Five Second Half Keys For The New York Jets

TJ Rosenthal with five second half keys for the New York Jets

The 3-5 New York Jets have an embattled GM, a coaching staff searching for answers, and a fan base wondering where the talent and depth filled “Goddamn Snack” squads of 2009 and 2010 went. Gang Green must go 6-2 in order to have a probable shot at a postseason berth. Here are five keys needed in order to make it happen.

1 – The Quarterback Becomes The Leader

Mark Sanchez will be given every opportunity to remain the starter. If the Jets can’t rise on offense collectively, will Tim Tebow get the chance to elevate his teammates? The Jets desperately need leadership at the QB position in the second half.

2 – A Pass Rusher Is Found: Coples Anyone?

The Jets have to locate a pass rushing presence among it’s own front seven. Rookie Quinton Coples has recently begun to show signs of life. If he can take it to the next level, the Jets secondary can collectively settle in, and even choose to play the ball more often.

3 – Dustin Keller Emerges

This was yet again, supposed to be a breakout year for the eternally emerging tight end. A hamstring injury however, slowed him in the first six games. Keller has to become that All-Pro threat over the next eight games, in order to help open up the passing game outside.

4 – The Special Teams Unit Reawakens

What in the world has gone on with Mike Westhoff’s group over the past two games? A Jets special teams crew that has thrived under Westhoff, a true gem coaching in his final season, has suddenly gone south. Lately, monumental game changing plays have gone against a unit that is always heavily counted on. Despite their recent struggles, this area will still be a key part of the winning formula for the Jets down the stretch.

5 – 
The 2012 Jets Identity Finally Crystallizes

Who are these 2012 Jets? Good question. We hear all the time about who they want to be. They are not however, that dominant ground attack and feared defense that Ryan hoped they would turn into. Not yet at least. Add in the confusion surrounding Tim Tebow’s purpose (or lack thereof) in the offense, and you have an even bigger mystery. 

Let’s hope that the bye week helped the Jets assess who they ought to become the rest of the way based on what they truly are and can achieve. Any gadgetry and trickery that lends itself to the game plan is fine by us. A continued lack of honesty regarding this club’s identity on either side of the ball, is not.

Turn On The Jets On Boomer and Carton

Turn On The Jets gets some love on the Boomer and Carton radio show on WFAN

A little love for Turn On The Jets this morning on our favorite AM radio talk show, Boomer and Carton on WFAN. Thanks to the caller Kunal for reading and thanks to Carton for assuming we are an official New York Jets website. Considering the amount of negative press we have given their recent personnel decisions, we think they would have dropped us off the payroll a long time ago if we were. Regardless, we are now waiting for the call from Al Dukes to come in the studio and talk Jets. 

Follow the writers – Chris Gross, Mike Donnelly, Chris Celletti, TJ Rosenthal, Rob Celletti

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 Playoff Pipe Dream – Week 10 Viewing Guide

The New York Jets playoff pipe dream viewing guide for week 10

The Turn On The Jets playoff pipe dream guide is back for another week. We saw a little positive progress last week as the Jets actually moved from 12th to 10th in the AFC. The beauty of inactivity! Before we get into it, we have a few more tid-bits from a former NFL personnel executive who still works in the league – 

On Mike Tannenbaum’s job security – “The GM has the owner convinced that he isn’t at fault. He will play the Revis and Holmes injury card and plus he can play the Blame Rex game. He is brilliant at that.” (Translation – as we have been saying all along, Tannenbaum isn’t going anywhere next year).

On Tim Tebow – “He commands zero value on the market. It will not be easy at all to find a team to take him off the Jets hands this off-season…including Jacksonville.”

The Current Standings

  1. Houston (7-1)
  2. Baltimore (6-2)
  3. New England (5-3)
  4. Denver (5-3)
  5. Indianapolis (5-3)
  6. Pittsburgh (5-3)
  7. San Diego (4-4)
  8. Miami (4-4)
  9. Oakland (3-5)
  10. Jets (3-5)
  11. Buffalo (3-5)
  12. Cincy (3-5)
  13. Tennessee (3-6)
  14. Cleveland (2-7)
  15. Jacksonville (1-7)
  16. Kansas City (1-7)

Week 10 Viewing Guide

Indianapolis (5-3) at Jacksonville (1-7) – Who is ready to root for Blaine Gabbert tonight? A few reasons for optimism on the upset: Jacksonville’s only win this season was against the Colts, these Thursday night games are always a little screwy and the Colts are much better at home than on the road. Have I convinced you yet?

NY Giants (6-3) at Cincinnati (3-5) – Thanks for the help last week against Pittsburgh Eli. You picked a great time to tank in the fourth quarter. The Giants can’t lose this game, can they?

Tennessee (3-6) at Miami (4-4) – Jake Locker is back in the starting line-up and we are ready to root for him. This would be a pretty crippling loss for the Dolphins with New England still on the schedule twice and a trip to San Francisco on the way.

Buffalo (3-5) at New England (5-3) – The AFC East race would be tightened with a Bills win. The Bills season would be over with a loss. Sort of a win-win. I can’t see Buffalo winning this game or even keeping it close for that matter.

San Diego (3-5) at Tampa Bay (4-4) – Go Muscle Hamster! It is hard not to like the Bucs here. Let the Chargers implosion start as soon as possible.

Oakland (3-5) at Baltimore (6-2) – Somewhat similar situation to the Buffalo/New England game. A Baltimore loss tightens the AFC and could lead to a late season slide for them. A loss for Oakland could basically eliminate them.

Houston (7-1) at Chicago (7-1) – Why would a Bears win be important? You don’t want Houston pulling away and resting starters in their late season games against the Colts, which the Jets will need them to lose.

Thursday Night TOJ Picks

  • Joe – Jax (+3)
  • Mike – Jax (+3)
  • Chris C – Ind (-3)
  • Rob – Ind (-3)
  • Chris G – Ind (-3)

Turn On The Jets Stock Watch: 2nd Half Outlook Edition

Mike Donnelly with his weekly Stock Watch, providing a second half outlook for the New York Jets

After the disaster of watching the Jets get absolutely demolished by the Miami Dolphins in person at MetLife Stadium, I, like many of you, was extremely down on this team. In my head I had all kinds of ideas about who I’d be selling in my Stock Watch, what players I’d attempt to publicly complain about some more (Calvin Pace), and already start thinking about who we’d be looking at with our top 5 draft pick. But then, after the disaster of watching the Jets, another disaster hit the area (Screw you, Sandy), and I was unable to do a Stock Watch. Perhaps not being able to write that column was for the best. Now I’m back with a fresh outlook on the team, and I hope everyone out there is safe, healthy, and on their way to rebounding back after the recent disaster… kind of like our Jets. Also, please check out my Jets (and NFL) First Half Awards to get my take on the confusing first 8 games of this season. (Or even if you don’t care about my football thoughts, I’d love to hear what you think about Homeland.)

BUY: 9-7 record and Wild Card Spot – Yes, despite how incredibly down I was on this team, after careful reconsideration, I think a 6-2 record over these final 8 games is not only possible, but it’s going to happen. Every year there are teams that get totally written of and then go on a big run to make some serious noise. Don’t believe me? Ask the 2011 Giants, 2010 Packers, or even our 2009 New York Jets. And I know it’s hard to find many positives with this entire organization right now, but let’s take a look at how this playoff birth can happen.

  • BUY: @ Seattle – Remember, this is the Jets. They’re 7 point underdogs this week and everyone is writing them off. Nobody thinks they’ll be able to move the ball or stop Marshawn Lynch. Well, this is the Jets we are talking about, and they usually do things nobody expects, both good and bad.
  • SELL: @ St. Louis – And this will prove my point. After the win at Seattle, everyone will start the “Maybe the Jets can sneak in there” talk, and then they’ll take a dump all over whatever the hell the Rams call their field the next week, and lose to Brian Schottenheimer in the process. Ugh.
  • BUY: Vs. New England – And then just as we’re all ready to hate the team again, they go out and beat the Patriots at home. They should have won the last matchup in New England, and they won’t mess it up again.
  • BUY: Vs. Arizona – Normally this would be a huge letdown spot where the Jets blow an easy game after a big win, but since they have 10 days to prepare for this game, and they’ll be facing John Skelton and the Cards offensive line, they’ll pull it out. Barely.
  • BUY: @ Jacksonville – Another game that will be much harder than it should be, but the Jets will pull it out over Blaine Gabbert.
  • SELL: @ Tennessee – At this point everyone will be talking the Jets up as a playoff team, and then they’ll go into Tennessee and lose by double digits somehow. I hate this team already and this hasn’t even happened yet.
  • BUY: Vs. San Diego – Norv Turner.
  • BUY: @ Buffalo – And then just as it doesn’t look good, the Jets will go into Buffalo and absolutely drop a hammer on this Bills team that will have already thrown in the towel while Chan Gailey and Dave Wannstedt are making calls at halftime to see if any college teams will hire them.

See, it’s not so far-fetched. You have to figure the Steelers and Ravens will both make the playoffs out of the AFC North, so that leaves one other wild card spot. Nobody from the West is worth a crap besides Denver. In the South, the Colts are 5-3 and are right in the mix of things now, but they’ve been playing over their heads. Such a young team is unlikely to win the tough games down the stretch to secure a playoff spot. They have games @NE, @ Det, and two against the Texans, not to mention a Thursday night game tonight @ Jacksonville, which they will lose. They’re looking at 7-9 or 8-8 at best, and the Jets own a tiebreaker over them. The other team the Jets are competing with is the Miami Dolphins, who sit at 4-4. Unfortunately for them, they have two games against the Patriots, one @ San Francisco, and one @ Buffalo in cold November, which is never a picnic for a warm-weathered Miami team. So keep your fingers crossed. It can happen.

So, how are the Jets players going to be performing in these final 8 games to secure that 6-2 record? Glad you asked!

BUY: Shonn Greene over 1,100 yards – Greene sits at 509 yards rushing right now with 91 receiving. He also has 5 touchdowns. As we all know, Shonn Greene is a perpetual slow starter who really turns it on in the second half of the season. I think we are looking at a final stat line of 1,150 rushing yards, 8 TD’s, and 225 receiving yards. He will fall short of my preseason prediction of 1,500 total yards from scrimmage, but it won’t be by that much. Remember, he’s playing for a contract these final 8 weeks.

BUY: Mark Sanchez 8 starts – Yes, Mark Sanchez will start all 8 remaining games, so you might as well just accept it.

BUY: Mark Sanchez finishing with solid stats – His stat line this year is not quite as bad as many would have you believe, but it’s certainly not Manning-esque or anything. Right now he’s got 1,736 yards, 10 TD’s, and 8 interceptions to go with a 52.9 completion %. By the end of the season I think he’ll be looking at 3,600 yards, 22 TD, 16 interceptions, and 58% completions. Not bad.

BUY: Tim Tebow will score a Touchdown – And I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s more like 3 or 4. If the coaching staff didn’t reevaluate things this bye week and realize Tebow should be taking some carries inside the 5 yard line, then I give up.

BUY: Jeremy Kerley over 1,000 yards – Right now he has 478, and he’s getting better every week. Over 1,000 yards should be in the bag, despite defenses starting to give him more attention.

BUY: Stephen Hill over 500 yards – 196 right now, but he’s missed two games and had some rookie struggles. He’ll be inconsistent the rest of the season, but I definitely see a big game or two in his future that will easily push this number over 500. Not only that but don’t be shocked if he racks up 5 more touchdowns, pushing his total to 8, either.

SELL: Jason Hill over 5 catches – One of the burning questions for all Jets fans the rest of the way. Can the great Jason Hill get to 5 whole catches this year? He has 2 right now, so can Mike Tannenbaum’s prized free agent pickup that I can only assume he found while turning over all those stones looking for talent do it? We’ll have to wait and see! (The answer is no. Jason Hill sucks, and dropping a promising safety like Antonio Allen for him is Reason # 23,529 that Mike Tannenbaum needs to be fired)

SELL: Clyde Gates & Jeff Cumberland – Just reminding you they’re still on this team and that they still suck.

BUY: Quinton Coples over 6 sacks – He currently has 2 sacks, but probably should have 1 or 2 more that he just missed. You can see things are starting to click for the rookie first round pick, and with increased playing time, he’s going to start racking up some numbers. Finishing with 6 sacks would clearly give him the team lead, and even though it’s the Jets and he has no competition, that’s still pretty good.

SELL: Ricky Sapp over 1.5 sacks – Speaking of Coples and sacks, I really, really hope I’m wrong about this one, because Quinton sure could use some help out there. Sapp was a guy I had a lot of hope for entering the season, but he hasn’t been able to stay healthy and put it all together. Please, don’t confuse my pessimism for some kind of hatred when it comes to Ricky Sapp. I 100% absolutely want to see him play and I think he deserves to be in there over washed up bums like Calvin Pace, Bryan Thomas, or Garrett McIntyre. (Actually, McIntyre isn’t washed up, he just moves around like he is.) It’s just that when was the last time a team promoted a guy from their practice squad in week 10 and had him solve their pass rush issues? Prove me wrong, Ricky! Please!

BUY: The Defense – Right now the defense is ranked 16th overall and a ridiculous 29th against the run. Don’t think for one second Rex Ryan doesn’t go to bed every night distraught while thinking about that. Well, that and the fact he can’t finish the second half of that large pizza he was eating because his lap band won’t allow it, but mostly the defensive numbers. There is no way, repeat: NO WAY, that this defense finishes the season allowing 141 yards per game rushing and 347 overall. I fully expect them to slowly but surely make their way into the top 10 overall and start shutting down some running attacks. Rex Ryan is too good of a coach to allow that to continue, and with the infusion of youth and speed making it’s way onto the field with players like Demario Davis, Marcus Dowtin, Quinton Coples, and even Ricky Sapp, things are going to get better before long.

Turn On The Jets NFC Mid-Season Power Rankings

Chris Gross with a power poll for the NFC at the halfway point of the season

Yesterday, Turn On The Jets brought you their mid-season AFC power rankings. Tonight, we breakdown how the NFC stacks up heading into the final half of the 2012 NFL season. Categorically, these rankings hold the same idea, with a slight variation. We will divide the 16 NFC teams into 4 separate categories, placing each team where we see them fitting at this point in the season. Explanations for each category will precede the respective rankings.

Contenders

The following teams have proved to be the real deal up until this point. All have a very realistic chance to win their respective division, and barring any unlikely second half meltdowns, all will earn trips to the postseason.

1.) Chicago Bears (7-1) – Yes, the 8-0 Atlanta Falcons continue to get very little respect as the only remaining undefeated team in the NFL. The Falcons have played great football, make no mistake, but Chicago is playing with all the intangibles necessary for a deep postseason, possible championship, run. Defensively, the Bears made history in Tennessee last week as they became the first NFL team to return 7 interceptions for touchdowns through their first 8 games. In fact, Chicago’s defense has 28 total takeaways (17 INTs, 11 Fumble Recoveries), resulting in a league best 3.5 takeaways per game, with an astounding league high +2.0 turnover differential. While the Bears statistically rank 6th in overall defense, they stand behind only San Francisco in points allowed per game, surrendering just 15 each week. Led by a strong veteran presence in the front 7 in Brian Urlacher, Lance Briggs, and Julius Peppers, Chicago ranks 3rd in the league in sacks with 25 total, helping propel them to a league best +116 point differential, which is by far the highest in the conference (SF +86).

Offensively, Chicago may not be jumping off any stat sheets, outside of Brandon Marshall who is putting together one of the greatest seasons you will ever see by an NFL wide receiver, but Chicago has the necessary weapons in place to complement their dominant defense, making them arguably the most balanced team in the entire league. While Jay Cutler is certainly sporadic at times, he has the tools and mental tenacity to take this team deep into the post season. Matt Forte is undoubtedly one of the most balanced backs in the NFL, and role players like Michael Bush and Alshon Jeffrey have contributed nicely at times. If the Bears’ continue to play at the level they have been playing at, they will likely nudge Atlanta for the coveted #1 playoff seed.

2.) Atlanta Falcons (8-0) – Although Atlanta has yet to face defeat all season, they are still partially untested, having beaten only one team with a winning record. However, while they currently rank behind the Bears here, the Falcons are certainly not pretenders. Matt Ryan has put together a fantastic first half, throwing for 17 touchdowns to only 6 interceptions. With a surplus of offensive weapons in Roddy White, Julio Jones, Michael Turner, and Tony Gonzalez, just to name a few, Atlanta certainly has the offensive fire power to compete with any defense, not only in the NFC, but in the entire league. To edge out the Bears as the top team in the NFC, Atlanta needs to win some games more convincingly, meaning not winning nail biters against Carolina, Oakland, and Dallas (combined 8-16 record) at home.

3.) New York Giants (6-3) – While the Giants surely disapointed this past week at home, most people are making this loss out to be a far greater upset than it actually is. The league seems to have fallen asleep on the Pittsburgh Steelers, despite the fact that they have a two-time Super Bowl Champion quarterback, and a Super Bowl coach, along with a defense that still has the pieces in place to dominate on any given Sunday. New York is surely notorious for poor play in the month of November, but Eli Manning has played MVP caliber football, despite going cold in recent weeks. What stands out about the Giants, and separates them from the teams that fall behind them here, is their ability to come up big in big spots. New York already has a very convincing 26-3 road victory, against an excellent team (SF) under their belts. Although they have struggled to defend the pass and have been relatively mediocre running the ball, New York excels in areas necessary for a championship team – quarterback play and rushing the passer.

4.) San Francisco 49ers (6-2) – The 49ers, aka Rex Ryan’s idols, are winning with the same formula that propelled them to the NFC Championship game last season – dominant defense and a strong rushing offense, ranking 2nd and 1st in the entire league, respectively. Like the Jets in the early days of the Rex Ryan era, though, San Francisco’s only handcuff may be the quarterback position. Can Alex Smith take that next step and lead his team to a Super Bowl? Probably not, but the way the rest of this team is playing, all he has to do is avoid preventing them from taking him there.

5.) Green Bay Packers (6-3) – While Green Bay started somewhat rocky, the Packers have rattled off four straight victories, a streak that began with a dominant road win over the AFC’s best Houston Texans. Aaron Rodgers seems to be finding that MVP form that helped win this team 15 games last season, despite losing top target Greg Jennings to injury.

Sink or Swim

These teams have been relatively up and down all season, and at the halfway point, will either take the step into the upper echelon of teams, or will sink to the bottom of the barrel.

6.) Seattle Seahawks (5-4) – Seattle has been a great story this season, led by rookie quarterback Russell Wilson, one of the greatest underdogs in sports today. The Seahawks, or as we call them “San Francisco Lite” posses a very talented, young, and fast defense, coupled with a dominant rushing offense, led by “Beast Mode” Marshawn Lynch. Pete Carroll seems to have gotten his guys to buy into his high energy philosophy, and this team has suddenly become fun to watch. However, like San Francisco, Seattle will ultimately end up being hampered by the play at the quarterback position. While Russell Wilson is surely a great story, and has played relatively above average, he is still a rookie whose inexperience will cause his physical limitations to be exposed down the road. If Seattle can overcome this, they too may be poised for a postseason run.

7.) Minnesota Vikings (5-4) – The Vikings have been a reflection of their young quarterback up until this point – the epitome of inconsistency. After an early season 3 game win streak, which began with a dominant defeat of the San Francisco 49ers, Minnesota has dropped 3 of their last 4, and quarterback Christian Ponder’s play has dipped dramatically. However, the Vikings still have Adrian Peterson at the helm of their 5th best rushing attack, along with players like Jared Allen who make their defense competitive each week.

8.) Detroit Lions (4-4) – Despite leading the league in passing yards per game (307.3), Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson have hooked up for a score just once this season. The defense has been average, and seems to have lost that nasty edge that it had last year. In a division that is all but sure to place at least two teams in the playoffs, Detroit will need to have an extremely strong second half to return to the postseason.

9.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-4) – 2-2 on the road, 2-2 at home. The Bucs have been a very average team thus far. However, they may have found lightning in a bottle, or a muscle hamster, last week, after rookie RB Doug Martin exploded onto the scene for 251 yards and 4 touchdowns. Quarterback Josh Freeman is very quietly putting together an excellent season, having already thrown 16 touchdowns to just 5 interceptions. Tampa ranks 1st in the NFL in run defense, surrendering just 77.3 yards per game, and despite being only .500, have an average margin of defeat of just 5.5 points. The Bucs have won convincingly in three of their last four games, and could very well be poised to turn the corner as the season enters the final furlong.

10.) New Orleans Saints (3-5) – After an uncharacteristic 0-4 start, New Orleans has responded by winning 3 of their last 4, setting themselves up to make a second half postseason push. Despite the struggles, Drew Brees has still played at an elite level having completed over 61% of his passes for 2,549 yards and 22 touchdowns. Although the NFC South is likely lost to Atlanta at this point, the Saints could certainly find some fire down the stretch and steal a wild card spot. The world knows the NFL is a quarterback driven league, and New Orleans still has one of the best.

Free Falling

These teams had high expectations after starting the year hot, but have fell down a slippery slope as of late. While none are mathematically dead, the odds of any of these teams making the playoffs at this point are about the same as Mike Tannenbaum telling the truth about…well, anything.

11.) Arizona Cardinals (4-5) – After starting the year with 4 straight wins, Arizona has seemingly fallen into the abyss of the losers by dropping 5 in a row. The quarterback situation in the desert is more laughable than that of the Jets, and the Cardinals rank dead last in rushing offense, averaging a putrid 76.2 yards per game. Ken Whisenhunt is surely feeling the flames on his backside these days.

12.) Philadelphia Eagles (3-5) – There was once a time when this team was proclaimed “The Dream Team,” and Nnamdi Asomugha was viewed as an equal to Darrelle Revis. My, how the mighty have fallen. The Eagles have become the biggest disappointment in Philadelphia since Rocky Balboa was KO’d by Clubber Lang at the Spectrum in ’81. The defense has been horrible, resulting in the firing of Defensive Coordinator Juan Castillo, and the offensive line has seemingly been persuaded by PETA to let opposing defensive lineman tee off on Michael Vick. There is really no sign of any possible reconciliation in Philly, which will likely result in a complete regime overhaul this offseason, starting with Vick and Head Coach Andy Reid.

13.) Dallas Cowboys (3-5) – After an eye opening road victory against the defending Super Bowl Champions on opening night, Dallas has completely fallen apart. Tony Romo, for some reason, has the longest leash of any player in league history, as he continues to get a public backing from GM/Owner/Dictator Jerry Jones, despite throwing three more interceptions than touchdowns this season. Jason Garrett looks lost on the sidelines most of the time, and the entire offense seems to have no cohesion or continuity whatsoever. One bright spot has been Rob Ryan’s fifth ranked defense, but even Rex’s brother himself cannot save the Cowboys from their ultimate destiny of hardship.

14.) Washington Redskins (3-6) – The skins have dropped 3 straight after finishing the first 6 weeks at .500. Rookie sensation Robert Griffin III has looked magnificent at times, but has certainly shown his human side as well. Washington has a promising future ahead, but Mike Shanahan and co. do not quite posses the pieces to make a serious run this year.

Bottom of the Barrel 

These teams have already started planning their January vacations.

15.) St. Louis Rams (3-5) – The Rams have one of the most promising defensive front sevens in all of football led by emerging stars Chris Long, James Laurinatis, and Robert Quinn. However, Sam Bradford cannot stay off of his back, and Brian Schottenheimer is their offensive coordinator. Need I say more?

16.) Carolina Panthers (2-6) – Has the league caught on to Cam Newton? It sure seems that way based on the reigning offensive rookie of the year’s rather pedestrian play this season. Newton has thrown for just 6 touchdowns thus far, and has yet to surpass the 2,000 yard mark. General Manager Matt Hurney has already been dismissed of his duties, and more pink slips could certainly trickle down by the end of the year, including one to second year head coach Ron Rivera.

 

Turn On The Jets Roundtable Week 10 – Jets vs. Seattle Match-Ups

The Turn On The Jets staff discusses what match-ups they are most looking forward to in the Jets week 10 game vs. Seattle

The Turn On The Jets staff discusses what match-up they are most looking forward to this weekend when the New York Jets travel to Seattle to take on the Seahawks. Make sure to give everybody a follow on Twitter –

Joe Caporoso – The Jets aren’t beating Seattle unless they do two things: slow down Marshawn Lynch (keep him somewhere in the 60-80 total rushing yards area) and don’t let the Seahawks pass rush take over the game. If this game is put into Russel Wilson’s hands to win, the Jets defense has a good shot of forcing a few mistakes and putting themselves into a position for an upset. If Mark Sanchez can stay relatively upright, he has a better chance of protecting the football and making a few plays down the stretch. This is a brutally tough match-up for the Jets and one that will require them to excel in areas they have struggled in all season.

Rob Celletti –   I’m interested in seeing how the Jets’ run defense handles Marshawn Lynch. Everyone who loves Seattle loves to praise Russell Wilson, whose career is off to a nice start, but this team’s offense starts and ends with an effective ground game.  Lynch has been stellar this year, and has gotten hot as of late, with three straight 100-yard efforts and touchdowns in his last two. He can actually eclipse the 1,000 yard mark with a 120-yard performance on Sunday.

If that happens, the Jets are toast, and the game won’t be close.  But the defensive front has improved steadily over the last month and will be bolstered by the return of Kenrick Ellis. If the Jets hold Lynch to something like 15 carries and 55 yards, that will go a long way towards keeping the game close.

TJ Rosenthal –  Energy. Seattle is a brutal place for opponents to play. The 12th man keeps the Seahawks amped up all day. Forget isolating attention on “Beast Mode” Marshawn Lynch. The Jets have to equal what the Seahawks energy level is. We want to see passion, and more desperation. Play like the season is on the line, because it is. Please don’t tell us about who is left on the schedule after Sunday. 3-6 is a death wish.

Chris Gross –  Marshawn Lynch vs. Jets Run Defense – “Beast Mode” currently ranks 2nd in the NFL in total rushing with 881 yards and 4 touchdowns on 185 carries, averaging just below 98 yards per game. Conversely, the Jets rank 29th in run defense, currently surrendering an average of 141.4 yards per game to opposing backs. New York can easily make Seattle’s offense one dimensional, as they have previously feasted on opposing rookie quarterbacks this season (Tannehill week 3, Luck week 6), however, the Seahawks’ rushing attack, led by Lynch, could certainly be enough to keep the Jets defense on their heals. Kenrick Ellis is set to return from injury this week, which will greatly bolster the front seven due to his ability to occupy multiple blockers at the Nose Tackle position. This should realistically give the Jets linebackers more space to avoid blockers and make plays. The key in this matchup will be tackling. We have previously discussed New York’s tackling woes in our defensive film breakdowns, and when facing a back like Lynch, who has made a name for himself in this league through his ability to accumulate yards after contact, sound tackling will be even more important. Seattle’s passing game is average at best. No receiver on the roster poses any severe threat to New York’s strong secondary, however if the Jets allow Lynch to gain extra yards after contact due to poor tackling, Seattle’s passing offense, or lack thereof, will be irrelevant. Lynch needs to be shut down or it will surely be another long Sunday for Gang Green.

Mike Donnelly – Jets Coaches vs. Themselves – The matchup I’m most looking forward to seeing isn’t necessarily one that’s going to happen between the lines, but rather on the sidelines. I want to see how Rex Ryan and Tony Sparano prepared during the by week to better use their players. There has been endless talk about Tim Tebow’s role and how it will be altered, but I’m interested in seeing how they come out and attack this very good Seattle defense. I want to see if roles will grow for players like Joe McKnight and Jeremy Kerley. On the other side of the ball, I want to see what has changed with our defense. WIll Quinton Coples play a bigger role finally? Can we see more Demario Davis and Marcus Dowtin? Will the older players like Bart Scott, Bryan Thomas, and Calvin Pace finally be weeded out? Starting this week in Seattle, we’re going to have a pretty good idea of what we can expect the rest of the way.

Chris Celletti – Can the Jets prevent Beast Mode? The only chance that Gang Green has in this game is if they can keep Marshawn Lynch largely in check. I fully expect to see the Jets’ offense at its horrifying worst. Seattle’s defense is young, fast, stifling and makes things happen (or, you know, what the Jets’ defense should be with Rex Ryan as head coach), and regardless of even getting into Mark Sanchez, the Jets’ offense just isn’t very good overall. However, as long as they show up ready to play, I think the Jets’ defense will do just fine against rookie QB Russell Wilson and the Seahawks’ receivers. It’s Lynch that could be the big problem. If he runs all over the Jets, they’ll control the clock, field position, and will probably put up points. That points to a loss for the Jets. Stop Lynch, and you may stay in this thing until the end.

New York Jets Week 10 – Early Thoughts On Jets/Seahawks

Early thoughts on the New York Jets week 10 match-up against the Seattle Seahawks

A collection of thoughts on the New York Jets week 10 match-up against the Seattle Seahawks 

1. On paper this is a terrible match-up for the Jets. Seattle has an elite defense led by a great secondary with an elite pass rush bolstered by the best homefield advantage on football. The Jets have a below average offense with an inconsistent passing game that can’t protect their quarterback. Seattle also has the league’s second leading rusher in Marshawn Lynch who is the best back after contact in the NFL right now. The Jets defense has struggled to stop the run mostly because they can’t tackle.

2. Where do the Jets find a hope for an upset? Seattle’s offense has been inconsistent and is led by a rookie quarterback in Russell Wilson. He has been much better at home than on the road. Unfortunately the Jets have to face him in his building. Regardless, he remains a rookie and we saw what the Jets defense did to Andrew Luck a few weeks back. Seattle will likely have a tough time moving the ball through the air but if the Jets can’t slow down Lynch, that won’t matter anyway.

3. Dustin Keller needs to have a big week. Their wide receivers are going to struggle against Seattle’s cornerbacks, Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner, so Keller needs to be a factor in the middle of the field. The running game must also take pressure off of Mark Sanchez. Fortunately, Bilal Powell and Joe McKnight are both expected to play to help support Shonn Greene. It isn’t worth making any comments about Tim Tebow’s usage at this point until the Jets show any desire to use him more than 4 plays per game.

4. The Jets special teams needs a bounce-back in a major way. A key recipe for any upset is making big plays in that third of the game. Whether it is a big return, a turnover or a faked punt. The Jets need to get points here.

5. Ultimately this is a gut-check game for the Jets. If you want to be relevant for the second half of the season you need to pull the upset here. They had an extra week to prepare and this team should be playing with immense desperation and aggressiveness. A big upset on the road is the type of thing that can propel a 6-2 second half and a run to a playoff spot. A blowout loss is the type of thing that can propel a 5-11 season.

Seattle Memories

New York Jets – The First Half Positives (Yes, They Exist)

A collection of positives from the first half of season for the New York Jets

Here I was ready to write a feel good article about the New York Jets when they clog up my Twitter feed with foolish decisions. First and most importantly, the organization hasn’t been proactive enough about sending support to hurricane victims throughout New Jersey and New York. We have heard about the New York Giants heading to South Jersey to pitch in. Where are the Jets? Outside of Mark Sanchez who went down there today, the organization has been painfully quiet in their support of the state they play and practice in. Get your checkbook out Woody. Get your community relations and media department in order New York Jets.

Second, the Jets made yet another collection of bonehead roster decisions today by releasing rookie safety Antonio Allen and signing wide receiver Jason Hill and offensive lineman Hayworth Hicks off the Colts practice squad. Why are these foolish decisions? Antonio Allen is a promising rookie safety who fits well into the big nickel, an essential modern NFL defense. Jason Hill is a journeyman receiver who didn’t receive a single workout or claim after the Jets released him last week. Hayworth Hicks couldn’t make the Colts active roster and the Colts have a terrible offensive line. Memo to Mike Tannenbaum, you don’t find wide receivers in Jacksonville and you don’t find offensive lineman in Indianapolis.

Tannenbaum has continually been below average at his job the past few years. He actually seems to be getting perpetually worse. We can only hope that he is the fall guy this off-season…

Rant over and now to a few first half positives

Jeremy Kerley – He has developed into a better player than many imagined he could. Kerley has shown he can be more than a slot receiver, lining up all over the formation and making plays. With his crisp routes, good hands and good run after the catch ability Kerley is a building block for the future.

Demario Davis – The early returns have been good on the Jets much hyped 3rd round rookie. He brings a needed element of speed and should be a long term starter at inside linebacker.

LaRon Landry – One of the few shrewd signings of the past few years by Mike Tannenbaum. If Landry finishes the season healthy, the Jets should lock him into a long term deal. He is a strong fit in Rex Ryan’s defense and has been a major upgrade over Jim Leonhard or Eric Smith.

Antonio Cromartie – Playing the best football of his career. He deserves All-Pro consideration thus far.

Kenrick Ellis – Before he got hurt, he was the Jets best defensive lineman. He will be back against Seattle. The Jets can build around him, Muhammad Wilkerson and Quinton Coples up front.

Joe McKnight – Gutted through an ankle injury against the Patriots and seems to have turned a corner at running back. He needs more work in the second half of the season.

The Homeland Inspired NFL & Jets Mid-Season Awards

Mike Donnelly hands out his mid-season NFL and New York Jets awards, inspired by the TV hit Homeland

While watching the NFL games this past weekend, one of the biggest things that stood out to me was how impressive the Chicago Bears defense was in their dismantling of the Tennessee Titans. What also stood out was how all of the major talking heads on TV were practically jumping out of their chairs trying to tell us, the viewers, how awesome that defense is and that Charles Tillman is the most underrated player in the league. Of course, there were plenty of people saying this all year but most people were slow to catch on. Now that the Bears have clearly cemented themselves as the league’s best defense, everyone has jumped on the bandwagon and raved about the Bears.

This reminded me of when there’s a great new TV show that people aren’t watching. Slowly but surely, those that are watching start spreading the word to everyone they know. They tell their friends, they post on forums, they write blogs about it and before you know it, more and more people are watching. I’m usually one of the last people to join the “cool club” and watch shows like this, but after being told two or three dozen times that something is awesome, I usually cave in and check it out. My most recent case of this happening was with Homeland, which is indeed downright awesome. Everyone was right. It hooked me in so quickly and strongly, that I was completely torn on whether to watch the new episode Sunday night, or watch the Cowboys choke away another late night game. Anything that even made me consider not watching football must be pretty excellent, right? So excellent, in fact, that I decided to honor the show by naming my mid-season NFL awards after it. And since we are all about the Jets around here obviously, I’m handing out the league awards and also Jets team awards, all in one. Heeeere we go…

THE CARRIE MATHISON MVP AWARD

NFL: Matt Ryan (honorable mention: Peyton Manning) – Carrie may not be the greatest agent, but she gets things done, and without her, her CIA team wouldn’t be nearly as effective (although I can do without her crying every single episode). Same goes for Matt Ryan. I don’t think he will end up winning the award at the end of the season, but you can’t deny he’s had an excellent first half in leading the Falcons to the only undefeated record in the league. His stats are not particularly eye-opening, but he’s done everything right, made the big plays, and he narrowly edges out Peyton for the top spot.

JETS: Antonio Cromartie – Sadly, there isn’t even much competition here.

THE ABU NAZIR OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR AWARD

NFL: Brandon Marshall – Nobody on Homeland knows how to go on the offensive or cause more damage than terrorist Abu Nazir, both mentally and physically. Brandon Marshall isn’t a terrorist or anything, but he’s been doing a ton of damage to defensive secondaries this season, and has been the best offensive player in the league. The guy has just ben an absolute monster, racking up 59 catches, 797 yards, and 7 touchdowns through 8 games. Double those numbers to project him over a full 16 game schedule and you’re looking at one of the greatest receiving seasons in the history of the NFL.

JETS: Ummm….. Nick Mangold? – A case can be made for Jeremy Kerley, who has stepped up big time since Santonio Holmes got injured, but it’s clear nobody on this offense should be getting any awards.

THE DAVID ESTES DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR AWARD

NFL: J.J. Watt (honorable mention: Charles Tillman and the entire Bears Defense) – A lot of people don’t seem to like Estes, but I enjoy him and think he does a great job doing a little bit of everything in trying to defend against any and all attacks. In the NFL, nobody has done a better job doing a little bit of everything on defense or been as downright awesome as Texans defensive lineman J.J. Watt. He knocks down passes better than any lineman I’ve ever seen, and he’s destroyed offensive linemen en route to a league leading 10.5 sacks. Oh, and he’s doing that as an interior lineman, which makes it all the more impressive.

JETS: Antonio Cromartie – There hasn’t been much competition here, but that doesn’t minimize Cromartie’s season in any way. The guy has been playing the best football of his career, and ever since Darrelle Revis went down with an injury, he’s been arguably the league’s best cover corner. If he doesn’t make the Pro Bowl, it will be a travesty.

THE SAUL BERENSON COACH OF THE YEAR AWARD

NFL: Bruce Arians – Yes, Mike Smith has his Falcons sitting pretty and undefeated, but no coach has done a better job than Bruce Arians this year. Just like Saul has his hands full dealing with Carrie and all the other things he’s in charge of, Bruce Arians has had to deal with more than any other coach in the league and done an excellent job throughout. After Chuck Pagano was diagnosed with cancer and had to leave the team, it would have been easy for this Colts team to feel sorry for themselves, just pack it in and go 2-14. Instead, Arians has led them to a 5-3 record and they’re right in the thick of the playoff race. Remarkable.

JETS: Dennis Thurman – Again, there’s not much competition here, but I’m giving this one to the Jets secondary coach. Hmm, Antonio Cromartie plays in the secondary, I’m starting to see a theme here with the Jets awards. Other than Cromartie having the best season of his career, the Jets safeties have performed admirably well, and even Kyle Wilson hasn’t been a complete disaster, due in large part to Thurman’s coaching.

THE AGENT QUINN ROOKIE OF THE YEAR AWARD

NFL: Andrew Luck – Yes, Doug Martin is the hot name right now, but this award belongs to Andrew Luck. Just like Agent Quinn in season 2, Luck arrived on the scene and immediately made a strong impact, making those around him better in the process. The Colts were the worst team in the league last year, but now are legitimate playoff contenders thanks to the strong play of their rookie signal-caller. He’s the real deal.

JETS: Demario Davis narrowly over Quinton Coples– Wow, these Jets awards are getting harder and harder to pick. In the long run, I absolutely think this will belong to Quinton Coples, but through the first half of the season, Davis has done a little more, and brought a whole new element to the defense: Speed. He’s also been a major special teams contributor, which gives him the nod. I’m just happy we still have a few rookies that weren’t cut almost immediately after being drafted. Thanks, Mike Tannenbaum!

THE TOM WALKER COMEBACK PLAYER OF THE YEAR AWARD

NFL: Peyton Manning & Adrian Peterson (tie) – It’s nearly impossible to pick between these two. In Homeland, Walker was a forgotten man who came back out of nowhere to show that his skills were as awesome as ever. Peyton Manning and Adrian Peterson did the same things this year. Manning looks as good as ever, as he is on pace for 4,800 yards, 40 TD’s, and a league best 108 QB rating. Peterson, despite tearing his ACL last December, is leading the league in rushing while running for a ridiculous 5.7 yards per carry. Cut this award in half and give it to both.

JETS: Shonn Grenee – Not many options here, so I’m giving this to the beleaguered running back, Shonn Greene. He was completely left for dead by nearly all Jets fans at the beginning of the season, but he has shown serious signs of life the last 3 or 4 games. While he’s not an ideal starting running back, he’s also proven not to be the useless slug many thought he was.

THE DANA AND VP’S SON HIT & RUN SUBPLOT THAT MAKES NO SENSE AWARD

NFL: Ray Rice & Lesean McCoy usage – Just like the out-of-nowhere subplot involving Brody’s daughter and the Vice President’s son getting involved in a bizarre hit and run incident, the usage of these two elite running backs makes NO SENSE. Why The Ravens and Eagles insist on eschewing their stud runners in favor of letting their bad quarterbacks pass the ball more is about as baffling of a coaching move as you’ll ever see. Honorable mention goes here to the Chargers and Norv Turner, who seem to think it’s a good idea to play Ronnie Brown a lot, despite him having a giant fork sticking out of his back.

JETS: Tim Tebow Usage – We’ve been over this time and time again, but the way the Jets have used Tim Tebow this year is completely and totally insane. I have never wavered on my belief that Tebow shouldn’t be the quarterback here in any way, shape, or form, but there is no way he shouldn’t be used more often, especially in short yardage situations, or as a change of pace to spark the offense. What makes it even more confusing to me is how the Jets had their best offensive game of the season in week 1 when Tebow had his most snaps, and then they just scrapped the whole thing. If you aren’t going to use him on 3rd and 1 down by the goalline, when he’s basically UNSTOPPABLE, then what the hell is the point of having him on this roster? I will never understand this. It could turn out that Dana Brody is actually an undercover 34-year-old secret terrorist from Canada plotting to assassinate Mickey Mouse and it would make more sense than Tim Tebow’s usage.

THE “WHO SLIPPED THE RAZOR BLADE?” AWARD (for Guy Most Likely Playing For the Other Team)

NFL: Matt Cassell – So who slipped the razor blade to that terrorist guard allowing him to slit his wrists and avoid further interrogation in season 1? Was it Brody? Was it Saul? Was it someone else? We may never know, but what I do know is if there was a mole in the NFL who was secretly plotting to destroy his team, it would be Matt Cassell. There are few players who could inspire their home fans to actually cheer when he gets hurt, but he managed to pull it off. I guess losing 7 fumbles and throwing 11 interceptions in 6 starts will cause fans to turn on you. Can’t say I totally blame them.

JETS: Calvin Pace – It’s hard to pick just one for this award, but I’m going with the guy who is paid $7.3 million this year to not sack the quarterback. On the bright side, he really seems to have mastered the “run into the offensive lineman, stick arms straight out, and stop” pass rush move, so there’s that.

THE NICHOLAS BRODY MOST POLARIZING FIGURE(S) AWARD

NFL: The Atlanta Falcons – Is Brody good? Is he bad? What about the Falcons? It’s rare you see a team appear to be so good, yet have so few people actually believe in them. They’re undefeated and running away with their division. They’re going to get home field advantage throughout the playoffs. They have the league’s first half MVP and two superstar wide receivers. Yet if you said the Giants or Packers were going to Atlanta in the second round of the playoffs, who would you pick to win that game? Exactly.

JETS: Mark Sanchez – Pretty obvious one here. Just like with Brody, no matter how many bad things Sanchez does on the field, he still manages to do a few things all the time that make you think deep down he’s really great. Just like Brody, Sanchez was dealt a really crappy hand throughout his tenure with the Jets. Maybe he wasn’t quite kidnapped and tortured for 8 years, but he did have to spend plenty of time being taught by Brian Schottenheimer and Matt Cavanaugh, and that’s just as bad. And just like with Brody, I still believe in Mark Sanchez. Perhaps I’m a sap or I’m just hoping against hope, but in the end, I think both are going to do great things and convince a lot of people that they aren’t so bad after all.