Sanchez Breakdown – A Swan Song for the Jets Quarterback

Rob Celletti breaks down the play of both New York Jets quarterbacks yesterday

The mob at MetLife Stadium got its wish.

Rex Ryan had seen enough, and rightly pulled Mark Sanchez out of yesterday’s game in the third quarter, unofficially ending this quarterback’s reign as starter for the Jets. Sanchez was given every chance, if not the support that he needed, to keep his job and he failed. The shame of this situation is that had Rex Ryan made the move earlier this season, Sanchez might have had an opportunity to respond and win his job back. Ryan didn’t make that move because the man behind Sanchez on the depth chart – initials, T.T. – is not a viable NFL quarterback.

Greg McElroy might not be either, but he provided what most backup quarterbacks provide a languishing team: a spark. All of a sudden, the Jets were exploding off the ball, opening holes for their running backs, and making catches in traffic that they weren’t making for their beleaguered starter. Which is not to say that Sanchez wasn’t absolutely god-awful on Sunday. He most certainly was. I feel confident saying that had he stayed in the game the Jets probably would have lost.

The fact remains that the Jets played harder and better and still only managed to score one touchdown (and turned the football over once, which could have been twice if not for a pretty lucky call that went their way). They are still a bad football team and Greg McElroy doesn’t change that. Luckily, they were playing a team with an even worse quarterback situation than their own. I’m amazed that Ryan Lindley made it out of high school playing football. He made Dave Brown look like Dan Fouts.

I have been a noted supporter of Mark Sanchez, and not for any real reason other than I wanted the Jets to win a lot of football games. In order to do that, you need “the guy” at the sport’s most important position. At times in 2009 and through most of 2010, Sanchez appeared to be “the guy”. However, when adversity struck, Sanchez handled it poorly. It affected his play. What Sanchez needed was some tough love, which his coach was reluctant to provide. He needed to lose his job, even for just a few plays, but not in Week 13 of what’s probably a lost season. It probably had to happen during one of the many blowouts that the Jets have suffered this season. But now, Greg McElroy is going to start the rest of the way in 2012, and he should. The Jets need to find out what they have in order to properly assess (ha! The idea of this front office assessing its roster properly is laughable) their quarterback situation going forward. So let’s talk a bit about the Mac Attack.

What struck me from my seat in MetLife Stadium – albeit a seat that requires the game to be viewed through a telescope – was McElroy’s physical similarity to a former Jets quarterback: Chad Pennington. I am not in any way saying that McElroy will be capable of replicating the success that pre-injury Pennington had – he’s thrown 7 NFL passes. But McElroy’s stature, mannerisms, questionable arm-strength, hell, even the way he handed the ball off, all brought back memories of those early 2000s Jets teams. I did like that he took a shot at a 1 on 1 matchup down the field right away, and was certainly impressed by the back-shoulder throw to Jeremy Kerley on third down, which essentially iced the game.

McElroy showed some mobility, and the Jets rolled him out more frequently in a quarter-plus than they rolled Sanchez out in the past two seasons combined. He didn’t appear to be confused by anything he saw from Arizona.

Look, Greg McElroy was a 7th round draft pick. More than likely, he’ll be nothing more than a backup-level NFL quarterback. And really, that’s the saddest part of today if you’re a Jets fan: the team is once again back to square one at its most important position. Very rarely do franchise quarterbacks fall out of the sky and into your lap. They need to be scouted, drafted, and developed for the modern game.

The Jets failed Mark Sanchez just as much as Sanchez failed them. And now they’re starting over. Less than two years removed from an AFC Championship Game, that’s just depressing, regardless of the excitement Greg McElroy provided yesterday.

No Huddle – New York Jets Quarterback Switch Edition

TJ Rosenthal goes No Huddle on yesterday’s win and the Jets quarterback switch

No game this entire season was as exciting as the 7-6 “thriller” was for us yesterday. The exit of a struggling QB and the entrance of an unblemished one, got us up off of our seat and screaming as if it were the 2009 or 2010 playoff runs all over again.

Never mind that we were going hoarse over a few meager third and manageable completions. That came courtesy of a guy who had yet to throw an NFL pass. While trailing 3-0 late in the third quarter against an Arizona club drowning in the midst of its own seven game skid. This was about erasing the anger that grew to new heights in many of us, after Mark Sanchez met Brandon Moore’s derrière head on against the Pats ten days ago.

Thank you Rex. Thank you Mac. Even if this game only served to change the taste in our mouths. Sometimes a cleaning of the palate is all that it takes to enjoy the taste of food again.

“Even Keeled” McElroy Steals The Show

Tim Tebow saw this one coming before anyone else did. A guaranteed Mark Sanchez meltdown was the very reason why Tebow became a Jet in March. How ironic it was then, that on the day both a winnable game was there for the taking and a Sanchez benching felt right, Rex Ryan turned to third stringer Greg McElroy for a spark. The former Alabama product being the only active backup available.

McElroy did what any cool headed Wonderlic genius would do when asked to engineer one measly TD drive without a hiccup. He landed the Jets safely in the end zone.

How far can McElroy take this undermanned Jets offense now? Only Ryan can give him the chance to find out. Regardless of who starts down the stretch, the reality that the Jets needed a change when Ryan made a call to the bullpen, was clear.

Tony Sparano’s patched together group  had lost hope with Sanchez behind center. Probably a long time ago in fact. The embarrassing fumble on Thanksgiving into Brandon Moore symbolically serving as the final straw.

The only way that Mark Sanchez can win back the trust of this team, provided he gets a second chance to now or in 2013,  is to change his emotional patterns. Maybe a seat on the sidelines for the first time in his pro career could help him do that. Holding onto feelings about mistakes at a position that requires an ultra short memory, is the quickest way to creating self made slumps. Ones that can last for quarters, games, and even entire seasons.

McElroy said after the 7-6 win over the hapless Cards, that being “even keeled” was part of his skill set as a player. For a Ryan coached-team that seeks to win through its defense and ground attack, his is a trait that matters more than arm strength, physical strength and GQ looks do combined.

McElroy Is Not The Only Kid Who Should Start And Play More Now

Ryan has to start McElroy next week. Keeping the huddle as hopeful during the week as it was late against Arizona, is essential now. Ryan shouldn’t stop there either.

Bilal Powell and Shonn Greene were effective Sunday. but it’s Powell who has that shake and bake in his game. Let him get more touches next week. Powell started strong then disappeared Sunday. Why? Use him more now Rex. He finds open space and the end zone as well. Powell has proven worthy of an expanded role.

Stephen Hill, who shocked many with his catches let alone tough ones in traffic Sunday, deserves more throws his way now too. Maybe Hill can springboard off of the clutch grabs but Rex must give him the opportunity to while the memory of a solid game finally, is fresh in his mind.

Gotta Go To Mo’s

Second year Jet Mo Wilkerson has officially arrived. Of all the people that Ryan predicted would break out in 2012, and there were many, Wilkerson has been the one to do so. Sacks, pressures, run stops and a knack for rising to the task on third down is why the Jets defensive line may finally have a player to build around. It’s about time.

Initial Reaction – It’s Over Mark, Jets Make Switch And Win

Initial reaction to the New York Jets win over Arizona and their decision to bench quarterback Mark Sanchez

The New York Jets and Arizona Cardinals played arguably the ugliest football game of the 2012 NFL Season. Ultimately the Jets escaped with a 7-6 win but the story is Rex Ryan’s decision to finally bench Mark Sanchez…in favor of Greg McElroy. Considering how today’s game was going, Rex had no choice and there is no going back now. Sanchez is like The Sopranos…it is over…find a new show.

From the first play of the game when he threw a brutal interception, Sanchez looked completely lost out there. The team was lifeless with him and the game was there to be taken, thanks primarily to Ryan Lindley being the worst quarterback to ever take a snap in the NFL (10/31, 72 yards, 1 INT!). Making the switch to McElroy brought a shot of life to the offense, which promptly scored a touchdown. Outside of a back shoulder throw to Jeremy Kerley to convert a third down, McElroy didn’t make any special plays. Yet, he steadied the offense and brought a much needed energy to the huddle.

There is no need to go crazy and crown McElroy as the next Joe Montana after a 5/7, 29 yard performance (which the New York media will inevitably do) but for right now, he can protect the football and manage a run heavy offense. The Jets were effective with the 1-2 punch of Bilal Powell (12 carries, 58 yards) and Shonn Greene (24 carries, 104 yards) and had an encouraging performance from Stephen Hill who had 5 catches. This is still not a good football and a team devoid of talent on offense but they should be able to compete, if not win their remaining four games.

Big picture – There is no reason not to stick with McElroy at this point. It is very clear the Tim Tebow trade was 100% a PR move orchestrated by Woody Johnson. Rex Ryan never had an interest in playing him. Mark Sanchez looks completely finished as a New York quarterback. Mentally and physically he looks defeated. There is no going back to him. See what McElroy can do with these last four games and if he could be a viable competitor next summer for an open quarterbacking job with a veteran who is brought in. At this point, it is worth wondering if the Jets will eat Sanchez’s guaranteed money and just get him off the roster in 2013.

This was an important day for Rex Ryan, who finally held Sanchez accountable for his poor play. It was likely too late and there are still major issues all over this roster…don’t allow a 7-6 win over a terrible team make you forget that. Regardless, Sanchez’s time as this team’s franchise quarterback is now officially over.

Turn On The Jets Week 13 Roundtable – Jets vs. Cardinals Predictions

The TOJ staff with their predictions for Jets vs. Cardinals

Joe Caporoso – 12 Pack

Chris Gross – Jets 16 Cardinals 9 – In one of the ugliest games of the season, the Jets will struggle to find ball movement against Arizona’s 7th ranked defense. Look for New York to try to pound the ball early through carries by both Shonn Greene and Bilal Powell, while finding difficulty throwing the ball. Mark Sanchez will have at least one turnover in the first half, while the offensive struggles to move the ball will put the Jets defense in some tough spots early. However, New York’s defense will provide a dominant effort against 6th round rookie Ryan Lindley, setting the Jets up for a 4th quarter touchdown, that will ultimately prove to be the game winner. The Jets defense will record 4 sacks as a unit, while field goals are traded throughout the day, leading to the Jets scoring the only touchdown of the contest within ten minutes prior to the end of regulation. It will certainly not be a television friendly game, and mistakes will be made, but expect the Jets to play well enough to stop the bleeding of 2012 for at least one more week.

Chris Celletti – At this point, there isn’t a team n the entire league that you would pen the Jets for a surefire win against, which should make the end of this season interesting since the have some cupcakes on the remainder of the schedule. In our previous roundtable about Jets/Cardinals, I highlighted the strength of the Cardinals’ pass defense and how that probably means the Jets’ offense will struggle, as it has basically all season. I think that will be the case, and because of that I expect the game will be pretty close the entire way. Conversely, I think the Jets’ defense comes up with a big effort. Rex Ryan’s defenses usually eat quarterbacks like Ryan Lindley for lunch, and Arizona does not have a running attack that scares you, which plays into the Jets’ hands. As long as the Jets don’t turn the ball over like nuts (possible) or have a few shockers on special teams (also, very possible), I think they find a way to beat a poor west team playing early on the east coast. Jets 20, Cardinals 14.

Rob Celletti – Chris Celletti did a hell of a job recounting the crapfest that was Jets vs. Cardinals in 1999, and I’m expecting something of a similar game.  Neither team is really any good.  The Jets will be reeling after the embarrassment that was Thanksgiving, and the Cardinals haven’t won since September…the calendar now reads December.

Expect ugly football: missed assignments, poor tackling, turnovers.  In a game between two teams like this, it’s prudent to pick the home team.  The Jets will also be well-rested, for what it’s worth.  The Jets haven’t been involved in many close games this year, so I feel like they’re due for one.  A late Folk field goal wins it for the Jets, 19-17

Turn On The Jets Week 13 NFL Picks

The TOJ Staff gives their picks for week 13 of the NFL Season


The Race for Steak continues. Note that last week’s record includes the most recent Thursday games –

CURRENT STANDINGS

1. Rob Celletti (96-75-6)

2. Chris Gross (89-83-5)

3. Mike Donnelly (88-85-4)

4. Chris Celletti (87-85-5)

5. Joe Caporoso (70-101-6)

Joe Caporoso

Last Week (3-11…ready to hang it up)

  • Bears (-3.5) vs. Seahawks
  • Vikings (+8) vs. Packers
  • 49ers (-7) vs. Rams
  • Jets (-4.5) vs. Cardinals
  • Carolina (-3) vs. Chiefs
  • Colts (+5) vs. Lions
  • Jaguars (+6) vs. Bills
  • Patriots (-7.5) vs. Fins
  • Texans (-6.5) vs. Titans
  • Bucs (+7) vs. Broncos
  • Bengals (-1.5) vs. Chargers
  • Eagles (+10) vs. Cowboys
  • Redskins (+3) vs. Giants
  • Ravens (PK) vs. Steelers
  • Browns (PK) vs. Raiders

Mike Donnelly

Last Week (6-8)

  • Bears -3.5
  • Vikings +8
  • Rams +7
  • Jets -4.5
  • Chiefs +3
  • Colts +5
  • Jaguars +6
  • Dolphins +7.5
  • Titans +6.5
  • Bucs +7
  • Bengals -1.5
  • Cowboys -10
  • Redskins +3
  • Ravens PK
  • Browns PK

Rob Celletti

Last Week (11-3!)

  • Bears (-3.5) over Seahawks
  • Vikings (+8) over Packers
  • Rams (+7) over 49ers
  • Cardinals (+5.5) over Jets
  • Lions (-5.5) over Colts
  • Jaguars (+6) over Bills
  • Patriots (-7.5) over Dolphins
  • Texans (-6.5) over Titans
  • Broncos (-7) over Buccaneers
  • Panthers (PK) over Chiefs
  • Steelers (+8.5) over Ravens
  • Raiders (+2.5) over Browns
  • Bengals (-1.5) over Chargers
  • Eagles (+10.5) over Cowboys
  • Redskins (+3) over Giants

Chris Celletti

Last Week (7-7)

  • Bears
  • Packers
  • Niners
  • Jets
  • Chiefs
  • Lions
  • Jags
  • Pats
  • Texans
  • Broncos
  • Steelers
  • Browns
  • Bengals
  • Eagles
  • Giants

Chris Gross

Last Week (8-6)

  • Bears (-3.5)
  • Vikings (+8)
  • 49ers (-7)
  • Jets (-5.5)
  • Panthers (-3)
  • Colts (+6)
  • Bills (-6)
  • Patriots (-7.5)
  • Texans (-6.5)
  • Broncos (-7)
  • Ravens (-8.5)
  • Raiders (+2.5)
  • Bengals (-1.5)
  • Eagles (+10.5)
  • Giants (-3)

Turn On The Jets 12 Pack, Week 13 – Jets vs. Cardinals

The Turn On The Jets 12 pack gives predictions for Jets vs. Cardinals

Sanchez! Lindley! The NFL on FOX, Next! The Turn On The Jets 12 pack is here with predictions for the battle of 4-7 offensive juggernauts that will take place at MetLife Stadium this weekend. It will certainly be interesting to see what starters the team decides to call out, since they have had to resort to calling out the special teams and first responders to Hurricane Sandy in recent weeks. The New York Jets are probably the only team in football who has to consistently tell their starting quarterback and his offense…sorry, we aren’t comfortable sending you out through that tunnel on a name by name basis.

And who can blame them? We all know it would be boo-city. Beyond that the Jets insist on spouting out irrelevant tidbits about their starters before they run out through the tunnel…like saying “Pro-Bowler…Bart Scott!” when he was in the Pro-Bowl in 2006. Or “1st round pick…Bryan Thomas!” when he was a first round pick in 2002. Can you imagine the offensive starters? (Picture these with “I’m Not Afraid” by Eminem playing the background, which the Jets insist on continuing to play)

“At quarterback…completing over 50% of his passes…once bedded supermodel Kate Upton…MARK SANCHEZ!”

“At wide receiver…his friends call him Clyde…and he runs super fast in a straight line…EDMOND GATES!”

“At running back…averaging 3.2 yards per carry…scored 2 touchdowns in 2009 playoffs…SHONN GREENE!”

“At right tackle…he isn’t Wayne Hunter…AUSTIN HOWARD!”

On to the predictions…

1. The much-maligned New York Jets defense is going to have a big day against Ryan Lindley and the Arizona Cardinals slopfest offensive line, finishing with 4 sacks, 2 turnovers and holding them under 17 points.

2. Mark Sanchez is going to struggle against the Arizona defense. The Jets will roll with a very conservative gameplan. Sanchez will throw for less than 200 yards and have at least one turnover.

3. Bilal Powell will have at least 12 touches on offense and Joe McKnight will also have at least 5 touches. Shonn Greene will have 17 carries for 80 yards with a touchdown.

4. Dustin Keller will be the Jets leading receiver.

5. Stephen Hill will have a quietly productive 4 catch, 45 yard game with 0 drops.

6. Larry Fitzgerald will have less than 50 yards receiving. Antonio Cromartie will also have an interception when Lindley tries to force the ball to Fitzgerland.

7. Andre Roberts will have a big day working against Kyle Wilson and Ellis Lankster, finishing with at least 70 yards receiving.

8. Greg McElroy (who will be active as the 2nd quarterback) will not see the field and will not start a game this year.

9. Kyle Wilson is going to fumble a punt.

10. Joe McKnight will return a kick out past the 50 yard line.

11. Jordan White will have his first NFL reception.

12. The Jets will win an ugly, low-scoring 16-10 game…moving to 5-7 and inspiring no confidence in the process.

Predicated Game Outcome Record: 9-2 

 

Turn On The Jets NFL Week 13 Best Bets

Chris Celletti with his weekly NFL Best Bets, including an argument for the New York Jets to fire Rex Ryan

Week 12 Record: 1-1-1

Season Record: 13-21-2

Let’s go back, briefly, to my pick from last week’s Falcons/Buccaneers game. I’ll just copy and paste it verbatim because it’s glorious:

“Falcons -1 at Buccaneers: I think the Falcons win this game, and to me, if they win it they’re going to cover a one point spread.

/Watches in dismay as the Falcons win by 1″

Just in case you guys forgot, the Falcons won 24-23. YAY.

If you follow me on Twitter, you may have seen me respond to Chris Gross’ excellent, well-thought out and researched piece defending Rex Ryan by naming him the Captain of Team Pro Rex, while countering and calling myself the Captain of Team Anti Rex. I’ll use this space to state my case as to why I’m just not a big Ryan fan, even though I’m like most Jets fans and fell in love with the guy in 2009.

Chris used mainly numbers to justify that Ryan is coaching a collection of players that simply aren’t good enough, or at least very much below the average of their opponents at basically every position on the field. There’s no arguing that, and I would never ever argue that Rex isn’t getting the full potential out of this lot of crappy players that the Jets have assembled in 2012. No team is going to win a lot of games giving major reps to guys like Edmond “Clyde” Gates, Chaz Schilens, Austin Howard, Matt Slauson, and, in 2012 at least, Bart Scott, Calvin Pace and Bryan Thomas. The Jets do not have playoff talent, so I don’t expect Rex to lead this team to the playoffs.

Do I expect better than four wins at this point in the season? Maybe. But I certainly expect the team to be more competitive on a week-by-week basis and not get blown out five times, thrice at home. That, I believe, is largely on the coach. It’s my opinion that teams in the NFL, a league designed so that every team can win every week, don’t get blown out consistently if they have a truly great coach on the sideline. Regardless of the talent on the roster.

Now, Mike Tannenbaum deserves every ounce of blame he gets for the Jets’ being the way they are this year. He doesn’t deserve to be the GM of this team anymore. But you cannot simply blame Tannenbaum and nobody else, and that includes Rex Ryan. It’s not like Rex went on vacation all offseason and parachuted into Florham Park in mid July and was like “Woah, Tanny, what the hell is this? This is who I have to work with?” It’s impossible that Rex has NO say whatsoever in the personnel on his team. I understand that there are salary cap implications and the like, but you can’t tell me that Rex Ryan couldn’t go to Tannenbaum right after last season and say “Mike, I can’t go into next year with these four linebackers. And we need a better right tackle. And a fullback. And a…” and you get the point. And if he doesn’t have any say, at all? If it’s literally that he just shows up and coaches the guys he’s given, well that tells you all you need to know about the Jets organization.

What this also brings up is a question I often ponder, and that’s whether coaches make players or players make coaches in the NFL. I think there are strong arguments either way. Bill Belichick did not have great success as a head coach before going to New England and having Mo Lewis deliver Tom Brady into his lap. There’s no doubt that Brady, or any great quarterback, can hide the shortcomings of a head coach. But I personally think there are more examples of “system” players, guys that can thrive in the right situation, if used correctly and maximized by the coaching staff.

My favorite example in this case is Victor Cruz. I respect the hell out of Cruz, and I’m in no way trying to say that the guy lacks talent or anything. You don’t put up record-setting seasons like he did last year if you’re not any good. But football is the ultimate system sport. Tom Coughlin is an offensive coach, a wide receivers coach by trade, and I have a tiny feeling that he knows exactly what hes doing in terms of utilizing Victor Cruz. I look at someone like Jeremy Kerley or Randall Cobb, and I’m honestly not so sure that there’d be that big of a drop off if the Giants replaced Cruz with one of those guys. Maybe they wouldn’t put up numbers that were as gaudy, but it’s not like Cruz makes the Giants an 11-win team where they’d be a seven or eight win team with Kerley or Cobb. That’s because Tom Coughlin is a great coach – and it definitely doesn’t hurt having a top quarterback like Eli Manning either.

I’m sure there are instances in which Ryan has gotten more out of certain players than other coaches would. Maybe Muhammad Wilkerson wouldn’t be half the player he is with the Jets than if he were on half the other teams in the NFL. I don’t think Rex is an incompetent football coach, and this brings me to my next point that I’ve always feared with Rex, and that he’s a great defensive coordinator but an average-at-best head coach. There are a lot of signs that this is the case, from poor clock and game management, to the fact that he admitted that this season, his FOURTH AS A HEAD COACH, that he’s going to more offensive meetings and getting more involved on that side of the ball than ever before. I’ve never played football on any level, so maybe I’m naive and this is just how head coaches work, but if that’s the case then that’s asinine. You’ve always gotten the sense with Rex that his defense was all important, and the offense was just the other side of the ball. Which brings me to my last point, one that I think is the most relevant in today’s league.

I think that the type of football Ryan wants to play is archaic. That’s my opinion. The league has changed over the past 10 or 15 years, and you need to change with it in order to be successful. The worst thing that ever happened to Rex Ryan was being on the Ravens’ staff in 2000 when they won the Super Bowl with an all-time defense, a good running game and an otherwise pretty bad offense, with a middling quarterback and receivers. He’s trying to recreate that with the Jets, but it’s 2012 and that doesn’t work anymore. Look at the teams that have made and won the Super Bowl over the past few seasons. New England constantly wins 13 games and goes deep into the playoffs despite having one of the league’s worst defenses nearly every year. The Giants’ defense has patches every season where you think “they cannot win with this”, yet they do. The Colts, for years, had Peyton Manning and a bad defense, yet they won a Super Bowl and went to another. The Saints, the Packers…these are the types of teams that win in the NFL these days.

What all of those teams have in common is great quarterbacking, and that’s not something the Jets have. But it goes beyond that, and it’s about the culture of those teams and how they’re built. It’s not about punching someone in the mouth and giving up 10 points. It’s not about running the ball to control the clock and keep the other team’s QB on the sidelines. All those successful teams we just mentioned didn’t have shut down defenses, they had defenses that could make big plays at big times. They had the ability, and most importantly the desire and were designed to, put up a lot of points and hit big plays. Watching the Jets over the past three-plus seasons, I don’t get the vibe it’s just that the Jets can’t play offense this way, it’s that they don’t want to. Too risky. Too much potential for turnovers. Well if your defense is so great, how about picking up the offense when it inevitably turns the ball over? I’m sorry, you don’t hand-pick Tony Sparano to run your offense if you want to succeed in the NFL in 2012.

This is not even to get into the idea of Ryan’s boasts, the ridiculousness that constantly surrounds this team, etc. I honestly don’t even believe in that stuff too much. That’s the type of thing that is all well and good when you’re winning, and is a disaster when you’re losing. I have no problem with that.

And I honestly hate that I feel this way because I did love Rex Ryan when he took over in 2009. It felt like he changed the culture of the Jets, but I think the past two seasons are a clear indication that he really didn’t. He merely turned the Jets from a team that nobody bothered paying any attention to into to one that people love to point and laugh at and root against. Either way, they aren’t winning. At one point, us Jets fans thought that we had our coach in Herman Edwards, in Eric Mangini, when those guys surprised us early on by bringing us to the playoffs. I think Rex is a better coach than both of those guys, and I really hope that we don’t look back on him the same way we do those guys.

I fear, however, that we will.

Oh yeah, the picks:

Jaguars +6 at Bills, 49ers -7 at Rams, Jets -4.5 vs. Cardinals

Bonus Non-Football Bet of the Week (Season Record: 5-6-1): Boxing Bet Alert: Miguel Cotto vs. Austin Trout. I like Cotto at -230 to win, and under 9.5 rounds at +220.

 

New York Jets Fact or False: Week 13 Edition

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

New York Jets – Where Is The Pass Rush?

A look at why the New York Jets have never adequately addressed their porous pass rush

Among the phrases I most frequently utter during a New York Jets game, “We really need a sack right here. When is the last time we got a sack?” is high up on the list. It isn’t just the 2012 version of the Jets who are awful at getting after the quarterback, it has been a recurring trend on the Jets over nearly the past decade. Did you know the last Jets player to register double digit sacks in a season was John Abraham in 2005 with 10.5? The last time the Jets had a double digit sack guy, Brooks Bollinger was throwing passes to Doug Jolley! Since then here are their sack leaders in each respective season –

  • 2006 – Bryan Thomas – 8.5 sacks
  • 2007 – David Harris – 5 sacks
  • 2008 – Calvin Pace – 7 sacks
  • 2009 – Calvin Pace – 8 sacks
  • 2010 – Bryan Thomas – 6 sacks
  • 2011 – Aaron Maybin – 6 sacks
  • 2012 – Bryan Thomas – 2.5 sacks

Wow, that is a depressing list. It is even more depressing when you share the city with the New York Giants and Jason Pierre-Paul and Osi Umenyiora are having 4-5 sack games each season. This list shows the Jets haven’t had anybody anywhere near a feared pass rusher in 7 full years. Why hasn’t this team properly addressed their pass rush in so long?

After Abraham was traded, the Jets had so many other holes to fill (sound familiar) that pass rush was generally ignored. They lucked out and got the most productive season of Bryan Thomas’ career in 2006 and promptly rewarded him with a large contract, figuring he was finally reaching his first round potential now that he was paired with Eric Mangini. Guess what? 2006 turned out to be an outlier/fluke and Thomas was back down to 2.5 sacks the following season.

After 2007, the Jets decided to finally get their needed pass rusher by selecting Vernon Gholston with the #6 overall pick. Swing and a miss! Gholston never recorded a NFL sack and is out of the league. This selection marked the beginning of the end of smart drafts by Mike Tannenbaum, who would add to bust-trophy case with Vladimir Ducasse, Kyle Wilson, and now likely both Mark Sanchez and Shonn Greene.

In 2008, the Jets looked to remedy their previous two mistakes by giving big money to Calvin Pace who did get 15 total sacks between 2008 and 2009…good not great. Pace also was suspended the first four games of the 2009 season and missed the first four games of the 2010 season due to a foot injury. Since that injury, he has never been the same player.

2009 and 2010 saw complete ignorance of pass rushers. Many figured Rex Ryan could turn Vernon Gholston into a reclamation project, which never happened. Meanwhile Pace and Thomas’ skills continued to deteriorate while no adequate long term replacements were brought in. Instead they tried a stop-gap help with Jason Taylor in 2010, who ended up being one and done with the Jets.

Even in the 2011 draft when the Jets drafted defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson in the first round, he wasn’t taken under the expectation of being a double digit sack guy…ends in 3-4 schemes don’t put up those kind of numbers. The Jets didn’t even bother to spend a middle or late round pick on an outside linebacker. They were fortunate to get 6 sacks out of Aaron Maybin who was brought in off the scrap heap. Instead of looking to the fill the need this past off-season from outside the organization, they decided to be content with just bringing Maybin back and hoping first round pick Quinton Coples could provide an interior pass rush.

Unfortunately, Maybin turned out to be a one trick pony who was cut after 8 games this year. He recorded 0 sacks and 1 tackle in those 8 games. Coples has shown immense talent but is frequently double teamed inside with Wilkerson because nobody respects Pace and Thomas (yes those same two are still here) coming off the edge.

So what happened? The Jets guessed wrong about Thomas being able to sustain his success heading into 2007 season. They guessed wrong with Gholston in the 2008 Draft. They thought a little too highly of Pace in 2008-2010 and gave Maybin too much credit heading into this year. All personnel mistakes and poor self-scouting…a recurring trend with this team.

After this year both starters, Calvin Pace and Bryan Thomas will be gone, offering the opportunity to fill two long standing positions of need for this team. The Jets MUST find competent pass rushers to get the most out of their first round picks, Wilkerson and Coples, who are on the cusp of being special players but need less attention consistently being given to them. Outside linebacker needs to be addressed once or twice in rounds 1-3 by the team in this year’s draft and in the free agency/trade market. This defense will never reach their potential unless this is handled properly.

THURSDAY NIGHT PICKS

  • Joe – Saints (+3.5)
  • Chris G – Saints (+3.5)
  • Mike – Saints (+3.5)
  • Chris C – Falcons (-3.5) 
  • Rob – Saints (+3.5)

Throwback Thursday: Jets vs. Cardinals, November 7, 1999

Throwback Thursday! Chris Celletti takes a walk down memory lane, remembering an epic 1999 showdown between the Jets and Cardinals.

Throwback Thursday is a new feature here at Turn On The Jets, where we’ll take a stroll down Jets Memory Lane and reminisce about great Jets games in the past against their upcoming opponent. (Word to not take seriously in that last sentence: “great”)

I was talking with my brother, esteemed Sanchez Breakdowner at Turn On the Jets Rob Celletti, and we were talking about how potentially miserable this Sunday’s game at MetLife Stadium between the Jets and Arizona Cardinals might be. And we’re not talking like 2012 blowout losses vs. the Patriots, Dolphins and 49ers-type miserable, more in the sense of “Sweet Jesus this is a horrifying display of football.” You see, when you have a history like the Jets do, where once about every three or four years you’re absolutely terrible, you rack up a bunch of these types of games. So Sunday’s tussle between these two 4-7 behemoths has a chance to be really, really bad, but it isn’t the first time these teams have played each other and made everyone in attendance want to leave the stadium and rob a charity. Oh no. Do you remember November 7, 1999? No? Well that’s what we’re here for.

Before we get to the ’99 doozy, simply looking ahead at the Jets’ remaining schedule this year we have a lot of excellent Throwback Thursdays in store to get you through the rest of this season. The Jaguars? Titans? Chargers? Have to be some real horrors in there. Now, if we decide to continue this into next year, hopefully the season won’t be lost by Week 6 and we’ll decide to sprinkle in a few actual positive memories from Jet Land. They are few and far between, but they do exist. But, until then, let’s get to it. If you’re a Jet fan you’re a masochist anyway, so these feelings should be comforting.

Jets vs. Cardinals – November 7, 1999 – Giants Stadium

At the time…

Billboard No. 1 Song in the U.S.: “Smooth” by Santana f/ Rob Thomas (aka, the song that Santana made to say “If I’m gonna sell out and take a dump on my entire 30 years of work, I’m taking Rob Thomas’ credibility as a rock artist down with me”)

No. 1 Movie in the U.S.: “The Bone Collector”, starring Denzel Washington and Angelina Jolie. Never seen it, but Bobby Cannavale (aka Gyp Rosetti in Boardwalk Empire) is also in it, so that may make it worth watching.

Jets Record Before: 1-6

Cardinals Record Before: 2-5

The ’99 season is one that sticks out in Jets fans’ minds distinctly and in a bad way. It was the one season that the Jets were well respected all around in preseason and were not just a sexy pick to win the Super Bowl, but a realistic one. They’d just come off the ’98 AFC Title loss in Denver, and with Bill Parcells manning the sidelines and having taught Vinny Testaverde to remember what color he was supposed to throw to, an in-prime Curtis Martin, an in-prime Keyshawn Johnson and oh yeah a defensive coordinator named Bill Belichick, the Jets were one of the best teams in the league, no question. And then in Week 1 Testaverde’s Achilles’ tendon exploded into 40 pieces and the season was over. They entered Week 9 off a bye at 1-6, with their lone win coming in Week 4 against Denver.

The Jets welcomed in a 2-5 Arizona team led by better-than-Shonn-Greene Michael Pittman, former Jets Adrian Murrell and Rob Moore and former Giants quarterback Dave Brown (Jake Plummer was the starter, he was either hurt or was benched for a miserable start to the season – I’m not sure but it really isn’t important). The best thing about Dave Brown as an Arizona Cardinal was the fact that he wore his entire name on the back of his jersey. Yes, the back of his jersey said “DAVE BROWN”. More people in the the NFL, and all sports for that matter, should do this. It would be funnier if after throwing a back-breaking pick and chasing a cornerback down the field in despair, it said “MARK SANCHEZ” instead of just “SANCHEZ”.

The Jets drew first blood on a John Hall field goal, but the Cards took a commanding 7-3 lead into halftime through Pittman’s four yard touchdown in the second quarter. Just when you thought those Jets would hang their heads, realize the season was over, look at their starting quarterback Rick Mirer and fight the urge to rip his index finger off so could never throw another pass…well whatever the Big Tuna said at halftime worked like a charm.

Gang Green stormed out of the half and put up a crucial three more points on the board, getting within striking distance entering the fourth quarter at 7-6. And that’s when the magic really happened. The stout Jets defense held DAVE BROWN in check, sacking him six times. Six times! Do the Jets have six sacks this season? The Jets’ six sacks came from James Farrior (he owes every Jets fan a personal apology), Mo Lewis, Ernie Logan (2 sacks),  Rick Lyle and Roman Phifer. How many of these guys could start for the Jets defense THIS Sunday? The jury is still out.

So that left things up to Mirer and the offense to bring it home, and home is where they brought it! The one-score-per-quarter trend kept up, with Mirer hooking up with Keyshawn Johnson for a 43-yard game-winning touchdown. The Jets went for two, and missed of course, which is where we got our brilliant final score: Jets 12, Cardinals 7. Sadly, this would be the last game Rick Mirer ever played as a New York Jet. He threw for 122 yards on 12-of-18 (Loogit that completion percentage you guys – hey Sanchez, why can’t you just be more like Rick Mirer?!?), which means that if you took out his 43 yard outlier, he threw for a whopping 79 yards. On the other hand, despite getting sacked six times, DAVE BROWN threw for 199 yards and had a respectable QB rating of 85.  In related news, Rick Mirer sucked.

The Jets leaned heavy on their defense and running game, with Curtis Martin piling up 131 yards on 38 carries. Where was Rex Ryan on Nov. 7, 1999? Why do I envision him watching this game in a dark basement, rubbing his wife’s feet while scarfing down fried chicken and pork rinds and yelling “GROUND AND POUND, BOOOOOM BABY!” at the top of his lungs? Games like this get Rex Ryan all tingly in the wrong places.

This game had two legendary bad quarterbacks, six total fumbles, nine sacks, 28 combined pass completions, just over 500 yards in total offense and 25 first downs. The Jets moved to 2-6 with the win, spurring on a three game winning streak and a 6-2 run to finish a respectable 8-8 with Ray Lucas under center. Now in 2012, Ray Lucas sits at a studio outside Radio City with a bad makeup job and tie knots the size of my fist and bashes the one organization who gave him a chance. Without the New York Jets, Ray Lucas would be a gym teacher in New Brunswick.

Let’s all hope this Sunday’s tilt between these two banner franchises can mirror the excitement of their meeting 13 years prior.