional. However, Denver also came into the Jets game unable to run the ball and had a good degree of success. The Jets are thin on the defensive line moving forward and clearly think Shaun Ellis, Mike DeVito, Sione Pouha, and Trevor Pryce can handle major reps.

It would be nice to see the Jets pass rush be a little more active this week. Calvin Pace has had two weeks to rest his foot and should be more explosive off the edge. Jason Taylor has been pretty good so far, but considering how much the Packers will likely throw this week he should be in Rodgers face all day. I would expect the Jets to rotate Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie on Greg Jennings and Donald Driver. Hopefully Revis can live up this word and begin to resemble his 2009 self.

Special Teams: How about it Kyle Wilson? I am waiting to see something…anything from you on punt return. Brad Smith has quietly been excellent on kick returns and always is a threat to break one. Jordy Nelson and Tramon Williams are somewhat dangerous on returns but the Jets coverage has been solid this year. Nick Folk and Mason Crosby have been two of the top kickers in the NFL this year.

Trying To Make Sense Out Of A Senseless NFL

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Parity is a beautiful thing in the NFL. It helps makes the slate of games every week unpredictable and always throw you an “are you ‘effing kid me” game or two each weekend. It is a large part of why a Jaguars/Titans turd fest on Monday Night Football, featuring Trent Edwards at quarterback could easily get higher rating than the Yankees and Rangers in the ALCS. I do know that through seven weeks, it is nearly impossible to see where this season is headed, particularly in the NFC.

You get a team like the Giants who look ready for 6-10 and a coaching change after back to back early losses and now they are the consensus top team in the NFC. Dallas, Green Bay, and New Orleans were easily the top three picks to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl heading into season, yet could anybody pick any of those three teams with any type of confidence now? Dallas could end up with the first pick in the draft the way they are headed. The Saints can’t even keep it close against the Cleveland Browns in their own building.

The Colts have more holes than ever around Peyton Manning and keep dropping like flies. The Broncos go toe to toe with the Jets and then make the Raiders look like a a juggernaut by allowing a 59 spot to them. The Bengals and Chargers have been major disappointments.

Here is what I am thinking moving forward –

Despite the Chiefs and Seahawks looking capable of pulling away with their division, every team is alive in the AFC and NFC West with the exception of the teams in the London Bowl this week. The 49ers are completely incapable of winning a close game and are delusional with their perception of their team’s talent level and I don’t think Denver can recover from the whooping they took last week.

As much as it feels like time to bury Brett Favre and the Minnesota Vikings (and trust me I’d love to), they are far from out of it. The Bears are probably the worst 4-3 team I have ever seen in my life. They aren’t going to be in the mix for a playoff spot when it comes down to it. Green Bay isn’t healthy or consistent enough to pull away. In the NFC South, I do think Atlanta has the ability to pull away from the Saints if they don’t get their heads on straight now. Tampa Bay is a tough, young team who will stay around .500 and will probably amazingly stay in the wild-card race.

There are three teams across the entire NFC, I would feel confident saying are playoff teams right now: Atlanta, the Giants, and the Eagles. Yes, I saw Philadelphia lose to Tennessee last week but I think when Vick gets back and gets rolling again, they will be right there with the Giants for the NFC East title. Everything else is a crap shoot, in a conference filled with mediocrity.

Back in the AFC where things are a little clearer, the Patriots and Jets are going down to the wire for the division title and are both playoff teams. Miami is nothing more than a 8-8 team. Pittsburgh and Baltimore are going down to the wire for their division title and are both playoff teams. Cincinnati is a 6-10 team. I don’t trust the Texans and think the South will come down to the Titans and Colts, with the other team battling it out for the Ravens for that last wild card spot.

Jets New DL Jarron Gilbert