Turn On The Jets NFL Week 13 Best Bets

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

Week 12 Record: 1-1-1

Season Record: 13-21-2

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

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

/Watches in dismay as the Falcons win by 1″

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I fear, however, that we will.

Oh yeah, the picks:

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

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

 

New York Jets – Where Is The Pass Rush?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THURSDAY NIGHT PICKS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

At the time…

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

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

Jets Record Before: 1-6

Cardinals Record Before: 2-5

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Turn On The Jets Week 13 Roundtable – Jets/Cards Match-Ups

The TOJ staff discusses what match-ups they are most looking forward to in Jets/Cardinals

The TOJ staff discusses what match-ups they are most looking forward to in this Sunday’s game between the Jets and Cardinals. 

A quick shout out to Santonio Holmes who is running an online raffle to raise money for his Third and Long Foundation. The contest runs through this Saturday and the prize is 2 tickets to watch the Jets game this week in a suite at MetLife with Holmes. Check out http://www.monjigame.com for more information – Help support a great cause!

Joe Caporoso – The Jets vs. Our Collective Sanity – The New York Jets have just about pushed their fans to the breaking point this year. Yet, if this eternally hyped defense can’t put a hurting on Ryan Lindley and the worst offensive line in football what else is there to do but fire everybody who is associated with this organization? This is the type of game the Jets defense needs to post 5 sacks, 2 turnovers and carry the torch to an ugly 13-3 win. If the Jets manage to lose this game, they may not win the rest of the season.

Chris Gross – Jets Defensive Line vs. Cardinals Offensive Line: If Arizona had a capable quarterback, this would easily be focused on Antonio Cromartie against Larry Fitzgerald. Unfortunately for the Cardinals, however, the quarterback situation in the desert is more laughable than any team around the league (including the Jets and Kansas City). The Cardinals have given up an NFL worst 46 sacks this season, with the Jets only getting to opposing quarterbacks a mere 17 times. Something has to give, here right?

Arizona will be starting rookie quarterback Ryan Lindley for the second straight week. Despite throwing 4 interceptions against St. Louis last week, Lindley still threw for 312 yards. The talent is there at wide receiver for the Cardinals. Third year pro Andre Roberts is quietly having a decent year for Arizona with 50 receptions and 5 touchdowns, including 9 grabs in the loss to the Rams last week. While Cromartie should be able to keep Fitzgerald in check for the better part of the game, Roberts and Michael Floyd could cause problems for the rest of the Jets below average secondary.

In order to prevent a surplus of Kyle Wilson and Ellis Lankster miscommunications, the Jets simply need to wreak havoc on the rookie signal caller. There is no excuse for not getting to the quarterback this week. Lindley needs to be hit early and often in order for the Jets to neutralize the mismatches at WR2 and WR3. Muhammad Wilkerson should have a big game, with Quinton Coples, and one of the Jets outside linebackers contributing as well (Anybody? Bueller?? Bueller??). If the pass rush is neutralized against the poor pass blocking offensive line of the Cardinals, another home loss could be looming, particularly due to the strong defensive presence that Arizona has still maintained, despite losing 7 in a row

Mike Donnelly – The matchup I’m most looking forward to this Sunday is Quinton Coples, Mo Wilkerson, and Ricky Sapp against the Cardinals porous offensive line. I know it seems weird to include someone like Sapp in a group with 1st round picks like Coples and Wilkerson, but hear me out. If Ricky Sapp can’t get anything going this week against this Cardinals offensive line which is downright atrocious, then we know he truly is never going to help this team in any meaningful way. The Cardinals field two of the very worst offensive tackles in the NFL, and they aren’t that much better up the middle. Mo Wilkerson has been on an absolute tear lately and I’m looking forward to seeing him really put up a monster game, while this could also be Quinton Coples’s big “I’m here” game. Coples has been on the brink of busting out for a few weeks now, and if he’s given enough reps, he can really do some damage and build some momentum for himself going forward and into the 2013 season. Wins or losses are almost meaningless at this point in the season for this Jets team, so the main thing is seeing the young foundation pieces for next year improve and show what they can do.

TJ Rosenthal – The biggest matchup this weekend will be the battle for Jets mascot supremacy now that Fireman Ed has abdicated his throne. How many new challengers will emerge seeking followers of their J-E-T-S chanting lead? We expect an embarrassing competition consisting of grown ups wearing wings for arms, and mini airplanes on their heads.

You don’t actually think that we are curious about any matchup in particular between a team on a seven game skid with a practice squad quarterback, and a team with one healthy wide receiver and a franchise quarterback fresh off a near concussion. This thanks to running into his own lineman’s derrière. On national tv no less. Do you?

Chris Celletti – Mark Sanchez has to start putting some solid performances together quickly if he has any visions of staying in the NFL as a starting quarterback. And you might want to do that soon, Mark, because the Kate Uptons and Eva Longorias of the world don’t date backups.

The Jets’ schedule the remainder of the way is littered with bad teams, so it seems that the Jets’ signal caller will have his chances to put together a solid personal finish to the year. However, this Sunday’s task – going by the numbers – will be the hardest of the bunch. Despite losing seven straight games, Arizona still has a very solid defense. They’re fourth in the NFL against the pass, allowing an average of just 204 yards per game. Couple that with the fact that the Jets are the fifth-worst passing team in the league (201 yards a game, GOOD GOD) and the fact that there’s a good chance Sanchez will be throwing actual NFL passes to guys named Mardy Gilyard, Jack McSwillywiggins and Jordan White (only one of those names was made up), it could get ugly once again.

Thankfully, there will only be about 35,000 actual human beings in the stands at MetLife, so the TEEEBOOOWWW chants and boos will only be about half as loud as they normally are. Expect a similar outcome on the other side with the Jets’ pass defense and Cards’ QB Ryan Lindley, so this game really has a chance to set football back about 72 years. But at home, against a west coast team in an early Eastern time kickoff, the Jets really should win as long as Sanchez doesn’t mutilate the game.

Turn On The Jets Mailbag – Week 13 Edition

Turn On The Jets dips into the mailbag to answer your questions about the New York Jets heading into week 13

(Because aren’t you tired of pictures of Rex Ryan or Mark Sanchez at the top of these articles?) 

Welcome to the Turn On The Jets mailbag, where we will go through your questions on the New York Jets among other things. We are going to try to make this a somewhat regular thing. Questions can be sent to JoeC@TurnOnTheJets.com, on Twitter or Facebook. Let’s get into it –

John Lavin – “Do you think Mike T and Rex will be fired in a full-clean house or will Rex make the cut?” 

Personally, I think it is the right decision to fire Mike Tannenbaum and keep Rex Ryan. However, I am concerned about Woody’s personal relationship with Tannenbaum clouding his judgement. At this point and this is subject to change pending how the last five games go, Tannenbaum will likely be demoted to a more salary focused position with another football personnel guy brought in to work alongside him. Rex will probably be back in 2013 but will once again need to fire his offensive coordinator and this time find one who has a 21st century offense. And for God’s sake, could he find Sanchez a new quarterback coach?

Brandon Wood – “Do you think Mark Sanchez would play better with a team that has less pressure from the media and fans?”

I think Mark Sanchez would play better on a team with NFL caliber receivers, a capable running back and a very good line…like he did for parts of 2009 and all of 2010. Yet, it is fair to question at this point if the New York market has finally worn him down and if he wouldn’t be better served in a market like Arizona, Kansas City or something like that. Sanchez has the skill set to be a successful NFL quarterback but a change of scenery could do him good if he continues to struggle like he has this season.

J Bones “How do you rank this disaster of a season with our past disasters?” 

An interesting and painful question to contemplate. The Jets expectations weren’t that high coming into this year so few people could claim to be shocked by a 6-10 or 7-9 finish. It is really the ass-fumbling way the Jets are losing games this season that is making it feeling disastrous. That New England game was one of the three or four most embarrassing losses in recent Jets history. However, season-wise I’d say 1999 was more of a disaster after seeing a Super Bowl favorite’s season go down the drain in week 1 because of a ACL tear. The Favre meltdown was a worse disaster because you could have argued the Jets were the best team in football after beating New England and an undefeated Tennessee team on the road before going 1-4 down the stretch to miss the playoffs. The 2005 team was awful and completely devoid of talent (much like this team!) so that compares as well.

Sean L Durham – “Is it likely that the Jets dump GM Mike Tannenbaum and shake up the coaching staff but let Rex remain as HC or is everyone going to pay for the Thanksgiving Night Massacre including Rex? Also, what’s your thoughts on possibly trading players like Revis and Harris away for extra picks?”

Unfortunately the Thanksgiving Night Massacre didn’t happen late enough in the season to have the true “clean-house” effect that it should. Can’t you see the Jets winning 4 of their last 5 against their terrible competition, finishing 8-8 and the day after the season press conference opening something like this?

Woody Johnson – “You know looking at everything and after talking to Mike about it…we were 8-8, only 1 game out of the playoffs and that was without two of our best players all season. You put Revis and Holmes in there and who knows what happens? So we don’t really feel that far away. I don’t see any major changes necessary.”

Mike Tannenbaum – “Let me just hop in here and say we’re happy to have Woody’s support and feel that with a few tweaks here or there, we can be right back to being a playoff team.”

(Meanwhile Jets fans across the tri-state area break their respective laptops and televisions).

In all honesty, if I had to bet on it today – I’d say it is most likely that both Tannenbaum (in some capacity) and Rex are back.

In terms of trading away valuable players for picks, I don’t think that is a bad approach. The Jets aren’t in a great salary cap position and the Revis negotiations could get ugly. There wouldn’t be anything that crazy about trading him for a first and fourth round pick and taking the extra cap space…actually it would probably be a smart idea considering how awful this entire roster is right now. You won’t find a trading partner for Harris because he is the most overpaid player in football right now.

Jason DeBoer – “All of my coworkers are Patriots fans. How do I make it through yet another Patriots playoff season? How can I keep up with the water cooler talk?”

What god-awful place do you work at? There is nothing worse on this planet than Patriots fans or Boston fans in general. If you are living in the greater New England area, move. You don’t want your children eventually raised in such surroundings. If you don’t live in the greater New England area, where is this secret office of hellish misery? Can you put the company out of business? If you succeed, we will hire you here at TOJ (both college credits and Shake Shack gift cards offered! No 401K yet though).

Your best approach would be to remind them how the Patriots haven’t won a Super Bowl since they were caught…you know…cheating. Also remember there is a good chance they are all no-knowledge front-runners who couldn’t tell you who the team’s quarterback was before Drew Bledsoe. If that doesn’t work, avoid the water cooler in January and watch this on repeat at your desk while laughing to yourself like a crazed maniac…that should keep them away!

Ryan Lynch – “Can you speak on how to improve in the draft. Tanny drafted well with Mangini. Why not Rex?”

The Jets need to improve their scouting and personnel department from the top to bottom. Anybody who voted to take Kyle Wilson in the first round and Vladimir Ducasse in the second round should immediately be hunted down and fired. Tannenbaum/Mangini had two very good drafts together in 2006 and 2007 yet people tend to overlook the stink bomb they dropped in 2008 when they took Vernon Gholston with the #6 overall pick and traded into the first round for Dustin Keller, who is pretty good but has never been a Pro-Bowl caliber player. After that they completed missed on Erik Ainge, Marcus Henry and Nate Garner (although he would eventually see some PT with the Dolphins). They did find Dwight Lowery in that draft but traded him for no good reason before the beginning of last year.

With Rex at his side, the 2009 and 2010 drafts are looking like complete disasters but the 2010 and 2011 drafts could still have hope of being half decent. Some of the blame goes to Rex but more goes to Tannenbaum and the personnel department, which for some reason still has Terry Bradway in a prominent role. You remember Bradway…the guy who traded a first round pick for Doug Jolley and a second round pick for Justin McCariens? The guy who traded up for Dewayne Robertson? The guy who took Mike Nugent in the second round?

My suggestion is to fire Tannebaum. Fire Bradway. Gut the personnel department and look to start stockpiling picks. No more leaving the draft with 3-5 players. Walk out with 8-10 and don’t cut 3 of them before the season starts (see: this year).

Peter – “You against drafting a guard/tackle in the first round?” 

No, not at all. Pro Football Focus rates Austin Howard as a bottom ten tackle in the league right now and Matt Slauson has been generally terrible the past year and a half. It depends on where the pick is and who is on the board. The Jets have so many holes that they should just be picking the best player available at their spot…just not a defensive lineman…for God’s sake no more defensive lineman!

New York Jets – Keller’s Emergence Continues To Hit Roadblocks

TJ Rosenthal on the New York Jets offensive system slowing down any chance for tight end Dustin Keller to emerge

Dustin Keller has entered each season as a key threat for the New York Jets. The fifth year tight end owns a skill set well suited for the new pass happy NFL. His emergence into elite status among those who play the position unfortunately, is constantly met with roadblocks.

Jet signal callers have stunted the growth of Keller. Brett Favre, Keller’s first quarterback in New York, injured his throwing arm down the stretch of 2008. A season that saw the Jets fall from an AFC East leading 8-3, to a playoff-less 9-7. Over the final four games, Keller had just eight catches (of his 48), while amassing only 75 of his 535 yearly yard total during the December swoon.

Fourth year starter Mark Sanchez has never been synonymous with accuracy, or big passing days. The Jets decision from the start to “handcuff” him while featuring the run, has tempered any thoughts of a symbiotic rise. Keller has nonetheless, been Sanchez’s favorite target since 2009.

The former USC QB finished 30th in yards per attempt in 2011 and is currently 28th among passers with a 6.7 YPA average. These numbers highlight a systemic failure by the offense to stretch the field. An issue that for Keller, leaves him both bottled up in coverages already keying on him, and unable to get downfield often enough with his own route running.

The Jets rushing attack has seen a downturn since the departure of Thomas Jones. The drop in production has put a damper on play-action; One of the most effective tools Sanchez uses well. During Rex Ryan’s first season as head coach in 2009, the Jets backfield carried the ball 607 times for a 4.5 average. Since then there has been a season decline in both number of carries (2010, 534 attempts 2011 443 attempts) and yards per carry (2010 total 4.4, 2011 total 3.8).

The dearth of talent on the outside has affected Keller’s ability to steer clear of double teams this season. Since the start of the second half, when Keller finally turned a corner on the nagging hamstring injury that kept him out of action for most of the first eight games, he has hauled in a mere 10 catches for 127 over three games. Two of those being losses in which the Jets trailed by three scores in the fourth quarter. A scenario where opposing teams often soften up underneath to allow for the trade off of modest receptions in exchange for minutes chewed up off the clock.

Jeremy Kerley, the Jets most “prolific” receiver, due much in part to the season ending loss of Santonio Holmes in week four, has had just one 100 yard receiving game. Through it all, Keller has displayed a 76 percent receiving grade when balls are thrown his way, according to Pro Football Focus. A trustworthiness that is second on paper to only Texans TE James Casey (80 percent).

Game planning approaches employed by both former offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer and current one Tony Sparano since Keller has been a Jet, have played off of Ryan’s desired strategy to win games on offense by running the ball. Doing so makes the ability to block well essential for Jets tight ends, even though it is not Keller’s forte. Both playcallers have also been accused of risking less through the air based on a fear of their own quarterback’s penchant for turnovers. All of which make it harder for Keller to take over certain games where matchups and circumstances could allow him to.

Keller’s role in the Jets “play it safe” offense has room for so much more versatility. Bubble screens, deep posts, and fades could and should be attempted on a more regular basis. Any wishes to see Keller line up in more creative ways seem like a pipe dream however, in this messy 4-7 season.

Too many factors appear to be in Dustin Keller’s way to clear any path towards All Pro status as a Jet. His contract expires at the end of the season. Should he exit any time soon for the lure of a fresh new start elsewhere, his case may become yet another sad one in Jets history. Where a once promising star was again, not put in a position to maximize his potential.

New York Jets Week 13 – Early Thoughts On Jets/Cardinals

Early thoughts on the New York Jets week 13 match-up against the Arizona Cardinals

A collection of early thoughts on the New York Jets week 13 match-up against the Arizona Cardinals, where the over/under shouldn’t be higher than 10 points. 

1. This has the potential to be an epically awful offensive football game. Rex Ryan’s defenses generally perform very well against rookies and inexperienced quarterbacks. Remember what they did to Andrew Luck earlier in the year. Ryan Lindley is about 1/5th the player Luck is and is coming off a 4 interception performance against St. Louis. The Cardinals also have a dreadful offensive line. Basically if the Jets can’t feast on this offense, Rex might need to hang it up.

On the other side, Arizona is strong at all three levels of their defense. They have been consistent all season and don’t forget this is a team that just intercepted Matt Ryan 5 times in a single game. Linebacker Daryl Washington is one of the league’s best. Patrick Peterson is one of the top young corners in football and Calais Campbell with be a handful up front. Ex-Jet safety Kerry Rhodes will also be looking to stick it to his old team and Rex Ryan who called him out as being “too Hollywood” in his book. (Remember when Rex Ryan could write books about his success?)

2. Antonio Cromartie going against Larry Fitzgerald should be a fun match-up to watch, except I’m not sure if Ryan Lindley can get the ball anywhere near Fitzgerald to make it interesting. He was 0-6 last week on passes attempted to him that were over 10 yards. Outside of Fitzgerald, Andre Brown is the type of mediocre receiver who will have a career day working against Finger Wag Wilson and Ellis “Let’s Leave Welker Alone In The End-Zone” Lankster.

3. The tickets for this game are going as low as $18 right now, which means they could conceivably be under $10 by kickoff. It is officially now more expensive for me to go to Shake Shack than a Jets game. IT’S GO TIME!

4. It would be nice to see Stephen Hill start building some confidence heading into next year. Hopefully, Mark Sanchez can get him a few easy catches and maybe take a shot or two down the field to him. He should see a ton of reps because it appears doubtful that either Clyde Gates or Chaz Schilens will play. Fellow rookie Jordan White could also be in line for extended reps.

5. Considering how poor Arizona’s offensive line is, how about a sack or two from Quinton Coples this week? He hasn’t had one since week 5 against the Colts.

6. If the Jets can’t win this game…against a team on a 7 game losing streak…at home…on a 10 day rest. 4-12 might be on the way.

Turn On The Jets Stock Watch – Angry Rant Edition

Mike Donnelly with his weekly Stock Watch, buying and selling on all the Jets problems

It feels like I could just copy and paste parts of this column from the last few weeks and nobody would be able to tell the difference. Week after week it’s becoming the same old stuff when it comes to this Jets team. Too many turnovers, ineffective run game, blowouts, Calvin Pace sucks, Bart Scott sucks, Kyle Wilson is a delusional finger-wagger with an incredibly false sense of accomplishment, and Tannenbaum needs to be fired. It’s all on repeat, on a continuous loops, and no matter how much we all desperately want things to change, they aren’t going to. This team just has no talent, and off the field things are going from bad to worse. Let’s examine some of our recent issues.

BUY: Fireman Ed– I was never a huge fan of the Fireman, but for him to have to “resign” due to continued harassment and threats is downright disgusting. Let me get this straight: JETS fans went to JETS games to root for the JETS and decided to harass and curse off a big JETS fan, because he wore a JETS jersey of a JETS player to support him during his struggles to hopefully help the JETS win. Got it. That makes a ton of sense. And you wonder why Jets fans have such a bad reputation. Whether you like Ed or not, there is no reason for that kind of treatment.

He made game days more enjoyable for many people, even if you didn’t like him. He continued a Jets tradition, bringing the J-E-T-S chant over from Shea Stadium, and helped give the Jets an identity. Fans of every team know the Jets chant, and it’s an positive identifiable thing for a team that’s only other trait seems to be embarrassing losses. I’ve seen a ton of kids at home games throughout the years be hilariously pumped up to do the chant and see Fireman Ed, and to think that could be over now because of a few jerks, is disgusting. If you were one of those people trying to fight Ed because he wore a Sanchez jersey, well shame on you. You can turn in your Jets fan card at the door. Thanks.

SELL: Fans Cursing off Players – I’m sure you’ve seen the video of Jets fans cursing off players as they walked to the locker room at half time last Thursday by now. Again, if you were one of those people, you don’t deserve to call yourself a fan. I’m sick of hearing “I paid my money, I can say what I want at the game”. Well next time I hope someone punches you in the face. I was there and just as mad as anybody else, but can you show just a little self-restraint maybe?

SELL: $100 Jets Hoodies – I tweeted about this when I was on my way out of the Stadium on Thursday, but where do the Jets get off trying to sell their fans $100 sweat shirts?! Are they aware of what kind of product they’re putting on the field? I guess they need to sell a few of these so they can afford to bring Jason Hill back for the 12th time this year.

SELL: Ellis Lankster – Ellis Lankster just continues to ruin my football Sundays, or in this case Thursday holidays. Sadly, most of my friends are Giants fans, and I swear most of them look forward to watching the Jets game more than the Giants game each week just so they can laugh at me and comment on things like Calvin Pace’s lack of speed, Mark Sanchez’s turnovers, Stephen Hill’s drops, etc., etc. 

But lately Ellis Lankster has become the biggest cause of jokes and pain. Most of the things they say are unsuitable for print, but I thought I was in the clear on Thanksgiving night, since I was at the game with other Jets fans and was far from their wrath. Nope. My phone received no less than 15 text messages, all laughing and taunting me about how incredibly awful Ellis Lankster is. The sad part is I can’t even defend it. Ellis Lankster is THE WORST. When I rated him 47th out of 53 on this team back in October, I was being generous. They should run a contest every week where they pick a random seat number and the winner gets to go down to the field and play nickel back for the Jets defense. I swear they couldn’t do any worse than Ellis Lankster.

BUY: Getting to play Ryan Lindley and Arizona’s Offensive Line – If the Jets defense doesn’t step up and have an absolute party on the field this week, then I give up. Arizona has the worst offensive line in the league, and the worst quarterback play in at least a decade that doesn’t involve the words Jamarcus or Russell. I expect a few turnovers and — I hope you’re sitting down — maybe even a sack!

SELL: Having to play the Arizona Defense – Sigh. The Cardinals have an excellent defense and it’s going to be really hard for the Jets to move the ball. It’s going to be completely up to the defense to score and put this offense in extremely positive situations if they’re gonna have any hope.

SELL: The Jets going on a run – Sadly, I think the Jets are going to win 3 or 4 games down the stretch, including this one, and finish probably 7-9. That will mean they don’t get a high draft pick, they might not fire Mike Tannenbaum, and we will have to deal with a lot of the same crap next year. Ahh..,the Jets. What a team!

From The Outside Looking In – Buffalo Fan On Fireman Ed

A Buffalo Bills fan gives his take on Fireman Ed stepping down

Every now and then, we like to publish an outside opinion. Today’s comes from Kevin Kelly of GET Broken Record, but more importantly of the Buffalo Bills fanbase. I was curious how somebody outside of the Jets fanbase, looked at the situation. So here it is – 

The New York Jets can learn a lot from the Buffalo Bills & the Cleveland Browns. Here’s why:

The Jets just lost their most notable fan. What’s worse, the Jets community approached this headline the same way they’ve approached every other lackluster, problem-laced gag moment of the 2012 season: Point fingers, blame someone else, then isolate the lone problem and get rid of it in attempts to bring about that Championship season everyone keeps talking about.

Take a step back. Know that it’s a true impossibility to see the forest through the trees. And stop wanting everything you want right now just because you want it right now.

Overwhelmingly, we’re New Yorkers (Jersey, Northeast, Tri-State, fine, whatever) and as a result– we want everything now. Not in five minutes. Right. Now.

We get upset when there’s a line for coffee in the morning. We curse under our breathe when we miss a train by a split second, we’ve been the bridge or hit traffic in the tunnel and thought about leaving the city for good. Forever. Starting right now. –we’ve nudged, bumped, screamed & been screamed at, pushed, pulled & prodded all in attempts to get us wherever we were going just a little bit faster. Because we’re in New York. And New York waits for no Man.

Even right now, as you’re reading these words, there’s a chance you’re probably thinking ‘Get to the point’ 

The only place in the world where people toss aside their loyalty with reckless abandon is New York City. Believe me, when the Jets are good again,  when there’s no more snow and the weather is fair, you’ll be right back to loving that team you ‘never doubted for a minute’ and ‘always knew would pull it out’, but for now–because they haven’t given you all that you’ve wanted and all you think you’re entitled to and deserve just because you watch them on Sundays, you’ve turned your back on your team. Textbook New York sports fan. Love ’em when they’re up. Hate ’em when they’re down.

Blame Woody Johnson, he brought Tebow along when we didn’t need him.

WHO WOULD’VE THOUGHT a business owner would make a move intended to generate revenue, merchandising & ticket sales.

Blame Rex Ryan, he talks way too much and won’t throw Sanchez under the army of buses Jets Nation has already rolled over him.

WHO WOULD’VE THOUGHT a Coach would stand behind his choice when the going got tougher than its ever been. A coach publicly supports his mentee (with half a season to go) and the witch-hunt warriors want both their heads. Think about morral, think about Belief. A belief in oneself is the first step in achieving greatnessAnd if it’s not, why is that phrase in so many self-help books on personal achievement (i.e. Napoleon Hill’s Think & Grow Rich, Deepak Shopra’s Seven Spiritual Laws of Success, Jack Canfield’s Success Principles, all New York Times Bestsellers) A Coach’s job is to motivate, he’s not on the field. It’s a Coach’s responsibility to get the most out of the players on the field, and I think Ryan acts the way he does with this mantra in mind, however convoluted it might seem behind the smokescreen of screams and rants and raves.

For Rex to walk that back, shatters a psyche.

If Rex denounces Sanchez, then the last shred of mental composure goes out the door. When an athlete questions their ability, when they start thinking and analyzing and wondering “what if” …bad things happen. In sports, they’re called the “Yips”

Think about a kicker that misses a field goal opportunity early on in the game?

How does everyone feel the next time he’s got to go kick another one?

Yip.

Anybody remember Chuck Knoblauch in the postseason?  Yip. Rick Ankiel? Yip.

The most famous was Greg Norman. Arguably one of the greatest golfers in the world in the early 90s, in the 1996 Masters Tournament, Norman took a 6-shot lead over Nick Faldo into Sunday. He shot a 78, blew the lead and lost the Masters. It’s considered by many the greatest choke of all time.  Afterward, Norman was asked: “What happened? What went wrong” His answer?

“I turned the computer on. And couldn’t turn it off.”

Simply put, he thought way too much. We process constantly. We worry, over-think, over-analyze, create dozens (or more) of the worst possible hypotheticals. It’s poison, and it cost Greg Norman the Green Jacket.

For Rex Ryan to denounce Sanchez, someone who has heard the “amost” and “what-if” and “has to happen now” and “TEBOW” nonsense all season, would be catastrophic, and would cue the beginning of the end for #6 in a Jets uniform.

You could blame the owner. You could blame management. You could blame the Coach. You could blame the coaching staff. You could blame the players themselves. And now Jets fans, you’ve turned your sites on the FANS.  It promptly cost you one Fireman.

The point, dear Reader, is that you’re a Championship town cheering for a non-Championship team.

It doesn’t mean it won’t happen, it just means it won’t happen now. Are you the only team making blockbuster moves worth tens of millions and still end up with a losing record? The Bills aren’t good this year (as with most), but they’re not crying for Mario Williams’ head on a stick.

Yes, it sucks to be considered a second-tier team by your coworkers because they’re Giants fans… but who cares- that’s not how the rest of the country sees it. The Jets are struggling. Be a JETS fan and route for your team.

The Bills lost 4 Super Bowls in a row. Marv Levy kept his job, Scott Norwood was embraced by the Bills faithful, not rejected. Jim Kelly could run for Mayor and win. There are talks the Bills are looking to leave Buffalo, and what happened? The city rallied around their team, Jim Kelly is looking to buy it outright with a group of investors. Kelly by the way can be found in the parking lot of Ralph Wilson stadium on Game Days wearing a hoodie and tailgating with fans.

The Cleveland Browns are terrible. They’ve been terrible for a while. They were so bad, Art Modell picked them up, left the city and planted them in Baltimore calling them ‘Ravens’. Cleveland didn’t have a team for a while. But the city wanted it. The fans wanted their team. Good, bad, ugly, the fans supported their team. They have a new team now and play at a new stadium, they’re still not that good but they’re getting better. The ticket prices are just as expensive as anywhere else and any other game, the jerseys cost the same amount, the beer is expensive, the investment in time and attention among fans is identical anywhere else in the country (on average) than it is in New York but they don’t approach the field with the brashly arrogant New York attitude of “I just bought this ticket so win now or go to hell cuz YOU owe me!”.  Instead, they go out and support their team.

There is a reality oblivious to New York sports fans:  Fans, and the teams they cheer for, are really in this together. We’re happy when we win. We’re not happy when we lose. But we don’t abandon ship. The waters have been muddied with free agency but the colors on the uniform and what that stands for hasn’t gone anywhere. There is an unspoken sense of pride & community when you see someone outside of the sports arena with Jets apparel on, or find out they’re a fan in passing conversation. They are immediately closer to you. It’s a brotherhood.

Attacking itself from within is a cancer. United we stand. Divided we fall.  I’ll forgo the Gettysburg Address, but you get the point.

Players, coaches & executive personnel come and go. The undeniable constant that ties us all together is that the name on the front of the jersey is, has and will always be more important than the name on the back. Don’t ever forget that.

New York Jets – How To Handle Offense In Final Five Games

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?