Battle Of New York: Jets Rushing Offense vs. Giants Rushing Defense

A breakdown of the Jets rushing attack versus the Giants rushing defense, with commentary from TJ Rosenthal, Kristine Reese, and Rob Celletti

Part one of our series breaking down the Christmas Eve match-up between the New York Jets and New York Giants, looks at the Jets rushing attack versus the Giants rushing defense, with featured commentary from TJ Rosenthal, Kristine Reese, Rob Celletti, and yours truly —

New York Jets Rushing Yards Per Game – 104.1 (21st in NFL)

New York Giants Rushing Yards Allowed Per Game – 127.6 (22nd in NFL)

TJ Rosenthal: The Giants are 22nd in the NFL against the run at 127.6 per game. Big Blue’s current LB’s are not of the Lawrence Taylor and Carl Banks mold. The Jets though, went away from this similar advantage in Philadelphia and wound up out of the game by halftime down 28-3. The matchup between these units gives the Jets room to maneuver, but how committed the Jets will be to the ground attack this time around, is the bigger question.

Kristine Reese: The traditionally stout Giants run defense has faltered a bit this season and opponents are averaging 127.6 yards per game against them on 4.5 yards per carry. They are currently ranked 22nd after ranking in the top 10 last season (hmm that sounds familiar).

When the Jets offense isn’t playing from behind and forced to throw, they have run the ball well. One thing we know for sure is that it they will continue to try to run and the ball, so long as Greene and Tomlinson are both healthy. Ground and Pound is paramount to the entire offensive plan as they look to balance the attack, control the clock, keep Eli off the field, take pressure off Sanchez and relieve the offensive line from constant pass protection. (And yes, I realize that is a long list).

The Giants rush defense has mostly suffered from inconsistency, so there is no telling what effort the running game might face come Saturday. The Giants weakness is so clearly their secondary -they likely know it – and they may do their best to force the ball into Sanchez hands. Regardless, the running effort has to stay consistent.

Rob Celletti: For all of the hemming and hawing about the play of Mark Sanchez, the Jets’ offense has struggled in an area that it hasn’t in Rex Ryan’s previous two seasons: running the football.  Shonn Greene has only recently shown signs that he can be the lead back in a NFL offense, and he does usually improve as the weather turns cold.  But there has been very little consistency for the Jets on the ground this season. Injuries and a lack of depth have also hurt Gang Green.The Giants are difficult to read when it comes to stopping the run. Despite major injuries to the front seven, they still have a seemingly countless number of playmakers. However, it is a defensive line that’s built to rush the passer with speed, and the Jets should be able to exploit that by running between the tackles.

With the exception of last Sunday’s debacle in Philadelphia, the Jets’ ground game has been steadily improving through the second half of the season, with impressive performances against formidable defensive units in Washington and Kansas City. As long as the Jets’ defense doesn’t let the game get out of hand early, I’d expect a heavy workload for Greene.  And don’t sleep on Mark Sanchez when the Jets are in the red zone: he has 5 rushing touchdowns of his own.

Joe Caporoso: I have been critical of the New York Jets linebackers all season, but if you want to see a linebacker group that is truly struggling look the at the New York Giants and their collection of castoffs at linebacker. We know their defensive line can get after the quarterback but stopping the run isn’t their area of expertise. Basically what I am saying is the opportunity is there for the Jets to run the football if they commit to it. Outside of the last week’s hiccup (okay it was a big hiccup) Shonn Greene and the running game have been surging. The Jets are at their best when their running backs combine for 25-35 carries and I expect that to be the case on Saturday.

Jets vs. Giants: The Survival Bowl

TJ takes a closer look at two teams battling for survival in December

When you’re fighting for a divisional title at 7-7, there is nothing to brag about. When you’re a 8-6 club hanging onto a wildcard berth by a thread after guaranteeing Super Bowl appearances, there is no need for boasting either. The Jets host the Giants Saturday in a stadium both call home, but the only real award awaiting the winner may be life beyond the final week of the regular season.

The Jets have been second class citizens throughout their fifty year history, albeit aside from Joe Namath’s miracle and a few Bill Parcells years sprinkled in. This until Rex Ryan came to town. Loud and brash and proclaiming a take over.

Over his first two seasons, the Jets HAVE arguably been better. Just ask Rex if you need proof. He’ll tell you that it is true, due to the club’s exciting and improbable late season road runs to the AFC Championship Game. This as the Giants slipped from their 2007 Super Bowl champion pedestal.

Gang Green’s newfound perch as one of the best in the AFC, a date with HBO Hard Knocks, and a plethora of nationally televised night games, came with even more public reminders from their coach that New York was now a Jets town. Ryan’s constant bravado and comments aimed at Big Blue, has inflamed the emotions of alot of Giants fans. Many of whom now consider the Jets an enemy on par with the hated Eagles and Cowboys.

The heat was turned up even more this past summer when volatile Giants RB Brandon Jacobs and Jets rookie Muhammad Wilkerson got tossed for fighting during a preseason game. A scrum that was symbolic of two teams who were truly battling for turf.

Both teams and fan bases have had the Christmas Eve day match-up circled on their calendar since the 2011 NFL schedule was made available.. Many feeling that proof as to who owned New York would finally be settled on the field. Not in the press, or some fictitious game played by backups during the second half.

Only days ago, this match-up had different implications. The Giants had come off of a huge comeback win over Dallas. The Jets were riding a three game win streak that propelled them from also rans to owners of the sixth wild-card spot.

After two putrid losses by both on Sunday though, the landscape has changed. No longer is this battle about which team can gain serious steam towards the playoffs. Now the “Jets vs Giants” is about who can fight to see another day.

A Giants loss coupled with a Cowboys win on Saturday against the Eagles, will send Big Blue home. A Jets loss won’t eliminate them, but it may damage them severely. A win is key but guarantees nothing either. Such is the fate for a team that relinquished total control after getting steamrolled in “The City of Brotherly Love” last Sunday.

This week, the fans, the media and the players on both teams will build this game into seismic proportions. Ryan wasted no time doing his share on Monday, with proclamations that the Jets are better. His chatter may be a ploy to kick some swagger back into a team that plays less fierce when it acts cordially during the week.

This match-up is in part, about being the king of New York, Ryan and the Jets winning the prize of “being better” without a ticket to the big dance though, will not be enough for a team whose not so secret goal was making a push for Indy in February. The sight of the upcoming Super Bowl.

Talk aside, “Jets vs Giants” is about survival. Of keeping the true goal of making the playoffs for a shot at the Vince Lombardi Trophy, alive. Right now, both New York football teams are in each other’s way in terms of reaching that goal.  THAT’s what makes this latest round in the gridiron “Battle for New York” so crucial. No matter how much Ryan has ranted about the Jets overtaking the Giants since he first got here.

Your Weekly Mark Sanchez Defense

Another reality check on Mark Sanchez’s progress

We will keep this short and simple for those who believe Mark Sanchez has “regressed” in year three and think the New York Jets need to consider a different option at quarterback next year.

Completion Percentage

  • 2009 – 53.8%
  • 2010 – 54.8%
  • 2011 – 56.9 %

Touchdown Passes

  • 2009 – 12
  • 2010 – 17
  • 2011 – 23

Touchdown Runs

  • 2009 – 3
  • 2010 – 3
  • 2011 – 5

Fumbles

  • 2009 – 10
  • 2010 – 9
  • 2011 – 9

Passing Yards

  • 2009 – 2,444
  • 2010 – 3,291
  • 2011 – 3,009

Interceptions

  • 2009 – 20
  • 2010 – 13
  • 2011 – 13

Keep in mind Sanchez has had an offensive line that has got progressively worse since his rookie year, had his top three receivers shuffled every season, and is dealing with questionable play-calling at best…

NFL Playoff Picture: Do or Die Time

TOJ with a closer look at the NFL playoff picture, where week 16 could make or break a number of teams

It is amazing how many teams remain relevant in the playoff race in both conferences, with 11 of the 16 teams in each the AFC and NFC still having a realistic shot of making the post-season. This weekend should end hopes for many of those teams, so it will be interesting to see who rises to the occasion in a big spot and who falls off as a contender.

AFC

  1. New England (11-3)
  2. Baltimore (10-4)
  3. Houston (10-4)
  4. Denver (8-6)
  5. Pittsburgh (10-4)
  6. Jets (8-6)
  7. Cincinnati (8-6)
  8. Tennessee (7-7)
  9. Oakland (7-7)
  10. San Diego (7-7)
  11. Kansas City (6-8)

With games left against Miami and Buffalo, New England has all but wrapped up home-field throughout the playoffs. Pittsburgh ends the season with the Rams and Browns, which will keep pressure on Baltimore to win their last two to clinch the AFC North title and the second seed. Houston had a tough loss last week and unless the Ravens slip up will end up being the three seed. All four teams remain alive in the AFC West and at this point I think San Diego might be the most dangerous one if they get into the tournament. The battle for the number six seed will likely come down to the Jets and Bengals, both of whom face 7-7 NFC teams this weekend, with the Jets hosting the Giants and the Bengals hosting the surging Cardinals.

NFC

  1. Green Bay (13-1)
  2. San Francisco (11-3)
  3. New Orleans (11-3)
  4. Dallas (8-6)
  5. Atlanta (9-5)
  6. Detroit (9-5)
  7. Seattle (7-7)
  8. Chicago (7-7)
  9. Giants (7-7)
  10. Arizona (7-7)
  11. Philadelphia (6-8)

Green Bay is still safe as the number one seed, while the number two remains a toss up. Both New Orleans and San Francisco have tough games this week, against the Seahawks and Falcons respectively. The NFC East is wide open and it is crazy to think that Philadelphia still has a somewhat realistic shot to sneak into the playoffs as a division winner. Atlanta and Detroit only need to win one more game each to clinch a playoff spot but the Lions have San Diego and Green Bay the next two weeks. If they lose out, it could open the door for a team like Seattle or Arizona to somehow sneak in.

Rex Ryan Stirring The Pot Early For Jets/Giants

Rex Ryan is doing what he does best when it comes to the media

Is anybody in their right mind actually surprised by these comments from Rex Ryan, pertaining to the Jets/Giants upcoming match-up?

Sure there’s a lot of talk back and forth, most of it driven by me. But you know what, I’ll stand by everything I’ve ever said. I didn’t come here to be anybody’s little brother. I came here to win…. And to take over not just this city, even though it’s the city to take over, but also this league. I haven’t accomplished that yet. Saturday, I think, will go a long way (toward) doing that. We have to win this game. We have to get into the playoffs.”

Certainly we were the best team the last two years. We made the playoffs… To say a team is better than you that never made the playoffs is ridiculous. Clearly we were the better team my first two years here. We get to prove it on Saturday who the best team is this year. Quite honestly, both of us are having disappointing years…. Whoever (wins) this game is clearly the best team in New York”

“I never came here to be little brother to anyone. So, it’s on….. There’s no way I’m going to be second fiddle. If we were playing the NY Yankees, I don’t want to be second fiddle to them.”

This is Rex Ryan and this is what he does. His consistent strategy with the media is to take the focus off his players and put it on himself and his comments. His team was embarrassed on the field yesterday, most notably Santonio Holmes, Wayne Hunter, and the entire defense. Ryan has quickly shifted the discourse to his comments about the Giants and his ongoing bluster despite his team’s loss.

Say what you want, but recent history doesn’t lie. The Jets play better when Rex Ryan is running his mouth and this team is embracing their true personality. I don’t expect the trash talk to slow at all, as the Giants have already responded and Rex has too much more time in front of the press not to say anything else inflammatory.

Why Should You Have Confidence In The New York Jets?

Why in the world should anybody have confidence in the New York Jets at this point?

It would be easy to find the prospect of the New York Jets winning another football game this year or a playoff game down the road laughable after watching them play yesterday. It would be laughable only if you haven’t watched the NFL this year or in recent years.

People will say the New York Jets haven’t beat a good football team all season and that their two three game winning streaks this year were a result of a low level of competition. Only that “awful” Washington team they beat by two touchdowns just manhandled the New York Giants for the second time this season. The “terrible” Kansas City Chiefs team just ended the Green Bay Packers quest for perfection. The “pathetic” San Diego Chargers just destroyed the Baltimore Ravens and have now won three games in a row. Any win the NFL, particularly this year, is a quality win and the Jets have eight of them.

The prospect of it “not being worth” the Jets even making playoffs because they won’t be able to beat anybody when they get there couldn’t make any less sense. Did anybody watch the Jets beat a 14-2 New England Patriots team last January, who beat them 45-3 a couple of months before that game? Did anybody see the Seattle Seahawks knock off the New Orleans Saints last January?

Who in the AFC is so unbeatable that the Jets can’t make noise in the tournament? Houston, who’d they play in the first round if the season ended today is starting a rookie fifth round quarterback and lost to Carolina yesterday. Baltimore is fresh off getting blown out by the Chargers. New England…anything goes in a rivalry game. Pittsburgh has looked far from unbeatable all season and is dealing with a banged up Ben Roethlisberger. The AFC is wide open.

The Jets aren’t a great a football team. They might not even be a good football team. They are a slight cut above average at 8-6. Yet, they were thoroughly average at 7-7 before they beat two teams who basically laid down for them to enter the 2009 playoffs where they pulled off two straight road wins. Last year, their 9-2 record turned into a 11-5 final record as the Jets were very average down the stretch.

If you think back, it made no sense to think the Jets could get within a half of the Super Bowl the past two years but they did. There is never ending cycle of things that make no sense which occur in the NFL and that was on perfect display yesterday.

All that matters right now is beating the New York Giants, another average football team in a league full of them, the Jets have done it eight times already this season and there is no reason they can’t do it again on Saturday.

Blame The Horse That Kicked You: Looking At The NFL’s Worst Teams

Justin takes a look at the NFL’s worst teams and how they can make some type of improvement next year

“What can be asserted without proof can be dismissed without proof.”
― Christopher Hitchens

Everyone likes to watch the Colts suffer. After years of stomping out the AFC South, the Colts are showing the inherent weakness of putting an almost inhuman load on the franchise quarterback. Save for an aging Freeney and Mathis, the Colts have become a hopeless one sided team that can’t even rip off a few wins in a 16 game season.

Next year, a few things are readily apparent. Kerry Collins and Curtis Painter will be gone, Reggie Wayne is probably going to get traded for a draft pick or a younger, bigger target for what many can only assume is going to be Andrew Luck. Here is where the confusion begins. What if the Colts don’t drop Manning and trade the first pick for 2 first rounders and 2 second rounders? They can easily get two receivers and two defensive backs, but do they want to build a team or create a show? The NBA knows a lot about shows and the season hasn’t even started yet. The Thunder are a team. The Knicks are a show.

Before getting into the intangible insanity that is the Colts franchise, let’s squash a few glaring weaknesses with logic and sympathy for the devil. The offensive line, where the Colts drafted both a first and second round pick, can only do so much after being used to having a guy behind center do all the hard work for them. Changing protections etc. Two rookie lineman without Peyton Manning spells disaster for anyone not in the shotgun. Two rookie defensive backs (5th and 6th round respectively) aren’t enough to ail a defense completely out of their element.

If Peyton does come back, look for 4 down lineman and a linebacker blitz early and often. As of right now, the Colts have Drake Nevis (3rd round pick out of LSU) out on IR, a 1st round pick in Jamaal Anderson, a 1st round pick in Tyler Brayton, and a 1st round pick in Jerry Hughes all between Freeney and Mathis. This unit should be equal to the Giants in terms of pure pass rush, but when you have no linebackers of any value, and an almost laughable secondary, things backfire easily. Lineman don’t cause turnovers.

There are others. Dallas Clark could be gone. Joseph Addai could be gone. It could be a complete overhaul, take no prisoners, house clearing sort of stuff. That hideous factory of a stadium will glow red with anger. Luck could very well be steering a ship lost at sea. Coordinators fired. Assistants gone. There is nothing to show that this team even cares, so why not clear house and get some people on the cheap if Manning is going to be gone anyway?

The line on the draft as of now is that the Colts are going to take Luck, an offensive lineman, and most likely another cornerback. Will it help? Sure. But there’s going to be trouble getting free agents if they aren’t sure of the plan. Veterans will ride with Peyton, young players will want to jump on board with Luck. The Colts can go stay in the present or bet on the future, but they can’t do both.

The Rams are an ugly franchise. Sure the uniforms aren’t Colonel Mustard yellow anymore, but nothing looks sadder than Sam Bradford chucking a few straight into the ground while hobbling around like a 70 year old one legged sailor. Their 4th round receiver is out on IR, McDaniels is running the same sort of fruitless, clever pass happy offense that got him booted out of Denver, and he very well could become a head coach next year. Sensing a theme yet? Bad teams don’t have a defined method of winning. Patriots pass. Ravens run. Texans run and play action. The Rams should run. Problem is they have a weak offensive line, and almost all mock drafts have them picking Matt Kalil out of USC as the 2nd overall draft pick. Their secondary is paper thin and a guy like Jayron Hosley could at least give them a dual threat corner/kick returner that could help the struggling offense. The defensive line is too reliant on Chris Long and they need a big free agent linebacker pickup or grab someone high in the 3rd round.

Cadillac Willians is a stop gap solution so they could use a running back to lighten the load of Steven Jackson. With that said, here comes the trump card. If the Rams want to create a show, they will grab Justin Blackmon and make a top 10 receiving core with one draft pick. 29 year old Mark Clayton is a first round pick. Pettis and Salas are 3rd and 4th round rookies respectively. Brandon Lloyd at 30 is the veteran, and Blackmon would be the intermediate threat in his rookie year. It would be the welcome return of the spread no huddle, and at least they would put up more than 11.8 points a game. Again, show or team.

Overall, the Rams are a good draft away from being a contender in the NFC West, which could easily become the 49ers for the next five years if the Rams don’t take some risks in the draft.
In a past article, I wrote about the syndrome of bringing in a veteran quarterback and holding off the need to get a future franchise quarterback. For every year you rely on that, two years will be washed down the tank. 2 years of Favre? 4 years of irrelevancy. The Vikings are currently in the midst of irrelevancy. Depending on the final shakeout, the Vikings and Rams could exchange second and third picks. They need offensive line help, as Steve Hutchinson is 34 and his best years are behind him. They could also use Blackmon to help out Percy Harvin and Michael Jenkins in 3 receiver sets.

What the Vikings should really do is trade that pick and get some help at linebacker, cornerback and running back. Will they? If they want Adrian Peterson to be happy they will. Is Ponder the future? Will Joe Webb sub in at the wildcat on a regular basis? Let’s say they are. The Vikings have a few options. Take Blackmon, Brandon Thompson at defensive tackle, and grab an offensive lineman in the third round. The more conservative approach would be to get Matt Kalil in the first round, find the best defensive lineman available in the second round, and grab a guy like Nick Toon in the third round.

Some would say most efforts are futile in a division with the Lions, Bears and Packers. As we saw this year however, all teams can lose or gain three games from the last year.

The Buccaneers are not good. They aren’t even competent half the time. They have no one even worth mentioning at receiver, their defensive line should be the best in the league (McCoy and McCargo are both on IR), and their defensive backs should keep games close. They don’t. I want to give hope to Buccaneers fans and give them a few points worth mentioning next time someone rips their team, but they probably won’t help. Freeman is not the next great quarterback. Neither is anyone else from that draft class, but Freeman played at Kansas State, not Kansas City.

Unfortunately most mock drafts have them taking linebackers or defensive backs in the first two rounds. Look for a 4th or 5th round receiver and hopefully a free agent pickup next year from teams like the Giants or the Eagles. They need to get their defensive line sorted out in next year’s training camp as the ages of their lineman are 28, 23, 21, 23, and 30 respectively. The Bucs are the shining example of why rookies don’t start on defense.

From here on out it gets weird across the board. Nobody knows about the Jets, Giants, Eagles, Bears, Texans, Raiders, Chargers, etc. etc. Everyone is falling apart at the seams as the Patriots and Packers seem to be the head of their respective conferences. Teams are hurt, coaches have been fired, and the lame beginning of the bowl season gives me a thousand reasons to hate the BCS and lobby for a college playoff. Good luck San Francisco.

Santonio Holmes: Captain In Name Only

Santonio Holmes has been a captain in name only this season for the New York Jets

This isn’t the first time this season I have taken the time to criticize Santonio Holmes captaincy of the New York Jets. Similar to his early season antics of publicly criticizing teammates, Holmes made Rex Ryan look foolish again yesterday for putting a “C” on his chest.

Fumbles happen. Dropped passes happen. Great players make mistakes. What can’t happen is unsportsmanlike penalties from excessive celebration when you are losing 28-3 and score a touchdown. This is common sense. It is clear Holmes had a pre-mediated routine that he had in his mind all week and wasn’t going to let the scoreboard stop him. Outside of the penalty, doesn’t Holmes have a sense of how ridiculous he looks?

The answer sadly, is probably not. This is a player who does extended celebrations for 7 yard catches that go for a first down, even if his team is losing by 2 or 3 touchdowns. There is nothing else to say, except he needs to grow up.

I have no problem with playing emotionally and or players having fun on the field. I love the Flight Boys celebration. Yet, do it when you scored a go-ahead or game winning touchdown. Common sense.

I don’t get the vibe that Holmes is a bad guy, who isn’t liked around the team. He is a gamer, clutch, works hard, and plays with passion which his teammates have to respect. Yet, he remains prone to these foolish bouts of immaturity that make it look insane that he has a “C” on his chest.

You can’t ignore the playmaker Holmes has been since he arrived. Considering his skill on the field, I would bank on a big day for him this Saturday against a subpar Giants secondary. Fans have every right to be frustrated with him today but those same fans will be gushing about “Tone Time” if he grabs a pair of touchdowns this week.

Holmes hasn’t grown into a being a team leader yet, maybe he will in time…maybe he won’t. Right now all that matters is that he learned some kind of humility lesson on Sunday and won’t get anymore penalties this season and will also be motivated by how stupid he looked on the field and respond with a big time performance.

On To The Next One: Everything On The Line In Jets/Giants Game

You couldn’t have written a better script for this week’s Jets/Giants game

We didn’t learn anything we didn’t already know from the New York Jets loss today. Their right tackle is terrible. Their safeties can’t cover. Their playcalling is inconsistent. Their star players are inconsistent. It was disappointing to see Rex Ryan fail so miserably in coaching around his team’s deficiencies today, especially when he has excelled at it in the past.

Don’t we think it is time to maybe line up Antonio Cromartie or Darrelle Revis at safety or over the tight ends on certain passing downs? Isn’t that better than the status quo? Shouldn’t Wayne Hunter never be left one on one with elite pass rushers? Where is the help from the running back or tight end? But, I digress…

In the end there is a game with the New York Giants only six days away. The team we share the stadium with, who is every bit as average and inconsistent as the New York Jets are. In a script that couldn’t have been written any better for every football fan in the tri-state area, this game sets up as an elimination game. A one game playoff, with both teams hopes for the post-season hanging in the balance. A scenario that will make a win as enjoyable as any regular season one in recent Jets history and a loss as painful as any.

Both the Jets and Giants are fairly average and inconsistent football teams. The Giants secondary and linebackers are having awful seasons. They can’t run the football anymore and their special teams are still questionable. The Jets safeties and linebackers are having awful seasons. They can’t throw the football with any consistency and turn the football over like crazy. Yet, the Giants passing game is one of the most dangerous in the NFL and they still have a lethal pass rush. The Jets still have an ability to run the football, a terrific trio of corners, and a consistent ability to win close games.

It will be an angry, emotional game. The trash talk will be flying and technically has already been started by Rex Ryan before the season. This game is filled with plenty of big talkers who haven’t backed it up so far this year: Ryan, Antrel Rolle, Bart Scott, Brandon Jacobs…the list goes on. It will be fun on Saturday, and it can’t get here fast enough…