How the New York Jets should handle their offense in the final five games of the 2012 season
In case you haven’t noticed the New York Jets offense is awful. Truly, almost indescribably awful. It is the lethal combination of mediocre talent, poor coaching and a lack of organization. The result is consistent failures in short yardage and the red-zone, turnovers, penalties and of course…ass-fumbles. Yet, there is still five games left to play. Five very winnable games against similarly poor football teams. How should the New York Jets approach these games to both remain competitive and be productive for their 2013 season? Let’s take a position by position look –
Quarterback – Whether you want to accept it or not, Mark Sanchez is going to be on the roster next year because of his contract. Hopefully a competent veteran is brought in to compete with him. Tim Tebow didn’t play when he was healthy. He isn’t going to play with broken ribs. He isn’t going to be team’s quarterback next year so get the idea of him starting out of your head. The wisest course of action is to have Sanchez play out the string and hopefully take steps towards improving and building some type of momentum towards next year. The only way we are going to see Greg McElroy under center is if the Jets lose their next three games. At that point, particularly if Sanchez continues to struggle it would be wise to give him a look. Although Jets fans need to taper any kind of expectations for him, he was a seventh round pick for a reason and hasn’t exactly lit the world on fire in his pre-season opportunities.
Running Back – Unlike at quarterback, the incumbent starter isn’t going to be back next year. The Jets are going to let Shonn Greene walk in free agency because he isn’t a lead back, can’t contribute in the passing game and can’t make anybody miss. Why continue to give him 15+ carries per game? We’ve seen this movie before. Give Bilal Powell, Joe McKnight and particularly Kahlil Bell extended work. Find out if any of the three can be your 1B option next season when you go find a new starter via free agency, trade or the draft. McKnight is averaging 6 yards per carry (with a small sample size) and Bell has a career average of 4.5 yards per carry…isn’t that worth a look?
Wide Receiver – No more Clyde Gates, who shouldn’t be on a NFL roster. Jeremy Kerley should remain the primary “Z” receiver with Stephen Hill taking as many reps as he can get at split end. Yes, this contradicts what we said last week about sending him to the bench but with the playoffs now out of the question and Chaz Schilens banged up, give Hill the reps and let him build some confidence heading into next year. Throw him smoke screens. Throw him hitches. Get him going again on easy catches and yards after the catch and then take some shots down the field with him. He is likely the opening day split end next year, so why not let him work through improvements now? The slot receiver should be fellow rookie Jordan White. Give him the reps now and see if he can be a contributor next year. If Hill and White show anything these next five games, next year’s group of receivers with them, Kerley and Santonio Holmes might actually be a productive group.
Tight End – Dustin Keller’s future remains up in the air but you have to keep playing him because the Jets only have so many players who can get open. It probably wouldn’t hurt to give Hayden Smith a longer look at some point but this team likely needs to revamp this entire position in the off-season.
Offensive Line – Bench Matt Slauson and Austin Howard for Vladimir Ducasse and Jason Smith. We suggested this during the bye week and it hasn’t happened yet, so why not now? Let’s see what Ducasse and Smith can do with 100% of the reps at their respective positions. We know Slauson (who is gone after this year when his contract expires) and Howard (same thing) aren’t the long term answers, so give their backups a chance. If you don’t have confidence in Ducasse, how about playing Caleb Schlauderaff or Hayworth Hicks? They are taking up roster space, so why not use them?
Chris Celletti with his weekly NFL Best Bets, including a needed rant on the state of the Jets
Because anytime you can name your sports column after a MeatLoaf song, you have to do it.
Week 11 Record: 1-2
Season Record: 12-20-1
I named my column so for two reasons. The first is quite simple, that at this point I’ll take two out of three of my Best Bets picks every week for the rest of the season. If that happens, I’d finish below .500 at 24-26-1. At this point I’d take that, just like the Jets would probably sign up for a 7-9 finish to this season. Thus, we’re at my second reason for why I named my column as I did.
I had the joy of ringing in the holiday season at MetLife Stadium last night, which means that I was there to see the Jets’ 2012 season come crashing down. When the Patriots scored 21 points in less than a minute, I thought to myself that this was as bad as I’ve seen the Jets play, as an entire team, maybe in my life. Yes, that includes the 4-25 stretch under Rich Kotite, the Brooks Bollinger games, the Neil O’Donnell games. Not only are the Jets 4-7, they’ve been thoroughly outclassed five times this year. Five times! Even the Jacksonville Jaguars keep games close – they were in it late against the Packers at Lambeau and took the Texans to overtime recently. At this point, the Jets are incapable of staying in a game with a good NFL team, which is inexcusable with the way this league is structured.
I, like many Jets fans, became enamored with Rex Ryan when he took over in 2009. Even then you could criticize his boasts, his X’s and O’s, his game management, but what we all thought he did was what we have been waiting for our whole lives – he changed the culture of the Jets. We all have to admit that we were hoodwinked, and had the blindfold over our eyes in 2009 and 2010. The culture has not changed at all. These are the same New York Jets. This is Pete Carrol, this is Al Groh, this is Herm Edwards, this is Eric Mangini, and yes, this is Rich Kotite. This is, unfortunately, Same. Old. Jets.
So what do you do when your team is not only this bad but this disillusioned? You gut it, and gut it now. As far as I’m concerned, I won’t be satisfied heading into next training camp unless two out of these three people are gone: Mark Sanchez, Rex Ryan and Mike Tannenbaum. So again, here, I’ll take two out of three.
Admittedly this is unrealistic. If Woody Johnson has the stones to fire Mike Tannenbaum – something he has earned – whoever the new General Manger is would likely want to bring in his own head coach, which means that Rex Ryan would be gone, and whoever the new coach is would probably want his own quarterback, which means Sanchez would be gone. And given that Johnson apparently loves Tannenbaum and Ryan, and Sanchez is owned a ton of guaranteed money next year, chances are they’ll all be back next season. Wonderful.
On to the picks:
Raiders +8 at Bengals: The Raiders defense is awful but they do put up a lot of points. This line seems a tiny bit high for me, and I like the chances of a backdoor cover given the Raiders can hit big plays.
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
Ravens (Pick) at Chargers: John Harbaugh vs. Norv Turner? That’s a whitewash.
Bonus Non-Football Bet of the Week (Season Record 4-6-1)
Let’s go with an NBA Player Prop, something we haven’t done at these parts yet this season. I went on over to Bet US and looked for a Jeremy Lin prop ahead of tonight’s Knicks-Rockets game, and to my dismay there were none. I really, really wanted to take the under on anything they would have presented to me re: Lin (note: I’d be handing you free money, Bet US). Well, they’re giving me an over/under of 24.5 points for Carmelo Anthony. You know where I’m going with this one.
TJ Rosenthal goes No Huddle on the ongoing Jets disaster
We can’t remember being more embarrassed and humiliated as Jet fans. Even the Rich Kotite era was such a shock to the system that wondering “how much worse can it get this Sunday?” became a sick and twisted weekly habit. Last night’s tar and feathering was different. It fully exposed the sham that is the 2012 New York Jets. Exposed the personnel choices, the quarterback’s heart, the coaching staff’s ability to coach, the owners clear lack of attention in what was an “election year.” If you’re a Jet fan, it cant possibly get much worse than this. Can it?
1 – Ed Left, Tebow’s Ribs And Brandon Moore’s Ass
In the same game, Fireman Ed left the stadium early, the backup QB suited up with broken ribs and no third option behind him, and the starting QB ran his own broken play into the nationwide long derrière of his trusted veteran guard. A play that resulted in a fumble for a TD. In this same game, the opponent scored three TDs in :52 seconds to blow a 7-0 game wide open. A must win game no less.
The Jets number one superfan could t even watch. Too bad the rest of the entire country was forced to. In primetime. Thanks for the three hour special holiday comedy guys. With so many struggling out there, you gave a nation something to laugh at for an evening.
2 – Nobody Is Safe
Woody Johnson may have entered last night’s game with a “safe” list of coaches and players who were poised to be left unharmed by the results of this season. That list is now a crumpled up piece of paper in some garbage can.
Rex Ryan channeled his own inner Kotite after the game at a post game presser by saying “the offense did some good things.” Knock it off Rex. The organization is the joke of the sports world in America today. Then Ryan came out in support of Sanchez again. After an interception that ruined a quarter of collective team management, then “Butt Gate” Ryan should have been in support of nobody.
The more he hitches his wagon to the worst starting QB in the NFL the more he puts his own job in jeopardy now.
Nobody is safe anymore. Not Rex. Not anyone.
3 – The Roadmap Going Forward
The Jets roadmap going forward depends on what Johnson does regarding GM Mike Tannenbaum and Ryan. Sanchez has probably played himself out of a starting job in the league, thanks to his endless red zone mistakes, tunnel vision, and inability to energize others. The Jets right now are a mess on the field and off of it. Diehards will have to endure more bumps and bruises over the next five weeks before any attempts at turning the page begin. Expect more unnamed sources to accompany those bumps too.
The plane has now lost both wings and the cockpit is a giant smoke cloud.
The New York Jets need to be accountable for their mistakes and begin the process of gutting their team
When you watch that type of performance from a football team on a national stage with their season on the line, it begs the simple questions “What happened? What went wrong? Who is to blame?” Yet, we’ve seen this movie before the past two years. The Jets had a chance to be a playoff team last year but were blown out by the Philadelphia Eagles, a non-playoff team. They then lost by 15 to the New York Giants and ended the season with a loss to another non-playoff team, the Miami Dolphins. In 2012, it has been more of the same. In a pivotal game against Miami, who is currently 4-6, they were blown out on their home field. Then last night…well you saw what happened.
Since their December win in 2010 against Pittsburgh, the New York Jets don’t have a single impressive regular season win on their resume. What they do have on their resume is a collection of blowout losses. Three losses by 17 or more last year. Five losses by 17 or more this year…and counting. This isn’t a one game issue, a one mistake issue, or a one player issue. This is an organizational failure that is the product of poor personnel evaluation and a lack of accountability.
The 2010 Jets were a very good football team who won 11 games and a beat a 14 win New England team in the playoffs on the road. They laid an egg in the first half of the AFC Championship Game, which cost them a trip to the Super Bowl…the first in a series of recent Rex Ryan coaching blunders. But how does a team that talented so quickly fall?
Look at the 2009 draft now in retrospect. Mark Sanchez, Shonn Greene and Matt Slauson were the only players they left that draft with. Three players. How do you build depth like that? Sanchez is clearly a game manager who can succeed if he is protected by a strong running game, talented skill position players and a very good defense. He is not built to carry a team. This was abundantly clear after 2010. Poor self-scouting led the Jets to believe otherwise, so they decided to proceed in 2011 with a three receiver base offense that was going to be pass heavy and neglected building around Sanchez.
Greene was a third round back who was effective after a defense was worn down by a quality starter like Thomas Jones or LaDainian Tomlinson. This wasn’t a first round back who had a skill set that was off the charts. He was a one-dimensional downhill runner. What did the Jets do heading into 2011? Make him their “bell-cow” back who was ready to receive 20+ carries every week. Poor self-scouting. Slauson was good enough to beat out Vladimir Ducasse and that was it. He started by default because a 2010 2nd round pick busted. Yet, the Jets didn’t replace him heading into this year. Poor self-scouting.
Now look at the 2010 draft, which is maybe the worst draft class in recent NFL history. The Jets left with four players…again no opportunity to build depth. Kyle Wilson. Vladimir Ducasse. Joe McKnight and John Conner. Think about that. Kyle Wilson is a below average nickelback, never-mind starting NFL corner and the Jets spent a first round pick on him. When you draft a corner in the first round in 2010 and you already have Darrelle Revis, you would think you wouldn’t be chasing Nnamdi Asomugha the next off-season and then settling on giving a big contract to Antonio Cromartie. But the Jets did. Ducasse can’t play in the NFL. Not at guard. Not at tackle. Not anywhere. The Jets replacement plan for Hall of Famer Alan Faneca was Ducasse…poor self-scouting. Conner was a one-dimensional fullback who brought nothing to the offense and the Jets already had Tony Richardson. So now you are carrying two fullbacks, including one who is useless…poor roster management. McKnight is a good kick returner and has potential on offense but can’t stay healthy.
Two poor drafts made worse by poor self-scouting set the table in a big way for the current issues. However, don’t forget the ill-fated chase for Asomugha. Remember, the Jets could have just re-signed Cromartie and they would have been fine. Instead they needed the “name” and they needed to be in the Asomugha chase. They lost and had to pay Cromartie an even bigger contract in the long run as “apology money.” What was worse is that in the process of going after Asomugha, they guaranteed money on contracts for Bart Scott and Calvin Pace to free up cap space, players on the downside of their career. They also went cheap at wide receiver and offensive line, ignoring the necessity of keeping talent around Sanchez and receivers that he had built chemistry with.
They began paying the price last year and are really paying it now. Scott and Pace are past their primes and aren’t equipped to start in this league anymore. The Jets didn’t want to pay Braylon Edwards, Jerricho Cotchery or Brad Smith. They went “name” and got Plaxico Burress and Derrick Mason on relatively low cost deals. They floundered and now the Jets are starting from scratch again at receiver. The “plan” to replace Damien Woody and Alan Fancea was Ducasse and Wayne Hunter. Poor self-scouting by planning on handing jobs to two incompetent players.
Where does this leave them now? A mess. Below average players weighing down the cap with bloated contracts. The Tim Tebow trade was a PR-stunt to distract attention from a roster with glaring holes all over the place. Rex Ryan isn’t built to handle adversity like this and seems at a complete loss on how to handle such an untalented team. You can’t bluster wins which is what he is trying to do. He knew this team lacked talent but couldn’t talk down expectations because that’s not who he is. He also failed by hiring Tony Sparano to coach his offense, foolishly sticking to the “Ground and Pound” theory in a league that is moving away from that trend.
The logical move is to fire General Manager Mike Tannenbaum and completely rebuild the personnel department. Let your new GM improve the scouting, let him make a decision on Rex and the quarterback position. Let me oversee the gutting of this roster, which should see the departure of the following starters: Bart Scott, Calvin Pace, Bryan Thomas, Matt Slauson, Austin Howard, Shonn Greene, Lex Hilliard, and Brandon Moore.
There is no half-measure solutions. This roster needs to be turned over completely and rebuilt through strong drafts and wise decisions in free agency. There are a few scraps on this roster who have long term potential who will be useful moving forward (Muhammad Wilkerson, Jeremy Kerley, Quinton Coples, Demario Davis to name a few) but beyond that it is burn to the ground time.
You can’t get away with poor drafts and poor scouting in the NFL. The Jets are now a textbook example of that.
The New York Jets bottomed out on national television tonight
That has to be as bad as it gets, right? You couldn’t write a script for a more embarrassing performance on national television. Tonight was a large exclamation point on how far the New York Jets have fallen since their appearance in the AFC Championship Game only two seasons ago. Tonight was a large exclamation point on the overwhelming lack of talent on this football team.
There is no mystery. There is no in-season solution. The Jets are a bad football team who lacks talent at every single position. The failure is widespread and starts at the top. In a perfect world this will lead to Woody Johnson taking a hard look at his personnel department, deciding to gut it by starting with the firing of GM Mike Tannenbaum and then go from there. Unfortunately in the Jets world, they will finish 7-9 and use the injury excuses for Revis and Holmes instead of making any major changes.
That would be a shame. This team lined up for their first play tonight with Clyde Gates, Chaz Schilens, Jeff Cumberland, Lex Hilliard, Austin Howard and Matt Slauson on the field. They had Jason Smith ready to play major reps off the bench. Their play calling was ludicrously unimaginative and predictable. On defense, their lack of speed at linebacker is at comic proportions. They had Ellis Lankster trying to cover Wes Welker! Ellis Lankster!
Sloppy. Poorly prepared. Mentally weak. Embarrassing. Untalented. Those are your 2012 New York Jets. Mark Sanchez sliding into Brandon Moore and losing a fumble was a perfect microcosm of this team’s season. They deserve the ridicule. They deserve the GIF images of that fumble on every site. They deserve the butt of every joke this year. They are the Chiefs. They are the Browns. They are the Jaguars.
Destroy and Rebuild it. Any trace of those 2009 and 2010 teams are gone. There is no Ground and Pound. There is a mediocre offensive line blocking for mediocre backs with a mediocre quarterback throwing to mediocre receivers. There is a slow defense who can’t stop the run or sack the quarterback.
12 predictions for the New York Jets Thanksgiving Night game against the New England Patriots
The Turn On The Jets 12 Pack is back with a very special Thanksgiving batch of predictions for Jets vs. Patriots. I am spending the holiday with my mother’s side of the family (The Jets fans side…the slightly crazier side…and ultimately the side I probably most resemble as a person, oh well) so it should it make for an interesting day of excessive eating. The beauty of Italian Thanksgivings is that turkey is never enough. No…no…no there needs to be nine different courses that hit every major unhealthy food group.
We have the 12:30 kickoff with antipasto (salted meats, cheeses and shrimp…damn it there’d better be shrimp). Followed by pasta (with a meat sauce of course!), ham (unnecessary excessive meat usage), and then of course a deep fried turkey. As if that won’t be enough to kill me by 6 PM, I’m sure I’ll eat two cannolis on the ride into MetLife and then promptly die when working my way up to Section 317. The air is so thin up there that Ryan Clark wouldn’t be allowed to sit in my seat.
I could only hope I have enough energy to combat the inevitable group of Patriots fans in the section next to me decked out in their freshly bought Chandler Jones jersey and holding up a “YO SOY FIESTA” sign despite neither Jones or Rob Gronkowski playing. These are the guys who were booing Adam Vinateri (who won them two Super Bowls) last week even though Stephen Gostowksi is kicking at somewhere around 37% this year. “VINAWTERRY??? WICKED BUM, YA COULDN’T SPLIT A SAM SUMMER ALE WITH THAT HARDO AT A BAR IN DAW-CHESTAH. NOW WOODHEAD? THAT’S MY KINDA GUY. BET HE SPENDS OFF-SEASONS WATCHING BRUINS GAMES IN QUINCY”
Anyway (did I get sidetracked there?), on to the predictions…
1. Tim Tebow will play less than 5 offensive snaps in this game. Yet, he will see approximately 49 minutes of camera time on the network broadcast. Thank god I will be in the stands and the only Tebow reference I will see is the guy ten rows in front of me wearing a Florida jersey and holding up a “PUT IN THE FOOTBALL PLAYER” sign.
2. Both Dustin Keller and Jeremy Kerley will have another big game against the Patriots secondary. They will combine for 170 yards receiving and a touchdown between them.
3. Shonn Greene, Bilal Powell and Joe McKnight will combine for 35 total touches on offense. Look for Powell and McKnight to be active in the passing game as checkdown and screen options.
4. Wes Welker is going to have a big day, leading the Patriots in receptions, receiving yards and getting into the end-zone.
5. Tom Brady will throw for at least 250 yards and a pair of touchdowns. However, he will be sacked once and turn the ball over once.
6. Mark Sanchez will throw for 225-250 yards with a touchdown. He will have at least one turnover. His completion percentage will be 55% or higher.
7. The Jets special teams will avoid any catastrophes.
8. Stevan Ridley will have less than 70 yards rushing. Danny Woodhead will less than 50 yards of total offense.
9. Brandon Lloyd will have another quiet game. Aaron Hernandez will have at least 4 catches for 60 yards. Julian Edeleman will make at least two big plays for the Patriots offense.
10. Whether it comes on special teams or offense, the Jets will attempt some type of trick play.
11. Chaz Schilens will see much more playing time than Stephen Hill and make a couple of important third down catches.
12. The New York Jets are going to give us a little (likely misguided) late season hope with a 27-24 upset of the New England Patriots. The defense will be put in position to make a late stop and this time they will come through. Foolish optimism? Maybe. But I think the Jets have this upset in them.
Chris Gross– Jets 24, New England 21: Tomorrow, the Jets will display the same mentality that they had last week in St. Louis, the mindset that their backs are against the wall and they need to swing from the hip to survive throughout the rest of the season. While New York is historically bad under Rex Ryan when facing the Patriots in the clubs’ second regular season matchups, they have yet to play under these circumstances.
In the past, New York has been poised to top New England for the divisional lead in match up number 2, but now they host the Patriots as a team of desperation. How much will this team be willing to do to survive? One thing about the Jets in the Ryan era is that they have fought through a lot of adversity. Expect another aggressive gameplan from both coordinators. Sparano needs to pull out all the stops, including a further commitment to his 3 headed RB approach. Defensively, look for Rex to disguise his pressure schemes, creating the illusion that he is sending more pass rushers than he actually is. Tom Brady is lights out against the blitz (86 attempts, 10 TDs, 0 INTs, 90.0 QBR, 127.2 passer rating), so Ryan must let Brady think he has the Jets right where he wants them, only to drop 7 and rush 4. Blitzes will be neccesary, but it is essential the Jets get to Brady, otherwise it will be lights out. Expect a hard fought, chippy game, one that once again comes down to the wire, only with New York coming out on top this time around.
Rob Celletti – It’s amazing what one win can do. Last week, I truly believed that this team was dead in the water. Granted, they played a weak Rams team that came into a clear letdown situation, and had an extremely poor gameplan to boot (thanks Schotty!). But that win certainly helped lift the gloom off of the Jets season and gives the team and its fans at least half a hope of saving the 2012 season.
And honestly, there are two ways to look at this: 1) be a pessimist, say “get it over with” and expect the Jets to lose; 2) get excited and root hard for the Jets in a game that they certainly have a chance to win, at home vs. New England on a short week. I’m taking the latter. It’s the holiday season after all, which, if nothing else, is a time for positive vibes. The Jets played the Patriots tough and should have beaten them earlier in the season. Mark Sanchez shredded the New England secondary that week, to the tune of 328 yards on 28/41 passing. Expect more of that, plus a stronger dose of the run game. To me, this game comes down to if the Jets can fluster Tom Brady, whose emotional approach to the game can sometimes be his undoing, if he’s rattled. The Jets have done this before (see Week 2 in 2009, AFC Divisional Playoff in January of 2011). What the hell? Jets 30, Patriots 27 – on a late Nick Folk field goal
Mike Donnelly – Everything is set up for the Jets to take this game and make us as fans even more confused as to what kind of team they are. Rob Gronkowski is out and the Patriots only had a short week to prepare for the game without him. The Jets are home, they’re desperate, and home teams always have an advantage on these Thursday games. I laid out my 3 keys to the game in yesterday’s Stock Watch column, and I think the Jets are going to end up putting check marks next to all 3 of them when all is said and done. They’ll protect the football, they’ll harass Tom Brady, and with Gronk out, they’ll find a way to slow down Wes Welker. Let’s be real: The Jets should have won the last time these two teams met in Foxboro a few weeks ago. This time they will get over the hump and pull it out down the stretch, 24-20
Chris Celletti – If I were the Jets, I would throw 40 times on Thursday, right around the same amount they did in Week 7, because that’s how you beat the Patriots. Something tells me the Jets are going to scale Sanchez back a bit and look for a very balanced attack. As for the Jets’ defense, I think people are putting a little bit too much credence into Rob Gronkowski’s injury. He’s a big loss, but this doesn’t mean the Patriots aren’t going to be able to move the ball or score points. It will be up to the Jets’ defense to make a few big plays in the red zone and make New England kick field goals. To me, this game comes down to Mark Sanchez and whether he can hold on to the ball and make plays down the field. The chances will be there, and Sanchez very well could throw for over 300 yards and a few touchdowns. If he does, the Jets win. Give us a nice kickoff to the holiday season boys. Go out and beat the Pats, 27-24
Chris Gross with his weekly Fact or False previewing the Jets/Patriots Thanksgiving Night showdown
Happy Thanksgiving, Jets fans! After a much-needed victory in St. Louis last week, the Jets find themselves in a familiar, yet unfamiliar, spot in the Rex Ryan era. What’s familiar about tomorrow night’s game against New England is that the Jets always seem to find themselves in a pivotal point of their season when matching up against the Patriots for the second time in the 17 week regular season.
In 2009, New York headed to Foxboro at 4-5. A win would have been monumental as it would have not only gotten the Jets back to .500, but it would have completed a regular season sweep of New England for the first time since the 2000 season, when they were still led by the likes of Vinny Testaverde and Curtis Martin. New York fell that week 31-14, aided partly by Mark Sanchez’s 4 interceptions.
In 2010, the 9-2 (!!) Jets squared off with New England in Foxboro for sole possession of 1st place in the AFC East. Heading into that game, New York’s average margin of defeat in their only two losses was a meager 5 points, so naturally most people were optimistic about 2010 finally being the year that the Jets knock Brady’s bunch off of their pedestal and claim dominance in the division for the first time in a decade. What happened that night? The Jets were embarrassed 45-3 on national, prime time television.
Finally, in 2011, the Jets were hosts to the second regular season matchup between the two clubs. New York stood at 5-3 heading into their week 10 matchup with New England, fresh off of a dominant performance against the Buffalo Bills in Orchard Park, NY. The Patriots, on the other hand, were also 5-3, but seemed to be spiraling downward, coming off of a 2 game losing streak to the Steelers and Giants. This was finally it. The Jets had New England right where they wanted them – reeling with an equivalent record, in their own building. It finally seemed that New York was ready to take over the division and earn a home playoff game, something many felt had held them from reaching the Super Bowl in the previous two seasons. Unfortunately for Gang Green, same story, different day. The Patriots smacked the Jets 37-16 in a game that was never close. It seemed as if this habit of dropping the second regular season matchup to New England might never be broken.
Now, the Jets finally have a chance to break that very habit. New York finds itself at a crossroad in their season. Standing at 4-6, this team has been hit from all angles. Darrelle Revis and Santonio Holmes are out for the year with season ending injuries. The media has used Tim Tebow’s presence in various attempts to stir up drama and rip this locker room apart. Ryan, General Manager Mike Tannenbaum, and Owner Woody Johnson, each praised for their brash styles at their respective positions in years past, have all come under heavy criticism. In short, Ryan’s once up and coming Jets have become the punch line for countless jokes revolving around the NFL.
So what does it all mean? It means the Jets face New England for the second time of the regular season in a relatively new position. Instead of being poised to topple the Patriots through a monumental victory that could shift the tide in the AFC East, New York now finds themselves with their backs against the wall. As we all know, Rex Ryan’s squad has done quite well in these situations in the past. Yes, in 2009, the Jets were aided by Jim Caldwell’s decision to pull all of his starters in their week fifteen matchup against the Colts in Indianapolis. However, New York still had to defeat the AFC North champion Cincinnati Bengals in week 16 to secure a playoff spot. As you may recall, New York came out with a vengeance, blanking the Bengals 37-0, propelling them to their first AFC Championship Game run under Ryan.
Similarly, in 2010, the Jets traveled to Foxboro for the AFC Divisional Round game against the Patriots. No one in the world gave New York a chance, considering how lopsided the outcome of the previous matchup between the two clubs was. With their backs against the wall once again, New York pulled off one of the most satisfying wins in franchise history, upsetting the Patriots 28-21, leading to one of the most memorable post game speeches in the history of the sport.
By now, you are asking yourself what this all means for tomorrow night’s game. The answer is simple. These two teams have never faced each other under these circumstances. The Jets, although notoriously laughable in this game under Ryan, will be hosting the Patriots with their backs against the wall for the first time in this situation. You can throw the history books out, because regardless of the outcome, a new chapter will be written in this rivalry on Thanksgiving night. Key players on both teams are out of this competition. Rex is out to prove his worth as a head coach in an attempt to rally his team toward an unprecedented playoff run, a goal that suddenly becomes attainable with a win at MetLife stadium tomorrow, considering the fact that New York’s remaining opponents have a combined record of 17-33. The circumstances are different, but New York has another chance at a monumental victory over their long time foe.
How will it all pan out, though? For the Jets, there are several feats they need to attain to put themselves in a position to reign victorious. Rather than using outright predictions, this week’s New York Jets Fact or False highlights exactly what Gang Green needs to do in order to stage an upset of the Patriots on the biggest stage. Digest these proclamations with your holiday bird, and be sure to give thanks for a full day of NFL madness, regardless of any outcome.
The Jets need Shonn Greene to carry the load of the running game past the Patriots.False. This is a no brainer. New York looked like an entirely new offense last week using a running back by committee approach. While many have attributed their success to a poor opponent, St. Louis actually ranks thirteenth in total defense in the NFL. Are the Rams great? Absolutely not. But Jeff Fisher’s club is certainly not the laughing stock it once was. New York needed a strong offensive effort, and that is exactly what they got, led by the resurgence of Shonn Greene as the battering ram, the emergence of Bilal Powell, who scored his first two career touchdowns, as the elusive scat back, and the somewhat proper utilization of Joe McKnight as the explosive, all purpose back. The result? Mark Sanchez put together his most efficient performance of the season, and New York won in dominant fashion in a must win situation. Sticking to this philosophy is an absolute necessity against New England tomorrow. Control the clock, keep Brady off the field, and give Sanchez something to lean on.
The Jets need to find a way to pressure Brady without a heavy amount of blitzing.Fact. Most people are now aware of the blueprint on how to shut down Brady and the high-powered Patriots offense. Hit the prolific quarterback over and over and over. However, the reason that teams like the Giants have been so successful against New England is because they can do so without a heavy amount of blitzing. Tom Brady has been lights out against the blitz this year – 86 attempts, 10 TDs, 0 INTs, 90.0 QBR, and a 127.2 passer rating. New York needs to find a way to get in his face without using the blitz.
New England has lost three games this season – home against Arizona, and on the road in Baltimore and Seattle. In those three losses, Brady has been sacked 9 times, while being hit 17 times. New England’s offense can surely sputter if opposing defenses can get to Brady. The key is to do it without letting him burn you on the blitz. Rex and his staff need to get very creative disguising their pressure schemes to create the illusion that the Jets are bringing more heat than they actually are, through an effective use of zone blitzes, similar to how they were able to rattle Brady in the 2010 playoffs. Look for Ryan to mix up his fronts, using a variety of four man rushes, led primarily by Muhammad Wilkerson and Quinton Coples. With All-Pro Guard Logan Mankins ruled out for tomorrow, New York will have optimal opportunity to generate a strong interior pass rush. Based on the play of Wilkerson and Coples as of late, New England could easily have their hands full tomorrow night.
Tom Brady is the only part of the Patriots offense that needs to be stopped.False. While Brady is certainly the key to New England’s offensive success, the run game must be stopped at all costs as well. In each of the Patriots three losses this year, they have failed to generate more than 90 total rushing yards as a team. New York needs to make the offense one dimensional, and then worry about getting to Brady. A tall task, yes, but nothing will be easy in achieving the upset tomorrow night.
The Jets need to generate turnovers to win.Fact. Historically, the Jets under Rex Ryan have had their best success against the Patriots when they’ve been able to take the ball away from Tom Brady. In Ryan’s 3 total wins against New England, Brady has thrown a total of four interceptions. In New England’s five victories against Ryan’s Gang, Brady has turned the ball over via interception just once. This trend holds true to two of New England’s three losses this year. Brady has just three interceptions on the season, however one came in the home loss to Arizona, with the other two coming from the loss in Seattle. Another daunting task for the Jets, particularly without Darrelle Revis, but remember, Brady is missing two key pieces of his offense, as well, in Mankins and TE Rob Gronkowski.
The Jets Special Teams need to wake up.Fact. In order to pull off this upset, the Jets need to be nearly perfect in all three phases of the game. New York’s once stout special teams has been a complete disaster as of late. Blocked kicks, big returns, losing focus and succumbing to a surprise onsides kick have haunted the Jets in previous weeks. To quote ESPN’s Cris Carter, “Mike Westhoff, where you at?!” The prolific coach, now a household name thanks to his role in HBO’s 2010 season of Hard Knocks, seems to have lost the grasp of a unit that was once regarded as a crutch for New York in times of struggle. Westhoff must get his unit ready to play. Any lapse on special teams will likely spell disaster for New York. While you may be able to get away with some blunders against mediocre teams, New England is a different animal. Bill Belichick has likely gone through hours of Jets special teams footage, looking for ways to exploit this suddenly weak group. A big play on special teams cannot happen in any way whatsoever if the Jets wish to begin a late season playoff push.
Enjoy the game, enjoy your families and friends, and most of all, enjoy the Jets tomorrow night, folks. From all of us here at Turn On The Jets, we wish you and your loved ones a very happy, healthy, and safe Thanksgiving.
The TOJ staff discusses what match-up they are most looking forward to in the Jets vs. Patriots game tomorrow night
Joe Caporoso – Sanchez. Sanchez. Sanchez. Simply put, the Jets cannot win this game unless Mark Sanchez protects the football and makes a few plays down the field against a suspect New England secondary. He has been boom or bust against the Patriots in the past. If the Jets want to make a late season playoff run and Sanchez wants any semblance of job security for next year, it starts with a big time performance tomorrow night.
Chris Gross – Mike Westhoff vs. Himself: Has the former star of Hard Knocks already mentally checked out, about 8 weeks prior to his official retirement? The Jets once stout special teams play has been a disaster as of late. Most recently, last week in St. Louis, New York avoided an ultimate disaster after a holding penalty negated what would have been a Rams kickoff returned for a touchdown. Add the blocked field goal and failed fake punt, and it’s a miracle that this team was still able to win in a relatively dominant fashion. To pull the upset tomorrow night against the Patriots, the Jets will likely need to play a perfect game in all three phases. This means that New York cannot afford another Special Teams blunder. A blocked kick, big return, or falling asleep on the kickoff return team, resulting in New England successfully executing a surprise onsides kick (See Miami), will all spell disaster for Gang Green. Westhoff needs to have his unit ready, because based on their play over the past few weeks, Bill Belichick is likely licking his chops while thinking about how he can expose the flaws in New York’s special teams
Rob Celletti – Everyone knows that the Patriots have an abysmal secondary, which is why the key matchup this week for the Jets is actually their run game vs. New England’s defensive front. Mark Sanchez has proven to be an effective quarterback when he’s got a run game supporting him, as this opens up misdirection and playaction. n my opinion, the Jets have gotten away from the ground game quickly in their losses this season, even when not trailing by multiple scores. Even if the Jets go down 10-0 quickly tomorrow night, they would be wise to continue handing off to the new backfield committee of Greene, Powell and McKnight. Sanchez should still attempt 30+ passes in this game, but how successful he is on those throws will be tied to how successful the Jets are on the ground
Mike Donnelly – The matchup I’m most looking forward to seeing is the Jets Pass Rush vs. Tom Brady. There is no question that getting in Brady’s face and pressuring him is the only way to throw him off his game and give yourself the best chance to win. Look at what the Giants did to him in those Super Bowls. Look what the Jets did to him in that 2010 playoff game. It can be done, and the Jets need it to be done. Mo Wilkerson is playing like an absolute beast and Quinton Coples is developing nicely along side of him. Bryan Thomas and Calvin Pace are on the downside of their careers, but don’t be surprised to see them step up in what will likely be their last Patriots rivalry game of their careers. Ricky Sapp is getting a longer look lately, and there was ever a time for him to announce his arrival to the NFL, it’s this week. If the Jets are going to have any chance, they need to generate a pass rush, and that’s what I’ll be watching for.
Chris Celletti – The opportunity is in Mark Sanchez’s hands. The Jets’ quarterback can win this game for his team, he just needs to go out and do it. Just as in their Week 7 matchup against the Patriots, Sanchez will have chances all day to throw the ball down the field and rip off big chunks of yards against the Patriots’ spotty secondary. While the Pats’ offense is a bit banged up and missing their biggest weapon, I still wouldn’t bank on them putting up something like 17 points. They’re still the league’s best offense, and there’s that guy Tom Brady under center. So in order for the Jets to pull the upset, as they almost did in Foxboro earlier this year, they’ll need to put up points. The guy that can make sure that happens? Sanchez. Let’s see it, 6.