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

Chris Gross brings back New York Jets Fact or False with a look at our biggest hits & misses from the 2012 season.

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

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

Continue reading “New York Jets Fact or False: Hits & Misses of 2012 Edition”

New York Jets Fact or False: Week 13 Edition

Chris Gross with his weekly Fact or False, previewing Jets vs. Cardinals

My, what a wild year it has been in Jets land (what else is new?). After a strong showing at opening day at MetLife Stadium back in September, when the Jets romped the Bills 48-28 to begin the 2012 season (Yes, that game actually occurred in the same season as this), the New York Jets have progressively fallen far from grace. In week 2 the Jets went into Pittsburgh without their All-World defensive back, Darrelle Revis, and despite coming out strong on the opening drive, ultimately fell to the Steelers at Heinz Field 27-10. Since then, New York hasn’t mustered up one convincing win, while being blown out 3 times at home. Although the Jets have had to deal with injuries to two essential players (Revis and Wide Receiver Santonio Holmes), this team’s total lack of depth and talent has put their fans in an uproar, and rightfully so. Sure, the Jets held their own against two of the AFC’s top teams when they hosted the Houston Texans in week 5 and when they took the Patriots to overtime in Foxboro in week 7.

However, the games the Jets have been able to win this season have been against far inferior opponents. Buffalo, Miami, and St. Louis have a combined recored of 13-19-1. Indianapolis came to New York with their rookie quarterback Andrew Luck having to face a Rex Ryan defense for the first time in his career. Luck will be great, but it is a daunting task for a rookie to solve the puzzle that is Ryan’s defensive scheme on the road. To put it into perspective, the 2012 Jets, although not horrendous, are simply a poor football team.

This column has been dedicated to making a handful of predictions based on past games, tendencies, and matchups for each week – predictions that have often failed to come to fruition. Last week, we observed what the Jets needed to do against the Patriots on Thanksgiving in order for them to upset their longtime foe. Looking back, they really failed to do any of these things.

Since it has become nearly impossible to predict what this team will do in terms of game plan (see Tebow, Tim; week 12…actually all season), execution, and outcome, this column will now focus on key points, all of which the Jets must achieve to have any chance of reigning victorious again this year.

This week’s New York Jets Fact or False will focus primarily on how the Jets need to attack their upcoming opponent, the Arizona Cardinals, what matchups will be crucial, and who needs to come to play, in order for New York to put patch one of the holes of the sinking ship that is their 2012 season. This team is all but guaranteed to not reach the playoffs this season, but the Jets can certainly do their best to salvage what is left of this mess and head into 2013 on the right foot. Whether or not they can do that, however, will depend on how they perform from top to bottom in these remaining five weeks. Let’s take a look at Arizona.

The Jets’ active rookie wide receivers need to step up big this week. Fact. As depleted as this team’s receiving corps has been all season, think about this for a second: Clyde Gates has been ruled out for Sunday’s contest, creating a serious issue at wide receiver. Wow. After week 1, would you have ever thought that this is what we’d be analyzing heading into week 13? Unfortunately for New York, however, that is exactly where the Jets stand. Aside from Gates, Chaz Schilens is questionable with concussion symptoms, and Jeremy Kerley (the only receiver who has been somewhat productive this season) is still hampering a leg injury.

While it is a scary thought that the Jets could potentially be starting a receiving corps led by Kerley and rookies Stephen Hill and Jordan White, this could be a blessing in disguise. While no one should expect this group to be world beaters, it is essential to see if Sanchez can develop some chemistry with his young passing options. Stephen Hill started 2012 with a bang, hauling in 5 balls for 89 yards and 2 touchdowns in the season opener against Buffalo. Since then, however, Hill has hit the growing pains that we all expected him to heading into this season. All is certainly not lost for the promising rookie with tremendous upside out of Georgia Tech, so getting him touches the rest of the way this year will be crucial to his development.

Jordan White is a player who has been on the radar here at Turn On The Jets since New York selected him with their final pick in this year’s draft. A highly productive college player, White stood out in our post draft evaluation due to his high football IQ, strong route running, and ability to catch balls in traffic. It was expected that he may take a bit to come around, but on a team in need of hope in week 13, White could start his campaign to give some promise to this team’s depleted group of skill players.

Now, it would be foolish to think that White is going to come out in his first game and light up Arizona, prompting a surplus of waiver wire claims from fantasy football league owner’s heading into their respective playoffs. However, White is fully capable of catching anywhere from 2-5 passes this week, while beginning to gain some momentum in an attempt to be a long term asset to this roster.

Regardless, the Jets need these two to not play like wide-eyed rookies this week, but instead play with a certain level of confidence and reliability, so they can provide some security to Mark Sanchez, who desperately needs it. If Kerley and Schilens are a go, they will likely start, but do not be surprised to see Sanchez target the youngsters to gauge where they are at as he tries to find some continuity in these final 5 weeks. If this offense looks to have momentum heading into next season, it starts with these young players at receiver stepping up and asserting some kind of presence this Sunday.

The Jets need to get Mark Sanchez airing it out on Sunday. False. While the Jets do need to see some signs of life from Sanchez, following one of his most horrific performances,in terms of ball security, last week, the key to being successful on offense remains the same as it has been since Sanchez arrived in New York – a strong running effort, with a limited amount of drop backs. Look at the Jets two most convincing victories this season, against Indianapolis and at St. Louis. Sanchez was 11 for 18 for 82 yards and 2 touchdowns and 15 for 20 for 178 yards and 1 touchdown, respectively. What do you notice about those numbers? That’s correct, no turnovers.

The Jets ground attack during those two games, however, was on point. Although the total rushing yardage against St. Louis was not eye opening – 124 total yards – the Jets stuck to a successful formula of a running back by committee approach. Bilal Powell was able to record his first two career touchdowns in that contest, primarily because Tony Sparano took some risks in obvious passing situations in the red zone by giving Powell the carries, and it paid dividends.

The bottom line is, the more Sanchez is asked to throw, the more likely it is for him to commit a mistake and turn the ball over. New York needs to give him a strong running effort once again, while allowing him to make some high percentage throws on slants, play action passes, and designed roll outs. If the Jets can limit him anywhere between 20-25 attempts, while running the ball 35-45 times, not only will they be helping Sanchez regain some much needed confidence, but they will also be putting themselves in the best position to win. Is it ideal to have to game plan like this with a fourth year quarterback? Of course not, but at this point the reality is that Sanchez has performed poorly, and has a depleted group of receivers to throw to. If the Jets can stay grounded this week, they will control the clock and field position, while keeping their defense off of the field.

The Jets defense needs to come up with a surplus of quarterback sacks and hits. Fact. New York’s pass rush has been absolutely horrendous over the past five seasons, mostly because they have done a poor job of outside and self scouting at vital pass rushing positions during that time. However, Arizona ranks dead last in sacks allowed throughout the entire league this season, and they will be starting a rookie quarterback on Sunday. Remember what we said about that Andrew Luck guy? Ryan Lindley isn’t anywhere near the type of player that Luck is, but he does have a solid group of wide receivers to throw to against a very shaky Jets secondary. If he is given ample time to throw the ball, he will make plays.

Muhammad Wilkerson and Quinton Coples will be licking their chops when they line up against this poor offensive line on Sunday. However, they will need support from the linebacking corps in order to establish a strong pass rush. All season long, these two have been hampered as a result of facing a vast amount of double teams, due to the complete lack of a pass rush from the outside and inside linebackers. Whether it is the dinosaurs that are Calvin Pace and Bryan Thomas, Garret McIntyre, or DeMario Davis, the Jets need to find a way to get Arizona’s attention off of Wilkerson and Coples, so they can be put in man blocking situations. If New York can rattle the cage of Lindley early, and throughout the course of the game, this offense should not be able to move the ball. If they let him sit in the pocket and gain comfort, however, it will likely be another week of excuses, pouting, outrage, and turmoil heading into week 14.

The Jets need to focus primarily on Larry Fitzgerald to shut down Arizona’s passing attack. False. Aside from getting to the quarterback, the Jets need a strong game plan against the Cardinals’ number 2 and 3 receivers. Andre Roberts has been very productive for a team with the poorest quarterback situation in the league this season, accounting for 50 receptions, a team high 639 yards, and another team high 5 touchdowns. Michael Floyd and Early Doucet are two players who haven’t had the productivity of Roberts this year, but are highly skilled. Each of these receivers have the ability to exploit the embattled Kyle Wilson and Ellis Lankster. Aside from getting to the quarterback, New York needs to figure a way to neutralize these two, primarily from scheme. If the Jets expect to put Wilson and Lankster in man coverage on Sunday, without generating a pass rush, they will not win this game., plain and simple.

Dustin Keller needs to establish a veteran presence and allow Sanchez to lean on him. Fact. Lost in the disaster that has become the 2012 Jets is the player that Mark Sanchez became comfortable looking toward in previous times of struggle. Although Keller is second on the team in receptions, that number is a mere 26. 26 catches from a player who was thought to be Sanchez’s go to guy. While he has been hampered by injury for the majority of the season, Sanchez is usually the most efficient when Keller gets going. Look at the first matchup against New England. Many will refuse to admit this, but Sanchez played one of the best games of his career, prior to overtime, that week. A lot of that success has to do with Keller’s strong day of catching all 7 passes thrown his way for 93 yards and a touchdown.

Now, it is unfair to blame this lack of production on Keller. The lack of receiving threats on this team makes him an easy focus of opposing defenses. However, he needs to find a way to get open and give Sanchez that much needed security. If Keller can get going with some early catches to move the chains, Sanchez’s confidence will only grow as the game progresses. As of right now, aside from the run game, Keller is the straw that stirs the drink on this team’s offense. If he can get some early receptions, Arizona will be forced to shift their coverage toward him, allowing ample opportunity for those young receivers to get open and make plays. Sanchez, in the meantime, will only be able to grow on all accounts because of this. Yes, he should be limited to no more than 25 passing attempts, but each of those 25 will be critical. The Jets’ quarterback has no margin for error anymore. Most people are ready to write him off as the New York’s signal caller. Whether or not this is just, it is the harsh reality of the NFL and particularly of professional sports in New York. Dustin Keller can help Sanchez slowly climb out of the abyss with a strong performance this week.

The Jets cannot afford any more Special Teams blunders. Fact. There is no need to explain this one. The Jets’ Special Teams has been horrendous for the majority of the season. With a struggling offense and a defense that has had its troubles getting off the field on third downs, special teams mishaps are a recipe for the perfect disaster. This needs to be turned around immediately. Period.

 

New York Jets Fact or False: Thanksgiving and Rivalry Edition

Chris Gross with his weekly Fact or False previewing the Jets/Patriots Thanksgiving Night showdown

Happy Thanksgiving, Jets fans! After a much-needed victory in St. Louis last week, the Jets find themselves in a familiar, yet unfamiliar, spot in the Rex Ryan era. What’s familiar about tomorrow night’s game against New England is that the Jets always seem to find themselves in a pivotal point of their season when matching up against the Patriots for the second time in the 17 week regular season.

In 2009, New York headed to Foxboro at 4-5. A win would have been monumental as it would have not only gotten the Jets back to .500, but it would have completed a regular season sweep of New England for the first time since the 2000 season, when they were still led by the likes of Vinny Testaverde and Curtis Martin. New York fell that week 31-14, aided partly by Mark Sanchez’s 4 interceptions.

In 2010, the 9-2 (!!) Jets squared off with New England in Foxboro for sole possession of 1st place in the AFC East. Heading into that game, New York’s average margin of defeat in their only two losses was a meager 5 points, so naturally most people were optimistic about 2010 finally being the year that the Jets knock Brady’s bunch off of their pedestal and claim dominance in the division for the first time in a decade. What happened that night? The Jets were embarrassed 45-3 on national, prime time television.

Finally, in 2011, the Jets were hosts to the second regular season matchup between the two clubs. New York stood at 5-3 heading into their week 10 matchup with New England, fresh off of a dominant performance against the Buffalo Bills in Orchard Park, NY. The Patriots, on the other hand, were also 5-3, but seemed to be spiraling downward, coming off of a 2 game losing streak to the Steelers and Giants. This was finally it. The Jets had New England right where they wanted them – reeling with an equivalent record, in their own building. It finally seemed that New York was ready to take over the division and earn a home playoff game, something many felt had held them from reaching the Super Bowl in the previous two seasons. Unfortunately for Gang Green, same story, different day. The Patriots smacked the Jets 37-16 in a game that was never close. It seemed as if this habit of dropping the second regular season matchup to New England might never be broken.

Now, the Jets finally have a chance to break that very habit. New York finds itself at a crossroad in their season. Standing at 4-6, this team has been hit from all angles. Darrelle Revis and Santonio Holmes are out for the year with season ending injuries. The media has used Tim Tebow’s presence in various attempts to stir up drama and rip this locker room apart. Ryan, General Manager Mike Tannenbaum, and Owner Woody Johnson, each praised for their brash styles at their respective positions in years past, have all come under heavy criticism. In short, Ryan’s once up and coming Jets have become the punch line for countless jokes revolving around the NFL.

So what does it all mean? It means the Jets face New England for the second time of the regular season in a relatively new position. Instead of being poised to topple the Patriots through a monumental victory that could shift the tide in the AFC East, New York now finds themselves with their backs against the wall. As we all know, Rex Ryan’s squad has done quite well in these situations in the past. Yes, in 2009, the Jets were aided by Jim Caldwell’s decision to pull all of his starters in their week fifteen matchup against the Colts in Indianapolis. However, New York still had to defeat the AFC North champion Cincinnati Bengals in week 16 to secure a playoff spot. As you may recall, New York came out with a vengeance, blanking the Bengals 37-0, propelling them to their first AFC Championship Game run under Ryan.

Similarly, in 2010, the Jets traveled to Foxboro for the AFC Divisional Round game against the Patriots. No one in the world gave New York a chance, considering how lopsided the outcome of the previous matchup between the two clubs was. With their backs against the wall once again, New York pulled off one of the most satisfying wins in franchise history, upsetting the Patriots 28-21, leading to one of the most memorable post game speeches in the history of the sport.

By now, you are asking yourself what this all means for tomorrow night’s game. The answer is simple. These two teams have never faced each other under these circumstances. The Jets, although notoriously laughable in this game under Ryan, will be hosting the Patriots with their backs against the wall for the first time in this situation. You can throw the history books out, because regardless of the outcome, a new chapter will be written in this rivalry on Thanksgiving night. Key players on both teams are out of this competition. Rex is out to prove his worth as a head coach in an attempt to rally his team toward an unprecedented playoff run, a goal that suddenly becomes attainable with a win at MetLife stadium tomorrow, considering the fact that New York’s remaining opponents have a combined record of 17-33. The circumstances are different, but New York has another chance at a monumental victory over their long time foe.

How will it all pan out, though? For the Jets, there are several feats they need to attain to put themselves in a position to reign victorious. Rather than using outright predictions, this week’s New York Jets Fact or False highlights exactly what Gang Green needs to do in order to stage an upset of the Patriots on the biggest stage. Digest these proclamations with your holiday bird, and be sure to give thanks for a full day of NFL madness, regardless of any outcome.

The Jets need Shonn Greene to carry the load of the running game past the Patriots. False. This is a no brainer. New York looked like an entirely new offense last week using a running back by committee approach. While many have attributed their success to a poor opponent, St. Louis actually ranks thirteenth in total defense in the NFL. Are the Rams great? Absolutely not. But Jeff Fisher’s club is certainly not the laughing stock it once was. New York needed a strong offensive effort, and that is exactly what they got, led by the resurgence of Shonn Greene as the battering ram, the emergence of Bilal Powell, who scored his first two career touchdowns, as the elusive scat back, and the somewhat proper utilization of Joe McKnight as the explosive, all purpose back. The result? Mark Sanchez put together his most efficient performance of the season, and New York won in dominant fashion in a must win situation. Sticking to this philosophy is an absolute necessity against New England tomorrow. Control the clock, keep Brady off the field, and give Sanchez something to lean on.

The Jets need to find a way to pressure Brady without a heavy amount of blitzing. Fact. Most people are now aware of the blueprint on how to shut down Brady and the high-powered Patriots offense. Hit the prolific quarterback over and over and over. However, the reason that teams like the Giants have been so successful against New England is because they can do so without a heavy amount of blitzing. Tom Brady has been lights out against the blitz this year – 86 attempts, 10 TDs, 0 INTs, 90.0 QBR, and a 127.2 passer rating. New York needs to find a way to get in his face without using the blitz.

New England has lost three games this season – home against Arizona, and on the road in Baltimore and Seattle. In those three losses, Brady has been sacked 9 times, while being hit 17 times. New England’s offense can surely sputter if opposing defenses can get to Brady. The key is to do it without letting him burn you on the blitz. Rex and his staff need to get very creative disguising their pressure schemes to create the illusion that the Jets are bringing more heat than they actually are, through an effective use of zone blitzes, similar to how they were able to rattle Brady in the 2010 playoffs. Look for Ryan to mix up his fronts, using a variety of four man rushes, led primarily by Muhammad Wilkerson and Quinton Coples. With All-Pro Guard Logan Mankins ruled out for tomorrow, New York will have optimal opportunity to generate a strong interior pass rush. Based on the play of Wilkerson and Coples as of late, New England could easily have their hands full tomorrow night.

Tom Brady is the only part of the Patriots offense that needs to be stopped. False. While Brady is certainly the key to New England’s offensive success, the run game must be stopped at all costs as well. In each of the Patriots three losses this year, they have failed to generate more than 90 total rushing yards as a team. New York needs to make the offense one dimensional, and then worry about getting to Brady. A tall task, yes, but nothing will be easy in achieving the upset tomorrow night.

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

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

Enjoy the game, enjoy your families and friends, and most of all, enjoy the Jets tomorrow night, folks. From all of us here at Turn On The Jets, we wish you and your loved ones a very happy, healthy, and safe Thanksgiving. 

New York Jets Fact Or False: Week 10 Edition

Chris Gross with his weekly Fact or False breaking down the Jets week 10 match-up in Seattle

The New York Jets begin the second half of their 2012 schedule with what will be a daunting task. The Jets head into Seattle to take on the 5-4 Seahawks, a franchise that has exceeded expectations up until this point through a variety of talent, tenacity, energy, youth, and passion. Pete Carroll has injected a positive influence over his team that is reflected by the Seahawks’ fierce competitive nature.

New York, on the other hand, is on the verge of watching their 2012 season slip through their fingers. The Jets have lost 4 of their last 5 and are coming off of their worst loss of the season, prior to the bye week, a 30-9 embarrassing loss at home to AFC East foe, Miami Dolphins.

This team’s fan base is seemingly on the brink of revolting against the front office, starting at the top with owner Woody Johnson and General Manager Mike Tannenbaum, and rightfully so. The Jets have been down right embarrassing this season. 2 of their 3 wins have come against inferior ball clubs at home, games that no one expected them to lose. But when will the Jets win a game that they aren’t “supposed” to? Does this team have the mental makeup to pull of an upset, in a hostile environment, on the road? A win in Seattle this week would surely be a step in the right direction, as New York currently stands as a 7 point underdog. However, this will  be no easy task. Seattle is dominant in two areas that the Jets have failed to respond to all season long – running the ball and rushing the passer.

Will New York dig deep to shutdown Marshawn Lynch? Will the offensive line step up and provide a spark to a running game that absolutely must be ignited in order to win? Will that same unit be able to hold off a tenacious Seattle pass rush and give Mark Sanchez time and room to get comfortable? Will Sanchez be able to tune out the 12th man and stay poised, or will we see him express that look of a frightened turtle, eager to hide in his shell, that we have all become much too familiar with? Find out all of this and more in this week’s New York Jets Fact Or False.

Marshawn Lynch will run for 100+ yards and 1 touchdown. Fact. New York’s run defense has been laughable all season long as a shell of what this unit once was. The Jets currently rank 29th in run defense, surrendering an average of 141.4 yards per game to opposing offenses. Lynch, on the other hand, ranks second to only Adrian Peterson in rushing yards this season, as he has already compiled 881 yards and 4 touchdowns on the ground. “Beast Mode” has surpassed the century mark in 5 of his team’s 9 games this year, including a 103 yard performance against the league’s second ranked defense in week 7 at San Francisco. The Jets will surely look to key Lynch, as he poses much more of a threat to their defense than rookie QB Russell Wilson and the Seahawks’ aerial attack. Kenrick Ellis is set to return from injury which will greatly bolster the front 7, but expect Seattle to realize the glaring weakness in the Jets defense by feeding Lynch 25-30 times. With a season average of 4.8 yards per carry, that will be ample opportunity for Lynch to amass 100 yards on the ground, an opportunity he will surely take advantage of.

Russell Wilson will not throw a single interception. False. While Seattle will likely lean heavily on Lynch to carry the offense, they are still going to need to pass the ball at times. The Jets have fared very well against rookie quarterbacks this season. In two complete games against rookies (Tannehill week 3, Luck week 6), New York has yet to surrender a touchdown pass, while forcing 3 interceptions, and holding the young quarterbacks to a combined completion percentage of just 47.5. Rex Ryan and Mike Pettine will surely throw some exotic looks at Wilson, who will commit at least one turnover by interception this Sunday.

Mark Sanchez will be sacked 3 times. Fact. Seattle ranks third in the NFL in sacks with 25 total, including 7 from Chris Clemons and 5 from rookie Bruce Irvin. You think these guys are licking their chops at the though of lining up against Austin Howard this week? The noise of the 12th man, and the thought of Clemons and Irvin slamming him to the ground, will surely affect Sanchez’s mentality on Sunday. Look for number 6 to try and get the ball out as quickly as possible. However, with what will likely become a pedestrian effort to run the football by New York, the Jets are poised to be stuck in some third and long situations, forcing Sanchez into 5 and 7 step drops, and you can bet your bottom dollar that Clemons, Irvin, and Co. will be pinning their ears back and coming at Sanchez like bulls chasing a matador. New York will likely give as much help to the offensive line through protection schemes as it can, but don’t expect Sanchez to be able to avert a hat trick of sacks by the Seahawks’ defense.

Tendencies of Rex Ryan’s Jets on the West Coast will come into play this weekend. False. Why, you ask? Because the Ryan led Jets have yet to develop any type of pattern when traveling across the country. Ryan is 2-2 on the west coast. He has a blow out victory (2009 at Oakland), a close victory (2010 at Denver), an embarrassing defeat (2011 at Oakland), and a Tebowed defeat (2011 at Denver) all under his belt. Sanchez has also yet to develop any type of pattern when returning to his home time zone either, as his career numbers on the west coast (77/130, 59.2 completion percentage, 962 yards, 4 TDs, 4 INTs), are very…well, Sanchez-esque. With this group, the cross country trip will likely have no impact on the outcome of this game. As for the hostility of Seattle’s CenturyLink Field, that is an entirely different issue.

Mark Sanchez will remain the starting quarterback next week, despite how he performs on Sunday. False. Many are convinced that Sanchez is safe for the remainder of the year no matter how poorly he may play down the stretch. There is certainly good reason for this popular belief. Sanchez is due a large amount of guaranteed dollars next year, and Tim Tebow is a highly unlikely long term replacement for the position. However, has everyone forgotten how big Rex Ryan’s ego is? This is the same guy who guaranteed Super Bowl victories prior to each of his first three seasons in New York, despite the Franchise’s inability to even return to the big game since Super Bowl III. It has to be absolutely killing him that his team is on the verge of a total collapse and that his starting quarterback could seemingly care less, considering how comfortable he has become with his job security. It will take a lot, but if Sanchez comes out and lays an egg the way he did against San Francisco and Miami, there is a good chance Rex finally snaps and gives 15 the nod in week 11 at St. Louis.

Think about it. At 3-6, the chances of making the playoffs, when looking at the remainder of the schedule, are extremely slim. Why not see what you have in your polarizing backup quarterback? Could things possibly get any worse? Oh, and incase you forgot, the Jets travel to St. Louis in week 11, where Sanchez’s former mentor Brian Schottenheimer happens to be on staff as the team’s current offensive coordinator. Can you imagine the detailed report Schotty could give to St. Louis’s defensive staff regarding Sanchez’s weaknesses? It may come in more volumes than the Harry Potter novels. It will have to be disastrous performance by Sanchez, but this is the New York Jets we are discussing, and much crazier things have happened throughout the history of this franchise.

New York Jets Fact Or False: Week 7 Edition

Chris Gross weekly Fact or False previews the Jets/Patriots week 7 match-up

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It’s hard to believe that we are already heading into week 7 of the regular NFL season. For the New York Jets, to say it has been a roller coaster season up until this point would be an understatement. After a week 1 blowout of the Buffalo Bills, all looked extremely promising for Gang Green. Following that game, many felt as if the Jets were finally poised to be a legitimate threat to New England’s AFC East throne. However, since then, the Jets have suffered tough losses and injuries to their two most high profile players in Darrelle Revis and Santonio Holmes. New York has responded well the last two weeks, though, with a tough effort against Houston and a blowout of the Indianapolis Colts to put them back to .500 and give them their current lead in the division.

The landscape for the remainder of the season still remains to be seen. This sudden group of low profile Jets seems to be starting to develop an attitude of camaraderie based around the notion that their season is dead in the water. Unlikely players like Chaz Schillens have stepped up into leadership roles by voicing out against the popular belief that this team doesn’t have a chance to make it out of the regular season with a winning record. This is something that we have yet to see in the Ryan era, but for this group of Jets, it could be a recipe for success.

This week will be a true test of how valid that idea may be. New England, although also .500, still remains the top dog in the AFC East. As Rex Ryan so eloquently put it, you need to beat the man if you wish to be the man. That’s exactly what this group will attempt to do this Sunday in Foxboro. Will the “us against the world” concept drive this team to be successful? Or was last week merely a mirage in a season poised for a serious let down? Come Sunday night, we should know a lot about where this team truly stands heading into the second half of the season.

For now, let’s breakdown some likely, and unlikely, scenarios that we expect to see in this week’s rivalry matchup in our latest edition of New York Jets Fact Or False.

The Jets will do everything in their power to prepare for New England’s hurry up offense. Fact. We are already seeing the makings of a package designed specifically to defend the hurry up offense. Antonio Allen is active again, and the Jets recently activated LB/S Marcus Dowtin from the practice squad. As noted here earlier in the week, these guys are players who fit perfectly into the “big nickel” package. What this means is that Rex Ryan will try to put his most versatile players on the field at once. Allen and Dowtin have the size to line up in the box and defend the run, as well as the speed to get out in space and cover tight ends. There is a very good chance that Allen will see extended reps and that Dowtin will be thrown right into active duty, just days after being signed.

Also, expect to see a big game out of LaRon Landry. Landry has linebacker size, with safety speed, something that will make him a weapon against this type of offensive scheme. Rex has been getting extremely creative with his defenses this past week, and you can bet your bottom dollar that he has been up all week devising a package that he believes will be effective against the hurry up. Whether it proves to be truly effective remains to be seen.

Tom Brady will be sacked at least twice. Fact. The Jets are familiar with the formula for beating the Patriots, as their counterparts in New York have made it a point to set the blueprint on how to take down New England’s high powered offense. You want to beat the Patriots, you need to get Tom Brady to the ground and throwing out of the pocket. The last time the Jets beat New England, in the 2010 playoffs, they did a great job of pressuring and hitting Brady. Brady notoriously becomes frazzled when facing a premiere pass rush, but the key is to get pressure without having to use a surplus of blitzes.

Brady has made a name for himself torching blitz packages for years. The Giants have success against New England because their pass rush is good enough to get to him by rushing just 4. The Jets had similar success in the 2010 playoffs. This year, the Jets finally have some natural ability up front that will allow them to get pressure on Brady without having to blitz too frequently. Quinton Coples is finally coming into his own as a pass rusher, primarily from the interior, where he could be deadly against a struggling Patriots offensive line. Muhammad Wilkerson will surely bring pressure as well, and if Aaron Maybin can duplicate his play from last week, the Jets may have a real good chance to get to Brady numerous times.

Shonn Greene will run the ball for 100+ yards for the second consecutive week. False. Shonn Greene is coming off a career week against the Colts in which he rushed for 161 yards and 3 touchdowns. While this is certainly an encouraging sign for the Jets rushing attack, don’t be fooled by these numbers. Yes, Greene looked more decisive, elusive, and powerful than he has in years, but the Colts rank in the bottom tier in rushing defense. New England, on the other hand, ranks 6th in that area, surrendering just 82.7 yards per contest on the ground.

With Bilal Powell and Joe McKnight out, the burden to carry the load will be on Greene. We know that he has struggled in such a role, but if the Jets can get yards from Tim Tebow and Jonathan Grimes, then Greene still has the potential to amass somewhere between 75-90 yards. As far as the century mark, don’t be disappointed looking at the box score after the game. Greene can be effective, but it is highly unlikely he surpasses 100 yards rushing in consecutive weeks, which would be a career first.

Tim Tebow will see over 30% of the offensive snaps this week. Fact. It was one thing to expect to see more of Tebow with a depleted group of wide receivers. The popular thought was that, with little playmaking ability in the offensive arsenal, Tebow would be used more frequently to generate a spark for this offense. As we have seen, that has not been the case since losing Holmes in week 4. However, this week presents an entirely new set of obstacles for this offense.

Following a week where New York finally seemed to gel in terms of running back depth and rotation, two of the three most used backs were lost due to injury and are out this week. That leaves the Jets with Greene and a very untested Jonathan Grimes. New York seemingly has no choice but to use Tebow on the ground, if not in the wildcat, then in a running back role. Greene may struggle as the only proven running threat, and it is unclear what exactly Grimes will bring to the table at this point. Why not add another proven runner to that stable of backs and allow Tebow to carry the ball 10-15 times in any type of capacity? There is no reason for the Jets to avoid this, and it will certainly be in their best interest to include a heavy dose of TT in the run game this week.

THURSDAY NIGHT PICKS

  • Joe – SF (-7)
  • Chris G – Sea (+7)
  • Chris C – Sea (+7)
  • Mike – (-7)
  • Rob – SF (-7)

New York Jets Fact Or False: Week 6 Edition

Chris Gross gives his weekly Fact or False, previewing Jets/Colts

The New York Jets are coming off a very hard fought week 5 loss against arguably the league’s best team, the Houston Texans. Unfortunately, like Head Coach Rex Ryan pointed out, there are no moral victories in this league, despite the numerous amount of positive things the Jets may have done this past Monday night. Heading into week 6, the Jets look to get back to .500 as they host the surging, 2-2 Indianapolis Colts, led by rookie sensation Andrew Luck and a revived Reggie Wayne.

There has been a lot of talk recently about the Jets being a desperate team, in need of serious roster adjustments, if they wish to have any chance at the post season this year. However, as ESPN‘s Colin Cowherd pointed out yesterday, the Jets are not a desperate team. The Jets are a very young team who are in need of their younger players to step their play up.

That’s correct, the Jets are actually a very young team. New York has been criticized as of late for being “old and slow,” however, of the 22 starters on this team, only 4 are over 30 years of age. At linebacker, yes, New York is certainly old and rather slow in comparison to other units around the league. In fact, of the 4 players that are over 30, 3 of them occupy 75% of the linebacking corps.

So where do the Jets go from here? Do they pick themselves up off the mat and realize that this season is far from dead? Or do they read the press clippings from just about every mainstream media outlet and pack it in, in preparation for 2013? Will the vaunted “ground and pound” that we’ve heard so much about finally get going this week? Are Mark Sanchez’s days as this team’s starting quarterback over? And finally, will the defense build on its strong second half from last week and shut down Luck and the Colts offense? Find out all of that and more in this weeks’s edition of New York Jets Fact Or False.

The Colts will run for 100+ yards. False. Indianapolis may be the only team in the NFL whose stable of running backs is just as shallow as New York’s. Donald Brown is seemingly filling the Shonn Greene role of getting carries by default, solely because there is such a lack of depth at the position. The Colts currently rank 19th in the league in rushing offense averaging 97.5 yards per contest. New York’s run defense came on very strong in the second half last week against Houston, and outside of a few very nice runs from Arian Foster, arguably the league’s best back, played particularly well all game. The Colts certainly do not have anyone on the roster that comes close to the talent level of Foster, so look for the Jets to take the run away early, and try to put in on the rookie Andrew Luck to beat them. Not an easy task against a Rex Ryan constructed defense, on the road.

Mark Sanchez will play well enough to keep his job. Fact. Sanchez has certainly struggled recently, posting historically bad numbers in terms of his completion percentage. Despite his depleted arsenal of weapons, he is still inexcusably missing key throws that he should be making. That being said, Sanchez will likely get back two key pieces of this offense in rookie Stephen Hill, who was monstrous for New York in Week 1 (a game that feels like it occurred light years ago), and tight end Dustin Keller.

Keller has been famously known as Sanchez’s most trusted target and safety blanket. As the team’s longest tenured receiving option, that perception is absolutely correct. Sanchez relies upon a good receiving tight end in key spots. Last week, Jeff Cumberland watched a Sanchez pass go off of his hands into the hands of the Houston defense, ultimately sealing the game on Monday night. Whether or not Keller would have caught that pass is irrelevant. However, Keller’s presence alone should give Sanchez some much needed confidence and a better feeling of security in knowing that his trustworthy tight end is back. With the return of Keller and Hill, expect to see an offensive improvement this week.

The Jets will rush for over 100 yards. Fact. It is depressing to Jets fans everywhere, that each week they have to wonder whether or not this offense, supposedly built on running the football, can collectively surpass 100 yards on the ground. However, over their past 4 games, the Jets have faced 4 of the best run defenses in the entire league. Pittsburgh currently ranks 11th in run defense, Miami 1st, San Francisco 7th, and Houston 9th. Four consecutive weeks of facing top 11 run defenses. While this is not an excuse for the Jets lack of execution in this area of their offense, they head into week 6 facing a much weaker unit. Indianapolis currently ranks 26th in run defense, allowing 135.8 yards per contest. With Robert Mathis out, there is really no one within the Colts front seven that should cause problems for the Jets running game. Look for Shonn Greene, who got a recent vote of confidence from Rex Ryan, to continue to get the majority of the carries, finishing with 75-90 yards, while Bilal Powell and Tim Tebow chip in for a collective total of about 50 yards on the ground. Once again, it will not be pretty, but if anything, it will be an improvement from what we have seen.

Reggie Wayne will have 5 or more receptions. False. Since losing star cornerback Darrelle Revis to a season ending ACL injury in week 3, his counterpart, Antonio Cromartie, has stepped up his play tremendously. In week 4 against San Francisco, Cromartie held Randy Moss and Michael Crabtree to a combined 2 receptions for 15 yards. Last week, the veteran out of Florida State held Houston’s Andre Johnson to just one reception for 15 yards. Cromartie is proving to be in that elite group of defensive backs in this league. This week, it will be even more imperative for him to continue this level of play, as Reggie Wayne has been Andrew Luck’s most targeted receiver. Take Wayne away, and the rookie is left with a makeshift group of receivers. Shutting down Wayne will be key to defensive success as it will likely fluster the young Quarterback to not have the trusted veteran as an option. The defensive coaching staff has likely been preaching this to Cromartie all week, who has been playing with a heavy chip on his shoulder due to the vast amount of criticism he has received over the past year. Look for Cro’ to continue his elite level of play.

Quinton Coples will register his first NFL sack this week. Fact. Everyone is waiting for this to happen, and based on our defensive film breakdowns, Coples is right on the cusp of registering that coveted first career sack. The rookie out of North Carolina is growing with every rep he gets, and Indianapolis has given up 9 sacks in 4 games, not terrible, but certainly not very good. Look for Rex Ryan and Mike Pettine to continue to move Coples all over the board, and for a sack to come on an inside stunt, where he is such a mismatch for slower offensive linemen.

The Jets will return to .500 after this week. Fact. New York hasn’t lost 3 consecutive home games since 2009, Ryan’s first year with the club. The defense has slowly been improving, and this could be the week that they put it all together for the dominant performance everyone has been waiting for. Expect Ryan and Pettine to throw the kitchen sink at the rookie Luck, who will face arguably the toughest defense he has all year, on the road, and expect the offense to do enough to give the Jets a double digit victory.

New York Jets Fact Or False: Week 5 Edition

With the first quarter of the 2012 NFL regular season in the books, the New York Jets stand at 2-2 atop the AFC East. However, anyone following this team knows that, with the way the Jets have played since week 2, there is little to no security in that position. Sure, New York is .500 and in first place in their division, but the reality of the matter is, with their 2 best players out, Mark Sanchez seemingly going in the tank, and the defense giving up yardage like it is going out of style, the Jets season seems all but lost already.

The Jets face yet another daunting task this Monday night as they host the undefeated Houston Texans, deemed by many as the best team in the league this season. Can the Jets beat Houston at home? Sure, this is the NFL where upsets happen all the time. However, this is also a team that is seemingly becoming all too familiar with losing.

The Jets are desperate for a convincing win, something they’ve had very few of over the past calendar year. Although a win will be extremely difficult to come by this Monday, New York can certainly take a step in the right direction with competitive play in which they show desire, drive, and confidence, while the offense displays ball security and the defense shows the ability to stop the run and get off the field on third downs. Still, an extrememly difficut task against a team like Houston.

So, how will the Jets fare? Is this the end of the Mark Sanchez era in New York as we know it? Will Rex Ryan’s defense get back to its old ways of dominance, or is that just a mirage at this point? And will Mike Tannenbaum’s inactivity with this roster prove to be the ultimate demise of this team? Find out all you need to know about this week’s game in our latest edition of New York Jets Fact Or False.

Houston will sack Mark Sanchez multiple times. Fact. While the Jets offensive line has been improved in pass protection over these first four games, Houston’s defense has 13 sacks in that same time span, averaging just over 3 per game. Defensive End J.J. Watt is putting together one of the greatest performances by a defensive lineman in recent memory, leading the NFL with 7.5 sacks. While San Francisco’s pass rush was certainly the best the Jets had seen up until that point last week, Houston has an abundance of pass rushers at every position. The Jets will likely slide a lot of protection toward Watt leaving players like Brian Cushing and Brooks Reed, two players who also have a history of getting to the quarterback, for single blocking.

Texans’ Defensive coordinator Wade Phillips will certainly get very creative with his blitz packages and rush schemes, something he has become notorious for since joining Houston last season. New York will do their best to keep Sanchez upright, however expect Watt, Cushing, and Reed to all combine for anywhere between 3-4 sacks.

The Jets will finally run the ball effectively. Fact. This is a very bold prediction here, considering how poor New York’s rushing offense has been. Houston’s run defense ranks 11th in the NFL, allowing just over 90 yards per contest. However, the Texans gave up 144 yards on the ground last week to Chris Johnson, who up until that point, was the only starting running back in the league averaging less YPC than Shonn Greene with 1.4. Against the Texans, however, Johnson posted a season high 5.6 YPC.

Yes, Johnson is much more physically gifted than Greene, and unlike the Jets starter, runs with some form of identity. However, if Johnson can make somewhat of a revival, there is no reason the Jets entire rushing attack cannot as well. The key for Tony Sparano will be to identify the holes and weaknesses in Houston’s front seven, something that will certainly be no walk in the park. However, with the right amount of Greene, complemented with Bilal Powell and possibly Joe McKnight, coupled with a coherent Tim Tebow game plan, there is no reason the Jets cannot at least make some sort of improvement in the run game this week. Will it need to be done with gimmick plays and creative formations? Absolutely. But, with the personnel left on this offense, that will likely be the only way to get things materialized from here on out.

Aarian Foster will run for 100+ Yards. False. Yes, another bold prediction considering how bad the Jets run defense has looked recently. However, with Sione Pouha likely out this week, Kenrick Ellis will be receiving most of the reps at Nose Tackle, which will prove to be a blessing in disguise for this defense. Ellis has been the best defensive lineman for the Jets thus far this season. His ability to take on double teams, and occupy two blockers, is head and shoulders above what Pouha’s is right now. This will allow for less free shots at the linebackers, who will be more free to roam the field and make plays. Quinton Coples will likely see more reps as an every down player, as his workload has been increasing each week, and that will give the Jets much more athleticism and explosion up front. While Houston will likely rack up over 100 yards on the ground collectively, it will likely be through a committee effort. Plus, the Jets couldn’t possibly miss 17 tackles again…right?

The Jets pass rush will finally show some signs of life this week. Fact. By now, you’ve realized this piece is full of bold predictions. However, considering how dead the Jets pass rush has been throughout the first 4 games, 2 sacks and 3 QB hits would be considered a revival. Throughout our film breakdowns, it has become extremely apparent that the Jets’ pass rushing problems stem, not from lack of effort or technique, but mostly lack of speed from the starters. Calvin Pace and Bryan Thomas, despite each recording a sack last week, are simply too slow to get to the quarterback at this point in their careers. DeMario Davis and Quinton Coples are beginning to see extended reps in passing situations, something that will prove to be brilliant as the season progresses. Each has tremendous speed, and Coples is undoubtedly the most talented lineman on the team, just still a bit raw. Kenrick Ellis gets an excellent push up the middle in his pass rush, which will ultimately help flush Matt Schaub out of the pocket, hopefully into an edge player. If Aaron Maybin can somehow develop a few pass rush moves, the Jets’ rush may not be as dormant anymore.

Houston’s Brian Cushing will have an excellent performance in his Homecoming game on Monday Night Football. Fact. Former AP Rookie of the Year Brian Cushing makes his return home to North Jersey this Monday night. A graduate of Bergen Catholic High School, Cushing won a state championship in the very same complex, at the old Giant Stadium, as a high school senior. Now, Cushing comes back to the Meadowlands as Houston’s 2012 leading tackler.

While he will surely be fired up for this game, in which he takes on former college teammate Mark Sanchez, Cushing is physically a mismatch for the Jets offense. Possessing great speed, athleticism, and tenacity from the inside, Cushing’s versatility makes him a dangerous weapon for Wade Phillips. As previously noted, New York will likely pay a lot of attention to J.J. Watt, leaving Cushing to roam the field, and make plays, exactly what he does best. Expect a stat line close to 10 tackles, 1 sack, and a tackle for loss for the former BC Crusader.

This will be Mark Sanchez’s last game as the starting Quarterback of the New York Jets. False. While the clock certainly seems to be ticking on Sanchez, as many are convinced it is not a matter of if but when he will be replaced by Tim Tebow, don’t expect a decision to come after this game. Even if Sanchez plays poorly again, something that could very well happen against this defense, New York is simply not ready for a change, because they know like everyone else, once they go to Tebow, there is no turning back.

Regardless of his performance, Sanchez will be given amnesty due to the fact that he has had to face arguably the two best defenses in the NFL in consecutive weeks. However, if his poor play continues into the Colts game, not only will the fans and Woody Johnson call for Tebow to take the reigns, Rex Ryan and the coaching staff likely will as well.

New York Jets Fact Or False: Week 4 Edition

As we enter the final week of the first quarter of the 2012 NFL season, we still aren’t necessarily sure who this New York Jets team is just yet. For a team striving to be built primarily through strong defense and a ground and pound offensive philosophy, the 2012 Jets have been anything but that. New York currently ranks 21st in overall defense this season, a ranking that could certainly grow worse with the loss of the team’s best overall player, CB Darrelle Revis. Offensively, the Jets rank 22nd overall, but are 29th in rushing yards per carry, with an abysmal average of 3.3. Shockingly, however, New York’s offense ranks just outside of the top ten in points scored, standing at 11th overall, only one spot behind Tom Brady and the New England Patriots, with 81 total points.

Translation? All is not lost for New York just yet, despite countless fans and media members declaring them dead without Revis lurking in the defensive secondary. For a team ranking in the bottom tier in defense and rushing offense, New York still stands at 2-1 and first in the AFC East. However, it is no secret that this team needs vast improvements in most aspects of the game, otherwise they will in fact suffer the complete landslide that everyone seems to be waiting for.

How can the Jets get back into that upper tier of teams without Revis? It begins with a few things. First, the Jets need to begin to limit Shonn Greene’s touches. By now, it is no secret that Greene is not the feature back New York thought he was going to turn into. Averaging an extremely disappointing 3.1 YPC this season, Greene has been arguably the most boring running back in the NFL this year. His lack of ability to make defenders miss and break tackles is noticeable to even the most fair weather fans. It is time Tony Sparano begins to divide his workload amongst the other backs on the Jets roster, namely Bilal Powell, who averaged 4.5 YPC last week in Miami, and (you guess it) Tim Tebow. Rex Ryan will also need to prove how great of a defensive mind he really is. Without Revis eliminating a player from opposing offenses, Ryan is going to need to show what made him such a successful defensive coordinator during his days in Baltimore. He will need to be very creative both schematically and personnel wise in order for this defense to assert itself as one of the league’s best again.

This week is sure to be a daunting test for each area of improvement for the Jets. Will New York be able to make the necessary adjustments in all phases of the game to overcome the powerhouse that is the San Francisco 49ers? Find out how it all will shake out in this week’s New York Jets Fact Or False.

Quinton Coples will register his 1st NFL sack. Fact. As good as San Francisco’s offensive line is in the running game, they have struggled so far in protecting quarterback Alex Smith this season. Smith has been sacked 10 times through the first three games this year. While Green Bay, Detroit, and Minnesota certainly have better pass rushes than the Jets, don’t be surprised to see New York’s first round selection get himself his first career sack this Sunday.

Although he has seen limited reps in his first few games, Rex Ryan proclaimed today that he expects the rookie out of North Carolina to take on a heavier workload this week. Coples has been an absolute mismatch when he’s been lined up on the inside on passing downs due to his superior athleticism against interior lineman. He has also been tremendous on the few stunts that he has run, often playing with excellent agility and leverage. Expect Ryan and Defensive Coordinator Mike Pettine to get creative with their blitzes and stunts this week to confuse an offensive line that has struggled in pass protection this season. That could very well leave the door open for Coples to get to Smith for his first, of what could be many, NFL sacks.

Mark Sanchez will finish with a higher passer rating than Alex Smith. False. This is not to say that Sanchez will not play good. However in terms of passing efficiency, there have been very few who have done it better than Smith over the past year. This season alone, Smith ranks 7th in passer rating among all starting quarterbacks in the NFL with a rating of 102.7, that includes 5 touchdowns to just 1 interceptions and a completion percentage of 69.6.

Sanchez on the other hand ranks last in the league in terms of completion percentage, having completed just 50.5% of his passes with passer rating of 78.3. Of course, Sanchez has been hindered by the Jets’ lack of running ability as well as a very inexperienced group of receivers.

This is not to say that this unit will not get it together and outperform Smith and the 49ers’ passing attack this Sunday, however, the primary X-Factor in this is the absence of Darrelle Revis. Without Revis in the secondary, opposing teams are completing over 70% of their passes against New York. When facing a team like San Francisco, whose entire passing game is built on efficiency and a lack of mistakes, it will be very difficult for Sanchez to outperform his counterpart.

Frank Gore will rush for 100+ yards. Fact. Over the course of his first three games, Gore has run for 264 yards on just 45 carries, for an excellent average of 5.9 YPC. Although he has surpassed the century mark just once this season, he has yet to be given a heavy workload, with a season high of 17 carries in week 2 against Detroit.

This week, however, expect San Francisco to put the Jets 22nd ranked defense to the test. Based on the success that CJ Spiller and Reggie Bush experienced against this defense, the 49ers would be wise to give Gore the ball early and often. While New York is much better suited to defend backs like Gore, rather than Spiller or Bush, do not be surprised to see the former Miami Hurricane get anywhere from 20-25 carries, taking him over the 100 yard mark for the second time this season.

The Jets will not surpass 100 yards rushing as a team. False. Yes, the Jets have struggled to run the ball this season, but as addressed above, that is a heavy result of the inabilities of Shonn Greene. To think that New York is going to abandon its ground and pound philosophy after just three games under Sparano is utter blasphemy. New York’s inability to run the ball is undoubtedly keeping Sparano up at night, surely enough to devise a very clever game plan against one of the league’s top defenses.

Sparano and co. are likely wise enough to realize that they will struggle to pound the ball against this defense in jumbo packages. Expect New York to come out in various spread formations, and actually look to pass early to open up the running game. If Sanchez can be efficient and prove to be able to stretch the field in the first few offensive drives, San Francisco will have no choice but to unload the box, giving New York ample space to run the ball. The Jets should divide the workload amongst an abundance of ball carriers who will all collectively gain over 100 yards.

At least 4 different players will carry the ball for the Jets. Fact. As touched on above, Shonn Greene’s days as a 20-25 carry back are seemingly over. It is time for the Jets to divide his carries amongst Powell, Tebow, and possibly the newly acquired Jonathan Grimes. While Greene will likely still get around 10-12 carries this Sunday, look for Powell to cut into that load the most with about 15-17 carries. Tebow will likely chip in out of the Wildcat with somewhere around 5-7 carries, and New York would be foolish not to give the ball to the speedy Grimes, or the recently “traded” Joe McKnight a few times to attempt a home run play.

While the Shanahan approach of playing an abundance of Running Backs is not necessarily a popular one in this league, Greene has left the Jets with no choice. In order for this offense to get on track, they need to be able to run the ball, and in order to be able to run the ball, the Jets need to divide the workload, plain and simple.

New York Jets Fact Or False: Week 3 Edition

Chris Gross weekly Fact or False previews the Jets/Dolphins week 3 match-up

The New York Jets head into their third regular season game, a road trip to Miami, standing at 1-1, coming off of a very abysmal performance in Pittsburgh. As the Jets gear up to face the Dolphins, a seemingly must win game with San Francisco and Houston lurking afterwards, there are numerous issues to be addressed with this team. Which New York Jets will show up in Miami and in the coming weeks? Will it be the team that crushed Buffalo in the season opener led by an offensive explosion? Or will it be the team that faced the same troubles that haunted it last season – offensive woes and an inability to get the defense off the field on third down?

The Jets have come under heavy scrutiny following the loss to Pittsburgh. Mark Sanchez went from the league’s most improved Quarterback in week 1, to the scapegoat of the New York media that infatuates the Daily News more than Justin Bieber does to a teenaged girl. The mainstream media in this city has the most extreme love/hate relationship with the Jets’ fourth year quarterback. Simply put, they love to hate him.

What about the running game? What happened to that vaunted ground and pound that was preached all offseason? Tim Tebow was supposed to be a key part of Shonn Greene’s supporting cast, but so far, he has been completely irrelevant to this offense. Speaking of Greene, will he ever reveal himself to be the bell cow the Jets think he can be, or is it time to start spreading his carries out amongst New York’s stable of less than average running backs?

In terms of the defense, can the Jets prove that they can stop an elusive running back? While the run defense was fantastic last week in Pittsburgh, the Steelers’ didn’t exactly put Barry Sanders on the field. The Jets were gashed by CJ Spiller for 169 yards on opening day, continuing the trend that began last season of not being able to match up with speedy backs. Can they stop Reggie Bush, coming off of a career performance, the shifty Lamar Miller, and the rest of the Dolphins’ rushing attack this week?

Find out all of this, and much more, in this week’s New York Jets Fact Or False.

1.) Shonn Greene will average at least 4.0 YPC. False. Greene’s career high, in terms of yards per carry, against Miami came last year in the forgettable season finale, when he accumulated 55 yards on 14 carries, for a 3.9 YPC average. Now, Greene is coming off of two very sub par performances against Buffalo and Pittsburgh where he averaged 3.5 and 2.1 YPC, respectively.

Miami, on the other hand, has allowed just 3.0 YPC to Arian Foster in week 1, along with a ridiculous 2.0 YPC to Darren McFadden at home last week. To put it nicely, Miami has shut down two backs that are quite a bit more accomplished than Greene. Expect the Jets to rely on Greene for about 12-15 carries, while finally spreading the carries out amongst their other three runners in Bilal Powell, Joe McKnight, and Tim Tebow. With how Greene has played, combined with how excellent Miami’s run defense has been, there should be no reason for the Jets to believe that Greene can carry the entire rushing load on Sunday. Powell, McKnight, and Tebow have all been fair in the select time they’ve been given, so it is time to see what they can do with an expanded workload. Tony Sparano needs to get the ball to Powell and McKnight in space, via screens, sweeps, or misdirections. He should not be afraid to swing for the fences with these two on Sunday.

As for Tebow, it is time New York stop being so careful with their prolific backup quarterback. It seems as though the fear amongst the coaching staff is that if Tebow plays well in expanded minutes, they will face public pressure to insert him as the starter over Mark Sanchez, in the event that number 6 begins to truly struggle. However, if they use Tebow primarily as a runner, which they absolutely should be doing, he can be just another tool to assist the run game and take some pressure off of Greene.

However the game plan unfolds, do not expect Greene to surpass the 4.0 YPC mark. It simply is not going to happen.

Mark Sanchez will throw for 225+ yards and 2 TDs. Fact. Defensively, the Dolphins are built very much like the Buffalo Bills. They have a very above average front seven, with an extremely suspect secondary, even more so due to the recent departure of CB Vontae Davis. While the Jets running game may struggle to get going early, expect Sparano to allow Sanchez to sling the ball deep. Santonio Holmes, Stephen Hill, and Jeremy Kerley all have the ability to stretch the field, and when facing a secondary like Miami’s, there should certainly be free reign to do so.

The key will be for Holmes and Hill to prove they can respond to press coverage. Dolphins CB Sean Smith is a very physical player, and you can rest assured he took note of how Holmes and Hill struggled with the physicality of the Pittsburgh secondary last week. If Sparano can dial up some creative routes, and the Jets can prove to play well against this type of coverage, expect Sanchez to have a field day against this secondary.

3.) Reggie Bush will run for 100+ yards. False. While the Jets certainly have had their struggles with speed backs over the past season and two games (as previously noted), Bush will likely be their primary focus this week. In his sole contest against New York last year, the former Heisman Trophy winner picked up 71 yards on just 10 carries, for an eye-popping 7.1 YPC average. However, that was a Miami team that had a pro bowl receiver in Brandon Marshall, and a veteran quarterback in Matt Moore.

This time around, Miami brings out an offense led by a rookie at quarterback whose primary receiving option is Brian Hartline. Expect New York to key Bush early and often, and do everything they can to prevent him from getting the ball in space. Bart Scott looked quicker than he has in years last week in Pittsburgh, and although the Steelers’ backs certainly do not posses the speed of Bush, it is undoubtedly a sign of encouragement. Do not be surprised to see Rex Ryan send LaRon Landry on some Safety blitzes early in the game to introduce Bush to his hard hitting style, with the hope of rattling the 7th year pro and setting the tone from the beginning.

4.) Cameron Wake will have at least one sack. False. While Wake has established himself as one of the most ferocious pass rushers in the NFL over the past three years, he has registered just 2 sacks against the Jets in 6 contests. What’s even more surprising is the fact that he did not get to Sanchez at all over two games last year. This is likely a result of the Jets giving the recently (and thankfully) departed Wayne Hunter an abundance of help on Wake last year, something they will likely do again with Austin Howard this Sunday. While Howard is certainly an improvement over Hunter, Wake is Miami’s best defensive player and will be accounted for at all times. Sacks could still come from Miami, but Wake will likely be neutralized due to the high amount of attention the Jets will give him.

5.) The Jets will register multiple sacks. Fact. Dolphins Quarterback Ryan Tannehill has been sacked 4 times over the course of his first two NFL games, including three in the opener in Houston. While the Jets’ pass rush isn’t nearly as good as the Texans’, Rex Ryan and Mike Pettine will be sure to draw up some exotic blitzes to get in position to bring the rookie to the ground. New York sacked Ben Roethlisberger 3 times last week in Pittsburgh, but realistically had opportunities to bring him down at least thrice more. Tannehill is not nearly as difficult to bring down as Big Ben, so expect the Jets to finish this week. Tannehill should have some serious grass stains on his back come Sunday afternoon.

6.) Ryan Tannehill will throw 2 interceptions. Fact. Tannehill looked promising in last week’s win against Oakland, however in his opening day start against Houston, the Texas A&M product struggled mightily, throwing 3 interceptions to start his NFL career. This was largely due to Houston Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips getting extremely creative in his coverages and blitz packages, making Tannehill extremely uncomfortable and forcing him into making bad decisions. Like Phillips, Ryan and Pettine will look to confuse the rookie from the start. Expect the Jets to do a good job of disguising coverages and sending pressure at Tannehill. If they can rattle his cage early, it would not come as a surprise to see the young QB become overwhelmed, and turn the ball over more than once.

Oh, and if that wasn’t enough, this guy makes his return this week.

New York Jets Fact Or False: Week 2 Edition

Chris Gross weekly Fact or False previews the New York Jets week 2 match-up against the Pittsburgh Steelers

The New York Jets are coming off what is arguably their most impressive victory since defeating New England in the 2010 playoffs. The week 1 effort against Buffalo revealed a team that was clicking on all cylinders, recording touchdowns through all three phases of the game in route to a record setting opening day points total. That being said, the Jets face a daunting task heading into week 2 where they will travel to Heinz Field in Pittsburgh to take on the Steelers, who are fresh off of an opening day loss to Peyton Manning and the newly revamped Denver Broncos. Will the Jets offense be able to duplicate the success it had it week 1? And will the defense be able to shut down Ben Roethlisberger and his surplus of offensive weapons? This week’s New York Jets Fact Or False examines these issues, and more.

Mark Sanchez and the Offensive Line will be on their toes all game. Fact. While the Offensive Line did an excellent job last week in preventing Quarterback Mark Sanchez from getting sacked against a superbly talented Buffalo pass rush, Pittsburgh will be an entirely different animal this week. Steelers Defensive Coordinator Dick LeBeau is one of the most experienced and creative defensive minds in all of football who is notorious for developing creative and aggressive blitz packages to make preparation an absolute nightmare for opposing offenses.

Last week against Denver, when lined up in a normal defensive formation –any formation other than goal line, special teams, two point conversions- Pittsburgh blitzed 48% of the time (24/50 total plays). Of those blitzes, 13 came from the interior, while 11 were sent off the edge, all on a variety of downs. What this means is that LeBeau and the defensive staff are very good at not revealing any tendencies. It is extremely difficult to predict when and where the blitz will be coming from, therefore the pass protection for New York must be alert and ready to go on every offensive snap. In a game that both teams will be very defensively active, one lapse in pass protection could end up being the play that determines the game.

Sanchez will go another game without being sacked. False. Although the fact that Sanchez was not sacked once in the season opener is an extremely encouraging sign for the Jets offensive line, it is extremely rare to go duplicate that success in consecutive games, particularly against a blitz happy team like Pittsburgh. LeBeau and his staff will certainly get far more creative with their blitz packages than Dave Wannstedt was last week.

One of the reasons Sanchez was so successful against Buffalo was because of how comfortable he was in the pocket. You can be certain that LeBeau took notice of this and will do everything he can to keep him from regaining a similar level of comfort. Expect him to mix it up with blitz packages all game, and to really test Jets Right Tackle Austin Howard who will be making only his second career start. Sanchez will need to be elusive and remain poised on every offensive possession.

The Jets will look to get their Wide Receivers the ball in space. Fact. Last week, Peyton Manning did an excellent job of getting the ball to his receivers in space to allow them to make plays after the catch. The most notable example was the 71-yard touchdown from Demaryius Thomas on a simple, short out route, in which Thomas made multiple players on the Steelers defense miss after the catch on his way to the end zone. Expect the Jets to try and replicate plays like this. Santonio Holmes, Stephen Hill, and Jeremy Kerley all have excellent run after the catch ability, so expect Offensive Coordinator Tony Sparano to try and find holes in Pittsburgh’s defense that will allow his receivers to make some plays in space. As we have seen in the past, and particularly last week with Hill and Kerley, anyone of these players has the ability to break off a big gain on any particular play. It will be very interesting, again, to see what kind of game plan Sparano draws up.

Antonio Brown and Mike Wallace are the extent of the Jets defensive worries. False. While Brown and Wallace are certainly two of the most dangerous offensive weapons, not only in Pittsburgh, but in the entire NFL, Roethlisberger and Steelers Offensive Coordinator Todd Haley like to share the wealth. Last week, Roethlisberger targeted Brown and Wallace a combined 14 times, while targeting Wide Receiver Emmanuel Sanders and Tight End Heath Miller a combined 15 times. Roethlisberger also completed passes to 8 different targets throughout the course of the game. While defending Brown and Wallace will be imperative to this game, the Jets cannot afford to ignore the rest of Pittsburgh’s offensive weapons. Sanders in particular could cause serious problems for New York if he isn’t defended properly. He is an excellent slot receiver with great speed and elusiveness, and does an excellent job of running routes and finding holes in coverage. The Jets will need to click on all cylinders in coverage this week.

Ben Roethlisberger will try to get the ball to Heath Miller as much as possible. Fact. Roethlisberger has an undying faith in his Tight End, Heath Miller, and it showed last week in Denver, particularly on “and goal” situations. Roethlisberger repeatedly looked to Miller inside the ten yard line, often attempting to force the ball to him. On one particular play early in the game, Roethlisberger had Wide Receiver Antonio Brown open in the end zone on a post route, but never looked his way as he was locked in on Miler the entire way, leading to a bad decision, and incomplete pass. Roethlisberger eventually found Miller later in the game for a 4-yard touchdown.

It will be imperative that the Jets safeties and linebackers play well in coverage this week. With how much Roethlisberger will look to get the ball to the trustworthy Tight End, especially close to the endzone, the slightest slip up in coverage on Miller will undoubtedly hurt this defense.

The Jets will register multiple sacks on Ben Roethlisberger. Fact. Although the Jets did not register a sack in week 1, expect them to exploit some weaknesses in Pittsburgh’s offensive line. The Right Tackle position for the Steelers was attacked mightily by Denver last week, as Marcus Gilbert fills in for the injured rookie Mike Adams. Denver went after Gilbert and it showed in a very big way as they registered 5 sacks and 9 Quarterback Hits as a team, including 2 sacks from Von Miller who put on a clinic against Gilbert. Like LeBeau, Rex Ryan and Mike Pettine will get very creative with their blitz packages, and will look to exploit the weakness at Right Tackle. Expect to see multiple looks consisting of Quinton Coples, Muhammed Wilkerson, and Aaron Maybin lined up over Gilbert, with countless blitzes mixed in. For anyone who is a major proponent of defensive creativity, this game should be extremely fun to watch from both sides.

TOJ THURSDAY NIGHT STAFF PICKS

  • Joe Caporoso – Green Bay (-5)
  • Chris Gross – Chicago (+5)
  • Mike Donnelly – Chicago (+5)
  • TJ Rosenthal – Chicago (+5)
  • Rob Celletti – Green Bay (-5)
  • Chris Celletti – Green Bay (-5)