Sanchez Breakdown: Jets Offense Grounded in Pittsburgh

Rob Celletti breaks down Mark Sanchez’s performance against the Pittsburgh Steelers in week 2

Stat Line: – 10/27, 138 Yards, 1 touchdown, 0 interceptions – 66.6 QB rating, 37.0 completion percentage (yikes)

Season Stat Line – 29/54, 404 yards, 4 touchdowns, 1 interception – 95 QB Rating, 53.7 completion percentage

To put it as simply as possible, two good drives are never going to be enough to win an NFL game. Ditto, just two trips to the red zone, as illustrated in this fancy graphic that all the stat-heads out there will surely enjoy. The Jets had issues in all three phases of the game, and the issues on offense weren’t only a function of poor quarterback play, but this is the place we discuss Mark Sanchez, so discuss him we will.

The Best: The first drive seemed to be a continuation of the week 1 success against the Buffalo Bills. This is what I expected the Jets to do most of the game to a Pittsburgh defense that was missing two of its impact players.  Sanchez and company responded to Pittsburgh’s opening drive field goal by marching right down the field, keyed by a big 45 yard hook-up with Jeremy Kerley where Sanchez again utilized a pump-fake to send Ryan Clark the wrong way before dropping a perfect, in-stride ball over three Steelers defenders for the big gain. Three plays later, a deft play-action fake and easy pickings on a quick slant to Santonio Holmes had the Jets up 7-3.

The Worst: Pretty much everything after the first drive was troublesome.  All of a sudden, Sanchez was out of synch with his receiving corps. Notable miscues happened with Jeff Cumberland and Jeremy Kerley, and after a solid opening drive, Santonio Holmes dropped a slew of catchable passes and in the end caught just three of the 11 balls thrown his way. The chemistry issues between Holmes and Sanchez have been discussed at length, but they’re worth noting again here. This is simply something that must be solved in order for the Jets to have a successful 2012 season. For better or worse, Holmes is the most experienced playmaker the Jets have, and if he and Sanchez aren’t on the same page, the offense will continue to sputter.

After the first drive, Sanchez completed just 6 of his next 22 passes (that’s 27.2%, for those of you scoring at home). The Jets did not enter the red zone after their second drive (they got to the 19 yard line), coming closest on their final, garbage time drive which ended at Pittsburgh’s 30 yard line. Sanchez also took some legitimate hits (including a rightly-penalized blow to the head), which was to be expected against Dick LeBeau’s defense. While I don’t think he was ever downright skittish, it’s clear that Sanchez was less decisive with the ball as the game wore on and Pittsburgh’s defense asserted itself.

The Key Moment: While I would love to harp on the Jets’ lack of aggressiveness at the end of the first half, I’ll keep the discussion to Sanchez, who said after the game that running the clock out was ultimately Tony Sparano’s decision.  A colleague of mine pointed out that after Sanchez missed Holmes for a would-be touchdown on the Jets second drive, everything seemed to stall out thereafter. It’s a good point. Watching the play again, it’s a terrific play-call on 1st and 10 from the 24, and the execution is there until the throw.  Sanchez playfakes, then bootlegs to the outside, which pulls Ryan Clark up the field. Santonio Holmes gets separation from Ike Taylor and runs into a fully vacated Pittsburgh endzone.  If Sanchez lays the ball out in front of Holmes, it’s an easy touchdown the Jets grab a 14-6 lead. Instead, the throw is high and a little behind #10, and the Jets settle for the three points that would be their last of the game. Sanchez has always been praised for his ability to throw on the run, and this play put him in his sweet spot, but the quarterback simply didn’t make the throw.

So now the question is, how will Mark Sanchez respond?  The Jets return to the place where their 2011 season officially and mercilessly went up in flames. Sanchez has a spotty history and just a 2-4 career record vs. Miami. Intriguing times ahead for the Jets’ quarterback.

New York Jets Week 2 Report Card – Failing Effort

The grade report for the New York Jets week 2 game against the Pittsburgh Steelers

Quarterbacks (C) – Mark Sanchez came out of the gates on fire, completing 4 of his 5 first passes for 80 yards and a touchdown. After that, the passing offense went into the tank as he finished an ugly 10/27 for 138 yards. He misfired on a few passes down the field and didn’t seem to be on the same page as his receivers. He wasn’t helped by dropped passes, poor route running and a nonexistent running game but overall this was a disappointing effort.

Tim Tebow had an impressive 22 yard run and sadly might be the best running back this team has right now. I’d rather watch 20 Wildcat runs than 20 2 yard Shonn Greene runs at this point.

Running Backs (D) – Shonn Greene finished up with 11 carries for 23 yards. If you take away his one 9 yard run. He had 10 carries for 14 yards. He also added in a holding penalty and a whiffed block in pass protection for good measure. We are two games into the season and Greene has 38 carries for 117 yards with 1 run for over 10 yards…not even close to good enough. The blame doesn’t fall on the offensive line, Greene doesn’t have the speed to get to the edge and can’t break through to the second level when holes are actually there.

The only reason this isn’t an F is because Bilal Powell showed some elusiveness on a 10 yard run and finished with 3.7 yards per carry which looks great next to Greene’s 3.0 on the season. Joe McKnight also had a nice 12 yard run where be broke a few tackles and made a defender miss…perhaps it is time to give him and Powell a longer look.

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends (F) – I will go into this in more detail during our film breakdown but Santonio Holmes was awful yesterday. He spent the entire game whining at the officials, dropping passes and running lazy routes that lacked any measure of the needed preciseness from a number one receiver. Stephen Hill struggled with the Steelers physical coverage. Jeremy Kerley provided a big play with a 45 yard reception but was absent besides it.

Jeff Cumberland missed a hot read that could have converted a first down and didn’t provide anything in the passing game. The Jets really missed Dustin Keller in this one.

Defensive Line (C) – The run defense was terrific as expected, led by Muhammad Wilkerson and Sione Pouha. Yet, the lack of a pass rush was frustrating to see. Quinton Coples is barely on the field and when he has been looks completely lost. Outside of a sack when Ben Roethlisnberger slid behind the line of scrimmage, the defensive line didn’t touch him once.

Linebackers (C) – Way too many missed tackles. David Harris missed two opportunities for a sack. Calvin Pace was nowhere near the quarterback. Garret McIntyre of all people had the game of his life, finishing with 2 sacks, 4 tackles for a loss and 7 tackles. He should become a regular part of the defense moving forward, which means less Bryan Thomas and Aaron Maybin…who has been invisible so far this year.

Secondary (F) – They get a “F” just because of how putrid Antonio Cromartie was on Mike Wallace’s touchdown. What a lazy play that completely lacked any football awareness. LaRon Landry picked up two personal fouls and Kyle Wilson was average at best. Let’s hope Revis is back next week.

Special Teams (D) – Jeremy Kerley’s muffed punt was a killer in the second half. Isaiah Trufant should have downed a punt at the 1 yard line but inexplicably let himself land in the end-zone with the ball. Nick Folk hit his only field goal attempt.

Coaching (D) – Tony Sparano had no counter move when Dick LeBeau adjusted after the Jets first couple of drives. Rex was too conservative at the end of the half and admitted the team had a sloppy/sluggish week of practice. They better be ready to turn it up this week because if they slip up against Miami, 1-2 heading into back to back games against San Francisco and Houston isn’t going to be pretty.

No Huddle – New York Jets Ugly Loss Edition

TJ Rosenthal goes No Huddle on the New York Jets 27-10 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers

Sure. Okay. We’ll admit it. This loss hurt. The ghosts of the AFC championship defeat were there for us and we will assume many other diehards as we watched. Many of us would have loved nothing more than having Mike Tomlin exit at 0-2.

A little payback.

That said, the Jets are 1-1, in a four way tie for first in the AFC East, and nowhere near any panic buttons that many thought they’d be pressing before heading down to Miami.

Here’s a quick look back on yesterday. A day we are disappointed about, but won’t be dwelling on for much longer.

1 – Why Can’t The Jets Tackle Ben?

Hey, Ben Rothliesberger is tough to bring down. Period. That’s why. Everyone knows that. Sunday, the Jets defense being unable to get to Ben when they had open lanes on blitzes, led to big results for Pittsburgh downfield. Being able to bring Big Ben down might have gotten the D off the field and kept the game within a score. That didn’t happen. Making it an uphill battle for the entire second half. To us this was the key issue all day.

2 -The Backbreaking Wallace TD.

The Jets were down 13-10 at halftime, and trying to tread water early in the third quarter, long enough in order to get back on track offensively. Then Mike Wallace grabbed what could have been a jump ball in the end zone. One that Antonio Cromartie foolishly overran. Even so, Wallace must have been in bounds by a blade of grass. A booth review that viewers never got a good look at to boot.

That odd play left the Jets no room for error at 20-10. Soon enough, the Steelers power running game began to roll downhill. This moment, this 50/50 ball, even with the Jets struggles on third down, and problems tackling later in the second half, is what really gave Pittsburgh control of the game.

3 – Landry’s Penalties Hurt, But We Like His Style And Aggression.

S Laron Landry had a late hit and a horse collar. Penalties that led to scores. On the flip side, the Jets new hard hitting safety is also establishing his turf and in the long run, this will bode well for the defense. The penalties hurt but we can live with them, knowing that Landry will do alot more good than bad this year. His style was sorely needed.

4 – Why Did The Jets Offense Come To A Halt? Greene Got Woozy and The Receivers Missed Their Few Shots

Shonn Greene was running with a great first step early on, and the Jets offense seemed like it was again ready to have a good day, until his head injury slowed him and the unit down. This changed the balance and overall rythym of the offense.

The young receivers failed to establish their size, and speed in space on a potentially big plays too. You hit on them you score fast. Not today. Rookie Stephen Hill got outmuscled downfield deep in a one on one matchup in the first half. Jeremy Kerley was over the middle and had a shot at a big play but seemed to cut his route short on a throw that Sanchez let loose deeper, thinking Kerley was going to head down the seem.

TE Jeff Cumberland misread a hot route that could have been a red zone first down, that instead led to just a FG.

There were also some drops.

Dustin Keller being out certainly didn’t help. With the choice to go with youth at WR though, even with Keller, these days will happen for Sanjay Lal’s corps in 2012. Hopefully less often than the ones that gave us the makings of that opening day explosion last week against the Bills.

5 – Hate To Say It, But Turn The Page On This One

The Jets are in a way four way tie in the AFC East with stars Darrelle Revis and Dustin Keller on the mend. Facing a rookie QB next week.

Things could be alot worse.

The Steelers game felt like it slipped and slithered away no doubt, but so many had the Jets 0-2 and desperately two games back by now. Instead they are still in position to accomplish their goals. Bite your tongues folks. Grin and bear it. Move on and get ready for a huge game in Miami, knowing that San Fran and Houston are waiting.

Does Sunday at Heinz leave a bad taste in the mouth? Sure. Is the “L” devastating? No. In fact it’s already time to move on and get ready for the Fish.

Turn On The Jets Week 2 Roundtable – Jets vs. Steelers Predictions

The Turn On The Jets staff gives their predictions for Jets vs. Steelers

The TOJ Staff with their predictions for Jets/Steelers 

Joe Caporoso – 12 Pack

Chris Gross – Jets 24, Steelers 17 – Since I couldn’t have been more off with my prediction last week, it’s only fitting I deliver a prediction of redemption. With so many key players, for both teams, sitting out this week, it is extremely difficult to gage where this game will go. Kyle Wilson, who will be starting opposite Antonio Cromartie with Darrelle Revis out, has a huge opportunity to prove that the Jets can rely on him to play well consistently. Wilson will likely be matched up with Antonio Brown, who has become one of Ben Roethlisberger’s favorite targets over the past year, and will certainly have his hands full. Brown has big play ability and consistently finds holes in coverage to make key grabs and keep the chains moving for Pittsburgh. Wilson has a huge task at hand, but should be excited about the opportunity to prove himself.

Pittsburgh has a below average offensive line, one that gave up five sacks to Denver last week. Expect the Jets to get to Big Ben on more than one occasion. Look for Muhammed Wilkerson, Calvin Pace, and possibly Quinton Coples to all register sacks this week. With Rashard Mendenhall out for Pittsburgh again, the Steelers will likely turn to their stable of less than average running backs, all of whom the Jets will shut down early. Look for Pittsburgh Offensive Coordinator Todd Haley to start airing it out by the second quarter, leading to 1-2 interceptions by Ben Roethlisberger.
Offensively, the Jets will look to keep that fire from Buffalo burning, especially with Pittsburgh’s two best defensive players, James Harrison and Troy Polamalu, also out with injuries. New York will try to get the run game going, but with Shonn Greene average under 4 YPC, Sparano will likely let Sanchez take control and look to get Stephen Hill, Santonio Holmes, and Jeremy Kerley the ball in space. Ultimately, this game could come down to the final possession, one that has a Sanchez game winning drive written all over it, a phenomenal way to enter Miami week with San Francisco and Houston looming afterwards.

Rob Celletti – As exhilarating as week one was, it was just that: week one. I’m an optimist (I picked the Jets to win 10 games this year, after all), but I also don’t want to start drinking the Kool-aid just because the Jets walloped a suspect football team with a mediocre quarterback at home. Sunday’s game will be a battle. Pittsburgh is a quality football team, and even though they’re banged up, I expect a motivated Steelers side that will be anxious to wash the taste of their opening week loss out of their mouths. It will be a hard-fought game in which both teams will play well.  The Jets won’t have such an easy time throwing the ball, but Sanchez will put up representative numbers. He’ll also get sacked in key spots by a Pittsburgh defense that will be more creative and active than Buffalo. Also, remember, the Jets put the ball on the ground three times against the Bills and Sanchez was intercepted once.  If they make mistakes like that in this game, Pittsburgh will capitalize.  In the end, an even game comes down to the final possession, and Pittsburgh does enough to win, 24-21.

Chris Celletti – Most people probably think this is going to be a knock down, drag ’em out kind of game. I think both teams will look and say “Hey, their best defensive player is out, let’s take a few shots here” (as long as Troy Polamalu and/or James Harrison don’t play, with Darrelle Revis already ruled out), and we could be in for a more high scoring affair than most people think. I don’t think the Steelers are nearly as tough as we’re used to them being, which isn’t to say that they’re not good. They’re still good, but in a different way with a more dynamic offense led by three very good receivers. Mark Sanchez will have more success through the air, while Shonn Greene will continue to find a way to gain three yards, no more or less, on literally every play. The game will come down to wire, with maybe a big special teams play deciding things. In a bit of an upset I’ll take Jets 31, Steelers 27

Mike Donnelly – This game is going to be a much tougher test than last week against the paper champion Buffalo Bills. The Steelers are not the powerhouse team they were a few years ago, and they’ll be without mainstays James Harrison, Troy Polamalu, and Rashard Mendenhall, but they’re still a formidable opponent — especially at Heinz Field. The Jets will be without Darrelle Revis of course as well, which is a major blow, bit I expect the defense to exploit he Steelers Swiss cheese offensive line and make up for the absence of #24, pulling out a nail biter late in the 4th quarter 23-20.

Turn On The Jets Week 2 NFL Picks

The TOJ staff submits their picks for week 2 of the NFL season….the race for steak continues

The TOJ week 1 NFL staff picks left us looking like the NFC West circa a few years ago. The Race For Steak is off to a slow start but that doesn’t mean we aren’t ready for a strong bounce back in week 2. Make sure to give everybody a follow Twitter and make sure to check out Session 73 for this great deal brought to you by our partners at Night Out. On to the picks –


1. Mike “Down With Silva” Donnelly (9-8)

2. Chris “I Still Bet On Boxing” Celletti (8-9)

3. Rob “Down With Bettman” Celletti (7-10)

4. Chris “Creatine” Gross (7-10)

5. Joe “Still Handsome” Caporoso (6-11)

Joe Caporoso

Season Record: 6-11

  • Giants (-7) vs. Tampa Bay
  • New England (-13.5) vs. Arizona
  • Minnesota (-2) vs. Indiannapolis
  • New Orleans (-2.5) vs. Carolina
  • Kansas City (+3) vs. Buffalo
  • Baltimore (+2.5) vs. Philadelphia
  • Oakland (-3) vs. Miami
  • Cincinnati (-7) vs. Brandon Weeden Is Awful
  • Houston (-7) vs. Jacksonville
  • Seattle (+3.5) vs. Dallas
  • Washington (-3) vs. St. Louis
  • Jets (+5) vs. Pittsburgh
  • Tennessee (+6.5) vs. San Diego
  • San Francisco (-6.5) vs. Detroit
  • Atlanta (-3) vs. Denver

Mike Donnelly

Season Record: 9-8

  • NYG -7
  • NE -13.5
  • Minn -3
  • Car +3
  • KC +3
  • Phi -2.5
  • Mia +2
  • Cle +7
  • Jax +7
  • Sea +3.5
  • StL +3.5
  • NYJ +5
  • Tenn +7
  • SF -6.5
  • Atl -3

Chris Celletti

Season Record: 8-9

  • Giants -7
  • Pats -13
  • Colts +3
  • Panthers +2.5
  • Chiefs +3
  • Ravens +2.5
  • Raiders -2
  • Bengals -7
  • Texans -7
  • Cowboys -3.5
  • Redskins -3.5
  • Jets +5.5
  • Titans +7
  • Niners -7
  • Broncos +3

Rob Celletti

Season Record: 7-10

  • Giants (-7) over Buccaneers
  • Patriots (-13.5) over Cardinals
  • Colts (+1.5) over Vikings
  • Saints (-2.5) over Panthers
  • Bills (-3) over Chiefs
  • Ravens (+2.5) over Eagles
  • Dolphins (+3) over Raiders
  • Bengals (-7) over Browns
  • Texans (-7) over Jaguars
  • Cowboys (-3) over Seahawks
  • Redskins (-3) over Rams
  • Jets (+4.5) over Steelers
  • Chargers (-6.5) over Titans
  • 49ers (-7) over Lions
  • Broncos (+3) over Falcons

Chris Gross

Season Record: 7-10

  • Giants
  • Cardinals
  • Colts
  • Saints
  • Chiefs
  • Ravens
  • Oakland
  • Bengals
  • Texans
  • Cowboys
  • Redskins
  • Jets
  • Titans
  • 49ers
  • Broncos

Turn On The Jets 12 Pack, Week 2 – Jets vs. Steelers

12 predictions for the New York Jets week 2 match-up against the Pittsburgh Steelers

The 12 Pack is back for another week of likely incorrect predictions about the upcoming New York Jets game. Make sure you check back tomorrow for our TOJ Roundtable picks for the game and the ongoing Race For Steak. In case you haven’t heard yet, the following players are OUT for the game on Sunday: Darrelle Revis, Dustin Keller, Bryan Thomas, James Harrison, Troy Polamalu, Rashard Mendenhall…so yea, no big names or anything. 

Make sure to check out our deal of the week with Night Out $30 for unlimited beer and appetizers at Session 73. The TOJ staff should be in the building, will you be? 

1. We have discussed at length the problems Emmanuel Sanders and Heath Miller could cause for the Jets, those problems are only magnified now by Ellis Lankster playing nickelback and Isaiah Trufant playing in the dime. Kyle Wilson will likely spend most of the game covering Antonio Brown, a match-up Ben Roethlisberger will likely exploit and Antonio Cromartie will be on Mike Wallace. Pittsburgh is going to rack up a ton of passing yards, the question is can the Jets defense bend but not break? Roethlisberger should be good for at least 260 yards through the air on Sunday.

2. The Jets pass rush is going to break through against a suspect Pittsburgh offensive line. Todd Haley is going to get pass happy and while they will get their yards, it will also come at the cost of a few sacks. Look for Quinton Coples to record his first NFL sack and for Aaron Maybin to get on the board as well.

3. Mark Sanchez is going to play another good game in what will turn out to be a very good season for him. The Jets will pick on Keenan Lewis and Ryan Mundy and won’t be shy about attacking down the field with Santonio Holmes, Stephen Hill or Jeremy Kerley. Sanchez will be good for 20+ completions and 225+ yards.

4. Shonn Greene will have 18-22 carries and finish with under 100 yards.

5. Tim Tebow will be more effective in the Wildcat this week than he was last week. He will compete his first pass of the season and run for 25-35 yards.

6. Jonathan Dwyer will be Pittsburgh’s leading rusher and finish with 50-55 yards. Pittsburgh will abandon the running game fairly early in this one.

7. Santonio Holmes will score his first touchdown of the season and it will come on a completion of over 20 yards.

8. Mark Sanchez will be sacked 2 or 3 times on Sunday. However, he will not have any turnovers this week.

9. Garret McIntyre will have a rough game in the starting line-up for Bryan Thomas. Pittsburgh will attack him in both the rushing and passing game with a good amount of success.

10. Bilal Powell will have a bigger role in the game-plan than he did last week.

11. Antonio Cromartie will have his second interception of the season.

12. This is going to be a somewhat high scoring game that will be tight all the way throughout. This one will be decided in the final 3-4 minutes. Unfortunately this is the time for my yearly disclaimer that I can’t pick the Jets to go 16-0. Yes, this is a very winnable game. However, I think Pittsburgh does enough and puts it away late for a 27-24 victory.

New York Jets – 2012: The Year of the Sanchize

Mike Donnelly on why the absence of Brian Schottenheimer will mean a career year for Mark Sanchez

Since Sunday’s offensive explosion against the Bills, I have seen many different reactions from media experts, Jets fans, Jets haters, and everyone in between (except Evan Silva, of course, who must have had far too much egg on his face to give his take on the game) in regard to the Jets offense, and Mark Sanchez in particular. Some have expressed shock, while others felt somewhat vindicated after believing in the Sanchize all along. The overriding question from everyone, though, is can Sanchez keep this going? Well, not only is he is going to keep it going and mature into the franchise quarterback many expected him to be, I’m going to show you why the writing was all over the wall heading into this season, and we should have expected a big year. I can tell you why that is the case in two simple words:

Brian. Schottenheimer.

Yes, it’s easy (and fun) to take shots at the incompetent former Jets offensive coordinator, but there is good reason for that. When you look back at his coaching career, the thing that sticks out like a sore thumb is the lack of development and overall production amongst the quarterbacks he works with. Don’t believe me? Check it out:

2001 – Brian’s dad, Marty, brought him on as the QB coach for his final season in Washington. The quarterbacks that season combined to throw for 13 touchdowns, complete 54% of their passes, and compile a 71.1 quarterback rating. NOT BAD!

2002-2005 – Brian followed his daddy to San Diego, which was likely the only way he’d get a job in the NFL. During his time in San Diego, he was charged with developing 2001 draft pick Drew Brees, who you may know as the future hall-of-famer that last season threw for the most yards in a single season ever. Over the course of four years with Schotty, we saw Brees get benched, the Chargers use the #4 overall pick in the draft to take another quarterback (yes, I know they technically had the #1 pick and traded Eli for Rivers, but for all intents and purposes, they took Philip Rivers), and Brees topped out at 3,576 yards passing in a season.

Brees was respectable his last two years in San Diego, but the team thought so little of his progression, they let him leave as a free agent. As soon as he left Brian Schottenheimer’s control and moved on to New Orleans, he went on to make 5 pro bowls in 6 years, threw for 4,418 with a 96.2 qb rating the VERY NEXT year after leaving Schotty, and just two years later threw for over 5,000 yards and 34 TD’s. Interesting. Meanwhile…

2006-2011 – Yes, meanwhile, Schotty somehow parlayed that poor stretch into the Jets offensive coordinator position. In his first two years with the Jets, Chad Pennington was the quarterback for most of the time. During that period, Chad put together an 83.3 quarterback rating. Not bad, but not great. The VERY NEXT year, in 2008 as a Miami Dolphin (being coached by Tony Sparano, who you may have heard of), Chad Pennington had a qb rating of 97.4 and finished 2nd in the MVP voting. Hmm..

Who did the Jets replace Chad with? Why, Brett Favre of course! Favre was coming off a season in which he racked up 4,155 yards, 28 TD, 15 interceptions, and a qb rating of 95.7. Seems like a slam dunk trade-up right? Well, Favre went from those numbers in 2007 to these with Schottenheimer in 2008: 3,472 yards, 22 td, 22 int, and a qb rating of 81. So he threw for approximately 700 less yards, 6 less td, and 7 more interceptions. Was it because Favre was in decline or washed up? Nope. The following season after leaving Schottenheimer, Favre returned to dominance, throwing for 4,202 yards, 33 td, 7 interceptions and a qb rating of 107.2. Very interesting.

Judging by that track record, there wasn’t a coach in the league I would have less trusted the fortunes of #5 overall pick Mark Sanchez with (that was just part of the Jets whole how NOT to develop a QB strategy), but that’s just what the Jets did. Sanchez has largely struggled through his first three seasons under Schotty, despite flashes of great play and undeniable talent. Entering this season, Sanchez finally got a chance to work with a competent offensive NFL coach: Tony Sparano. With the Dallas Cowboys in 2006, head coach Bill Parcells entrusted Sparano with “raising” young qb Tony Romo. In his first season as the starter, Romo came out of nowhere to make the Pro Bowl and take the first step toward being a top quarterback. With Sparano calling the plays, the Cowboys made the playoffs and had a top 5 offense, despite working in a young, inexperienced quarterback. Sparano clearly has a track record when it comes to helping quarterbacks play to the best of their ability.

In week 1, we saw bits and pieces of what Sparano brings to the table. The offense was organized, they exploited mismatches, and players were put in position to best use their talents. A novel concept, right? Unlike in previous seasons, the offense got off to a fast start and clearly showed they had a good game plan that they trusted. Sanchez played with confidence, looked in command of the offense, and most importantly, was put in a position to succeed, instead of being forced to repeatedly try to jam his square peg into a circle hole. Will the offense always click like it did in week 1? No, of course not. But if history has taught us anything, it’s that Mark Sanchez was due for a major increase in production this season and those of us who believed in him all along may have the last laugh. So to answer all the “experts” and pundits, no, week 1 was not a fluke, and if you were paying attention you’d see it was about to happen. So let’s buckle up and enjoy the ride this year. And we can thank Brian Schottenheimer later,  but not because he did a good job or anything. Because he left.

New York Jets Looking To Regain Reputation

TJ Rosenthal on how the New York Jets can regain a part of their reputation with a win this week

The last time the New York Jets visited Heinz Field they were a game away from the Super Bowl. They were also a respected team that was viewed by many as worthy of an AFC title. On Sunday Gang Green will look to recapture that reputation as a dangerous football team. One that left there the moment they walked off after a devastating 24-19 loss in the conference championship on January 23, 2011.

Since then, the Jets have endured the crash of an 8-8 season and the two year long exit of an offensive coordinator and key pieces to the early Ryan era clubs such as Braylon Edwards and Brad Smith. The team has also in that time, ushered in the idea of a more humbled media approach. This along with the high profile additions of Tim Tebow, and a host of youth and athleticism at various positions.

This Sunday’s game against the Steelers doesn’t carry along with it the same sky high stakes as the AFC championship did. What it CAN provide for the Jets though, is a bridge between THOSE Jets and these new ones. A game where a solid performance could result in the Jets once again being perceived as a viable threat in the AFC for the first time since that crushing defeat sent Mike Tomlin’s squad not Rex Ryan’s, off to face the Packers.

Prior to last Sunday’s surprising 48-28 win over the Bills, the 2012 Jets were labeled as a clown car steeped in problems on offense and mired in sideshow controversies. With more potential chemistry issues like the ones they suffered in 2011perhaps on the way.

A trip to Heinz field, a possible hornets nest given the Steelers 0-1 start and the Steel city’s passion for it’s team, might look like a disaster waiting to happen for the Jets on paper. Even despite Gang Green’s impressive week output against the Bills. Especially when factoring in the health concerns of Darrelle Revis and the return of James Harrison to to the lineup.

Can Ryan and Co. pick up on the theme of Heinz being the last place that the Jets were taken seriously as a football team? A win in week two would go a long way towards putting to rest the ghosts of 2011.

New York Jets Week 2 – Film Room Thoughts On Steelers

After breaking down week 1 film, thoughts on the Jets/Steelers match-up

A couple of quick thoughts after watching Steelers/Broncos on the All-22 tape and re-watching Jets/Bills

– The Blitz Beater – We talked earlier in the week about how Emmanuel Sanders and Heath Miller could hurt the Jets in this match-up. Their ability to hurt them goes beyond potential coverage issues with Kyle Wilson, LaRon Landry and Yeremiah Bell. Ben Roethlisberger loves to use both players and particularly Miller as blitz beaters whenever opposing defenses aggressively come after him. Here is a first quarter 13 yard completion to Sanders. See how Roethlisberger and Sanders recognize the blitz pre-snap and he quickly delivers the ball down the seam to an open Sanders in the slot at the bottom of the screen –

Later in the game the Steelers convert a similar play for a 15 yard gain to Miller. After recognizing the blitz, Miller releases and turns to the outside, wide open, Roethlisberger quickly gets the ball out so Miller has space to run and pick up a big chunk of yardage.

Rex Ryan must do a good job of disguising his blitzes and the Jets linebackers and safeties need to quickly cover ground when left exposed in man coverage.

– Keenan Lewis – Keenan Lewis is the Steelers starting cornerback opposite Ike Taylor. The Jets would be wise to attack him early and often, particularly if he gets matched up with Santonio Holmes. Last week Lewis frequently found himself on Eric Decker, who plays the same position that Holmes plays in the Jets offense. Peyton Manning took advantage of the exceptionally large cushion Lewis was playing with in the two plays below, which went for 13 yards and 17 yards respectively. In the first play Decker and Lewis are at the bottom of the screen and on the second play, they are at the top –

– Back To The Well – We detailed here how the Jets took advantage of the wide receiver screen last week. They would be wise to keep it in the game plan after how Pittsburgh defended this 71 yard touchdown by Demaryius Thomas. Again, Peyton Manning took advantage of an excessive cushion and safety Ryan Mundy looks clueless on this play. It should be noted however that Ryan Clark will be back in the lineup instead of Mundy and it is doubtful the Steelers corners will consistently play with such a deep cushion against Mark Sanchez.


New York Jets Fact Or False: Week 2 Edition

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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