NFL Week 3 Recap/Jets vs. Saints First Look

First a few updates:

1. The Jets have now moved up to #6 in ESPN’s Power Rankings, one spot behind this week’s opponent, the New Orleans Saints.

2. The status of Lito Sheppard and Donald Strickland remains up in the air for this weekend. I get the impression that Sheppard is further along than Strickland. It would be a huge boost to have at least one of them back against the Saints lethal passing attack. I am guessing the Jets aren’t going to sign a free agent corner like Corey Ivy, since they probably would have made the move already to have him in as early as possible to study the game-plan for New Orleans.

3. Rex Ryan admitted David Clowney was inactive for the Titans game because of some comments he made on Twitter about being disappointed with his lack of playing time. Clowney responded with a strong week in practice as a look squad receiver. Hopefully, this will be the type of thing that motivates Clowney for the rest of the season and he will eventually find a role in the offense.

Wrapping Up Jets/Titans

Defensive Player of the Game: Eric Smith – I never thought I’d be typing Smith’s name in this category but the fourth year safety has found a home in Rex Ryan’s scheme as a do everything defensive back. Smith has been used to shadow specific tight ends and running backs, along with frequently being sent at the quarterback as a blitzer. In the Tennessee game, Smith had 6 tackles, 2 passes defensed, and an interception. He is currently third on the team in tackles, despite not being a starter.

Offensive Player of the Game: Jerricho Cotchery – For the second week in a row, I am giving this award to Cotchery who carried the Jets passing attack with 8 catches for 108 yards and a touchdown. Right now, Cotchery is on pace to be a 1500 yard receiver and is proving all the critics wrong who thought he didn’t have the skill set to be a number one receiver.

Honorable Mentions: Drew Coleman for stepping in and playing a great game as the team’s nickel back…Kris Jenkins for continuing to dominate up front…David Harris for racking up another sack and his first interception of the season…Bart Scott for having his best game so far this season…Jim Leonhard for ripping off a big 36 yard punt return…Shaun Ellis for quickly getting Leonhard’s back when he was cheap shotted by one of the Titans lineman.

AFC East Observations

New England Patriots – The Patriots had a nice bounce back win against the Falcons at home. Their offense was led by a strong game from Fred Taylor, while Tom Brady continued to be somewhat out of sync. There was some horrible officiating in this game, that of course benefited the Patriots. I am very interested to see how New England handles the Ravens, who are considered by most to be the best team in the NFL, this upcoming Sunday.

Miami Dolphins – I feel terrible for Chad Pennington who suffered another season ending injury to his shoulder. However, I will enjoy watching the Dolphins suffer the rest of the season to a 4-12 record. Isn’t it funny how Jason Taylor left because they were 1-15, they went 11-5 without him, and now he comes back and they are going to be right back among of the NFL’s worst? haha. I am really hoping the Bills handle the Dolphins this weekend, so we could send Jason, Channing “The Jets are paper champs” Crowder and the rest of Miami to a 0-5 record.

Buffalo Bills – The Bills played the Saints tough for three quarters but fell apart in the fourth. I don’t like TO, but it is ridiculous how bad of a job Buffalo’s offense is doing getting the ball to him and Lee Evans. Regardless, Buffalo has the look of a team that could be around .500 this year.

TOJ Top 5

  1. Baltimore Ravens – Their offense continues to develop to compliment their already elite defense. I am hoping they put a beatdown on New England this week.
  2. New York Giants – Very business like victory over the hapless Bucs. They are an extremely well rounded team.
  3. Indianapolis Colts – Peyton Manning is in the zone right now, but then again I guess he always is.
  4. New York Jets – They have a chance to make a statement with a win in New Orleans this week.
  5. New Orleans Saints – First big test comes for them against the Jets defense.

TOJ Bottom 5

  1. Detroit Lions – Not in the bottom spot, which is progress for them.
  2. Washington Redskins – Their offense is a-w-f-u-l.
  3. Kansas City Chiefs – It is going to be an ugly re-building process.
  4. St. Louis Rams – Another historically bad year is on the way for the Rams.
  5. Cleveland Browns – The situation is getting real ugly for Eric Mangini.

Jets vs. Saints First Look

The Opponent: The Saints come in at 3-0 with the league’s best offense. After scoring 45 and 48 points the first two weeks, they were held to “only” 27 points last week against Buffalo. Drew Brees leads the Saints attack by spreading the ball around to a variety of receivers in the passing game, while New Orleans rushing attack has been coming on lately led by Pierre Thomas and Mike Bell. The Saints defense is coming off a strong effort against Buffalo and is generally considered to have improved from last year. Former Jets rookie of the year, Jonathan Vilma leads the unit at middle linebacker.

New Orleans Starters/Key Reserves

OFFENSE

  • Quarterback: Drew Brees – 67/97, 841 yards, 9 TD’s, 2 INT’s
  • Running Back: Mike Bell – 45 carries, 229 yards, 1 TD
  • Running Back: Pierre Thomas – 14 carries, 126 yards, 2 TD’s
  • Running Back: Reggie Bush – 30 carries, 111 yards, 1 TD, 11 receptions, 114 yards
  • Fullback: Heath Evans – 6 receptions, 51 yards, 2 TD’s
  • Wide Receiver: Marques Colston – 15 receptions, 195 yards, 3 TD’s
  • Wide Receiver: Robert Meachem – 3 receptions, 62 yards,  1 TD
  • Wide Receiver: Devery Henderson – 11 receptions, 214 yards, 1 TD
  • Tight End: Jeremy Shockey – 14 receptions, 128 yards, 2 TD’s
  • Left Tackle: Jammal Brown
  • Left Guard: Carl Nicks
  • Center: Jonathan Goodwin
  • Right Guard: Jahri Evans
  • Right Tackle: Jonathan Stinchcomb

DEFENSE

  • Defensive End: Charles Grant – 5 tackles, 1.5 sacks
  • Defensive Tackle: Sedrick Ellis – 10 tackles, 1 sack
  • Defensive Tackle: Kendrick Clancy – 1 tackle
  • Defensive End: Will Smith – 9 tackles, 1 sack
  • Outside Linebacker: Scott Shanle – 22 tackles, 2 INT’s
  • Middle Linebacker: Jonathan Vilma – 16 tackles, 1 sack
  • Outside Linebacker: Scott Fujita – 17 tackles
  • Corner: Jabari Greer – 15 tackles, 3 passes defensed
  • Corer: Tracy Porter – 10 tackles, 1 INT
  • Safety: Roman Harper – 23 tackles, 3 TFL’s
  • Safety: Darren Sharper – 6 tackles, 3 INT’s

SPECIAL TEAMS

  • Kicker: John Carney
  • Punter: Thomas Morstead
  • Punt Returner: Reggie Bush
  • Kick Returner: Courtney Roby

Key Players: Drew Brees is one of the league’s best quarterbacks and can carve any defense up if given enough time in the pocket. Marques Colston is his favorite target, especially near the end-zone. Jeremy Shockey is becoming more of a factor. Devery Henderson is a legit deep threat. On defense, Darren Sharper and Roman Harper have been playmakers for the Saints. Will Smith and Charles Grant are quality defensive ends, who can apply pressure and Jonathan Vilma and Scott Shanle are solid linebackers.

Injuries: Mike Bell isn’t likely to play at running back and either is Jammal Brown on the offensive line. For the Jets, Lito Sheppard and Donald Strickland remain question marks for this Sunday. Beyond that, the Jets appear to be healthy.

Early Story Lines: Battle of an undefeated teams…Top defense versus top offense…Jonathan Vilma against his former team…Jets attempt to get their running game going.

Saints/Bill Highlights

Jets vs. Titans: Prediction, TOJ TV Episode III

First a few updates:

1. Another week, another round of trash talk. Here is what Titans fullback Ahmad Hall had to say about Bart Scott, “I don’t like Bart; Bart don’t like me. He knows that. We had a good battle last year and he knows what he is going to get from me and I know what I am going to get from him. So it is what it is. You’re going to see us fighting all day. It is serious to me. I wouldn’t fight the guy or nothing like that – unless he wanted to fight. I don’t like the guy. He just runs his mouth all the time, even when he is not doing anything in the play. He is a talker and I just like guys that go out there and get their job done. Bart Scott is talking to everybody – he is talking to fans, he is talking to whoever listens to him. I think he runs his mouth a little too much and needs to just come out there and play. I went out there on a lead play (last year) and knocked his helmet off and he is still talking mess.” Keith Bulluck also said the Titans plan on rattling Mark Sanchez and leaving New York with their first win of the season. Alot of yapping from a team who is 0-2 and lost to the Jets by 21 in their own building last year.

2. Mark Sanchez is being listed on the injury report as a full participant in practice with tendinitis in his knee. Let’s not panic here, the Jets were just fined for not listing Brett Favre on the injury report last season and I think the Jets will go out of their way to list any type of ailment the rest of the season. Sanchez is going to start on Sunday and should be fine.

3. Donald Strickland and Lito Sheppard are both out this Sunday, meaning Dwight Lowery will start, with Drew Coleman sliding into the nickel role. Ahmad Carroll and Marquice Cole will be the backups. The Jets brought in free agents Corey Ivy and Justin Miller for a visit today, which could mean Strickland or Sheppard will be out for more than a week…not good with the Saints coming up next week.

Jets vs. Titans: Prediction, TOJ TV Episode III

Enjoy some footage from inside the stadium during the Jets victory over the Patriots, including the raucous celebration by the fans after the game, and some anti-New England chants.

The Song: Empire State of Mind – Jay-Z f/ Alicia Keys

NFL Week 1 Recap/Jets vs. Pats: First Look

First a few updates:

1. The Jets released cornerback Marquice Cole to make room for Shaun Ellis who is now reinstated and will be back in the starting line-up when the Jets play the Pats this Sunday.

2. The Jets made a nice little jump in ESPN’s Power Rankings from #23 to #16, giving them the week’s biggest improvement.

3. A few non-Jets things: The Yankees should be clinching that AL East title any day now and yes I believe they are the team to beat in the playoffs…Last week’s Entourage was a bit of a let down…But you have to be fired up about that new season of Curb Your Enthusiasm starting up this Sunday.

NFL Week 1 Recap

Wrapping Up Jets/Texans

Defensive Player Of The Game: David Harris/Darrelle Revis – It is impossible not to recognize both of them, which is why Rex Ryan gave them both game balls. Harris was all over the field and Revis shutdown arguably the best receiver in the NFL.

Offensive Player Of The Game: Mark Sanchez – Another easy pick, Sanchez looked like a seasoned veteran in his first career start. The tests only get tougher with the Patriots and Titans coming to town.

Honorable Mentions: Jerricho Cotchery for being clutch on third downs and looking like a running back after the catch…Donald Strickalnd for making two impact plays in a limited role…Sione Pouha/Mike DeVito for filling for Shaun Ellis and not letting the D-Line miss a beat…Leon Washington for 120 total yards…The Jets offensive line…Steve Weatherford for bringing some stability to the punting position.

AFC East Observations

New England Patriots – Was it just me or did the Patriots look nothing like an elite team last night? I’m pretty sure I saw Buffalo physically dominate them for 58 minutes and then choke away the game in a manner that only the Bills could. Give Tom Brady credit for a strong finish and leading the game winning drive and to Randy Moss/Ben Watson for having big time nights. However, let’s be honest the Pats defense didn’t look good, they had no running game, and Brady looked a little shaky in the pocket. How often you think Rex Ryan will be sending the house next week?

Miami Dolphins – Welcome to reality Miami fans aka your 2009 season. I have been saying this for months, Miami has 6-10 written all over them, last year’s magical run is over and it is time for a tough schedule and a lack of talent to catch up with them. Chad Pennington won’t finish the season as their starter, and they will be 0-2 after losing to Indy this Monday night.

Buffalo Bills – Smart play, Leodis McKlevin…just brilliant. You really showed everybody what a game breaker you were last night by taking the ball out of the end-zone with your hands team blocking for you and then trying to fight for extra yards after getting lit up by Brandon Merriweather…awesome, real smart football. Beyond that, Buffalo was impressive and should be 1-0. How do you bench Fred Jackson when Marshawn Lynch comes back?

Five Teams That Impressed Me

  1. Philadelphia Eagles– Steam rolled the Panthers in their building, but better hope McNabb gets back quickly.
  2. Oakland Raiders – Put up a fight on Monday Night Football when everyone expected them to lose by 30.
  3. Buffalo Bills – See above.
  4. San Francisco 49ers – Big opening day win against the defending NFC West champs.
  5. New York Giants – Dominated the Redskins, don’t let the score fool you.

Five Teams That Looked Like Garbage

  1. St. Louis Rams – Absolutely no fight from this team, are they really that bad?
  2. Cleveland Browns – They are going to average about 10 points a game this year.
  3. Carolina Panthers – They aren’t going anywhere with Jake Delhomme, who looks like his confidence is shot after last year.
  4. Arizona Cardinals – What happened to that offense from last season?
  5. Miami Dolphins – The first of many losses for them this year.

Other Observations

Let’s see if the Vikings can win when somebody stops the run (if it is possible to stop AP)…At least on Sunday night I was happy we didn’t trade for Jay Cutler, 4 picks owch…The poor Bengals, they had become my 2nd favorite team after Hard-Knocks and they lose like that? (By the way, Laveranues had 1 catch and 2 drops)…Good effort by a young Jacksonville team to nearly upset the Colts…I’d still take Darren Sproles over LaDanian Tomlinson, regardless of what anyone says about him having some type of big bounce back year…Reggie Bush: 7 carries for 14 yards, glad we got #29.

Jets vs. Patriots First Look

The Opponent: Everybody’s pick to win the AFC East, Las Vegas’s favorite to win the Super Bowl, the New England Patriots are the team that every analyst and expert loves to love. The Pats were 11-5 last year without All-Pro quarterback Tom Brady who has now returned. New England looked less than impressive as they escaped with a week one victory because the Buffalo Bills choked in the final minutes. Regardless, they have won their last eight games in the Meadowlands against the Jets and have one of the league’s most potent offenses. Despite questions on defense, the Pats will be consensus favorites to beat the Jets this week as the media hypes up Rex Ryan’s quote that he won’t “kiss Bill Bellicheck’s rings.” If the Jets want to be considered serious AFC contenders, a win at home against the Pats would be a good place to start.

New England Patriots Starters/Key Reserves

OFFENSE

  • Quarterback: Tom Brady – 39/53, 378 yards, 2 TD’s, 1 INT
  • Running Back: Laurence Maroney – 10 carries, 32 yards
  • Running Back: Fred Taylor – 9 carries, 25 yards, 1 TD
  • Running Back: Kevin Faulk – 3 carries, 7 yards
  • Wide Receiver: Randy Moss – 12 catches, 141 yards
  • Wide Receiver: Wes Welker – 12 catches, 93 yards
  • Wide Receiver: Joey Galloway – 0 catches
  • Tight End: Ben Watson – 6 catches, 77 yards 2 TD’s
  • Tight End: Chris Baker – 1 catch, 7 yards
  • Left Tackle: Matt Light
  • Left Guard: Logan Mankins
  • Center: Dan Koppen
  • Right Guard: Stephen Neal
  • Right Tackle: Nick Kaczur

DEFENSE

  • Defensive End: Ty Warren
  • Nose Tackle: Vince Wilfork
  • Defensive End: Jarvis Green
  • Outside Linebacker: Pierre Woods – 4 tackles, 2 FF
  • Inside Linebacker: Jerod Mayo
  • Inside Linebacker: Gary Guyton – 4 tackles
  • Outside Linebacker: Adalius Thomas – 1 sack, 5 tackles
  • Outside Linebacker: Tully Banta-Cain – 2 sacks
  • Outside Linebacker: Derrick Burgess – 1 sack
  • Corner: Leigh Bodden – 5 tackles, 1 pass defense
  • Corner: Shawn Springs – 6 tackles, 1 FF
  • Safety: Brandon Merriweather – 8 tackles,
  • Safety: James Sanders – 4 tackles

SPECIALS

  • Kicker: Stephen Gostkowski
  • Punter: Chris Hanson
  • Kick Return: Laurence Maroney
  • Punt Return: Wes Welker

Key Players: Obviously Tom Brady, Randy Moss, and Wes Welker are the Pats best weapons on offense. They have a deep group of running backs led by Laurence Maroney and their offensive line is consistently solid. On defense, they have a strong rotation at outside linebacker who all contribute to their pass rush. Brandon Merriweather is a rising star in the secondary.

Injuries: The Jets appear to be 100 percent healthy heading into this game, nobody will be inactive because of an injury. Pats middle linebacker Jerod Mayo was hurt last night and is questionable to play this week.

Early Story Lines: Pats have won 8 straight in the Meadowlands…Rex Ryan “kiss the rings” quote…Battle for early lead in AFC East…Darrelle Revis vs Randy Moss…The Jets defense getting after Tom Brady…Mark Sanchez vs Bill Bellicheck’s defensive scheme.

Good Luck Blocking Kris Jenkins

Sanchez Ends OTAs With a Bang

Today was the Jets final OTA, which means tomorrow begins a quiet period for the Jets and the NFL in general until training camp starts up at the end of July. Here’s a run down of what happened on the field today with some analysis, along with a look at what to expect for the next 6 weeks until training camp starts on July 31st:

1. Mark Sanchez responded to a quiet start by closing the Jets OTA on a very high note. He was forced to resort to dump offs in his first 11 on 11 series and was intercepted by Eric Smith, who recorded his fifth take away in two days. However, in his final 11 on 11 series Sanchez gave his coaches, teammates and fans something to feel good about for the next 6 weeks. After hitting Wallace Wright with his first pass, he found David Clowney three straight times and then closed the drive with a 17 yard fade for a touchdown to his new favorite target, Wright. Yes, it is only going for 5/5 with a TD on one 11 on 11 series but still it shows the progress Sanchez has made in the past few weeks. Kellen Clemens played relatively well today also. Rex Ryan stated that he was encouraged by the competition and believes it is about even so far.

2. Back to the wide receivers, Ryan heaped the praise on Wallace Wright today who had a very strong set of OTAs. Wright hasn’t been mentioned much as a factor at the wide receiver position but don’t sleep on this guy. He did pretty well in 2007 when given the chance and could work his way into the rotation this year. Brad Smith made an acrobatic one-handed grab today and Ryan talked about his belief that Smith could be a dangerous slot receiver. He has all the physical talent necessary for the position but needs to show he can be consistent in games, not just practice. Chansi Stuckey continued to play very well is looking the part of a number two receiver. David Clowney has struggled with drops occasionally but still is flashing his speed and big play ability on a daily basis. If the season started today, Cotchery and Stuckey would be the starters with Smith probably receiving the next most reps, followed by Clowney and Wright.

3. Ryan singled out linebacker Marques Murrell for praise today. Murrell has flashed decent pass rush skills in the past and may be able to work his way into the rotation on defense, especially if Vernon Gholston doesn’t step up. Jason Trunsick and Murrell provide the Jets with solid depth behind their group of starters.

4. As I mentioned before, Eric Smith had another strong practice and has made a strong impression on Ryan who raved about him and James Ihedigbo as guys who provide excellent depth behind starters Kerry Rhodes and Jim Leonhard. Smith should see plenty of action on defense in nickel and dime packages and could even push Leonhard for reps if he keeps playing this well.

5. Kris Jenkins has been getting moved around a little bit on the defensive line, seeing some reps at end. He has actually been held out of some drills because of how dominant he is up front, according to Ryan. Howard Green and Sione Pouha have looked good so far as Jenkins primary backups.

6. Apparently the Jets quarterbacks have given up throwing at Darrelle Revis who looks every bit of the lockdown corner he proved to be last year. Dwight Lowery had been quiet but flashed today with a sack and a pass breakup. Lowery was a Mangini guy, so it will be interesting to see where he fits in Ryan’s new defense. He has very good ball skills but lacks speed.

So what to write about for the next six weeks, while the Jets retreat back to their homes for some relaxation before they head to upstate New York for training camp? Fortunately, I never get tired of discussing this team and have plenty of ideas on how to fill up this blog every day. Overall, this may be a slow time for Jets news but it won’t be here. There is plenty to write about: the quarterback battle, the questionable depth at receiver, the ongoing contract issues with Thomas Jones/Leon Washington, potential trades or free agent signings, examining how the Jets can attack their AFC East rivals, breaking down the schedule overall, predicting who will make the roster, looking at camp battles, and providing closer/statistic based breakdowns of the Jets starters, key reserves, and bubble players.

Where Do the Jets Fit in the AFC East?

First a few updates:

1. The Gang Green (www.theganggreen.com) has a great feature that tracks all of the Jets who are on twitter. Apparently Mark Sanchez spent the weekend in Seaside Heights…? C’mon Mark, you are going to be a rich man, at least get over to Belmar or something. David Clowney, Chansi Stuckey, Jay Feely, and Dustin Keller all also have active accounts. Keller just got back from Vegas…good for him, I’ll be there next week.

2. Can somebody on Cleveland please help out LeBron James and hit an open jump shot?

3. According to Rich Cimini, Thomas Jones will be coming to OTAs on Wednesday without a new deal or any plans for a new deal. It should be interesting to see what he says to the media, since it appears the Jets may have won this stare down.

Where Do the Jets Fit in the AFC East?

The Jets have had one of the more active and better overall off-seasons in the NFL. Yet, where do they fit in the always highly competitive AFC East? Last year they finished in third place with a 9-7 record, behind the Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots. The Jets split with both of them last season and swept the Buffalo Bills. When most analysts look at the AFC East for this upcoming season, they rank the Jets as the third or fourth best team, meaning they will be extreme longshots at making the playoffs.

New England is receiving the most pre-season hype in NFL history for a team that didn’t make the playoffs the previous year. They have somehow become the consensus number one team in all April/May power rankings (which, fortunately are never right) and are filling up magazines with talk of breaking every offensive record in the book.

I may hate Bill Bellicheck and New England but I am not naive, they are going to be a good football team this year, like they are every year. However, there are too many questions about the Patriots that are being ignored to just assume they are going to be a 12-14 win team in 2009.

Tom Brady is coming off major  knee surgery. I know the guy is a first ballot hall-of-famer but it takes time to adjust coming back from his type of injury. How can you assume he is going to instantly be back to his 2007 form? New England still has Randy Moss and Wes Welker, probably the best starting duo of receivers in the game but have some questions behind them. I’m not sold on Joey Galloway who looked completely washed up last year and Greg Lewis who has been a 15-20 catch a season guy for the past three years. Their four wide doesn’t scare me like it used to, with Donte Stallworth and Jabar Gaffney who excelled in the Pats system.

Laurence Maroney hasn’t  proven he can handle being a lead back yet and Fred Taylor certainly didn’t look like a #1 or #2 back last season. Their secondary is also very weak. Maybe I am nit-picking with them but I don’t see them cruising to a 13-3 season like every other NFL analyst in the world. I know Rex Ryan did a hell of a job against them in 2007, and I am hoping he can duplicate that effort twice this year.

The Buffalo Bills are receiving a ton of hype because of one player…T.O. Yes, they have a great group of receivers but what about the rest of the team? I’m not sold on Trent Edwards yet as a franchise quarterback, their defense has question marks, and Marshawn Lynch is already suspended for the first three games. Dick Jauron also can’t seem to get out of his own way as a head coach.

The 2008 Miami Dolphins were the 2006 New York Jets. Despite having an overall lack of talent, they used a creative offensive scheme led by an efficient Chad Pennington, an opportunistic defense, and a cupcake schedule to sneak into the playoffs. The 2009 Miami Dolphins are going to be the 2007 New York Jets, maybe not as bad as 4-12 but nowhere near as good as 11-5. Defenses are going to be all over Pennington and their pedestrian group of receivers, similar to the Ravens in the first round of the playoffs. Their secondary also has a ton of question marks and can you really count on Ricky Williams for two good seasons in a row at this stage of his career?

It may just sound like I am bashing all of the Jets rivals, so let my clarify my feelings on the AFC East. New England is the best team as of right now. They have the best coach, the best quarterback, the most dangerous offense and an experienced, solid overall defense. However, they are a very beatable team that isn’t going to run away with this thing as a 13/14 win team. The Jets, Bills, and Dolphins are all grouped together beneath New England. One of the those three will make a strong run at the division, while the other two will hover around .500. It really depends on who can win their division games. The Jets need to find a way to get 3 out of 4 from Miami/Buffalo and manage a split with New England to have a chance at both a division title and making the playoffs.