New York Jets – 25 Problems And Yes Quarterback Is 1

25 problems the New York Jets have, including the quarterback position

We are going to skip over handing out a report card full of “Fs” today and instead run down all the current problems we see with the New York Jets, yes including the quarterback position. These aren’t listed in any particular order since there are so many –

1. Quarterback – Many people think my defense of Mark Sanchez means I think he is a great or even a very good quarterback. I do not. Sanchez is a serviceable quarterback who you can win with in the NFL if he is surrounded with the proper supporting cast. The Jets have done an awful job developing him and supporting him and are now paying the price. Does anybody else think 3 years from now we’ll be watching Sanchez thrive on another team? If you don’t, you haven’t been a Jets fan long enough.

2. Backup Quarterback – The problem with having a circus at backup quarterback instead of a quarterback who can run your offensive system is that it creates hesitancy to pull an ineffective starter. If the Jets had Jason Campbell as their backup, Sanchez is likely pulled at halftime of the San Francisco game and halftime of yesterday’s game. There’d also be a good chance he’d be the starter coming out of the bye week. Unfortunately, you have a coaching staff who has zero faith in their backup quarterback to run their offense and Rex Ryan knowing if he puts Tebow in on now he might get stuck with him next year at quarterback at the behest of owner Woody Johnson who brought him here in the first place.

3. Rex Ryan – Rex hasn’t had the pulse on this team since the beginning of last season. He allowed the locker room to become divisive and his team has shown up under-prepared and unready to play too frequently. Rex is supposed to be an elite defensive coach and he currently leads one of the league’s worst defenses.

4. Mike Tannenabaum – Can’t really fit all his mistakes into a paragraph and we have been ripping him apart over the past year here enough. He has done a poor job drafting, scouting and in free agency. His team is woefully understaffed on both sides of the ball. He is a numbers/salary cap guy, not a football guy.

5. Woody Johnson – He forced his front office to make Tim Tebow the backup quarterback when they wanted Drew Stanton for the job and seems to be tone deaf in his media appearances about the team.

6. Matt Slauson – Through 8 games hasn’t played like a capable NFL starting guard. He gets pushed around in the running game and isn’t a consistent pass protector. It actually makes sense to give Vladimir Ducasse his job at this point and that says enough about the Jets current guard situation.

7. Austin Howard – Remember the feel good celebrations when he replaced Wayne Hunter? Well according to our trusted friends at Pro Football Focus, Hunter has outplayed him this year. Howard isn’t a capable NFL starting tackle.

8. Brandon Moore – His level of play has continued to slip. Moore cannot consistently protect the quarterback and hasn’t been the same since a hip injury a couple of years ago.

9. Shonn Greene – Not good enough to be the only running back on a run heavy team because of his inability to break big plays and lack of range in the passing game.

10. Stephen Hill – Plenty of long term potential but the Jets put too much on his plate for this season by not pairing him with a proven, low maintenance veteran in the off-season to learn from.

11. Tony Sparano – Has he really been any better than Brian Schottenheimer? The offense seems unorganized and can’t find a rhythm. Does he realize the Jets are playing 10 on 11 when they line up Tebow at wide receiver?

12. Bryan Thomas – Can’t be starting player in the NFL anymore. Can’t rush the quarterback.

13. Calvin Pace – Can’t be starting player in the NFL anymore. Can’t rush the quarterback.

14. Bart Scott – Can’t be starting player in the NFL anymore. Seems to have been replaced, finally.

15. David Harris – Not playing like the Pro-Bowler he is paid to be. Actually has been thoroughly mediocre this season.

16. Muhamamd Wilkerson – He has been good against the run but is he the All-Pro player we heard he’d be all pre-season? Not even close. 1 sack through 8 games.

17. Quinton Coples – 2 sacks and 22 tackles through 8 games. Chandler Jones had 6 sacks, 18 tackles and 3 forced fumbles. Bruce Irvin has 4.5 sacks and 1 forced fumble.

18. Kyle Wilson – Routinely beat down the field. He doesn’t play to the level of a first round pick and probably couldn’t start on most other teams in the NFL.

19, Ellis Lankster/Garrett McIntyre/Eric Smith – Role players who aren’t good enough to be role players.

20. Darrelle Revis – Lost the best cornerback in football to a ACL injury. He has a tricky contract situation approaching that is scary to think about Mike Tannenabum handling.

21. Santonio Holmes – A proven threat but hadn’t been a productive player for over a full season before suffering a serious season ending foot injury.

22. Sione Pouha – Hasn’t been himself all season because of a back injury.

23. Kenrick Ellis – Was proving to be a more than adequate replacement for Pouha but is now hurt himself.

24. Clyde Gates – Is playing major reps on this team and is celebrating first downs in the 4th quarter while his team is down 24 points.

25. Matt Cavanaugh – Not sure where he has ever found success in the NFL as a coach and still remains the Jets quarterback coach.

Feel free to add on to the list in the comments section…

No Huddle – New York Jets Disaster Edition

TJ Rosenthal goes No Huddle on the New York Jets disastrous showing yesterday

What an embarrassment. The Jets faced Miami with a chance to go 3-1 in the AFC East and head into the bye week at 4-4, having overcome major injuries in the process. In position to fight for a playoff road they battled so hard the past month to stay on a path towards. Instead, they honored the ultimate brave Jet Dennis Byrd, on the day of his jersey retirement ceremony, with a “Same Old Jets” performance. It was so ugly from top to bottom.

1 – The Jets Are Leaderless

The Jets entered an essential must win situation at home against a beatable team and didn’t show up. Period. They exit this putrid 30-9 loss with the undeniable truth that there are no leaders on this team. Not one player. Not one coach. The 3-5 Jets are now an unmanned drone, with no direction, and little ammunition to drop over any targeted destination.

Just when you thought that leadership could emerge out of Antonio Cromartie, he foolishly dislocates a finger on the first drive while getting a penalty for talking smack with Reggie Bush. Just when you thought that Rex Ryan had a feel for his team this year, he notes afterwards that his team practiced well leading up to Sunday. Which was why the brutal showing  came as a shock to him.

Just when you believed Mark Sanchez, the only Jet with the ball in his hands making him capable of masking Jet deficiencies, was ready to take that step as a player others could follow, he becomes part of the problem again. High throws. Late throws. Turnovers. Poor body language. The Jets are leaderless. With the potential to do even more damage to themselves after the break, as Seattle’s 12th man awaits. Poised to ruin a Jet offense that can’t even stay organized at home.

Sundays’ untimely home disaster leaves the Jets on the brink of their own Hurricane Sandy: A perfect storm that may soon blow the doors off of a team no longer able to rally around the theme of damage control.

2 – Smack Talk, Hangovers, Dumpings, And Tebow Time

The Jets didn’t prepare for this huge contest quietly. The Rex and Woody Jets rarely do. This week however, the noise may have contributed to why the Jets best laid plans blew up in their face.

A – Smack Talk over The Reggie Bush saga – Ryan wanted a public apology from the Fish star RB over his Revis “karma” comments weeks back, but the request led instead to smack talk from Laron Landry and Aaron Maybin. This was followed by Dolphin C Mike Pouncey firing back and showing us how fired up the chatter was making Miami. How dumb. Stay quiet. Don’t fire up a team that is starting to believe in themselves. Way to not learn from the Giants disaster last Xmas fellas.

B – The Patriot Hangover – The Jets under Ryan always lay an egg after losing an emotionally hard fought battle with the Patriots. That’s why we aren’t surprised one bit about Sunday. What we don’t understand is how the Jets continue to put so much emotion into the outcome of two games a year, knowing that 9-10 wins usually equals a playoff spot, regardless of what happens against the Pats.

C – Eva and Mark

Eva Longoria broke up with Mark Sanchez this week. No relationship should affect a pro athlete on the playing field, but how do we know that this one didn’t throw 6 off somehow. The QB is the sensitive type so we wouldn’t be shocked if this situation played a small part in his being inaccurate and off timed on so many pass attempts.

D – Tebow Time Takes Time Away From The Jets

The Tim Tebow trade deadline talk, and  controversy over how to use him more, were topics the coaches had to respond to way too often this past week. Who spends more time: opposing coaches prepping for Tebow, or Jets coaches justifying the acquisition of  Tebow to the media?

3 – Knock Out The Starter And Get Torched By The Backup: Vintage Jet Style

Remember the early 90’s Jets who knocked out fleet footed Eagles star QB Randall Cunningham while up 21-0, only to get beat by backup Bubby Brister? Then maybe YOU were one of those long time diehards secretly excited that Dolphins starter Ryan Tannehill was dinged up just enough to force backup Matt Moore into action from the get go.

What a shame it then was to watch Moore better in sync with his receivers than the Jets STARTING QB was with his. Sometimes it seems that it’s only the Jets who make household names out of clipboard carriers.

Moore didn’t exactly light up Met Life stadium with huge numbers or even need to engineer a comeback. The Dolphins were prepared right from the kickoff. Yet he made big throws on third downs, and deep completions demonstrating how in control at least one QB was yesterday. Even though you wanted to believe that the Jets “elite” defense would be able to rattle a backup with the season on the line.

4 – Sanchez or Tebow?

Its bye week time. Expect the Jets QB debate to dominate the papers. Here’s our take.

Mark Sanchez has not shown that he cant be counted on week in week out to elevate himself into being the difference, for a depleted Jets roster run by a coaching staff that lacks clarity. Losses should not be pinned all on him, but since 6 is the only one who has the ball half the game, we can understand any curiosity at this point about what Tim Tebow could add from an inspirational standpoint. We have some newfound wonder on the subject now ourselves.

Tebow lacks accuracy and consistency throwing the ball but you know what? So does Mark Sanchez too much of the time. Tebow has been known to raise an entire team’s play, even if his own performances are pedestrian statistically.

The Jets need a leader. They already have an inaccurate passer. At this point we are open to anything and  as always, nothing would surprise us.

Final note: The tempo of the offense was so poor yesterday, we wonder what the Hets practice during the week. They clearly don’t work on the screen game. Passes are tipped constantly and spacing is awful when they try. The route timing between QB and receiver on basic patterns is too shaky too often as well. To not be able to play faster down a handful of scores in week 8 on top of it all?

Unacceptable.

Initial Reaction – New York Jets Redefine Awful

The New York Jets reached another level of awful today against the Miami Dolphins

Where do you even start after something like that? The New York Jets were awful in every facet of the game today. They were out-coached and out-classed by a division rival in a hugely important game in their own building. To not even be competitive on a day like today is a damning indictment on Rex Ryan and his coaching staff.

Rex didn’t have his team prepared to play. Tony Sparano, his hand picked offensive coordinator, doesn’t have his unit together yet. They are sloppy and cannot consistently establish any type of rhythm. There were too many questionable play calls to even begin singling them out. Every time the Jets line up Tim Tebow at wide receiver, they are playing 10 on 11 and it still continues to happen. You want to shower praise on Mike Westhoff when the Jets special teams shows up? Blame him when they were an absolute disaster like they were today. A blocked punt. A blocked field goal. Allowing an onside kick recovery and a huge kick return…all in the same game? Embarrassing.

Mark Sanchez didn’t play well today. He had two brutal turnovers that were the fault of his and nobody else. On the whole, it was another inconsistent performance that will lead to two weeks of endless Tim Tebow speculation. He didn’t receive any help from his supporting cast. The offensive line had poor protection. There was no running game in the first half. Stephen Hill dropped another touchdown pass.

You can scream TEBOW as loud as you want. He isn’t the answer because he isn’t a better quarterback than Sanchez. Yes, the Jets should use him in some way, like a needed supplement to the rushing game. As a full time quarterback? You aren’t winning with the option every down in the 2012 NFL or moving forward. Spare me the citations from last year, Tebow went 8-8 in the worst division in football with a borderline elite defense and special teams. The Jets have neither.

Sanchez is a problem among many problems, that starts with a owner who forced a Tebow transaction on to his front office to sell tickets, then moves to a general manager who has been mediocre the past two years and to a head coach who hasn’t been able to find the pulse of his team the past year. It trickles down to a so far subpar offensive coordinator, an offensive line with holes, a running game that lacks explosion and a defense with zero pass rush or big play ability. The Jets are 3-5 through half of their season. Look at their roster right now and tell me they deserve to have a better record.

Turn On The Jets Roundtable Week 8 – Jets vs. Dolphins Predictions

The Turn On The Jets staff with their predictions for Jets vs. Dolphins this Sunday

Hot Sauce for everybody! 

Joe Caporoso12 Pack

Chris Gross – Jets 24, Dolphins 10 – Contrary to popular belief, the Jets have been playing some of the most consistent football that they have in about a year over the course of the past three games. The defense is beginning to get back form, despite lacking their best player, as well as an extremely inconsistent pass rush. Offensively, we are beginning to see a cohesion develop amongst the players that we have not seen in years past. Youngsters like Jeremy Kerley have stepped up to become significant players in this offense, while veterans like Dustin Keller have come back to instill strong play and leadership. Over the past two games, Shonn Greene seems to have found whatever it is he may have been missing in the first few weeks of the season, while Joe McKnight has put any questions about his toughness and commitment level to rest. The key with this group, as always, will be with Mark Sanchez. Sanchez played, what I believe was, his best half of football in New England last week. If Sanchez can build off of that strong second half performance, he should have no problem picking apart a very suspect Dolphins secondary. Look for Rex Ryan to throw the kitchen sink at Ryan Tannehill (5 INTs on the road this season) and Miami’s offense after being criticized for a conservative defensive approach last week. Expect Tannehill to turn the ball over at least twice, with Reggie Bush, who hasn’t had a 100 yard rushing effort since week 2, to be contained for the better part of the game. The Jets will look to pass to open up the run against the leagues 4th best rushing defense, and Sanchez will likely succeed, finishing with 275 yards and 2 touchdowns. The nature of these games are always interesting, so it will likely stay close for 3 quarters, with New York pulling away late, winning by two scores.

Rob Celletti –  Jets/Dolphins games are almost always dogfights.  The past few years, they haven’t exactly been displays of quality pro football. Mark Sanchez and Chad Henne seemed to be in races to the bottom in terms of quarterback play. So do I expect this trend to continue? Sort of. The Dolphins are coming off of a bye and will be healthy, fresh, and prepared. The Jets are playing very decent football, and have been for the last few weeks. Still, this matchup favors the home team. Ryan Tannehill has been solid, but is he ready to take down a good defense, in a divisional game on the road? I don’t believe so. Will Reggie Bush run rampant through the Jets’ front seven? He’ll be productive, sure, but I don’t think he dominates. On the flip side, Mark Sanchez has started to develop chemistry with Jeremy Kerley and his game has also been augmented by the return of Dustin Keller. The Miami secondary is porous – only slightly less so than New England’s statistically. Look for another good day from Sanchez (250 yards, 2 touchdowns). The game will be close, because AFC East games tend to be, but the Jets win and cover what I think is a low spread: Jets 24, Dolphins 16

Mike DonnellyPeople like to get on Rex Ryan for talking too much and being outlandish, but there truly is a method to his madness. Take this week for example. He knew his team was coming off a crushing loss in New England and could be facing a let down, so he spoke out about Reggie Bush and his comments from week 3. And wouldn’t ya know it, it didn’t take long for his players to immediately become focused and ready to dominate this Sunday. It won’t be an easy game, but I expect the defense to be a their best and hold Miami in check all game. The offense will continue to throw the ball well and do just enough to pull out a 20-10 victory.

Chris Celletti – I picked the Jets to cover the two point spread in my Best Bets piece, but I’m a little bit more worried about this game now than I initially was, because of the possibility of the weather impacting the game. If its rainy and windy, that will even out the advantage I expected the Jets to have in the passing game against Miami’s secondary. But rain or shine,  I still expect a big performance from the Jets’ defense. They have extra motivation now to shut down Reggie Bush, and they’ve always fared well against rookie quarterbacks at home under Rex Ryan. If the weather were to holds off, I think the Jets would put up a lot of points. Either way I like the Jets in this one; I’ll go 20-13.

Turn On The Jets 12 Pack, Week 8 – Jets vs. Dolphins

12 predictions from Turn On The Jets for the New York Jets vs. Miami Dolphins week 8 match-up

The Turn On The Jets 12 pack is back and sporting a perfect 7-0 record at picking the outcome of New York Jets games this season. We had another big week of coverage here with our ongoing mission to civilize coverage of this football team. A big thanks to Chris Gross, Mike Donnelly, TJ Rosenthal, Rob Celletti and Chris Celletti for doing their thing as always. Here is a recap of the previous week –

On to the predictions –

1. The Jets are going to hold Reggie Bush under 80 yards total rushing. This might seem like a stretch considering how Bush was gashing them back in week 3 before leaving with an injury. However, he hasn’t been the same player since that hit LaRon Landry put on him. Also back in week 3, an injured Sione Pouha hurt the Jets defense by getting pushed all over the field. Mike DeVito isn’t a great nose tackle but him at 100 percent is better than the 50% it looked like Pouha was playing at in week 3. Demario Davis will also be replacing Bart Scott at inside linebacker, bringing more speed to the position.

2. Shonn Greene isn’t going to crack 60 yards rushing. Miami’s front seven is too stout and he has never found success against the Dolphins. Look for something like 15 carries and 50 yards from Greene. However, I do think he scores his 6th touchdown of the year.

3. Joe McKnight and Jonathan Grimes will combine for at least 8 carries. Credit McKnight for playing through the pain of his high ankle injury. He seems to have really grown up this season and is showing a new level of toughness.

4. Tim Tebow will have a minimal impact on the game again. He won’t crack 35 total offensive yards and will finish the first half of the year without a touchdown.

5. Brian Hartline will have less than 50 yards receiving and will not score a touchdown. Look for Antonio Cromartie to spend most of the day on him. Keep an eye on Jabar Gaffney in the slot, he is a savvy receiver who could hurt the Jets if he sees extended reps.

6. Mark Sanchez is going to outperform Ryan Tannehill in every major statistical category.

7. Nick Folk will continue his perfect season, knocking through two more field goals. Could the Jets have a kicker and punter (Mayday Malone?) in the Pro-Bowl this year?

8. Jermey Kerley will have another 75 yards receiving. Dustin Keller will catch his 2nd touchdown of the season. Stephen Hill will bounce back from last week’s drop to put together a solid all-around game.

9. The Jets haven’t ran a true trick play on offense since week 1 when they broke out a flea flicker. We will see another trick play this week that goes for a big gain.

10. Anthony Fasano will have a solid day against the Jets defense…he always seems to.

11. Dan Carpenter is going to shank another kick. Rex Ryan and Tony Sparano’s fist pumps are in his head.

12. The Jets are going to play their most complete football game of the season. I like the way this team has been trending since the Houston game, slowing improving every week particularly on offense. This is the week it comes together against a pretty good Miami team. The defense is going to be keyed up to slow down Reggie Bush and I think they answer the bell. Originally, I was going to pick a tight one but I think the Jets pull away in the second half and win 27-14.

Turn On The Jets NFL Week 8 Best Bets

Chris Celletti with his weekly NFL Best Bets. Who should you be putting your money on this Sunday?

Week 7 Record: 1-2 

Season Record: 8-12-1

In honor of Hurricane Sandy, Snowicane, The Frankenstorm – whatever you want to call that crazy thing we’re supposed to get early next week that’s supposed to turn New York City on its ear, I’m going to flip things around this week and start my piece off with my Bonus Non-Football Bet of The Week. I’m 3-4 on the season with these, but the game I’m going to pick this week is one that’s closer to my heart than any other pick I’ve ever made on this site – next Thursday’s season opener for the New York Knicks against the Brooklyn Nets, Round 1 of the New York-Brooklyn turf war. Now it’s way too early for the line for this game to have come out, but this pick is much more symbolic anyway. I’m taking the Knicks outright, whatever the moneyline is.

I guess its natural that the Nets are being overrated heading into this season. The shiny new arena, all the Jay-Z crap, a new name and all will do that for you. But let’s get one thing patently straight here – the Nets ARE being overrated heading into this season. Many people are picking them as a 50+ win team, saying they’re so much clearly better than the Knicks, and that they’re closer to the Boston Celtics than anyone else in the Atlantic Division. I’m here to tell you that that’s false, and that if the Nets were still the New Jersey Nets, playing in Newark, with those old uniforms, but had the EXACT SAME ROSTER – nobody would have them as a 50-win squad.

As a Knicks fan, I’ve watched enough bad defensive basketball to know how truly important defense is in the NBA. For years, the Knicks were an embarrassment on defense – last year that changed with the addition of Tyson Chandler. And all anyone who hates the Knicks wants to point out is how bad their stars – Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire are on defense. They’re not wrong in that criticism at all. So then why is everyone totally ignoring that the Nets have, without question, the worst defensive frontcourt in the NBA? Scour every roster and I dare you to find a starting center-power forward combination that would struggle to defend a potato and a desk chair on a pick and roll more than Brook Lopez and Kris Humphries.

The Nets are a good team, don’t get me wrong. They have a lot of talent and have a good coach in Avery Johnson. They’ll make the playoffs. But can we stop with waxing on and on about how great they’re going to be? This has reached insane levels – when the media is writing “ANDRAY BLATCHE REDEMPTION” stories, you know we’re on Mars with this whole thing. If the Knicks signed Andray Blatche, I can only imagine the crap they’d be getting. And if the Nets don’t win this year, I really don’t see how they’re going to improve from here on out. Like the Knicks, they’re pretty strapped with who they have. They signed Lopez and Williams to max deals and they traded for Joe Johnson and his crazy contract. Unless Lopez improves as a defender and rebounder in the coming years, I don’t see how they possibly get anywhere close to Miami.

And oh yeah, while I’m at it, how about we call Deron Williams what he is – an insanely talented top NBA player who has never won anything and bickered and pouted and drove a Hall of Fame coach to QUIT. Do people remember this? When Williams drove Jerry Sloan so mad that he quit in the middle of the season? Why is this ignored, but all people want to mention about Carmelo Anthony is that he was selfish and un-coachable and forced his way out of Denver? Why is Deron Williams allowed to have essentially done the same thing and gotten away with it? Okay, I’m done with the questions.

As for the game, I’m not going to go into crazy specifics as to why I think the Knicks will win. It’s one out of 82 games, they could lose by 40 for all I know. But if I’m New York (as long as Tyson Chandler is healthy), I run pick and rolls with Ray Felton/Jason Kidd and Chandler/Amare Stoudemire all night. Chandler is a marginal offensive player at best, but he should put up 40 points on 20 dunks.

Oh yeah, this is a Jets site – let’s get to my picks for this week.

Jets -2 vs. Dolphins 

The Jets absolutely have to win this game. They’re at home against a rookie quarterback – a situation they’ve done well in under Rex Ryan. New York’s defense has been a lot better as of late, so I don’t think the Dolphins will quite gash the Jets on the ground the way they did in Week 3. Also, the Jets are in a pretty good rhythm in the passing game (BUT HERP DERP SANCHEZ SUCKS YOU MORON LOLZ), and Miami’s pass defense isn’t very good. You’ll get my official prediction a bit later, but the Jets cover. Oh yeah they do.

Bears -7.5 vs. Panthers

I really like the way the Bears are playing right now; they’re a balanced offensive team, Brandon Marshall is quite possibly the best receiver in the league right now, and their defense is all-world. Even Jay Cutler can’t screw this thing up…yet. The Panthers on the other hand are a total mess. Teams have either figured out Cam Newton or he’s just not very good. It will take time to find that out for sure – like with all quarterbacks ahem ahem – but right now Carolina is one of the worst teams in the league. At home and on a roll right now, I like the Bears pretty big.

Saints +6 at Broncos

We know how bad the Saints’ defense is, but they’re still averaging almost 30 points a game. I just feel like anytime you give an offense like this an additional six points, you take it. This is likely going to be a wild, high scoring game. I don’t love the Saints outdoors, but I’m still going to take these six points and hope for the best.

 

Turn On the Jets Fantasy Preview – Keeper League & Week 8 Edition

Mike Donnelly with his weekly Fantasy Football preview. Who should you start and sit, with a special focus on keeper leagues this week

Way back at the start of the 2012 fantasy football season in my 8 Easy Steps to Achieve the Perfect Fantasy League column, I strongly recommended that you get yourself involved in a keeper league with a group of your close friends that you know you’ll stay in touch with for at least the next few years. If you’ve never tried it, you should give it a shot, because it adds a whole new wrinkle to your fantasy season and even helps you keep fantasy in mind during the “dark period”, aka baseball season.

June becomes a whole lot more fun. Did one of your players just get traded or sign with a new team? I drafted him in the 6th round, is it worth it to keep him? Did that increase or decrease his value? Should you still keep him? Do you have a backup running back who is now shooting up the depth chart because the starter just got sent to prison for beating up a cop for the third time? All major things to keep an eye on for keeper consideration. Just as importantly, it forces you to keep trying during the current season, even as your once promising lineup is spiraling out of control toward a 2-11 finish due to injury, poor performance, or both (Damn you, Maurice Jones-Drew and your brittle bones!). In a standard league, at this point in the year if you’re 1-6 and totally out of it, you’re likely to throw in the towel, not pay attention to your lineup, and it becomes less and less fun for the other teams to even insult you.

Well, in a keeper league, that problem is solved. Since you’re going to be able to keep 2 or 3 players (or however many your league decides) heading into next year based on their previous year’s draft value, you can bolster your 2013 lineup while you take it on the chin in 2012. For example, in my keeper league, one team is totally out of it and traded Ryan Mathews and Antonio Brown (two players he had no intention of keeping in 2013) for Trent Richardson. Had it been a standard 1-year league, this trade would have caused death threats in a competitive league. However, since it is a keeper league and Trent could be a superstar, it was a fairly reasonable trade. I still hated it, but I digress. Anyway, today I’m going to throw out a few players you should be looking to target in a trade to build around for next year.

(Keep in mind I’m not going to suggest you keep Ray Rice. That’s obvious. This will be guys drafted in the mid-rounds this year who will provide great value for next year. I’m also going on the premise the keeper rules are you lose a pick in the 2013 draft based on where the player was picked in 2012. So if you took Alfred Morris in the 8th round and keep him next year, he’s put down as your 8th round pick.)

RB – Alfred Morris (drafted between rounds 6 and 8) – Heading into the season, there was great mystery surrounding who would be the Redskins starting running back, but Morris appeared to be the front runner. I personally have a strict “don’t take any Mike Shanahan RB’s” rule because of how he shuffles them in and out, but Morris locked down the role and looks like a stud. Playing with that RG3 fella certainly doesn’t hurt things either. Next year he will likely be picked somewhere in the #25-30 overall range, and that makes him a no-brainer keeper based on his 2012 draft position.

QB – Robert Griffin III & Andrew Luck (rounds 6-10)– This goes without saying, but if you’re the lucky guy who drafted RG3 in a standard league between rounds 6 and 10, well congratulations. If you did that in a keeper league, you can probably go ahead and start thinking about where to put your 2013 championship trophy. Andrew Luck hasn’t had quite the same success this year, but he’s been pretty damn good. And as the Colts surround him with better talent heading into next year he’s only going to get better. These guys are both going to be great.

RB – Stevan Ridley (rounds 5-9) – Ridley’s draft position was all over the board heading into 2012. He got a grip on the starting job late in the preseason and there was some uncertainty there in New England. Well, there’s much less uncertainty now. Ridley is on pace to easily surpass 1,200 yards rushing and score about 10 touchdowns. He averages a shade under 20 carries per game for one of the best offenses in the NFL and he’s only 23 years old. Guys like that don’t grow on trees. If the Ridley owner in your league is looking to upgrade for this year, this is a very solid guy to build around for 2013 with that round value.

WR – Percy Harvin (rounds 3-5) – Readers of this column know Harvin was a guy I was extremely high on heading into 2012 and he’s actually surpassed my expectations. In PPR leagues, he is an absolute stud with 53 catches through just 7 games. Oh, and he also tacks on rushing yards, which is a major bonus. He’s a top 5 receiver going forward, especially as Ponder progresses. If he was drafted any later than the 3rd round in your league, there is major keeper value there for you to try and target.

WR – Kendall Wright (round 10 or later) – Kendall Wright was a solid sleeper heading into the season, and he’s had a very solid rookie year. He’s currently 16th in the NFL in passing targets, and as Jake Locker improves, so will Kendall Wright. If you’re out of it and can trade a guy like Torrey Smith for Wright and get that late round value for 2013, it’s something you should definitely look into.

QB – Peyton Manning (round 5-7) – It’s hard to believe now, but Peyton Manning wasn’t even drafted as a QB1 in a lot of leagues heading into this season due to concerns about his injury. Well, so much for all that. Peyton has been an absolute stud and if the owner in your league has 2 QB’s and could use help at another position, Peyton is an excellent guy to target so you have a top 5 QB for next year. Suddenly, your crappy franchise is looking up!

RB – Rashard Mendenhall (round 9 or later) – Someone in your league likely drafted Mendenhall late hoping he’d contribute by this point in the season. Well, that hasn’t quite happened, and there’s a good chance that team could use some RB help since it hasn’t. Menenhall may not help this year, but since you’re already out of it, might as well swing a trade for him and wait for him to return to full strength in 2013. This is how you have to think when you’re 1-6 and need to rebuild.

Other Late Round Players to Consider Trying to Nab

WR – Stephen Hill

WR – Jeremy Kerley

WR – Josh Gibson

WR – Randall Cobb

RB – David Wilson

RB – Kendall Hunter

RB – Alex Green

QB – Ryan Tannehill

RB – Jonathan Stewart

RB – Daryl Richardson

WEEK 8 RECOMMENDED SITS

QB- Matt Stafford vs. Sea – Seattle has a tough defense, and did you SEE Stafford play on Monday? Ugh. At least he’s playing at home.

QB- Josh Freeman @ Minn – Throwing for 420 yards against the Saints is equivalent to about 215 yards against an average defense. The Vikings are better than average, and Thursday night games have not been kind to QB’s.

RB- Frank Gore @ Ari – Gore is banged up, the Cards have a tough D, it’s a rivalry game, and Arizona is home. Temper your expectations for Mr. Gore. 

RB- Steven Jackson vs NE – The Pats D is an embarrassment, but Steven Jackson is basically useless at this point for your fantasy team. Plus I feel like I’m forgetting something… oh right, SCHOTTY!

RB- Felix Jones vs. NYG – Whether he plays or not, I’d keep him on your bench against the Giants defense looking for week 1 revenge.

WR- Denarius Moore @ KC – The combination of Carson Palmer and Brandon Flowers should really limit Moore this week.

WR- Steve Smith @ Chi – Charles Tillman and the Bears D are playing out of their minds lately. Oh, and Cam Newton stinks.. can’t forget that part.

WR- Mike Williams @ Minn – Williams has been on a nice run lately, but that will come to a halt tonight in Minnesota.

TE- Jermichael Finley vs. Jax – This game could get out of hand early.. oh, and Jermichael Finley sucks. If you own him, you already know that though.

Thursday Night Picks

  • Joe – Vikings (-6.5)
  • Mike D – Vikings (-6.5)
  • Chris G – Vikings (-6.5)
  • Rob – Bucs (+6.5)
  • Chris C – Vikings (-6.5)

Turn On The Jets Week 8 Roundtable – Jets/Dolphins Match-Ups

The TOJ staff discusses what match-up is most crucial in the Jets/Dolphins week 8 match-up

Joe Caporoso – LaRon Landry and the Jets Run D versus Reggie “Hot Sauce” Bush – There has been plenty of chirping from Reggie Bush about the New York Jets and LaRon Landry didn’t back down reminding that Bush “will remember his hit from week 3, every time he sees him on the field.” Should be a scrappy one on Sunday, no? In all seriousness, if the Jets slow down Reggie Bush and the Dolphins running game they will be in great position to win. Ryan Tannehill isn’t ready to put an offense on his shoulders on the road and win a division game. As for Bush? A suggested meal for him –

Chris Gross –  LaRon Landry vs. Reggie Bush: For the first time since we can remember, we are beginning to see the New York Jets display the ultimate camaraderie by proving to have each other’s backs. Following the Jets’ week 3 victory in Miami, Dolphins RB Reggie Bush blamed Darrelle Revis’s season ending ACL injury on karma, due to the fact that he thought the Jets were intentionally trying to injure him. Well, today, newly acquired safety LaRon Landry (who is quickly becoming a fan favorite on this defense) spoke up for his secondary brethren. When asked about Bush and his attitude toward the Jets and Revis, Landry responded:

“Every time he sees me, he’ll remember the hit. If I’m in the box or coming downhill, he will remember the hit.”
Could Landry have answered Bush’s comments any better? Number 30 has made a name for himself in this league as an extremely ferocious hitter, but rarely do we hear him come out and target one specific player. Bush has been very solid for Miami this season, and certainly is not one to back down from a challenge. Everyone should keep a close eye on these two this Sunday. Make no mistake about it, Landry will try to decapitate Bush the first chance he gets, while the former USC Trojan will likely try to make him look foolish in the open field. Who will reign victorious in this matchup? Something tells me Landry will not sleep until he has proven his point to Bush. 

TJ Rosenthal – Reggie Bush vs Jets Run Defense. Reggie Bush had alot to say about bounties and karma following the Jets and Dolphins prior meeting. One that saw a season ender occur for Darrelle Revis. An injury to Gang Greene’s best defender that sparked Bush’s “that’s what you get” views for having been targeted by the Jets. This after Calvin Pace alluded to such bounty-like behavior after the Jets OT win. Who has more to prove now? Bush or a Jets team that if Rex Ryan’s words today in asking for an apology from Bush are any indication, want some retribution? Bush is the Dolphins main cog on O even though rookie QB Ryan Tannehill has begun to settle in. If the Jets can rally around this storyline, it will help them find a new target of focus while separating from the potential hangover from yet another tough loss to the Pats. Rex is using the opportunity to motivate. Let’s see his Jet run stoppers follow their head coach’s lead with Reggie and crank things up Sunday.

Chris Celletti –  Forget The Run – I’m not saying the Jets should throw 50 times on Sunday against the Dolphins, but I’m also not saying they shouldn’t. Basically, I don’t think they Jets will have much success running the ball. Miami has a very good run defense, and despite a bit of a turnaround in New York’s run game as of late, I certainly can’t expect Shonn Greene to go off like he did against Indianapolis. Thus, I’m putting the onus on Tony Sparano to open the game up, take shots downfield, and how’s this: trust Mark Sanchez. However you want to slice it, Sanchez has played a lot better over the last three weeks; he’s played good enough for the Jets to win games, no question. Miami’s secondary is their weakness on defense, Jeremy Kerley has developed into a legitimate threat, and Dustin Keller is back and appears to be a hundred percent. Don’t let this game get into a defensive slugfest by being conservative on offense. The Jets’ defense has also been a lot better of late, so I expect a good outing at home against a rookie quarterback. I want to see the offense go for the kill early. If they indeed try to, I think Sanchez and the offense has a big day in a blowout win.

Mike Donnelly –  Jets Receivers vs. Dolphins Secondary is the matchup I’m most looking forward to this weekend as the Jets host the Fish. As we know, the Dolphins have one of the best run defenses statistically in the NFL so far this season, and it doesn’t appear to be a fluke. Yards are going to be hard to come by on the ground, especially with zero healthy running backs (McKnight’s ankle is clearly not right, and I’d be shocked if Greene was not still off in la-la land after that kill shot he sustained last week), and a Tebow that doesn’t get used. Fortunately, the Jets passing game has shown some serious signs of life the past few weeks, and don’t think the Dolphins didn’t spend their bye week preparing for the emerging Jeremy Kerley, and rookie Stephen Hill, who despite that killer drop last week, is getting healthy and improving each week. Throw in the return of Dustin Keller, and the Jets suddenly have a formidable trio going up against the Dolphins less than stellar secondary. I expect Mark Sanchez to continue his solid play and for the Jets offense to ride high into their bye week.

Rob Celletti – SHOCKER: I’m really interested in seeing how Mark Sanchez fares in this game, and I think this will be crucial to the Jets’ chances of winning. As we’ve tweeted and written about endlessly here at TOJ, Sanchez’s game has started to come around since the second half of the Monday Night loss to the Texans. The issue with him has really always been consistency.  Anyone who doubts Sanchez’s ability to play at a high level is guilty of selective memory and has already decided that they’d rather he not quarterback this team. But back to Sunday: if Sanchez can do what he did to New England (Miami’s dismal statistics against the pass – 28th in the league in yards allowed – suggests he will be able to), the Jets will win the game.

Bonus Sanchez Breakdown: Patience Must be a Virtue

Rob Celletti with a bonus breakdown of Mark Sanchez’s development and why patience is still needed

The only thing more difficult to stomach than Sunday’s loss to the New England Patriots was the inane, baseless and downright absurd criticism of Mark Sanchez that followed it on SNY, Twitter, and the other usual outlets, despite the fact that he played well enough for the Jets to win. However, this is the age we live in. Every game is a referendum on a team, and thereby, their quarterback. Every loss raises the question: can this guy cut it? Wins almost always lead to inordinate and undeserved amounts of praise.

So as I consumed and contributed to the discussion, I came across the following sentence, ironically in a gossip article about Sanchez’s supposed split from Eva Longoria: “Quarterback Sanchez, 25, who was already partying at the club…” blah blah blah. I literally went back to the beginning of the sentence, semi-shocked: Wait…Sanchez is 25 years old! 25! He’s practically a child! How easily we forget this. At least I did.

But, it’s his fourth season, the season where quarterbacks are supposed to “turn the corner”. Consistency is expected. Accuracy should improve. Yardage, YPA and touchdowns are supposed to increase; turnovers expected to decrease. Realistically, this should only be expected if the quarterback has been put in a stable and sustainable situation for growth. Sanchez has had the same head coach for the first four years of his career, but little else has remained constant. He’s dealt with a revolving door of receivers, right tackles and backup tight ends. He’s in the midst of learning a new system. And oh yeah, he who shall not be named. But that’s all besides the point.

Sanchez’s age made me wonder: when do most of the league’s most productive quarterbacks make the proverbial leap? As someone who is at least semi-interested in the statistical revolution that’s happening throughout all sports – started of course in baseball by Bill James and put into practice famously by Billy Beane – one of the more fascinating theories was that players have a discernible prime age. In baseball, the magic number is the Age 27 season. This is the power prime for hitters. It’s also around the time when a lot of players become free agents, so it’s advised that teams on a budget (anyone not named the New York Yankees) not overpay for talent that will almost certainly decline over the coming years. But there seems to be something about that 26-28 age range where something clicks.

So, who’s up for a little experiment? Let’s apply this theory to the last five Super Bowl winning quarterbacks and see how the numbers look. They are: Eli Manning (twice), Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, Ben Roethlisberger, Peyton Manning. All of them are indisputably “elite”. Jets fans would be happy if Mark Sanchez developed into HALF of any of them. But at what age did Eli become Eli? Brees become Brees? READ ON (all statistics from Pro Football Reference).

Sanchez has rightly been compared to Eli Manning before for many reasons, but mainly because of how similarly their careers began and the fact that they both play in New York. There isn’t a Giants fan on earth who was sold on Eli until he threw the Super Bowl winning touchdown to Plaxico Burress. And even still, Eli’s 2007 regular season (Age 26) was nothing to brag about. He completed 56.1% of his passes, his YPA a rather poor 6.3 (good for 26th in the league behind stalwarts such as Tavaris Jackson and Vince Young). He also threw 20(!) interceptions. Amazingly, Eli turned 27 on January 3rd and EXACTLY one month later, he lifted the Lombardi trophy. In subsequent seasons, Eli has certainly raised his play to a consistently high level. He threw for only 3,238 yards in 2008, but his completion percentage jumped 4 points and he cut his interceptions in half. Eli was on his way to the “elite” status he has rightfully earned.

Aaron Rodgers may well be the outlier in this discussion, but bear in mind, he didn’t start a game in the NFL until his age 25 season. After playing understudy to Brett Favre for three years, Rodgers came in and dominated right away. That he threw for 4,038 yards in his first season on the job is borderline ridiculous. His 63.6% completion percentage that year is, laughably, a career-low. But even after such an unfathomable start to his career, Rogers found another gear. 2011 was one of the all-time great years by any quarterback ever. Rodgers posted an insane 9.2 YPA and an aggregate QB Rating of 122.5. He amassed 45 touchdowns and threw only 6 interceptions. This was Rodgers’ Age 28 season (though he didn’t actually turn 28 until December). I’m noticing a trend. Are you?

Drew Brees’ story is well-documented. The 6-foot-nothing quarterback that the Chargers couldn’t wait to get rid of got a second chance in New Orleans and three years later delivered the former laughingstock franchise its first Super Bowl title. But Brees’ first two years in the league were rocky to say the least. He was benched in his second season. And while he did get his act together and produce in San Diego, Brees’ leap took place in his first season in New Orleans at – you guessed it – age 27. Brees outpassed his career-best yardage total by nearly 1,000. He attempted 54 more passes and threw 4 fewer interceptions (though to be fair, Brees’ interception rate has held pretty steady throughout his career). By his 2009 Super Bowl season, Brees had cemented himself as one of the NFL’s best.

Ben Roethlisberger’s case is an interesting one, but the magic number comes into play here as well. Yes, he went 13-0 in his rookie year and won a Super bowl in his second season, but he had certainly not been handed the keys to the car. Similar to Sanchez, Roethlisberger received a ton of support from a run-heavy system, stellar defense and tremendous coaching. He was asked simply not to lose games. What happened when the Steelers leaned more heavily on Roethlisberger, following their championship season and the retirement of Jerome Bettis? Roethlisberger struggled. His completion percentage fell three points. His YPA dropped from 8.9 to 7.5. He was intercepted 23 times. He threw for a career high 3,513 yards, but only because he attempted 201 more passes in 2006 than he did in 2005. And oh yeah, Pittsburgh went 7-8 in games started by Roethlisberger.

Can you imagine if this happened in New York? Can you imagine if management went out and made an asinine trade for a flashy backup quarterback? Fortunately for Steelers fans, their organization isn’t owned by Woody Johnson. Yes, they had the tonic of a recent Super Bowl championship to ease the pain, but they stuck with their quarterback. He was only 24, after all. Age 25 was good to Roethlisberger, but he was statistically mediocre in 2008 as a 26 year old, until the playoffs. It was here, just a month before turning 27, that Roethlisberger cemented himself as a big time NFL quarterback. From 2009 on, Roethlisberger has put up two 4,000+ yard seasons and generally earned his place among the league’s best.

Finally we come to the granddaddy of them all: Peyton Manning. Let’s be clear: Peyton is a freak. He’s the best quarterback of this NFL generation, and this is not disputable (Brady‘s three rings be damned; Manning was busy changing the game while Brady was battling Drew Henson for playing time at Michigan). He’s been putting up 4,000 yard seasons like nothing since 1999 (Age 23). But if you look at his stats, there is a shift as Peyton hit his prime at 27: mainly, he stopped turning the football over. Through his first five seasons, Manning was intercepted on 3.54% of his pass attempts. In 2003, that number dropped off a cliff to 1.8%. It didn’t go above 2.2% again until 2007, Manning’s age 31 season. Because the interceptions fell, Manning’s QB rating spiked, jumping 22 points between 2003 and 2004.

So you may be thinking: I just wasted 10 perfectly good minutes of my day reading that garbage. Mark Sanchez sucks! He’s never going to be any of these guys.

Maybe. But the bottom line is, we don’t know. As the New England game has been dissected, the one thought that’s prevailed is that Jets fans still don’t know what to make of their starting quarterback. Game to game, quarter to quarter, throw to throw, the only thing consistent has been the quarterback’s inconsistency. In truth, Sanchez may be one of the hardest quarterbacks to pin down in the league right now, because of all of the external factors that may or may not be affecting his growth. The only way for the Jets to find out what they really have in Sanchez is to give him a solid and consistent supporting cast (this includes getting rid of you know who), and be patient. How patient? Sanchez turns 27 in 383 days.

New York Jets Defense Missing A Closer

TJ Rosenthal on the New York Jets defense lacking a closer

In a post game speech Sunday night, Bill Belichick called Pats LB Rob Ninkovich a”Jet Killer” after his game ending strip of Jets QB Mark Sanchez. Ninkovich’s pick six last year, in a key matchup also for first place, blew a 10 point game wide open. A play that sent the Jets who at the time were 5-3, reeling. The Jets can desperately use their own game changing pass rusher among the front seven over these next nine games.

Imagine the storylines that would be taking place had the Jets held onto the slim 3 point lead they owned with 1:30 left in Foxboro. Mark Sanchez would be hailed as the emerging leader of a young new offense. Rex Ryan would be the gutsy coach who never flinched as key injuries mounted. Trusting in his draft picks and defense instead. Shonn Greene and Dustin Keller would be written about as valuable cogs once again, and Jeremy Kerley a rising star. Tim Tebow would not be on this week’s radar for anyone except for Tebowmaniacs.

Leave it to a blown lead and a devastating loss to erase any hopes of those angles becoming headlines, or in the case of Tebow, a non story just yet. You are what your record says you are and at 3-4, few will find it suitable to note individual success stories amidst the moral victories that have piled up since the Jets almost shocked then undefeated Houston on Monday night back in week 5.

The Jets didn’t pressure Tom Brady on the final drive in regulation out of fear of sending a secondary member in, risking a big play weapon for the Patriots left open for a big gain in the process. After all, Ryan couldn’t rely on a base defense flushing Brady out of the pocket. Therefore the Jets HC chose to win the game with one big play through a strength in numbers back in pass coverage.

Ryan’s choice to “drop eight” was because no one Jet has emerged in the front seven as a player who can help close out games before they head the wrong way.

Up front, first round pick Quinton Coples is not quite there as a reliable force yet. Mo Wilkerson has made plays but is not eating up QBs week in week out in his second year either. NT Kenrick Ellis was developing into a pile pusher but has been sidelined with a recent knee sprain. Mike Devito and Sione Pouha lead the charge of veteran run stoppers, but can’t be expected to effect obvious passing downs.

The linebackers? Aaron Maybin was perhaps the club’s best hope of a trustworthy sack specialist heading into 2012, but too many third and short yardage situations have limited his time on the field. When he has been out there as a passing down only player, his inability to develop anything aside from his patented speed rush has left him as one who has become too easy to block.

Calvin Pace and Bart Scott have slowed, and David Harris is too valuable as a tackler to send in. Rookie Demario Davis is getting more time now (60 plus snaps Sunday to Bart Scott’s 9) but has yet to earn the tag of “certified blitz weapon.”

The Jets have a much better secondary than New England. A more reliable defense all around in fact, despite having given up on average, one more point a game on the season (Jets 24.3 ppg Patriots 23.3 ppg). They lack a game changer who can disrupt pass plays behind the line of scrimmage though.

The Jets offense is beginning to settle in both on the ground and through the air thanks to the resurfacing of Greene and return of Keller from the hamstring injury. Mark Sanchez’s TD to interception ratio with Keller (6TD 2 int, 104.6 QB rating) is vastly better than his numbers without the Jets valuable tight end (3TD 5int 55.0 QB rating) are.

In fact, in the past three games the Jets as a team have scored 88 points. This 29 point average is a major step up from the 18 points they averaged per game before the Santonio Holmes injury.

All of this means that if any one area needs an immediate upgrade it is not in the scoring department. It is defensivley, namely the pass rushing with the game on the line. The NFL nowadays is clearly a quarterback driven league. The Jets and Ryan have to somehow find a way to develop one of their defenders up front into a guy who can help thwart these gunslingers during crunch time.

Should they be able to, the Jets, whose playmakers on offense are starting to show signs of collective production, may be able to turn gut wrenching losses such as the one last Sunday, into wins. A change that may be the difference between a playoff berth or a second straight year without one. In a season where the tepid AFC is still so very much for the taking.