Early thoughts on the New York Jets week 8 match-up against the Miami Dolphins
A collection of early thoughts on the New York Jets critical week 8 match-up against the Miami Dolphins –
1. This game is without question a must win and has the potential to be a turning point in the Jets season in either a positive or negative way. They can’t afford to drop to 2-2 in the division, 3-4 in the AFC, take a season split with Miami, and have to sit on the loss for two weeks before heading cross country to Seattle, a game the Jets will appropriately be underdogs in. A victory keeps them within one game of New England, guarantees a tie-breaker with Miami (who will be a wild-card contender) and puts their conference record over .500. You can’t lose this game at home to a rookie quarterback.
2. Nobody is saying Ryan Tannehill hasn’t played well for a rookie or that the Miami Dolphins aren’t a talented team. Yet many people are getting carried away with their lofty praise. Let’s keep in mind Tannehill was 16/36 with a INT returned for a touchdown in the team’s previous meeting which was about a month ago. The Dolphins have beat Oakland and St. Louis at home along with a Bengals team on the road, who couldn’t even beat the Cleveland Browns. Overall, Miami is 1-2 on the road, averaging 16 points per game and Tannehill only has 1 TD pass between the three games.
3. The Jets are going to have their hands full with Miami’s running game. They were gashed back in week 3 and that was with Reggie “Don’t Call Me Hot Sauce” Bush missing the entire second half. It is doubtful that Sione Pou’ha and Kenrick Ellis are going to play making the challenge even more difficult. If the Jets can slow down Bush, it will put that much more pressure on Tannehill and likely force him into a handful of mistakes.
4. On offense, the Dolphins are stout in the front seven. The Jets can’t be stubborn and try to force the running game if it isn’t there. This Dolphins secondary can be exploited. Jeremy Kerley is rolling right now and hurt the Dolphins with two big plays in the previous meeting. Dustin Keller is back after missing week 3 and Stephen Hill looks to be 100 percent healthy. Tony Sparano and Mark Sanchez can’t be shy about throwing down the field.
5. Look for Antonio Cromartie to cover Brian Hartline for most of the game. If Cromartie keeps playing the way he has been, I’m not sure who else in the Dolphins passing game is going to hurt the Jets.
Turn On The Jets breaks down the offensive game film from Jets vs. Patriots
Turn On The Jets is back with another offensive film breakdown. Make sure to check back later in the day for Chris Gross’ breakdown of the defensive game tape. Today the primary focus is going to be on the passing game, which the Jets found a good amount of success with against New England. We will be looking at both “Good Sanchez” and “Bad Sanchez” and why Jeremy Kerley, Dustin Keller and Stephen Hill were so successful at getting open.
The first two passing plays of the game were a perfect demonstration of Mark Sanchez’s inconsistency at quarterback. Tony Sparano called for a skinny post from the slot to Jeremy Kerley, which was executed to perfection. A good route from Kerley and a pinpoint throw from Sanchez in-between two defenders for a 20+ yard gain. The next play, Sparano goes right back to the well with the same play except to the opposite side with Stephen Hill in the slot. Encouragingly, Hill runs a very good route and gets himself wide open. Unfortunately, Sanchez overthrows him after just hitting a much harder throw to a much smaller target the play before. Frustrating to say the least.
The presence of Dustin Keller in the line-up made an enormous difference to the Jets passing offense. New England was forced to pay extra attention to Kerley on the outside, leaving Keller with one on one match-ups over the middle. Sanchez is extremely comfortable with Keller, particularly over the middle of the field. These are two separate 10+ yard completions, where Keller runs an option route, breaks the proper way and Sanchez correctly leads him away from the linebacker allowing him to turn up field. Expect to see a ton more of this throughout the year.
Sanchez only threw 12 incompletions throughout this game out of 38 attempts. At least five of those incompletions could be credited as drops. On the whole he was very accurate. However, Sanchez had his share of poor decisions as well. The interception was an indefensible mistake. He had two open receivers underneath, who he ignored and then floated an ugly, under-thrown pass to Stephen Hill. Later in the first half he tried to force this pass to Jeremy Kerley who is double covered and technically triple covered if you count the referee. He was lucky this didn’t turn into his second interception.
An appropriately criticized play-call was Tony Sparano’s decision to throw a slant to Chaz Schilens on 3rd and 1 near the red-zone. Regardless, the play was executed to perfection up until the ball went right through Schilens’ hands. This was a good route, a very good throw and a bad drop. Part of the reason you don’t make this call is because the Jets lack a big receiver who is reliable enough to make this play every single time.
Sanchez and Jeremy Kerley put on a clinic on how to operate the smash/fan combination in this game. Basically the Jets consistently had their outside receiver release on a short stop or in route and would send Kerley on a deep corner from the slot. The Jets completed this four times throughout the game, including this 19 yard gain where Sanchez drops a beautiful pass in all the way across the field.
We further see Sanchez’s arm strength on this touchdown pass to Dustin Keller. Look at how small that window is. Sanchez threw an absolute bullet in-between three defenders. There aren’t many people in the league capable of making this throw and I got news for you, Tim Tebow isn’t one of them.
A major point of contention towards the end of this game was Mark Sanchez taking a third down sack before the Jets go-ahead field goal. Anybody who criticized Sanchez in this situation is clueless (looking at you SNY). The Jets rolled Sanchez out and had Jeremy Kerley wide open at the 5 yard line. Sanchez cocks his arm back to fire it in to him but Kerley slips on his break so Sanchez pulls the ball back down. When he does pull the ball back down, he is immediately wrapped up. He then smartly takes the sack because if he threw the ball away, it would save New England a time-out. Yes, he added 10 yards to the field goal attempt but the Jets were so deep into field goal territory it didn’t matter at that point.
A few other player observations –
Jeremy Kerley – He is developing at such an impressive rate. Kerley runs precise routes and shows tremendous hands/toughness at consistently catching the ball in traffic. Honestly, he looks like a younger, quicker version of Santonio Holmes. Mike Tannenbaum got a steal in the fifth round.
Stephen Hill – His route running is really improving on a weekly basis. Outside of his drop, he easily played his best game as a pro. He made tough catches in traffic and did a nice job working back to the football on his routes. There is still going to be mistakes from time to time but Hill is going to be a very good NFL receiver, it is only a matter of time.
Shonn Greene – A solid effort from Greene, who picked up tough yards and somehow returned after taking an enormous shot from Brandon Spikes. Greene also deserves credit for being active in the passing game, where he made a positive impact and made a few difficult catches.
Joe McKnight – Ran very well, especially considering he played basically on one leg. When he is 100 percent healthy, it is hard to see him not being a much larger part of the offense.
OL – This was an ugly game for Matt Slauson and Brandon Moore. Shockingly, it might not be a bad idea to start giving Ducasse even more of Slauson’s reps. There is no discernible drop off between the two and Ducasse has a higher upside. D’Brickashaw Ferguson and Nick Mangold both played terrific, Pro-Bowl caliber games. Austin Howard was “meh” but the Jets generally do a good job of giving him help.
The new look New York Jets passing game has a high amount of potential and the Jets must take advantage of it
There was excessive lazy analysis by many NFL writers over the past month that characterized the New York Jets passing offense as a “wasteland” that lacked any talent. This went hand in hand with the analysis that ranked them as one of the worst teams in the league, which is a laughable assertion at this point. The Jets aren’t Jacksonville. The Jets aren’t Kansas City. The Jets aren’t Oakland. The worst teams in the league don’t beat the Colts by 30 points, don’t lose to the 6-1 Texans by 6 and don’t take the Patriots to overtime in their building.
But back to the Jets passing game. When all this criticism was being thrown around there was an ignorance of just how much Jeremy Kerley had been progressing. Kerley has pulled in 25 receptions on 40 targets so far this season, racking up 435 yards at an impressive 17.4 yards per catch. Over the last 3 weeks he is top ten in the NFL in both receiving yards and receptions. The much maligned by Mike Tannenbaum appears to have found a gem in the fifth round of the 2011 draft. Kerley has underrated speed to go with his quickness in and out of breaks on his routes. For such a young receiver, the precision on those routes has been extremely impressive. He has also shown consistent hands and an ability to make tough catches in traffic. Kerley has looked the part of a very capable lead receiver the past few weeks.
The value of a healthy Dustin Keller was also glossed over by many. Keller showed in the running game against the Colts as a surprisingly solid blocker but really made noise this past week against New England with 7 catches for 93 yards and a touchdown. With Kerley producing on the outside and in the slot, it frees up the middle of the field and creates favorable match-ups for Keller. Without an unnecessary amount of balls being funneled to Santonio Holmes, Keller should be able to consistently put up strong numbers.
Despite everybody being down on Stephen Hill because of a critical late game drop, he has flashed very good potential through 7 games. He is also now fully healthy. Hill has only logged four games this season that weren’t hampered by injury (he missed two and was clearly banged up against Miami), in those four games he has three touchdowns, 12 catches and 167 yards. Before dropping that pass, he had four tough catches in traffic and showed good body control and discipline on his routes. A rookie out of a triple-option offense is going to make mistakes but Hill is still going to make his share of big plays. Defenses must respect his speed and size, which will only further open things up for Kerley and Hill.
Outside of those three, you have two role players who at least have good speed and have made a few plays in Jason Hill and Clyde Gates. Hill drew a critical pass interference penalty against New England because he beat his man on a double move and caught a touchdown against Indianapolis. Gates had an impressive 27 yard catch against the Texans. Chaz Schilens is coming off a rough outing against New England but prior to that had been a productive possession receiver. It will be interesting to see if his role is reduced moving forward.
Obviously everything comes back to Mark Sanchez, who has quietly made strides over the past two weeks despite the usual round of criticism. Over the past two weeks here are his stats – 39/59 (66 completion percentage), 410 yards, 3 touchdowns, 1 interception. Sanchez is going to make his share of mistakes just like the overwhelming majority of quarterbacks in this league but the Jets can’t by shy about letting him throw aggressively down the field when the match-ups dictate it. After a brutal start against the Dolphins, Sanchez carved them up the in fourth quarter and overtime, finishing with over 300 yards passing and leading the go ahead drive in the 4th quarter and game winning drive in overtime. Miami is strong in the front seven but questionable in the secondary. The Jets must attack down the field.
There are going to be match-ups the Jets need to be more careful about (see on the road in Seattle) but for the most part, they can’t be shy about utilizing Kerley, Keller and Hill who many teams will have a tough time matching up with. The Jets passing game, like their entire team is not the punchline it is generally portrayed to be and has the potential to keep them very relevant in the division and playoff race.
Ten truths about the New York Jets through their first seven games
Yesterday’s game was arguably the most frustrating regular season loss since Rex Ryan has taken over as the New York Jets head coach. It has led to heated debates among New York Jets fans and writers about how to assess the blame for the squandering of such a golden opportunity. Despite correctly picking the winner in every Jets game so far this season and thus having their record be exactly what I expected right now, it still feels like time to search for some truths on this team after 7 games.
1 – Mark Sanchez is ridiculously inconsistent – Sanchez played a terrific second half of football yesterday, probably as good as we’ve ever seen him play. We saw a similarly effective quarterback against Buffalo, late in the game against Miami and in spurts in other games. However, Sanchez has also played some of the worst football of his career this season and made a handful of inexcusably bad decisions and throws. He needs support around him to consistently pull out victories. You can win with an inconsistent quarterback but you better avoid too many mistakes in other areas of the game.
2 – Mark Sanchez is the starting quarterback for the rest of the season – Even if you don’t think Sanchez is the long term guy for this team, which is a valid feeling at this point, he is without question their best option for the rest of this season. If he plays like he did yesterday the rest of the year, the Jets are winning 9-10 games and making the playoffs. You could give Tim Tebow 100 opportunities and he couldn’t complete the touchdown that Sanchez did to Dustin Keller yesterday, along with any of the deep seven routes to Jeremy Kerley. Sanchez is the best option at quarterback on this roster. There was never a real quarterback controversy on this team and there isn’t now.
3 – Rex Ryan and Tony Sparano wanted no part of Tim Tebow this off-season – There was no football motivation behind this trade as the Jets came into the season with no plan on how to use him and still haven’t really figured it out. Tebow has value in short yardage and as a change of pace runner out of the Wildcat but the Jets can’t even get him on the field for 3rd and 1s instead of throwing slants to Chaz Schilens.
4 – We have a Tony Sparano problem – As soon as the Jets broke the huddle and went into a shotgun 4 wide formation on 3rd and 1 against New England yesterday, everybody in their right mind knew a poor play call was coming. The Jets had been extremely effective in third and short with Shonn Greene and should have simply handed him the ball. Beyond that, going empty and letting Tim Tebow run up the middle isn’t going to be stopped in that situation, period. You don’t throw a backside slant there unless you have an elite receiver who has good size. The Jets don’t have that player on their roster right now. Chaz Schilens certainly isn’t it. Just an awful, inexcusable play-call and it hasn’t been the first time that has happened this year. Sparano has struggled with his red-zone play-calling and getting a feel for when to be aggressive and when not to be. There are 7 games in the books now and I know there has been moving parts on offense because of injuries, but it is time to recognize what you have and take advantage of it.
5 – Jeremy Kerley is a very good wide receiver – The Jets are going to try like hell to trade Santonio Holmes this off-season but will have a tough time finding any takers because of how much guaranteed money he is owed. Kerley looks like a younger, faster version of Holmes without the baggage. There is a very real chance he could put together a 1,000 yard season this year which would give him the same amount in his career that Holmes has. Kerley’s rapid maturation has been the best story on the offensive side of the football so far for the Jets. We criticize Mike Tannenbaum all the time and will continue to do so when it is justified but it looks like the Kerley pick was a steal.
6 – The coaching staff/front office is wisely embracing a youth movement and starting to recognize some of their mistakes – Quinton Coples and Demario Davis are slowly turning into full time players. Antonio Allen and Marcus Dowtin have been brought on the active roster. Marcus Dixon was cut. Bart Scott is seeing less playing time. John Conner was cut and replaced by a much more effective Lex Hilliard. Joe McKnight is starting to play more on offense. They ignored pressure to sign a veteran big name receiver. These are baby steps but they are all steps in the right direction.
7 – When you rely on young players, mistakes are going to happen – Stephen Hill can’t drop that pass yesterday. It was a brutal mistake at the worst possible moment. Regardless, Hill has flashed enough potential this season to know that he is the opening day starting split end next season. He is going to play major reps the rest of the year and learn on the job, which is going to cost the Jets at times. You will see the same thing with Davis, Coples and Allen on defense. However, in the long term the positives will outweigh the negatives.
8 – The Jets are painfully shorthanded at outside linebacker – When you run as much 3-4 as the Jets do, you need outside linebackers who can rush the passers. The Jets have zero who can. Calvin Pace, Bryan Thomas and Aaron Maybin have a combined 2 sacks between them through 7 games. Pace has value as a run stopper but that’s it. Maybin isn’t good enough to make any impact at all most weeks. Bryan Thomas is finished. Rex Ryan must find a way to manufacture a pass rush by utilizing his secondary more on blitzes.
9 – Antonio Cromartie is an All-Pro and is leading a very good secondary minus Darrelle Revis – Cromartie has played the best football of his career since Darrelle Revis went down with a season ending injury. Simply put, he has embraced and thrived in the role of being Rex’s new lockdown corner. LaRon Landry has been a very good addition and helped improve the safety play from last year. Even Kyle Wilson has been better in previous weeks. The secondary has rallied after the Revis’ injury and remains very good.
10 – The Jets are going to be in the division and playoff hunt – Anybody who classifies the Jets as an awful team or a bottom feeder isn’t paying attention. This is a team who will remain around .500 for the next few weeks and will have an opportunity to make a run late for a division title or a wild-cart spot. New England isn’t running away with anything this year (look at their schedule) and certainly nobody is pulling away in the AFC wild-card race.
The New York Jets lost a heartbreaker to their hated rivals in New England
The New York Jets lost a brutally painful game today to New England, in one that will be intensely debated about and vented over the next few days. Let’s try to go over a few key points of contention –
– Mark Sanchez finished 28/41 for 328 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Throughout the game he made impressive throws into tight windows and pushed the ball down the field, completing a large collection of passes over 20 yards. He also put the team on his back for a key 92 yard drive that got them back within 3 in the 4th quarter. Regardless, he threw an awful interception in the first half and fumbled the ball away in overtime. There will be intense criticism for those plays with a general ignorance of the 70% completion percentage and all the positive he accomplished, that is the nature of the business. However, you are kidding yourself if you think Tim Tebow should get anywhere near the starting quarterback job on this team. You are also kidding yourself if you think this loss falls 100% on Sanchez’s lap.
– The coaching left something to be desired today, to say the least. Tony Sparano calling a slant route to Chaz Schilens on a 3rd and 1 near the goal-line was just negligent considering how the Jets were running the ball in short yardage. They were content to settle for a field goal after recovering a fumble deep in Patriots territory after a kickoff return, when they could have attacked the end-zone. Rex Ryan’s defense was also not aggressive enough on the final drive of regulation or the first drive in overtime. They repeatedly kept rushing 3 or 4, instead of mixing a blitz in. If they needed to switch personnel (which they did), they should sacrificed a timeout for it in overtime.
– You can’t allow a kick return for a touchdown to be that easy .You can’t repeatedly go offsides. You can’t get personal fouls on punts that keeps the ball in New England’s hands. You can’t drop passes. These are mistakes that happen when you go young because of injuries and other necessities but they must be avoided to beat a team like New England.
– The Jets can’t afford their traditional post-Patriots game hangover. Next week’s game against Miami is of critical importance. They cannot afford to lose a home division game to them considering how tight the division and conference is going to be.
– Yes, the division remains wide open. The Jets are a flawed team. So is New England. They aren’t a 12 win team. They might not be a 10 win team. The Jets let one get away, which is what made this loss so painful but the Patriots aren’t running away in the division race.
– Jeremy Kerley is developing into a legitimate number one receiver. Dustin Keller was terrific today. Joe McKnight deserves a ton of credit for gutting through his ankle injury and putting together a productive game. Demario Davis showed flashes of why so many Jets fans were excited about him this summer.
– Get the venting out now Jets fans, you need to. It was an emotional roller coaster today. The Jets blew a golden opportunity but must now quickly regroup to keep pace in the jumbled AFC East.
Joe Caporoso talks with Mike Dussault of Pats Propaganda about the upcoming match-up between the Jets and Patriots
I had the opportunity to talk with one of our favorite writers behind enemy lines, Mike Dussault of Pats Propaganda, to preview the upcoming New York Jets/New England Patriots showdown. Here is our conversation –
JC – What is the issue with New England’s secondary and is it a solvable problem this season? Is it actually as bad as it is being hyped up to be?
MD – Really the only issue, and it’s a glaring one, is that they cannot stop the 20+ passing plays. They’re giving up almost 6 per game. It really just boils down to that, and it’s maddening because they’ve been the worst in the NFL at it for two seasons and just can’t seem to get it fixed. Now injuries have played into it somewhat. When Russell Wilson heaved the 46-yard game winning TD last weekend it was two rookies that were on the back end. But things weren’t especially better when it was starters Steve Gregory (out since week 4) and Patrick Chung (dinged at the end of the game).
JC – Are you surprised by some of the game management issues that are arising, particularly with two Hall of Famers like Belichick and Brady leading the way?
MD – Yes, there have definitely been some head scratching moments this year, like last week’s debacle at the end of the first half, where they took an intentional grounding with one second left inside the 10-yard line that basically cost them the game in the long run. They should’ve just kicked the field goal when they had the chance with 6 seconds left.
There are a couple factors contributing. With Josh McDaniels back and his aggressive/often unconventional style, and the Pats trying to execute at such a fast pace it has led to some of the miscues, but ultimately I think they’ll be okay in the long run. There’s no question they’re still trying to lock down their identity and I think that has played into it as well. Sometimes they’re unstoppable, other times they seem to be going backwards. They need consistency and with that the game management stuff will take care of itself.
JC – Can you talk about how New England has rebuilt this offense to be a dual threat with their newly found power running game?
MD – Honestly I don’t think they have much of a straight up power running game as some might think, and we saw that against the Seahawks last week. What they excel at is running on nickel and dime defenses, and once their passing game that’s when their run game is most dangerous.
Now there’s no question Stevan Ridley, Danny Woodhead and Brandon Boldin are still a more dynamic group than they’ve had in some time, but so far we’ve only seen them dominate the run game situationally, when teams are on their heels and overly concerned with the passing attack. Whether they can consistently move the ball on the ground to run the clock out and seal a win, when the opposition knows they’re trying to run, remains to be seen. This includes short yardage situations too. And we’ve already seen a ton of negative plays that were rare in recent history. Make no mistake, you’ve got to stop the passing game first and foremost.
JC – If you were the Jets how would you attack the New England defense? The New England offense?
MD – For the Jets offense you have to take some shots down the field. There’s no weaker link than the Patriots back end. They’ve been effective in stopping the run every week, with Brandon Spikes really being the tone setter there, and they’re a good tackling team for the most part as well. The short pass and ground attack is less effective so far this year than it has been in year’s past.
But if you look at Seattle’s game plan, they stuck with their ground game even though it wasn’t dominant and took a lot of play action shots down the field, especially on early downs. The Jets have some ammo to keep the Pats defense off balance, I’m sure Rex has been saving something Tebow-y just for New England. Those plays that confuse or put the Pats on their heels will open up the long balls down the field. But the difficult thing, and most key part, is not throwing interceptions on those deep shots. Simply put if Sanchez and the offense have one turnover or less they’ll be in the game until the end and then they just have to make the clutch plays. The Patriots defense lives or dies by turnovers, if you give them two or more New England will probably win.
For the Jets defense it’s all about patience. There will probably be a couple drives where the Patriots run no-huddle and look unstoppable. You just have to weather those storms and continue to force them to execute for 60 minutes. Because they’ve got a habit of going stone cold during crunch time. I know Rex loves to mix things up a lot, but the Pats no-huddle will make that difficult, so I’d say stay in base and simplify the calls so they can get in quickly. If the Jets go DB heavy the Patriots will not hesitate to run so they’ll have to be prepared for that as well.
Obviously they must try to confuse Brady’s reads as much as possible, and when the Pats offense goes no-huddle they must be prepared. So much of the damage New England does in the no-huddle is because teams are not lined up, don’t have the call, or simply gassed. You can’t give them anything easy. Make them work for it till the end and it’s entirely possible they won’t make the clutch plays in the clutch moments.
JC – Prediction for the game, how many wins the Patriots finish with and how many wins the Jets finish with?
MD – Well hey, I’m biased but even when I do my best to be non-biased I like the Pats in this one. They’re always tough coming off an embarrassing loss, even moreso at home. I’d expect them to bring their A-game this week.
The wild card is Sanchez and the deep ball. If the Jets can get a couple long scores, not turn the ball over, move the ball a bit on the ground, and keep it close until the 4th quarter it could be anybodies game.
Let’s go Pats 24, Jets 13.
At this point I like the Pats at 12-4. Jets 9-7.
MD – The Jets have had a season of injuries like none I’ve seen before. Who are some of the players that might be unknown to Patriots fans but have been elevating their play in the absence of so many starters?
JC – On offense, Jeremy Kerley has stepped into being the offense’s top playmaker. He is averaging over 17 yards per catch and has shown a consistent ability to create big plays down the field. The Jets receiving core gets a ton of flak for lacking talent but that isn’t a fair assessment. Outside of Kerley, Chaz Schilens has been a capable possession receiver and a healthy Stephen Hill has big play potential. He already has three touchdowns, despite missing 2 and 1/2 games.
On defense, Patriots fans know Antonio Cromartie obviously but he has taken his play to a different level in the absence of Darrelle Revis. The past three weeks have been the best I’ve seen Cromartie play since joining the team and he seems to have embraced a leadership role in the secondary.
MD – Is this a make or break year for Mark Sanchez? Has he progressed or regressed as a quarterback?
JC – Considering the structure of his contract, he will likely be back next year unless the bottom truly falls out on the season and his performance. Even the staunchest Sanchez apologist would have to admit he has regressed since the 2010 season. There have been flashes of strong play but the inconsistency has been maddening. The last two weeks have been baby steps in the right direction after a disastrous game against San Francisco. We have seen some of Sanchez’s best work against the Patriots since his career started, so hopefully he can keep building positive momentum.
MD – How have the defense and offense evolved this year, if they have? What kind of team are the Jets trying to be? Is ground and pound really accurate?
JC – Ground and Pound needs to go as an expression (which is why we changed the tag-line on our site haha). Prior to last week, the Jets had been dreadful running the football and stopping the run, along with having a non-existent pass rush. We saw strides in the right direction beginning the in second half against Houston and then carrying over to the Indianapolis game. On offense, they are still going to be run heavy but do take more shots down the field than they did under Brian Schottenheimer. On defense, Rex Ryan seems to recognize his base defense’s shortcomings and has slowly been getting more creative with his schemes and integrating younger players into more playing time.
MD – Name a player on offense and a player on defense that will be key to the Jets chances of knocking off the Patriots.
JC – Offensively, it has to be on Sanchez to hit his throws down the field. The Jets have the players on the outside who can beat the Patriots secondary deep (Hill, Kerley and yes even Cromartie) but Sanchez must be accurate. Defensively, they must knock Tom Brady off his mark and get him rattled early in the game. Muhammad Wilkerson and Quinton Coples are their best natural pass rushers and both must make an impact early and often.
MD – If you were the Patriots where would you attack the Jets offense and defense? What can be exploited?
JC – The Jets still lack speed at linebacker in a big way. I would be running to the outside heavily with RIdley and Woodhead, along with looking to hurt the Jets in the screen game. If the Jets try to match up the Patriots tight ends in man coverage with their safeties, it should be a match-up Brady can take advantage of as well. On defense, I would make Sanchez beat you. Bottle up the running game and force him to hit throws down the field into tight windows and hope he throws a few interceptions.
A few thoughts on how the New York Jets could game plan for the New England Patriots
The New York Jets head to New England this Sunday in a pivotal AFC East game between a pair of 3-3 teams. Despite having the same record, the Jets find themselves as 10.5 point underdogs. New England is a better team but the Jets have beat the Patriots in the past when they had less talented rosters than them. This is another “kitchen sink” game where Rex Ryan and the coaching staff needs to put together a creative game plan that doesn’t hold back any gadgets or surprises. How can the Jets give themselves a chance to pull off the upset?
Offense – New England is extremely weak in their secondary, giving up an inordinate amount of 20+ yard passing plays. Their corners and safeties have a difficult time playing the ball in the air and both position groups are generally lacking on talent. The Jets are going to have to take their shots down the field. This is the type of game they drafted Stephen Hill for. This is the type of game you give Antonio Cromartie another shot to run a pass route or two. Jeremy Kerley should be able to do some damage down the seam. Of course all of that is irrelevant if Mark Sanchez cannot be accurate with his deep passes. This is a big test for Sanchez. Can he take advantage of a weak secondary? In the past Sanchez has played some of his best games against New England (and some of his worst) – but he does have over a 100 quarterback rating in 4 of his 7 games against them. The Jets need “Good Sanchez” in a big way on Sunday.
Obviously the Jets can’t be one dimensional. They need a productive running game to open up play action passing down the field. Without Bilal Powell and Joe McKnight, that much more pressure will be on Shonn Greene to perform. Nobody is expecting him to duplicate last week’s performance but if he could give the Jets a solid 20 carry, 85 yard performance it will go a long way to helping their passing game out. Powell and McKnight’s absence could also lead to a bigger role for Tim Tebow.
I had an interesting conversation with Steve Hunter of Sports Geek, where he mentioned the possibility of using a “surprise” Wildcat that utilized Tebow in a hurry-up offense. New England uses their hurry-up to prevent defenses from subbing and allowing them to take advantage of team’s nickel personnel with their running game or their base personnel with their passing game. If the Jets started a series with Sanchez at quarterback and Tebow at one of the running back spots, they could move to a hurry up and alternate in plays where Tebow lines up quarterback before New England has a chance to substitute or react. This also wouldn’t be a bad game to allow Tebow to take a shot down the field, considering the Patriots vulnerable secondary.
Basically, the Jets need to get creative to manufacture points because New England is going to score their share. You aren’t winning this game with anything less than 24 on the board.
Defense – As previously mentioned, New England is going to gain their yards and score their share of points. The key is going to be, how many times can the Jets force the Patriots to settle for a field goal instead of letting them get in the end-zone? And can they force New England into a couple of turnovers? The Jets can’t allow the Patriots to rip off huge chunks of yardage. They have to make them work on long drives and hope they press eventually and Brady throws them an interception or Stevan Ridley coughs up a fumble.
New England thrives in their no huddle because they take advantage of a team’s inability to substitute and then gash them with their running game when they have personnel on the field to defend the pass. This is what makes having the personnel to run a “big nickel” that much more important. Rex Ryan seems to recognize that and smartly brought up hybrid safety/linebacker Antonio Allen last week and now this week has brought up another hybrid in Marcus Dowtin. These are the type of players you need to defend the Patriots, guys with coverage skills but who have the ability to play in the box and make tackles. Considering Eric Smith’s injury, look for extended reps for Allen and for Dowtin to be thrown right on the field like Allen was last week. At linebacker, Demario Davis should see a big chunk of Bart Scott’s playing time because of his speed and coverage skills.
Safeties LaRon Landry and Yeremiah Bell were brought in to help slow down the Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. They can’t match them in man to man coverage and it may be a good idea to give Antonio Cromartie a few shots on them in certain situations. However, they have the ability to get physical with them in the box and re-route or delay their routes in hopes of throwing their timing with Brady off. It will be imperative that Muhammad Wilkerson, Quinton Coples and Aaron Maybin generate a pass rush because Brady is a different quarterback when he is getting frequently hit.
Special Teams – If Joe McKnight doesn’t play, Antonio Cromartie will be the primary kick returner and he is always capable of ripping off a big return. Jeremy Kerley remains dangerous as a punt returner as well. Any points generated from special teams would be a huge bump in a game where the Jets are trying to pace themselves with the Patriots offense. I have a tough time seeing the Jets executing another fake punt because you know New England is going to be waiting for it. Let’s see how creative Mike Westhoff can get.
An offensive film breakdown of the New York Jets game against the Indianpolis Colts
This week’s Turn On The Jets offensive film breakdown is going to focus more on the running game, considering their success this past Sunday. Make sure you check back later in the day for our defensive film breakdown from Chris Gross –
This was a banner performance from the New York Jets offensive line, particularly guards Matt Slauson and Brandon Moore. They were dominant at the point of attack and consistently driving Colts defenders 4-5 yards off the football. Offensive coordinator Tomy Sparano was heavily reliant on Moore pulling into the hole and clearing out space for Greene. On his 21 yard run in the first quarter, look at the hole cleared out by Moore and then sealed off by Konrad Reuland and D’Brickashaw Ferguson. You won’t see a better blocked play in the NFL than this one –
Tight ends Dustin Keller, Jason Smith and even Jeff Cumberland deserve credit for their contributions in the running game. Keller in particular looked like a different player blocking against the run. Sparano’s game plan was built around the tight ends having a large role as blockers, not pass catchers and they responded.
While plenty of credit goes to the offense line, we won’t shy away from giving plenty to Shonn Greene. More impressive than his 21 yard run was this 7 yard one below, which showed vision, patience and power. Greene played this entire game in a different gear and finally ran like the true power back the Jets expect him to be. On this play, Greene correctly extends horizontally to get behind the pulling Matt Slauson
He sees the hole, plants and sharply cuts inside of it without stumbling or slowing down. This has been a frequent problem for him this season. Even more impressive, he began to absorb contact around a 2-3 yard gain on this play but charged forward and dragged three defenders and turned it into a 7 yard gain. Greene got more yards than were blocked up for him, instead of leaving yards on the field.
On his 10 yard touchdown run we saw more of the same. Greene quickly locates the hole and hits it at full speed. He is untouched until the 5 yard line when he is met by two defenders, with a third closing in. He absorbs contact and then keeps his legs churning to drag all three of them into the end-zone. By any standard, against any defense this a very impressive run. If he continues to play like this, the Jets offense has a chance to be consistently successful.
Finally a quick look at how the Jets properly used Tim Tebow. On a 3rd and 1 near the goal-line, the Jets lined Tebow up at quarterback with two running backs behind him, a variation of the Pistol formation. Tebow quickly calls for a shift to five wide. Look in the second image at how much confusion it causes on the Colts defense. When they settle, the Jets have 7 blockers in front of Tebow to deal with 8 Colts in the box. The Jets will take this match-up every single day of the week on a 3rd and 1 with Tebow under center. They should literally run this play every single time on 3rd and 2 or less until a defense shows they can stop it.
Mark Sanchez – He was not asked to do much in this game but played very well in his limited opportunities. In particular, his two touchdown passes were throws into tight windows. On the touchdown to Stephen Hill, he showed terrific chemistry with the young receiver as Hill properly broke the route off, Sanchez recognized it immediately and fired the ball in. Of his seven incompletions, one was a drop by Jeff Cumberland, one was thrown away on a busted screen, and one should have pass interference on the defender covering Chaz Schilens down the sideline. The only bad throw he missed was Jeremy Kerley down the seam on a third down where his timing was off.
Wide Receivers – Chaz Schilens still has a bad rep with some fans because of his injuries over the summer. The reality is that he has been very good for the Jets, catching 12 passes on 16 targets. He is turning into a favorite target of Sanchez on third downs and rightfully so. He runs sharp routes and aggressively attacks the ball in the air. He will be an important player in the Jets passing game moving forward. Stephen Hill also looked good in limited reps. He caught the ball well and did a nice job using his size to shield off defenders when catching a deep stop route and a slant.
Can the New York Jets remain a factor in the increasingly mediocre AFC?
In case you haven’t noticed, the 2012 AFC is a breeding ground of mediocrity. Through six weeks, only two teams are over .500 (Baltimore and Houston, both at 5-1) and there are seven teams sitting at 3-3. Beyond that, you have eight teams under .500, including five teams who are already at least two games under. Let’s take a quick, semi-serious look at the flaws with every team –
Houston (5-1) – They just lost Brian Cushing for the season and were stomped out in their own building by the Green Bay Packers. They barely scrapped by the Jets as they were acclimating about 6 new players to full time roles. When has Matt Schaub ever won an important game? Seriously, name one.
Baltimore (5-1) – No Lardarius Webb (a huge on field loss). No Ray Lewis (a huge locker room loss). Terrell Suggs still not all the way healthy and Haloti Ngata is banged up. They are almost entirely reliant on their offense right now. Is Joe Flacco really on that level yet? He has shown signs but did also only score 9 points against the Chiefs who couldn’t beat 11 sobbing Jason Whitlocks right now.
Jets (3-3) – Of course, I am listing them before all the other 3-3 teams not based any specific criteria just because this is a Jets website after all. I won’t go into the Jets flaws here because I do that every single day and night (check for our articles later today!)
Patriots (3-3) – Marquice Cole might be the best player in their secondary right now. Also they manage their games like you would if you played your little brother in Madden. Basically, you have Belichick and Brady keeping a Joe Biden sh*t eating grin on their face until they get an intentional grounding and a 10 second run off before the half so they can’t kick a field goal…and then lose by 1 point.
Denver (3-3) – You can’t fall behind 3 touchdowns and win every week because you can’t play Philip Rivers and Norv Turner every week. Their running backs are awful and their defense is criminally overrated (trust me, I know a criminally overrated defense when I see one…look at the team I cover).
San Diego (3-3) – Can’t wait until they finish 8-8 and somehow bring back Norv, their GM and Rivers for one more run! Remember, insanity is the definition of doing the same thing over and over again while expecting a different result.
Buffalo (3-3) – Mario Williams is the most overpaid player in football. Their defense is thoroughly atrocious They are a lock to go 1-5 in the AFC East. Oh and their fans will be seeing this sign on their way to games in a few years…
Miami (3-3) – Not sold on the Tannehill-Hartline love fest yet. Despite beating powerhouses like Oakland, St. Louis and Cincinnati who promptly turned around and got whipped by 0-5 Cleveland. Also Reggie Bush is inevitably going to get hurt.
Cincinnati (3-3) – AJ Green is a fantasy God-send. Seriously, he is more consistent than intense stomach pains after a meal at PF Changs. Unfortunately, Andy Dalton has never beat a team over .500 in his life. BenJarvus Green-Ellis is not a lead back and their defense has taken a major step back.
Pittsburgh (2-3) – Outside of their passing game, they don’t do anything particularly well any more. Their defense is old and slow. Calvin Pace, Eric Smith, Bryan Thomas and Bart Scott would fit right in.
Indianapolis (2-3) – They won’t win more than 2 games on the road this season. No matter how many “LOOK AT THE POISE!” articles on Andrew Luck are written, he is still a rookie working with a suspect supporting cast.
Cleveland (1-5) – Most accurate description of a sports city possible –
Oakland (1-4) – If the Raiders traded two 7th round picks for Carson Palmer they would have overpaid. Nevermind what they actually paid for him.
Tennessee (2-4) – Matt Hasselbeck is still better than Jake Locker, which isn’t a good sign for the long term health of this franchise. Chris Johnson. (Nothing else needs to be added).
Jacksonville (1-4) – Are we surprised it looks like they overpaid for Laurent Robinson and that Blaine Gabbert is still awful? Would they still take Tebow for a 3rd round pick?
Kansas City (1-5) – Brady Quinn! Peyton Hillis! Dontari Poe! Jonathan Baldwin! BOOOO!!!!!!!
So where do the New York Jets fit into this cluster of mediocrity heading into week 7? Fortunately, in the division they are off to a good start by being 2-0 where tie-breakers will be of enormous importance. They have played both San Francisco and Houston already while New England has played neither and Buffalo and Miami have only played one apiece. Their schedule for the rest of the season doesn’t make it implausible to think they could grab 9 wins in a conference where 9 wins could equal a division title and 8 wins could equal a wild-card spot.
Ultimately their success this year will depend on how the new parts acclimate to extended playing time. Rex Ryan appears to have recognized the shortcomings on his base defense and looks to be using more varied looks and personnel. The Jets need players like Quinton Coples, Demario Davis, Antonio Allen and Josh Bush to grow on the job while players like Antonio Cromartie, David Harris and Muhammad Wilkerson provide leadership and supply elevated levels of play that matches their talent.
On offense, Mark Sanchez needs to get the most out of his young group of receivers, starting this week in New England. We will get into this more tomorrow when we discuss offensive and defense game plans but the Jets must throw the ball down the field against the Patriots brutal secondary. This is the type of game they drafted Stephen Hill for and one that Jeremy Kerley, who is turning into a serious playmaker, should thrive in.
Obviously the running game must also remain effective. We have been harshly critical of Shonn Greene’s performance on this site in recent weeks because the film dictated that type of criticism. Greene broke out last week, thanks to better vision, a surprising amount of broken tackles, stronger run blocking and a weak run defense. Greene will shoulder a big load again this week and likely next week while Joe McKnight and Bilal Powell are recovering from injuries. He must continue performing, to give balance to the Jets offense and open up the play action passing game. Proper use of Tim Tebow should also enhance a running game that has been struggling.
The Jets are facing a pivotal part of their schedule with two upcoming division games. They have an ability to take a stranglehold on the AFC East by winning their next two or an ability to dig themselves in a hole with losses in both. Realistically, a split should be the goal and would set them up well for a second half that features games against Jacksonville, Tennessee, Buffalo, St. Louis and San Diego at home in December.
This is a flawed team in a conference of flawed teams. There is an opportunity to create a little separation from the pack and gain a little respect with a win this week. Let’s see if the Jets are up to it.
Chris Gross – Jets 27, Colts 10– The Jets are coming off consecutive losses at home to what are arguably the league’s two best teams. New York hasn’t lost three consecutive home games since Rex Ryan’s first year as head coach, back in 2009. Conversely, the Colts are coming off a very inspired, hard fought victory at home to the Green Bay Packers. Andrew Luck has looked quite sharp all year, relying heavily on veteran wide receiver Reggie Wayne as his primary receiving option. However, Luck has yet to face a defense quite like Ryan’s unit, a task normally difficult to prepare for for any quarterback, especially a rookie, on the road. Look for the Jets to come out extremely aggressive, defensively, to try to hit and rattle the youngster early. Antonio Cromartie has been playing elite level football, and if he can continue his dominant play against Wayne, Indianapolis will need to rely heavily on Luck and their subpar running game.
Offensively, the Jets have looked anything but sharp since their week 1 blowout of the Buffalo Bills. However, since dominating Buffalo, New York has face 4 consecutive defenses ranked within the top 11 in run defense. Look for the ground game to finally get going this week, with Shonn Greene and Bilal Powell leading the way. Whether or not Greene deserves carries is certainly up for debate, but based on the vote of confidence he received from Rex Ryan this week, it looks like he will continue to get the majority of the load for Gang Green, at least for now.
Mark Sanchez also gets back two key players to his receiving corps in Dustin Keller and Stephen Hill. Keller’s presence alone should give Sanchez a nice feeling of security and confidence as he tries to lead this extremely young group of skill position players to victory. With key veterans like Santonio Holmes out, Sanchez needs to assume that leadership role and begin to make everyone around him better. Whether or not he has the ability to do that at this point still remains to be seen, but look for this offense to do enough to contribute to a double digit victory and get back to .500.
Mike Donnelly – I think the Jets whole season is coming down to this game against the Colts. If they lose this, we might as well start checking out the 2013 draft classes, because the Pats are going to steam roll our defense and then Miami is not going to be an easy game. There would be a pretty solid chance we’d be staring at 2-6 heading into the bye, and Rex Ryan knows it. That is why I fully expect this team to come out and play their best game since week 1 against Buffalo. The Colts are coming off a huge win at home against Green Bay and they are primed for a major letdown. They’re outside of their dome, playing in unfamiliar conditions, and as good as Andrew Luck is, he’s still a rookie, and Rex Ryan feasts as rookie quarterbacks. Look for the Jets defense to play very well, confuse Luck, and pull out the win 24-13. Oh, and since no Jets write up is complete without the obligatory Sanchez/Tebow mention, I think Sanchez is going to play very well and silence the critics for at least one week. Jets roll, and in my opinion, the 3 point spread is a gift. After all, Evan Silva has the Colts winning outright.. Just saying.
Chris Celletti – If you read my Best Bets piece, you know I think the Jets are going to win and cover the 3.5 pint spread. I think this is a good combination of the Jets being due to play a good overall, 60 minute football game and the Colts facing a little bit of a let down after an emotional upset win over the Packers last week. As I’ve previously stated, I think the Jets find some success on the ground against the Colts. I’m not saying Shonn Greene will end up with 100+ yards or anything, but I think the Jets as a team go for somewhere around 160 yards, with a good combination of Greene, Bilal Powell, Joe McKnight and Tim Tebow. Here are a few bold predictions, I think both Tebow and Antonio Cromartie score touchdowns – on offense. The Jets’ defense does enough to corral the Colts’ weak running game and confuse Andrew Luck into a few turnovers. As with any Jet game, it’ll be nervy in the fourth quarter, but a late Nick Folk field goal gets the Jets back to .500 with a 24-14 win.
Rob Celletti – Even though the Jets are on a two-game losing streak (which feels like four, considering the level of play the Jets displayed against Miami), it seems like things are starting to turn. The shock of losing Darrelle Revis and Santonio Holmes is starting to wear off. The defense showed some life in the second half on Monday vs. the Texans. And finally, the Jets face a defense that isn’t ranked in the top 10 in the NFL.
Yes, Andrew Luck is going to be a tough out, but the Colts are coming in off of a very, very emotional home win and are primed for a letdown. The Jets will be able to move the ball on the ground which should set up nicely for Mark Sanchez to finally get some opportunities on playaction. I think the offense will be able to produce 3 touchdowns, which should be enough. Jets 24, Colts 17