Grading Out Jets/Lions

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Quarterbacks (B) – Mark Sanchez’s completion percentage still isn’t high enough and he was inconsistent for 3 and 1/2 quarters, yet continuing to demonstrate a positive trend, he stepped up when it mattered the most. He looked excellent in the two minute drill and led the Jets to another come from behind victory. It is hard to question his arm strength after the beautiful 74 yard touchdown pass to Braylon Edwards and the more chemistry he develops with Santonio Holmes, the more passing yards he will rack up. Hopefully, this will be the first of many 300 yard games.

Running Backs (B) – LaDainian Tomlinson’s yards per carry has been creeping lower and lower each week, while Shonn Greene’s have been steady or rising when given the chance. However, LT was clutch on the two minute drill and contributed 47 yards receiving. I would really like to see Greene be getting more than 10 carries though.

Wide Receivers (B+) – They demonstrated their big play capability on Edwards long touchdown reception and Holmes 52 yard reception in overtime. Yet, there were still struggles with ball security. Jerricho Cotchery is in a serious funk right now and has lost his starting job. Edwards has to protect the football when running with it.

Tight Ends (B+) – Dustin Keller made a few clutch receptions and provided a big play down the seam late in the fourth quarter.

Offensive Line (B+) – The running game has been disappointing the past few weeks but the pass protection was very good. Brandon Moore did a great job on Ndamukong Suh, furthering his case for a trip to Hawaii this year.

Defensive Line (B) – A quiet day for the guys up front but they were solid against the run. Where has Shaun Ellis been the past few weeks? Vernon Gholston didn’t take advantage of being given the start, as he recorded no stats.

Linebackers (C) – There were some flaws in pass coverage, missed tackles, and a stupid personal foul on Bart Scott, who did record his first sack of the season. Calvin Pace and Jason Taylor remained in the missing persons program, in terms of getting to the quarterback.

Secondary (B) – Revis Island is back in business. Drew Coleman had a brutal day trying to cover Nate Burleson. It could be time for Dwight Lowery or Marquice Cole to get more of a shot in the slot. Is it me or has Jim Leonhard been a huge liability in pass coverage this year? Beyond that, is Brodney Pool even out there? Seriously, the guy is playing starter’s reps and can barely even record a tackle.

Special Teams (A) – Nick Folk continued his strong season with the game tying and game winning kick. Kyle Wilson finally had a good looking punt return but of course he fumbled at the end of it.

Coaching (D) – The Jets are way too undisciplined right now on both sides of the football and there were more clock management issues. Rex Ryan needs to wake his team up out of the funk they have been in the past few weeks.

Highlights of Jets Win

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Initial Reaction: This Is Why We Watch…Jets Escape 23-20

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Disgusted. Just disgusted. It was hard not to feel that way as you watched the New York Jets, the team who likes to talk about being the best team in the NFL and is overloaded with talent, do everything possible to embarrass themselves against a feisty (dirty) 2-5 Detroit Lions team. Penalties? Every single one you could imagine at the worst possible time. Turnovers? Two more from the Jets. Drops? Yes, there were still plenty of those. Clock management? Of course, the Jets only had one timeout left heading into the final 5 minutes of the game.

It felt like there was no way in the world the Jets could surmount a comeback down 20-10 with 4:26 on the clock and one timeout. It might as well have been 30 points considering the way their passing offense looked. You can already read the headlines about the Jets sliding into another meltdown. Mark Sanchez was well on his way to another sub 50 percent completion percentage and more questions about his status as our franchise quarterback.

Then something happened. Unlike teams in the past, the 2010 New York Jets find ways to win football games. It doesn’t matter how ugly the game has been. It doesn’t matter how poorly they have been playing. This team has confidence they can always find a way to win and today, yet again, they did.

Say what you want about Sanchez but he stepped up again late to lead the Jets to a victory. He made two big time throws to Dustin Keller on their touchdown drive to cut the lead to 3 and then fortunately the Lions are the Lions and inexplicably threw the ball on third down, leaving Sanchez enough time to get the Jets into field goal position (big ups to Julian Peterson for that late hit on LaDainian Tomlinson…thanks). In overtime, he hit Santonio Holmes in stride on an in route, which Holmes rolled into a 52 yard gain.

The story of the day? Led by their quarterback, the Jets made plays when they had to. If you want an example of a young quarterback who can’t do that, look to our divisional rival Miami. Sanchez comes up big in big spots. Tomlinson, Holmes, and Keller all stepped up to support him when it counted. Nick Folk was money on special teams and is truly having a Pro-Bowl season.

On defense, the bad news is that Drew Coleman is back to being Drew Coleman. The good news is that Darrelle Revis is back to being Darrelle Revis. 1 catch for 13 yards for Calvin Johnson…nice work and welcome to the 2010 season, Darrelle. Revis Island is back. The defense played relatively well but there isn’t enough big plays being created. Not enough sacks and forced turnovers.

The Jets are a flawed team…accept it, but they are a 6-2 and on pace for a 12-4 season. In case you didn’t notice the NFL is filled with flawed teams this year. The consensus best team heading into this week lost to the 2-5 Cleveland Browns by 20 points. You take the wins when you can get them.

Run Santonio Run

Final Thoughts On Jets/Lions

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– I am very pumped to see exactly how healthy Darrelle Revis actually is when he battles against Calvin Johnson. This is a nice chance for him to show he is truly back in 2010 or to show that he still isn’t shape despite it being week 9.

– Despite not getting as much publicity, Brandon Moore and the rest of the Jets interior lineman going against Ndamukong Suh will also a great battle. Moore has an opportunity to demonstrate to the rest of the league that he really is a Pro-Bowl caliber player, which most Jets fans who watch him every week already know.

– Mark Sanchez could really use a strong performance this week or else the talk of him entering a slump and the questions about whether he is ready to lead the Jets to a Super Bowl will intensify to the point where we may be back to the color-code system.

– If I say it one more time, hopefully it come true…LaDainian Tomlinson 20+ carries…Shonn Greene 15+ carries.

– Antonio Cromartie, aren’t we due for an interception?

– Jason Taylor, aren’t we due for a sack?

– Dustin Keller, aren’t we due for a touchdown?

Finally, let’s just get a win in Detroit City

Jets vs. Lions: 12 Pack Of Predictions

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After a bit of a hiatus, the 12 pack is back…

1. There is no way that Rex Ryan didn’t get the message across to Brian Schottenheimer to start running the football more. Maybe it is just wishful thinking but LaDainian Tomlinson will get 20+ carries and Shonn Greene will get 14+ carries. If this prediction is wrong than be mad at Schotty for his ignorance, not me.

2. Darrelle Revis is going to man up Calvin Johnson at least 80% of the time this week. Megatron is going to make a few plays but Revis will keep him under 100 yards and out of the end-zone. The first signs of the Island resurfacing will be in place.

3. Mark Sanchez is going to complete 60 percent of his passes. I predict this because I don’t think the Jets will throw the ball frequently and when they do, I think there will be a good amount of high percentage throws.

4. Jerricho Cotchery isn’t going to drop a pass this week. This guy has been too consistent for too long to let one game throw him into a funk that carries across multiple games.

5. I am feeling a big week for the Jets special teams after their weak performance last week. Nick Folk won’t be shanking any kicks. Steve Weatherford will be punting and not running and Brad Smith will break off at least one big return.

6. The Lions tight ends, Brandon Pettigrew and Tony Scheffler are going to have big days. The Jets did a poor job against Todd Heap, Anthony Hernandez, Anthony Fasano, and David Nelson earlier in the year and I am sure the Lions noticed that and will be looking to their tight ends often.

7. The Jets are going to be more aggressive on defense than they have been in previous weeks. This will lead to a few more sacks and maybe a turnover or two but will also allow Lions to create a few big plays of their own.

8. Less of a prediction and more of a general comment – This is the kind of the game where you want to jump out to a quick 10-0 lead and take the crowd out of it. If you let the Lions get off to a fast start they are going to build confidence and that place will be rocking.

9. Inactives – Joe (I can’t believe we spent a 4th round pick on this guy) McKnight, Vladimir (I can’t believe we spent a 2nd round pick on this guy) Ducasse, Kellen Clemens, Jamaal Westerman, Jeff Cumberland, Marcus Dixon, Josh Mauga, Jarron Gilbert.

10. I don’t think we will be seeing much of the Tiger formation this week.

11. Brandon Moore will do a great job on Ndamukong Suh, continuing his All-Pro caliber campaign.

12. The Lions are going to make their share of plays and I don’t think Mark Sanchez is playing well enough right now for this to be a blowout. Detroit will be in this game into the fourth quarter but the Jets will ultimately prevail in a tight one 27-21.

Week 9 Picks (Lines From BetUS)

  • Buffalo (+3) vs. Chicago
  • San Diego (-3) vs. Houston
  • New Orleans (-7.5) vs. Carolina
  • Minnesota (-8) vs. Arizona
  • Tamp Bay (+8) vs. Atlanta
  • Miami (+5) vs. Baltimore
  • Cleveland(+5.5) vs. New England
  • Giants (-7) vs. Seattle
  • Oakland (-2) vs. Kansas City
  • Philadelphia (-2.5) vs. Peyton Manning
  • Green Bay (-7.5) vs. Dallas
  • Pittsburgh (-6) vs. Cincinnati

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Jets vs. Lions: Game Breakdown

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Offense: Hey Brian Schottenheimer, you see those two guys…#21 and #23? They are your running backs. This football team is built around their running game and defense. You have a terrific offensive line, so how about you run the game plan through them? By the way, Detroit is 27th in the NFL at stopping the run. LaDainian Tomlinson and Shonn Greene need to combine for 35-45 carries this Sunday, as the Jets get back to their formula for success since the beginning of the Rex Ryan era.

When they do throw the football, Braylon Edwards and Dustin Keller need to get involved early, especially Edwards. He has been their best receiver so far this year so throw him a quick screen or hitch in the first series to make sure he is in the flow of the game. Keller wasn’t utilized enough last week and is always a threat off play action.

If the Jets are going to only run two plays out of the Tiger formation, they need to can it. It is time to expand the package of plays and come up with a few new wrinkles in it.

I don’t doubt that Jerricho Cotchery will bounce back with a strong performance this week, same with Santonio Holmes. It would be nice to see the Jets throw Holmes something besides a quick slant or an under route though.

Defense: Darrelle Revis vs. Calvin Johnson is just going to be fun to watch. I would expect Revis on him the overwhelming majority of the time, or at least he should be if he is actually 100 percent healthy. Antonio Cromartie should be able to handle Nate Burleson. However, the Lions tight ends should be a cause for concern. The Jets have struggled to defend the tight this season at times and Detroit has two good ones in Brandon Pettigrew and Tony Scheffler. Brodney Pool, Jim Leonhard, Dwight Lowery, and Eric Smith are going to need to step up their coverage to protect the middle of the field.

The Lions don’t have much of a running game (ranked 30th in the NFL) yet Jahvid Best is dangerous as a receiver out of the backfield with 36 receptions. There isn’t much speed for the Jets at linebacker so it will be interesting to see if the Jets shadow him with either Eric Smith, James Ihedigbo, or maybe Dwight Lowery.

I would like to see the Jets pass rush from their outside linebackers wake up a little bit this week. It has been a very quiet couple of weeks from Calvin Pace, Jason Taylor, and Bryan Thomas. The Jets only have 15 sacks in 7 games, which isn’t enough for a team as aggressive as they are.

Special Teams: You think Steve Weatherford will think twice about taking off for a fake punt this week? The Jets should be wary of Stefan Logan in the return game. The Redskins ran a kick back for a touchdown on the Lions last week and Brad Smith has been very good as a returner this year, so the Jets might be able to pop one.

Jets Better Not Sleep On The Lions…Yes, The Lions

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I try not to buy into the “Same Old Jets” talk. I don’t believe things that happened years ago impact the individuals in the Jets locker room now, especially with the change of culture Rex Ryan has ushered in. However, this week I am worried more than I should be for a 5-2 team on the road facing a 2-5 team who has won 4 games over the past 2 and 1/2 seasons.

Part of the reason is that the Jets simply haven’t played all that well since their week 4 drubbing of the Buffalo Bills. They won a sloppy game against the Vikings, thanks largely to Brett Favre’s incompetence. They escaped with a victory in Denver, thanks to a defensive pass interference penalty and then were shut out at home by the Green Bay Packers. Now I don’t want to take credit away for the wins against Minnesota and Denver. A win is a win and the Jets stepped up in big spots late in those games to ensure victories. However, they still aren’t clicking like they were when they ran through their AFC East opponents.

The other reason is that the Lions are better than most 2-5 teams. There is a good amount of talent on this roster and they are a few plays (include a robbery in Chicago) from being a 4-3 team. They have plenty of flaws, namely their ability to stop the run and run the football but there is playmakers spread across this roster.

Matthew Stafford has been similar to Mark Sanchez so far in his career, when he has managed to stay healthy, which means he could be great on some days and god awful on others. Calvin Johnson is one of the most physically gifted players in the NFL and along with Jahvid Best, Kevin Smith, Brandon Pettigrew, Tony Scheffler, and Nate Burleson…there are plenty of viable options on the Detroit offense.

Their defense has struggled but Ndamukong Suh and Kyle Vanden Bosch have proven to be playmakers on their line and Alfonso Smith has pulled in 4 interceptions in only 7 games in the secondary. Jim Schwartz is a good coach, who has his young defense competing and as he pointed out today, they do have 8 more sacks so far this season than the Jets.

The Jets like to talk like they are the best team in the NFL. If they are, they should be fuming after being embarrassed in front of their home fans and ready to steamroll a young Detroit team in their own building. You would hope that is the mindset and there is nothing being taken for granted. Cut the cute BS out on offense Brian Schottenheimer and ram the ball down the Lions throat. They can’t stop your running game. Rex Ryan, man your prized cornerbacks up and send the house at their inexperienced quarterback, the way other teams have at your young quarterback.

The best way to knock the memory of the Green Bay debacle out of everybody’s head is to leave no doubt who the 5-2 team is and who the 2-5 team is this Sunday.

Jets vs. Lions: First Look

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The Opponent: Despite being 2-5, the Detroit Lions have improved significantly under head coach Jim Schwartz the past two years. They have been competitive every week and are coming off a home victory against the Washington Redskins who came into Detroit with a winning record. The Lions can throw the football and have playmakers at a variety of positions. However, they have struggled to run the football and stop the run consistently. This isn’t going to be a cakewalk for the Jets, as Detroit isn’t the type of team who isn’t going show up like Dallas or Buffalo against the Jets in week 4.

Detroit Starters/Key Reserves

OFFENSE

  • Quarterback: Matthew Stafford – 37/60, 295 yards, 4 TDs, 1 INT
  • Running Back: Jahvid Best – 91 carries, 297 yards, 4 TDs, 36 receptions, 316 yards, 1 TD
  • Running Back: Kevin Smith – 23 carries, 104 yards,
  • Wide Receiver: Calvin Johnson – 38 receptions, 538 yards, 8 TDs
  • Wide Receiver: Nate Burleson – 19 receptions, 176 yards, 2 TDs
  • Wide Receiver: Bryant Johnson – 8 receptions, 80 yards
  • Tight End: Brandon Pettigrew – 35 receptions, 344 yards, 2 TDs
  • Tight End; Tony Scheffler – 26 receptions, 217 yards, 1 TD
  • Left Tackle: Jeff Backus
  • Left Guard: Rob Sims
  • Center: Dominic Raiola
  • Right Guard: Stephen Peterman
  • Right Tackle: Gosder Cherilus

DEFENSE

  • Defensive End: Cliff Avril – 16 tackles, 3 sacks
  • Nose Tackle: Ndamukong Suh – 27 tackles, 6.5 sacks, 1 INT
  • Defensive Tackle: Corey Williams – 22 tackles, 1 sack
  • Defensive End: Kyle Vanden Bosch – 32 tackles, 4 sacks
  • Outside Linebacker: Ashlee Palmer – 34 tackles
  • Middle Linebacker: Zach Follett – 21 tackles
  • Outside Linebacker: Julian Peterson – 37 tackles, 1 sack
  • Corner: Chris Houston – 26 tackles, 1 INT
  • Corner: Alphonso Smith – 24 tackles, 4 INTs
  • Corner: Jonathan Wade – 29 tackles 
  • Safety: Louis Delmas – 46 tackles, 2 sacks
  • Safety: C.C. Brown – 35 tackles

SPECIAL TEAMS

  • Kicker: Jason Hanson – 12/14 FGs
  • Punter: Nick Harris – 44.8 yards per punt
  • Kick Return: Stefan Logan – 29.5 per return, 1 TD
  • Punt Return: – 13.1 per return

PhotobucketKey Players: Calvin Johnson is one of the most physcially gifted players in the NFL and will let us know exactly how healthy Darrelle Revis really is. Jahvid Best is dangerous in the open field, along with a great receiver out of the backfield and Brandon Pettigrew is a quality receiving threat at the tight end position. Ndamukong Suh has beast so far in 2010, look at his stats through only 7 games…unbelievable. Kyle Vanden Bosch is also off to a strong start on the Lions defensive line. Stefan Logan is very dangerous in the return game. Alphonso Smith has 4 INTs so far this year.

Injuries: The Jets remain extremely healthy (keep your fingers crossed). Detroit isn’t dealing with any major injuries at the moment either. C.C. Brown has been banged up but I hope he does play, considering his coverage skills.

Key Storylines:  Can the Jets bounce-back? Will Brian Schottenheimer remember to run the football? Calvin Johnson vs. Darrelle Revis. Can Mark Sanchez put together a solid performance after two straight subpar ones?

Highlights of Lions Win Last Week

Time To Panic For Jets?

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Braylon Edwards is lecturing people about catching the football and being arrogant. Yes, the guy who was arrogant enough to think he could drive himself home after drinking all night a few weeks ago and is notorious for having problems catching the ball. Jerricho Cotchery, the Jets most reliable receiver the past few years, is having his worst season. The return of Santonio Holmes has led to nothing but struggles for Mark Sanchez, whose completion percentage is now all the way down to 53. Dustin Keller hasn’t caught a touchdown in three weeks, after pulling in 5 during the Jets first 4 games. Shonn Greene is hardly a factor on the team anymore.

In the words of Vince Lombardi, what the hell is going out here?

Wait a minute…during the bye week, weren’t we concerned about the Jets defense not their offense? Yes, since the Jets offense put up 28, 31, 38, 29, and 24 in the previous 5 games. Is it possible that this situation may not be quite as bad as everybody is making it out to be?

The Jets have a young quarterback and an inconsistent offensive coordinator, who is struggling to juggle the number of options the Jets have in the receiving game. There are going to be lapses at times. They laid an egg in game one and responded with 5 great performances. Now they laid an egg in game 7, and hopefully will respond with 5 more great performances.

Similar to every team in the NFL, the Jets have flaws which are going to rear their head at times throughout the season. The key is to be able to still find a way to win when they appear, similar to the Minnesota and Denver games. More importantly is for the Jets to work out the kinks now and to be playing their best football in December heading into January.

The positive news is that the Jets defense finally looked like their 2009 unit, which was the best in the NFL. If they keep improving and the offense gets back to their week 2-5 level, the Jets are going to be just fine.

Getting shut-out at home is plenty embarrassing but let’s step back from the ledge Jets fans. If the Jets slip up against the 2-5 Lions or 2-5 Browns, then it is time to hit the panic button.

TOJ NFL Power Rankings: Week 9

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A tricky week to put together power rankings, after the NFC finally stepped up and grabbed a few victories from the AFC. The NFL just keeps getting more and more confusing each week, regardless here is what I am thinking heading into week 9, which can’t get here fast enough for Jets fans:

1. New England Patriots (6-1) – They just win football games, despite a young defense and an inconsistent running game. Beyond that, I am pretty sure Bill Belichick has acquired 102 draft picks for next season.

2. Indianapolis Peyton Mannings (5-2) – I am pretty confident you could throw me in the slot for the Colts and they’d still put up 30 points a game.

3. Baltimore Ravens (5-2) – They watched two of their top competitors in the AFC lose to NFC teams during their bye week.

4. New York Giants (5-2) – Seattle has always been a house of horrors for them. However if they can get a win, their schedule is very manageable the rest of the way.

5. Pittsburgh Steelers (5-2) – The defending champs were desperate and made a few more plays than Pittsburgh, not a terrible loss for them.

6. Green Bay Packers (5-3) – Two straight impressive wins for Green Bay, who showed they could win a defensive struggle and take advantage of wide receivers who can’t catch the football.

7. New York Jets (5-2) – Too steep of a fall? I don’t think so. Great teams don’t get shut out at home by defenses of Green Bay’s caliber.

8. Atlanta Falcons (5-2) – They had a bye week to prepare for a huge game against the second place Bucs…who would have thought?

9. New Orleans Saints (5-3) – Did they get their swagger back with a big win over the Steelers?

10. Tennessee Titans (5-3) – Tough loss to San Diego and it won’t be easy to keep pace with the Colts, unless they get more consistent.

11. Kansas City Chiefs (5-2) – They could give themselves a nice mid-season cushion in first place by beating Oakland.

12. Tampa Bay Bucs (5-2) – Let’s see how legit they are against the Falcons this week, after they failed two of their other big tests miserably.

13. Miami Dolphins (4-3) – Chance for a statement win this week in Baltimore.

14. Philadelphia Eagles (4-3) – Can Mike Vick keep the Eagles on pace with the Giants for a NFC East title?

15. Houston Texans (4-3) – Feeling like another 8-8 year for the Texans.

16. Oakland Raiders (4-4) – Oakland actually has a big game in November.

17. San Diego Chargers (3-5) – Are they ready to make their annual mid-season run?

18. Seattle Seahawks (4-3) – They just lost by 30 to Oakland and still might be the NFC West’s best team…yuck.

19. Washington Redskins (4-4) – Rex Grossman is never the answer.

20. Chicago Bears (4-3) – The crappiest team in the NFL over .500

21. St. Louis Rams (4-4) – A very impressive season so far for this young team.

22. Jacksonville Jaguars (4-4) – The crappiest team in the NFL that is at least .500.

23. Arizona Cardinals (3-4) – You think they miss Kurt Warner?

24. Detroit Lions (2-5) – Yes I am beyond worried about the Jets traveling to Detroit this week.

25. Cincinnati Bengals (2-5) – Playing out the string with their cast of characters should just be a joy.

26. Cleveland Browns (2-5) – Come on Mangini, let’s get that upset over New England this week.

27. Denver Broncos (2-6) – Is it time for Tim Tebow yet?

28. San Francisco 49ers (2-6) – Sadly alive in the NFC West.

29. Minnesota Vikings (2-5) – The most talked about 2-5 team in NFL history.

30. Carolina Panthers (1-6) – I’d be shocked if they won more than 3 games this year.

31. Buffalo Bills (0-7) – At least they put up a fight every week.

32. Dallas Cowboys (1-6) – No heart, no effort. I’d be more scared of the Jets playing Buffalo or Carolina right now than Dallas.