Sanchez Breakdown: One at a Time

Rob Celletti with a breakdown of Mark Sanchez’s performance against the St. Louis Rams

Stat line: 15/20, 178 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT; 75% completion pct., 118.3 QB Rating

Season Stats: 168/314, 2,038 yards, 11 TD, 9 INT; 53.5 completion pct., 73.4 QB Rating

We’ve gotten to a point – and maybe rightfully so – where Mark Sanchez can do no right in the eyes of some Jets fans. Yesterday, Sanchez played a smart, effective, efficient, well-rounded game. He was sharp, confident, decisive and consistent through four quarters. He played turnover-free football. Yet, lots of chatter on Twitter and the like after the game was, “MEH, SANCHEZ STILL SUCKS.”

I’m not here to be reductive, and as a matter of fact, analyzing Mark Sanchez is the same thing as analyzing the Jets’ season. At this point, you have no choice but to take it one game at a time. So regardless of how you feel about the Jets quarterback in a big-picture sense, you can’t deny that he played well yesterday. That was good enough to get a floundering team to 4-6 and keep the lights on for at least three more days.

The Best: Our esteemed editor has pointed out the pump fake as one of those infuriating Sanchez habits that needs to be broken. Yesterday though, Sanchez looked comfortable and under control in the pocket. The pump fake wasn’t a frantic sign of indecision, but rather a tool Sanchez used to move safeties and wait for the play to develop down the field. The touchdown throw to Chaz Schilens was opened up by a feigned screen into the right flat. Sanchez pumped, the defense bit, and Schilens got open behind the defense. The Jets scored a touchdown on a similar play in week 1 against Buffalo.

Perhaps the most encouraging part of yesterday’s game for Sanchez was that on more than one occasion, he went through his progressions and found his second or third receiving options. One of Sanchez’s glaring weaknesses has been tunnel vision and staring down his primary receiver, but he made strides in the right direction in that area yesterday.

The Worst: Very little went wrong for Sanchez yesterday, though they did need a little bit of luck early on. Sanchez was sacked and stripped on the first drive of the game, but the ball bounced right back into his waiting arms. Disaster averted.

The Key Moment: The Jets were up 13-7 and driving late in the third quarter when they faced a 3rd and 3 from the Rams’ 23 yard line. Off of a playaction fake, Sanchez looked to his right for Stephen Hill on a quick slant, but pulled the ball down and instead dumped it in the left flat to a wide open Konrad Reuland. How many times have we seen Sanchez double-clutch in that situation, only to not get rid of the ball and take a sack? Instead, a simple dump off pass to his safety valve led to Bilal Powell’s first touchdown three plays later. When you hear coaches and quarterbacks talking about “positive plays”, this is exactly what they mean. Credit Sanchez for being patient here, getting 18 big yards, and setting up a key score.

So now, Sanchez needs to do it again, in three days. Yesterday’s success is no indicator of future performance, and like the team, Sanchez will be evaluated one game at a time.

Initial Reaction – Needed Relief: New York Jets Finally Win

Initial reaction to the New York Jets 27-13 victory over the St. Louis Rams

It has been awhile hasn’t it? The New York Jets ended their three game losing streak with a dominant win over the St. Louis Rams, 27-13. After allowing an early touchdown drive, the Jets defense took over by forcing three turnovers and constantly staying in the face of Sam Bradford who was completely overwhelmed all afternoon. Shockingly, Brian Schottenheimer’s offense countered the Jets with confusing play calls and poorly timed short passes…or not shockingly to every Jets fan in the world.

Muhammad Wilkeson had another strip sack and is starting to look like the All-Pro the coaching staff was hyping him up to be this summer. In the back end Antonio Cromartie, LaRon Landry and Yeremiah Bell all played very good games. Landry had 8 tackles and forced a fumble, Bell had 2 tackles for a loss and a pass defensed and ‘Cro kept being ‘Cro. Since the second half of the Houston game, the Jets defense has generally been pretty good and it needs to keep improving with the Patriots on the way in four short days.

On offense, Mark Sanchez played an encouraging game finishing 15/20 for 178 yards with a touchdown but most importantly ZERO turnovers. The Jets finally moved Sanchez out of the pocket a few times, did a relatively good job protecting him and he responded with an accurate, savvy day. Most encouragingly, we saw him look off his main target and come back across the formation for his secondary target a few times. Chaz Schilens had a strong game with 4 catches for 48 yards with a touchdown. Schilens needs to be put in the starting line-up for Stephen Hill who looks overwhelmed right now…and that’s being kind.

The running game got a good push all day. Shonn Greene led the way with 18 carries for 64 yards. But in the second half, the Jets started leaning on Bilal Powell more often and he responded with two touchdown runs. He had a nice overall day with 11 carries for 42 yards and 2 receptions for 18 yards. This could be a sign of the Jets moving more towards more of a committee approach as Joe McKnight also chipped in 4 carries for 14 yards.

Overall, it was a badly needed victory against a mediocre team. The Jets are on the fringes of the AFC playoff race and could make some noise if they pull an upset at home on Thanksgiving against New England.

For a few days at least…all is good in Jets land.

Turn On The Jets Week 11 Roundtable – Jets vs. Rams Predictions

The TOJ staff gives their predictions for Rams vs. Jets

Joe Caporoso – 12 Pack 

Chris Gross –  Jets 23-Rams 17: Can New York turn a week of internal turmoil into enough motivation to grab a road victory in a must win situation? At what point does this team develop a chip on their shoulders for all the doubters and perceived negativity they are subject to, week in and week out? If I am Rex Ryan, my pregame speech is similar to Lou Brown’s in Major League:

“I’m not much for giving inspirational addresses, but I’d just like to point out that every newspaper in the country has picked us to finish last. The local press seems to think that we’d save everyone the time and trouble if we just went out and shot ourselves. Me, I’m for wasting sportswriters’ time. So I figured we ought to hang around for a while and see if we can give ’em all a nice big sh*tburger to eat!”

Will the Jets channel their inner “Wild Thing Rick Vaughn” and go on a fairytale run into the postseason? Probably not. But, at the very least, they can salvage some respect heading into 2013, starting with a great effort in St. Louis on Sunday, amid a week of drama, finger pointing, conspiracy, anonymous sources, and a poor display of interview ability from their owner, general manager, and head coach.

New York needs to come out swinging, not taking their foot off the gas pedal for 60 straight minutes, in all 3 phases of the game. The Jets once stout Special Teams play has become a liability in recent weeks, subjecting their defense to an even greater responsibility to carry this team, something that they are clearly ill-equipped to handle at this point. Offensively, New York needs to do a couple of things.

First, the run must be established. San Fransisco rushed for a team total of 183 yards in last week’s tie with the Rams. Do the Jets have Frank Gore ability in their RB stable? Absolutely not. However, there is no reason that Shonn Greene shouldn’t be given the ball 20 times, with newcomer Kahlil Bell contributing with a minimum of 10-12 carries. Offensive Coordinator Tony Sparano must get creative with this run game, meaning some possible end-arounds, jet sweeps, and shuffle passes to Jeremy Kerley. Let Kerley play a Percy Harvin type role this week, as he is one of the Jets very few consistent offensive players. Kerley must touch the ball at least 10-15 times through a variety of carries and receptions. There is no time left to keep thinking within the box. New York is at, what seems to be, a breaking point in the Rex Ryan era. Nothing can be held back at this point. (Disclaimer: I refuse to comment on Tebow’s role in these predictions until the Jets prove to have any type of coherent plan on how to use him).

Second, the Jets need to get Mark Sanchez out of the pocket more often than not this week. Prior to the season, our very own Editor-In-Chief Joe Caporoso highlighted the most effective ways to put Sanchez in a position to succeed. Among them was getting Sanchez out of the pocket on designed roll outs and play action passes. St. Louis had a team total of 5 sacks last week against San Francisco’s Colin Kaepernick and Alex Smith, two players known for their mobility. St. Louis did an excellent job of containing them, as their fierce pass rush racked up the sacks. If the Jets can get Sanchez on the move, they should be able to effectively move the chains on medium down (3-7 yards) situations. If he is forced to sit in the pocket, however, things could get very ugly for this offense.

Defensively, New York needs to attack throughout the entire game. Last week, San Francisco was able to register only 2 sacks on Sam Bradford, resulting in a 275 yard, 2 Touchdown performance from the former #1 overall pick. The Jets don’t have anything close to the pass rushing talent of the 49ers, so Rex Ryan and Co. will have to be extremely creative with their blitz and pressure packages once again. If New York can effectively pressure Bradford, and get some big hits on him, they will be in an excellent position on the defensive side of the ball.

Aside from getting to the Quarterback, New York needs to do two things. First, Stephen Jackson needs to be shut down at all costs. The Jets actually did an effective job of shutting down Marshawn Lynch last week, despite the back’s 4th quarter surge that was a result of a defense that had been worn down both physically, and mentally at that point. Jackson accumulated 101 yards last week against San Francisco, but was only able to muster up a 3.5 YPC average. New York needs to key him on 1st downs and short yardage situations, as limiting him to 75-85 rushing yards will be essential to victory.

Finally, the Jets need to put Antonio Cromartie on Danny Amendola in any man coverage scheme. Ellis Lankster and Kyle Wilson’s documented struggles in man coverage are very real, something Amendola and the Rams are well aware of. Ryan needs to challenge the remainder of St. Louis’s receiving corps to beat his secondary by shutting Amendola down. The only way to do that this week is by putting Cromartie on him for the majority of the contest.

If New York can do each of these things on both sides of the ball, while not having any special teams meltdowns, this game shouldn’t even be close. However, this is a Jets team that has seemingly made more mental errors all season than most of us can remember. There will be breakdowns in all facets of the game, but I think New York will finally respond to them this week. Expect a hard fought, back against the wall, fight for survival from the Jets, resulting in a game won through a total team effort. There won’t be any single player on the offense or defense that is going to put up a monster stat line, but through a cohesive, aggressive game plan, and proper execution of the little things, the Jets will ultimately top the Rams in St. Louis by 6.

Mike Donnelly – Jets 20-13 

Rob Celletti –  When it comes to sports, and the teams I root for, I try to be an optimist. If I’m watching a hockey game (remember hockey?) and the Rangers go down by three goals early, I usually think to myself, “if they gave up three that quickly, they can score three of their own just as quickly.” Needless to say, things don’t usually work out that way. Especially when it comes to the New York Jets.

Is it possible that the Jets find a way to eke out a win on Sunday and at least give themselves half a chance at meaningful December football in a weak AFC?  Well yeah, ANYTHING is possible. It’s also possible that the Mayans were right, and that Earth will get sucked into a black hole in 35 days, rendering all of this discussion moot. The Rams win Sunday, 17-10.  It will be, as usual, an excruciating three hours for Jets fans. Last time things were this bad going into Thanksgiving, Kellen Clemens was playing quarterback.

Chris Celletti – For some reason, and I really can’t explain this, or justify it with football reasons, but I think the Jets are going to win this game. Maybe it’s because I’m all giddy about the Knicks (they were 6-0 at the time of my filing of this), or maybe it’s because the Rams aren’t any good . They employ Brian Schottenheimer. And Wayne Hunter. And Matthew Mulligan. Although I have no faith in the Jets’ offense (or defense or special teams or PR department or the Kraft Tee Kids at Metlife, for that matter), I do think this will be a tight, low scoring, close game that is there for the taking. Can Mark Sanchez engineer like two scoring drives? If so, pop a defensive score or a special teams one and BANG, there’s your fourth win of the season. Jets 15 (why not?), Rams 10

Turn On The Jets 12 Pack, Week 11 – Jets vs. Rams

12 predictions for the New York Jets week 11 game against the St. Louis Rams

The Turn On The Jets 12 pack is back with 12 refreshing predictions for your 3-6 New York Jets who this week travel to St. Louis to face Robert Turner, Brian Schottenheimer, Matthew Mulligan, Kellen Clemens, Wayne Hunter and the rest of the 3-5-1 Rams. You may laugh at those names but the Jets are appropriately 3.5 point underdogs because in the game of football you need to score points and the Jets cannot do that. 

1. Shonn Greene, Joe McKnight and Khalil Bell will combine for 35 touches on offense. The Jets are going to run early and often on offense and I expect plenty of Mark Sanchez checkdowns, some completed and some knocked down at the line.

2. Danny Amedonla will take advantage of the plays Antonio Cromartie isn’t near him and lead the Rams in receptions and receiving yards, with 7 for 85.

3. St. Louis will struggle to run the ball on the Jets front seven. Steven Jackson will finish with less than 55 yards rushing and Daryl Richardson with finish with less than 35 yards.

4. Dustin Keller will lead the Jets in receptions and receiving yards, having a nice bounce-back game after his disastrous performance last week.

5. Mark Sanchez will have another fairly ugly stat-line, barley completing 50% of his passes, throwing for under 200 yards and having another turnover. He will also be sacked at least twice.

6. Sam Bradford will throw for 200 yards and a touchdown but will also have at least one turnover. The Jets will sack him at least twice.

7. Stephen Hill will have less than 25 yards receiving. Jeremy Kerley will again be the only Jets receiver who makes any type of impact on the game.

8. Tim Tebow will finish with 30 total offensive yards. Yawn.

9. Joe McKnight won’t get the chance to return any kicks because of Legatron.

10. There will be 3 or less total touchdowns in this game.

11. #63 will in fact be eligible…for at least 10 plays this week.

12. The entire week I picked the Jets to lose this game, including in my Q&A with the Rams Herd, yet something about it almost seeming too obvious to pick them to lose and the fact that St. Louis is coming of a full five quarter emotional tie in San Francisco…what the hell? I am taking the Jets 17-16.

Predicted Game Outcome Record (8-1)

 

New York Jets Playoff Pipe Dream – Week 11 Hail Mary Edition

You still think the New York Jets have a chance at the playoffs, don’t you…you crazy SOB?

You are a sick person aren’t you? Sure, you have appropriately ripped your New York Jets all week to anybody who would listen. Sure, you swear you won’t waste time watching another game. But we all know that you will. You will be glued to your TV at 1 PM this Sunday, wondering in an anxious horror if your football team can truly get any worse…or if maybe, just maybe they could have some professional pride and show signs of life.

You are even thinking way in the back of your head…hey, the Colts and Patriots are playing this week, one of them has to lose right? The Steelers are playing with Byron Leftwich at quarterback the next 4-5 games, what if they start losing because Leftwich…well is, Leftwich. Look at how easy our schedule is!

Let me be the first to tell you that you need help buddy. But let me also be the first to guide your crazy aspirations in a well-structured article.

There are three main teams you should focus on in your crazy hopes: Indianapolis, Pittsburgh and New England. The Jets are currently three games behind all of them and only hold a tie-breaker as of right now with the Colts. Yes, there are other teams between them in the standings but for the time being let’s hold on to the thought that San Diego, Cincinnati, Oakland, Miami, Tennessee and Buffalo will all finish 8-8 or worse.

In terms of catching the Colts, the Jets would have to finish 6-1 (!) and have the Colts finish 3-4. Indy finishes with the following schedule –

  • At New England
  • Vs Buffalo
  • At Detroit
  • Vs Tennessee
  • At Houston
  • At Kansas City
  • Vs Houston

Not that easy. Yet, keep in mind Houston could be resting starters in those two games, particularly in the week 17 game. The hope here is that Indy is a young team who hasn’t played particularly well on the road.

The Jets currently don’t have the tie-breaker with Pittsburgh but it isn’t inconceivable that they could get it. They are currently 3-4 in the AFC and Pittsburgh is 3-3. If the Jets win 6 of their last 7 (!) and Pittsburgh finishes 3-4, they’d likely have the tie-breaker. Here are the Steelers final 7 games –

  • Vs Baltimore
  • At Cleveland
  • At Baltimore
  • Vs San Diego
  • At Dallas
  • Vs Cincinnati
  • Vs Cleveland

This schedule really isn’t that bad on paper but with Leftwich under center who knows?

Finally, the mighty Patriots who are ready to roll to another AFC East crown. Obviously the Jets need to beat them head to head and beat Buffalo at the end of the season, along with hope New England loses another division game and then a few more conference games…basically this ain’t happening unless something screwy goes on in Foxboro. Here are their final 7 –

  • Vs Indy
  • At Jets
  • At Miami
  • Vs Houston
  • Vs San Francisco
  • At Jacksonville
  • Vs Miami

In the real world, you are probably looking at a 5-2 type finish for the Patriots that gets them to 11-5. It actually isn’t that crazy to think either the Steelers or Colts will finish 9-7, what is crazy is to think the Jets could win 6 of their last 7 with the way they are playing right now.

Ten Things New York Jets Fans Never Need To See Again

Ten things New York Jets fans never need to see again

New York Jets fans have been subjected to a generally crap product this season. However, these ten things in particular stand out as things they never need to stomach watching again. Fans of other teams…consider yourself lucky you don’t have to watch them on a weekly basis –

1. The Kyle Wilson Finger Wag

Everybody who has followed the Jets since 2010 knows Kyle Wilson is a textbook first round bust. At first the excuse was that he was being forced to play in the slot and “didn’t have the sideline to help him”…even though he was equally awful on the outside. The thing about Wilson is that he doesn’t know how to play the ball in the air, has terrible footwork and not much make-up speed. The most infuriating thing? His tendency to wag his finger after incompletions. He does it after he is beat by 10 yards and the wide receiver drops it. He does when he interferes with the receiver. He does it after he is beat for a touchdown earlier in the game and then somehow forces an incompletion later in the game. I look forward to Wilson not being brought back next year and settling into to a comfortable career of being Jacksonville’s 4th corner.

2. The Stephen Hill Flag Beg

Hill is a very raw rookie with a good amount of potential. However, he hasn’t yet mastered how to get open in the NFL. Actually he isn’t even really close yet. That is okay, most of us expected that in his first year. What we didn’t expect was Hill incessantly begging for a flag after an incompletion thrown his way, including on ones where there is clearly no penalty or he just drops the ball. I wonder where Hill learned to beg for a flag like that, hmmm….

3. Calvin Pace Rushing The Passer

The Jets paid Pace about $500 million dollars before the 2008 season to be their elite pass rusher (that number is only a slight exaggeration). He posted 7 sacks in 2008, then improved to 8 sacks in 2009. Here he comes! Not really, since then he declined to 5.5 sacks, 4.5 sacks and now only 2 sacks so far this year. Every year Pace gets just a little slower as we are forced to watch him struggle towards the quarterback while the quarterback calmly makes a sandwich in the pocket before lofting a pass over to the wide receiver old “Finger Wag Wilson” is covering.

4. Tim Tebow 2 Yard Runs

The Jets have been utterly clueless about how to use Tim Tebow this season. However, lost in the shuffle is how generally crappy he has been running the football when given a chance. He has 27 carries for 92 yards, for a whopping 3.7 yards per carry. What is worse is that when you take out his one outlier 22 yard scamper against Pittsburgh, he is averaging 2.5 yards per carry! Of course Tebow can always silence the criticism after his runs by flexing and yelling at the sideline. Things like that make announcers weep with joy…”My God…what a FOOTBALL PLAYER.”

5. Shonn Greene 2 Yard Runs Followed By The SLOWWWW Get-Up

Shonn Greene is the Webster’s definition of “Plodding,” after Greene plods for a 2 yard run to set the Jets up with 2nd and 8, he has a tendency to get up extremely, extremely slow giving off the appearance of being hurt. He then lumbers back to the huddle, as the Jets frantically shift personnel so they could set up for their inevitable 2nd and 8 miscommunication/incompletion followed by the 3rd down sack. Where’s the punt team?!!

6. The Mark Sanchez Pump Fake

Sanchez frequently chooses to pump fake when he has a wide receiver wide open in order to give the defensive back a chance to get into place for an interception. Whenever Sanchez starts pumping, if you listen closely enough you can hear every Jets fan in the tri-state area going “NOOOOOO….JUST THROW IT AWAY! AHHH”

7. The Clyde Gates First Down Point

This only happened once but it is the type of thing that drives fans insane. The Jets were down 27-3 in the 4th quarter against Miami when Gates (maybe the worst active WR in the NFL right now) caught a meaningless first down. He immediately got up and gave a prolonged first down point. Where would he learn such an idea? Hmmm….

8. The Muffed Punt

The Jets might have muffed 19 punts and kicks in the last 2 seasons. It is at the point now, where I’d be more comfortable if they just sent 11 at the punter and didn’t put a returner deep…but that would likely just lead to an Eric Smith personal foul for roughing the kicker.

9. Eric Smith

What are your five most memorable Eric Smith plays with the Jets? Mine are botching the blitz on Tebow against Denver last year (FOOTBALL PLAYER!), missing the tackle on Victor Cruz for the 99 yard touchdown (SALSA!), 4,000 helmet to helmet hits blended together for killer 15 yard penalties (HARD NOSED), him draped off Gronk’s leg when he caught his 8th touchdown against us on Sunday night last year (SPIKE), and when he had that interception back in 2009 (see this isn’t all mean-spirited and bitter).

10. #63 Is Eligible! 

Do you know any other team in the NFL that uses an offensive lineman at tight end 20+ snaps per game? I guess the Jets are just smarter than the 29 other offenses they are ranked behind who you know…use actual tight ends and wide receivers in their proper positions.

TOJ TNF PICKS (AFC EAST TURD BOWL)

  • Joe (Bills -2.5)
  • Chris C (Bills -2.5)
  • Rob  (Bills -2.5)
  • Chris G (Bills -2.5)
  • Mike D (Miami (+2.5)

New York Jets vs. St. Louis Rams – Q&A with Rams Herd

A Q&A previewing Jets vs. Rams with Will Horton, owner of RamsHerd.com

One of the first games I circled on the New York Jets schedule when it was released was the upcoming game against the St. Louis Rams. Why? Because I knew we could break the game down with our good friend Will Horton of Rams Herd, without question the top Rams site out there. Will and I worked together back in the day at the Fanball Network when TOJ was just a little baby. When Fanball shut down TOJ would have died with it if it wasn’t for Will’s guidance in migrating the site to our own domain. Since then, he has consistently provided help to me in keeping the site running fluidly. So if you like TOJ, make sure to thank Will because it wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for him. Anyway on to the game – 

RH – The New York Jets seem to be bottoming out under Rex Ryan, after going to the AFC Championship game twice in his first two seasons. Are you ready to  blow this team up at this point, or do you still have hope for a turnaround the season?

TOJ – There won’t be any kind of major turnaround happening this season. From a talent standpoint, this team has the worst group of skill position players in the NFL and I’m not saying that as a hyperbole. On defense they lack a pass rush and remain too slow at the linebacker position. Realistically, they need about 4-5 new starters on both sides of the ball in 2013 so I suppose I do advocate blowing it up.

RH – The Jets hardly lack for lightning rods, and you have two of them at quarterback in Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow. How do you handle the two of them for the remainder of the season, and does Greg McElroy enter into the picture?

TOJ – Mark Sanchez is going to start the remainder of the season. The decision to bring in Tim Tebow was pushed on to the coaching staff by Owner Woody Johnson. They very clearly had no desire for him and no plan on how to use him. Tebow will remain a poorly used gimmick. McElroy isn’t a factor at all. There have been desperation calls for him from some Jets fans but he is a 7th round pick with zero experience. Rex will lose the locker room if he hands the job to him with two quarterbacks on his roster who have won playoff games.

In 2013, Sanchez will be back because of how his contract is structured. Tebow will be traded or cut. And the Jets will likely bring in a veteran to compete for the starting job with Sanchez in camp. Maybe a Matt Moore type player.

RH – Obviously, age and injuries have caught up with this team in a big way. How different is this season if you still have Darrelle Revis and Santonio Holmes in the starting lineup?

TOJ – Not that different. GM Mike Tannenbaum will use that as an excuse to keep his job this off-season but this team had major problems even with those guys on the field. They are thoroughly mediocre at right tackle, guard, running back, quarterback, wide receiver and linebacker…and that has nothing to do with Holmes or Revis.

RH – The Rams rebuilt their team with a sizeable number of Jets castoffs, starting with offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer. Meanwhile, the Jets continue to struggle on offense under Tony Sparano. Would you take Schottenheimer back at this point?

TOJ – No. Sparano’s incompetence doesn’t cover for Schottenheimer’s incompetence and stubbornness when he was here. I don’t blame Schottenheimer’s struggles on Sanchez either because his offense was poor under Chad Pennington, Kellen Clemens, and Brett Favre as well.

RH – Despite the cloud of negative press surrounding the team, the Jets have shown an ability to step up and play good football from time to time (vs Bills, Pats, Colts, and first matchup with Miami). What are their keys to playing well, and can they find success against the Rams?

TOJ – The Jets play well when their defense is stopping the run and forcing turnovers, and their offense is running the ball well opening up a downfield play action passing game…all things they are very inconsistent at. I think they will play well on defense against the Rams, creating a close, low-scoring game. Ultimately I just don’t have enough faith in their offense to pull a win out though. I’d take the Rams in 16-10, 17-13 type game.

TOJ – Jeff Fisher seems to immediately have changed the culture in St. Louis. Can you talk about the tangible differences in the type of the team the Rams have this year as compared to the previous couple of years?

RH – There are a lot of ways to answer to this question. This just feels like a radically different team this season than the one before, even though most of the primary playmakers – Sam Bradford, Steven Jackson, Chris Long & James Laurinaitis –  remain the same. The major differences are in experience, in the roster, and in the attitude.

The Rams won Jeff Fisher over this offseason by giving him complete say over the organization. In Miami, he would have had to work with Jeff Ireland. Here, he hired his own GM, and assembled a very experienced coaching staff. Then, he went very young with his roster. This is a complete 180 from last year’s Rams, which had coaches learning on the job and a roster of veteran role-players half-assing it through the season.

Two key additions that Fisher brought with him from his Titans days are Cortland Finnegan and defensive assistant Dave McGinnis. Both of these guys fully embrace Fisher’s old-school football mentality that the physical battle has to be won before you can accomplish anything else. After beating up on Robert Griffin III and the Redskins (and being called “dirty” in the process), McGinnis sounded off: “I’ve been in this league 27 years and have never been on a dirty defense. I’ve been on some damn tough ones. Never been on a dirty one.”

TOJ – How would you evaluate the performance of former Jets on the roster, most notably Brian Schottenheimer and Wayne Hunter?

RH – I won’t say Brian Schottenheimer has been a revelation as offensive coordinator, but his offense is like a breath of fresh air compared to the Josh McDaniels days. McDaniels’ intricate pass routes work fine when you have protection like Tom Brady does, and you can hang out in the pocket for days. When you don’t have that, your quarterback gets ground to a fine paste.

What makes Schottenheimer’s offense really click, and turned Wayne Hunter into a surprisingly useful player along the way, has been the work of offensive line coach Paul Boudreau. Fisher lured Boudreau from Atlanta, where he built a near-impenetrable wall around Matt Ryan, and he has been a perfect fit here. The OL coach doesn’t require top-shelf talent, which is good because the Rams don’t have it. The mere fact that Hunter washed ashore in the final week of preseason and was starting by week 2 tells you all you need to know about the talent level here.

Two more ex-Jets have been valuable contributors as well. Robert Turner has been invaluable as a fill-in center, covering Les Snead’s ass for spending big bucks on a constantly-injured Scott Wells. And Matthew Mulligan is good for 30 or so snaps of quality blocking at tight end.

TOJ – What is the opinion of most Rams fans on Sam Bradford? Is there a strong confidence that he is the long term guy at quarterback? Do you hear complaints about not keeping that #2 pick and just taking RG-3?

RH – Sam Bradford is getting increased scrutiny in season three, for sure. He is far from a rookie now, and guys like Cam Newton, Andrew Luck, RG3 and even a little shrimp like Russell Wilson have been stepping into the limelight.

It’s a good thing, then, that Bradford is finally showing signs of being that franchise guy. He regressed badly last year in his pocket presence, and never established a deep-threat. This year, behind Boudreau’s line, he looks much more confident. And with Chris Givens reeling off 50-yard plays on a weekly basis and Danny Amendola dramatically expanding his game from being just a short-crossing-route guy, Bradford’s game is taking off in a hurry.

That said, he needs to get more consistent from week to week and start reeling off more multi-score games like last week’s. Even though Fisher loves to run the ball, you have to be able to win games in the air in today’s NFL.

TOJ – How far away is this team from competing with San Francisco and Seattle for a division title? What are the areas they need to improve in before reaching that level?

RH – Well, so far the Rams are 2-0-1 against their division after playing tooth-and-nail against a very good 49ers team in their own house. I think they are well positioned to hang in with each of their division opponents. Their biggest area of improvement has to come on the road, where they’ve yet to win a game this season, and against the upper-tier teams of other divisions. The 49ers and Seahawks have made hay outside the division this year, with 8 wins in 11 matchups. The Rams have won just one of six outside the West.

TOJ – Finally, what is your prediction for Sunday? And are most Rams fans very confident in winning this game?

RH – A lot of Rams fans will find it pretty easy to focus on all the stories of disarray surrounding the Jets, and have this game circled as a win on the schedule. I certainly have a lot more confidence in Bradford than I do in any of the Jets’ QBs, but it is a team game and there have been holes in our game over the last several weeks. Also, I’m interested to see what Rex Ryan has in store for his old offensive coordinator and vice versa, after spending so many years practicing against each other.

The difference in this one could be the fans. The Rams have been playing inspired football at home all season (I am not counting the London game as a “home” game, no matter what the NFL schedule says). Big hits from our defense and big plays from the offense should keep the fans energy high, and help push the Rams over the top.

Turn On The Jets Week 11 Roundtable – Jets vs. Rams Match-Ups

The TOJ staff debates what match-up they are most looking forward to in the Jets/Rams week 11 game

Joe Caporoso – I hate to reiterate what most of our writers are saying but how could you not look forward to Rex Ryan’s defense versus Brian Schottenheimer’s offense? Without question a low point in a year full of them would be to watch Schottenheimer hang a 35 spot on Ryan. Considering how much crap Schotty took while he was here and how much pride Rex takes in his defense, it would be an ultimate gut punch to this organization. You can bet on Rex throwing the kitchen sink out there this week and likely playing more aggressive than usual. Are the Jets up to representing their now beleaguered head coach against a very average offense? Or will they let the humiliation continue?

Chris Gross – Match Up: Rex Ryan’s Defense vs. Brian Schottenheimer’s offense – Everyone has been talking about the eagerness to see Mark Sanchez face the Rams defense, for the world seems convinced that Sanchez’s former tutor, now Rams Offensive Coordinator, Brian Schottenheimer will have the exact script necessary for St. Louis’s defensive staff to magnify the surplus of Sanchez’s weaknesses. However, after 3 years of having Schotty on his staff, Rex Ryan is likely licking his chops at the opportunity to go head to head with his first and former offensive coordinator with the Jets. New York’s offense became highly predictable under the Schottenheimer regime, and Rex likely has an abundance of plays up his sleeve that he began scripting the moment he found out he’d be coaching against Schotty. Look for a dominant defensive effort led by one of Rex’s best, most prepared, coaching efforts this season.

Mike Donnelly –  The only matchup I’m really looking forward to seeing is Rex Ryan’s defense against Brian Schottenheimer and the Rams offense. The Jets did a very good job against Marshawn Lynch and the Seattle run game for most of the game last week, and I expect that to carry over against a lesser offense in St. Louis. But the big thing is how Rex is going to match wits with the Jets former offensive coordinator that was absolutely trashed here. If Rex lets the Rams come out and drop over 20 points on them and make the defense look silly, then things are much worse in Jets land than we even thought, and it will be the first time I will start to waver on whether or not Rex Ryan’s job security should be in question.

Rob Celletti – This season has gotten so strange that it feels absurd to discuss what’s happening on the field when it comes to the Jets, but let’s put aside the sideshow for a moment.  There are still seven games to play after all, and believe it or not, the Jets are going to try and win them (I think).

So what matchup can the Jets exploit against the Rams on Sunday?  How about this: commit to the running game against an average defensive front.  The Jets are arguably the most disorganized offense in the league for a variety of reasons that don’t all involve the play of Mark Sanchez.  If you look at when Sanchez has success, it usually happens when the running game is productive.  But whether it’s due to poor blocking, plodder extraordinaire Shonn Greene, or simply Tony Sparano’s gameplanning, the Jets have not stuck with their guns on the ground, especially when falling behind – even if only by one score. The Jets should be able to get something done in the run game on Sunday, and I’m excited to see Khalil Bell get some burn. He can’t be worse than Greene, can he?

TJ Rosenthal – We look forward to watching Schotty vs Rex. What would be more humiliating Rex, canning his OC only to get torched by him the following season, while the new offense and OC are worse? We honestly at this point, don’t know which of the two we are rooting for in this matchup. We are carrying decades of anger into this game. Whatever needs to be exposed for the true real nature of who the Jets are as an organization, and an offense this Sunday, let’s see it. The Rex and Schotty matchup will be a window into alot of it.

Chris Celletti – What I’m most looking forward to is a pretty simple, general matchup: the Jets’ offense vs. the Rams’ defense. The Jets’ offense has reached new levels of ineptitude over the past two games. The Rams have an okay but unspectacular defense, but at this point it doesn’t even matter who New York is going up against. Will they show any fight? Will Tony Sparano actually call a competent game? Can Mark Sanchez go an entire game without making a mistake that would make a high school QB cringe? Before we write the Jets off as automatically getting blown out, let’s all remember that the Rams aren’t very good. If, and its a gargantuan if, the Jets can actually get in the end zone a few times, they can win.

Hurricane Sandy Relief – Tailgate 4 Tri-State

Learn how to donate to the Hurricane Sandy Relief fund at your next Jets or Giants Tailgate

David Levy is a local filmmaker and New York Jets fan, who we have previously worked with at Pro Football NYC and Football Reporters Present – We are happy to help him publicize this event to raise funds for Hurricane Sandy relief. 

Last Monday was the worst hurricane or “superstorm” to be seen by the east coast. New Jersey’s shore line devastated.  Fires rage in New York City boros and burn homes to the ground. Manhattan darkened. Possessions lost, homes destroyed, and lives changed forever. A recovery and clean up seems eternal. Gas lines may be getting shorter but so are people’s patience. Power has yet to be restored in many locations while families suffering their worst heart break have yet to receive help of any kind.

My family has roots in Belmar, NJ.  One of the shore towns hit hard by Sandy. My grandparents ran Levy’s Bakery on F Street for many years. My Aunt Norma and Uncle Herbie lived down there until the mid 90’s.

I practically grew up in Belmar. I can remember not just being on the beach and enjoying the ocean, but the holidays with family, spending hours upon hours at Rooftop Golf and Arcade, Zelbe’s, Siderhoff’s hot dogs, Klein’s, Djai’s, Bar A, and so much more of my life happened in Belmar.

Sandy removed the entire boardwalk and dropped it off three blocks from the beach.  A town devastated along with many communities that seek assistance in rebuilding the Jersey shore. Like many Jersey natives my heart sank lower and lower watching the destruction. Not just here in New Jersey, but Staten IslandLong Island, and every area in new York ravaged by Sandy.

I felt the need to do something. I am not sure what exactly, but I wanted to do something for those that had their lives disrupted and still looking for the pieces to get it back together. So many individuals, companies, Government groups, and so many more are doing what they can to raise funds and material items for those displaced by Hurricane Sandy.   did not want to carbon copy anyone and wanted an effort to be fun and unique while supporting a great cause.

I thought about the Jets fans I had met while filming my documentary about the Jets and their fans. Here you have thousands upon thousands already in one location and many would be willing to support a great cause.

But why just limit it to the Jets?

Giants fans are very passionate and dedicated.  They bleed red and blue as much as a Jets fan bleeds green. So extending an opportunity to donate to a cause that affected us all seemed only natural.

But the catalyst. The concept to bring it all together to make it a worthy event where fans could give their time and donate to Hurricane Sandy relief. Then it hit me.

Tailgating!

Every Jets and Giants fan likes to party and celebrate before any game. Getting friends and family together to throw back some cold ones, grill up our meaty feast, and yell at those fans who wear the jerseys of the opposing team. Ahh, yes….tailgating!

On behalf of Football Reporters Online, I am organizing Tailgate 4 The Tri-State. We are looking for any and all New York Jets and Giants tailgaters to support T4T as all proceeds will go to the Red Cross Hurricane Sandy relief effort.

Myself and others not just lost power, but many lost food, belongings, and homes as well.  As New York area fans, we want to provide support for those who need to start over.  That is why we are organizing this relief effort to cover both the Jets and Giants tailgating.

Tailgate 4 The Tri-State will take place Sunday, November 25th at the Giants/Green Bay Packers game & Sunday, December 2nd at the Jets/Arizona Cardinals game.

It is very easy to participate.  Just do what one normally does before any home game, tailgate!!  Have fun!  Invite friends and family to make it a t rue game worth remembering. That is 90% of what we would like to accomplish. There are three options to do your part for Tailgate 4 The TriState:

1 – Many tailgating groups charge a fee to be able to partake in their tailgate.  We ask if these tailgate groups could donate a portion of those fees towards the Tailgate 4 The Tri-State effort

2 – A group could also make one lump sum donation from everyone in that tailgate as well

3 – The CELEBRITY APPRENTICE donation.  This is for very few willing to make the kind of donation that speaks volumes.

Many will laugh at Number 3, but you never know how generous someone will be.

The Giants & Jets have already given $500,000 each for Hurricane Sandy relief.  We as Jets and Giants fans have a chance to show our support and make our contribution. We have an opportunity to be heard loud and clear.

As of now the Jets tailgate on December 2nd will get loud as Fireman Ed Anzalone is on board with T4T.  Fireman Ed will be offering his time at where we designate the central tailgate to be.

We will designate a flagship tailgating location at both games once we hear back from those wanting to participate.

We just started reaching out to fans, other companies, and former players to get involved with T4T, so updates will be coming.  They can be found on our Facebook page.

When I contacted the Jets on Monday, I added this in my letter:

I am sure you know time is of the utmost importance on this (organizing this project).  I hope the Jets organization would want to support their fans efforts in coordinating a program to raise funds for Sandy relief.  Please contact me with any questions or when a decision is reached.  Thank you for taking the time to consider this for your next home game.

After hearing back from the Jets, they regretfully can not get behind and endorse a cause that is being held on the MetLife Stadium property due to other contractual obligations.

They will be announcing their own efforts where fans can help raise funds during the New England Patriots game on Thanksgiving.  So for our effort during tailgating, we will not have the Jets support. The Jets can only support fans efforts away from MetLife Stadium.

For those Jets or Giants tailgaters looking to have their tailgate participate in Tailgate 4 The Tri-State can email us at Tailgate4TriState@gmail.com or visit our Facebook page where there is additional contact information.

Before You Criticize The New York Jets, Think About The Source

The New York Daily News and Manish Mehta should be facing criticism and scrutiny…not the New York Jets

If you have never watched the television show The Wire, I recommend it highly. In the fifth season, they focus on the degradation of the print news media by focusing on a journalist called Scott Templeton. In a bid to drive attention to his articles, Templeton exaggerates quotes and uses fake sourcing, while frequently hiding behind the guise of “anonymous” sources. The New York media has their very own Scott Templeton covering the Jets. His name is Manish Mehta and his employing paper is, The Daily News. 

Today the football world is up in arms about the “cowardly” Jets for trashing backup quarterback Tim Tebow. How dare they not put a name on it? There is one quoted player in the article, guard Matt Slauson, who confirmed today the quotes were taken “so many months ago, he can’t even remember it”…something confirmed by Rex Ryan.

Now, let’s do a thought exercise…

You are a beat writer for the New York Jets for a print newspaper. You work in a dying medium and industry. A quarterback controversy sells newspapers. You are dying for a quarterback controversy…practically begging for it…even charting every single pass thrown by both quarterbacks in training camp. You do this despite it being abundantly clear that there is no quarterback controversy. There never has been. This reality is now setting in because despite Mark Sanchez being awful this year, he still hasn’t been pulled for Tim Tebow yet. What if it never happens? What if Tebow leaves New York before ever starting a single game? Now you are desperate, desperate enough to dust off some old quotes from your anonymous sources for a front page story. These quotes weren’t necessarily taken recently or taken in any context related to anything that is occurring right now, but what the hell right?

Look at the quotes in this article about “Tebow” and add some hypothetical context to them –

“He’s terrible” – Defensive Starter – This literally could have been said by any Jets starter since Tebow burst on to the scene in the NFL at any point, in any context. It could have been said before Jets/Broncos last year. It could have been said by Aaron Maybin after he was cut (he has been announced as a starter at Jets games before). It could have been said by anybody at anytime. 

“Hell, no!” another starter said. “You got to keep defenses honest. You just can’t line up in the Wildcat all the time. That won’t work.” – This could very well be a quote taken from Calvin Pace talking about the Wildcat back in 2009. It could have been taken from any player over the summer when asked if they want to run a traditional offense or a Wildcat and then they responded with this answer. It could have been taken from Darrelle Revis last year before the Jets/Broncos game

“We can’t win running that shit” – One player 

“Nobody wants him to be the starter” – One member of the team

“We don’t look at him as a quarterback. He’s The Wildcat Guy” – Another starter

How many times after the Tebow trade and throughout the summer have we heard members of the New York Jets say something like this? Maybe one or two million times, I lost track. Like here. Or Here. Or Here. Think about how easy these quotes could flow from any Jets player asked in the past 6 months about Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow, and then they could be construed into what is above –

“Yes, we support Mark, we all want him to be our starter” = “Nobody wants Tebow to be a starter”

“Tebow is an athlete, he is going to help us in The Wildcat. Mark is our quarterback” = “We don’t look at him as a quarterback. He’s The Wildcat Guy” 

You can make these deductions when the quotes seem a little too perfect. It is easy to make them sound that way when you cherry pick from everything members of the team have said the past year or so.

If I was Rex Ryan? I’d deny The Daily News access to Florham Park. Lock them out. Let’s see if ESPN or the New York Post breaks any of these same stories. If they do, the Jets are the problem. If they don’t, you know who the problem really was.

Before you trash the entire Jets locker room and Rex Ryan. Re-read the article you are criticizing them over and think if it is really the most sound piece of sports journalism you have ever seen.