New York Jets Fact Or False: Week 6 Edition

Chris Gross gives his weekly Fact or False, previewing Jets/Colts

The New York Jets are coming off a very hard fought week 5 loss against arguably the league’s best team, the Houston Texans. Unfortunately, like Head Coach Rex Ryan pointed out, there are no moral victories in this league, despite the numerous amount of positive things the Jets may have done this past Monday night. Heading into week 6, the Jets look to get back to .500 as they host the surging, 2-2 Indianapolis Colts, led by rookie sensation Andrew Luck and a revived Reggie Wayne.

There has been a lot of talk recently about the Jets being a desperate team, in need of serious roster adjustments, if they wish to have any chance at the post season this year. However, as ESPN‘s Colin Cowherd pointed out yesterday, the Jets are not a desperate team. The Jets are a very young team who are in need of their younger players to step their play up.

That’s correct, the Jets are actually a very young team. New York has been criticized as of late for being “old and slow,” however, of the 22 starters on this team, only 4 are over 30 years of age. At linebacker, yes, New York is certainly old and rather slow in comparison to other units around the league. In fact, of the 4 players that are over 30, 3 of them occupy 75% of the linebacking corps.

So where do the Jets go from here? Do they pick themselves up off the mat and realize that this season is far from dead? Or do they read the press clippings from just about every mainstream media outlet and pack it in, in preparation for 2013? Will the vaunted “ground and pound” that we’ve heard so much about finally get going this week? Are Mark Sanchez’s days as this team’s starting quarterback over? And finally, will the defense build on its strong second half from last week and shut down Luck and the Colts offense? Find out all of that and more in this weeks’s edition of New York Jets Fact Or False.

The Colts will run for 100+ yards. False. Indianapolis may be the only team in the NFL whose stable of running backs is just as shallow as New York’s. Donald Brown is seemingly filling the Shonn Greene role of getting carries by default, solely because there is such a lack of depth at the position. The Colts currently rank 19th in the league in rushing offense averaging 97.5 yards per contest. New York’s run defense came on very strong in the second half last week against Houston, and outside of a few very nice runs from Arian Foster, arguably the league’s best back, played particularly well all game. The Colts certainly do not have anyone on the roster that comes close to the talent level of Foster, so look for the Jets to take the run away early, and try to put in on the rookie Andrew Luck to beat them. Not an easy task against a Rex Ryan constructed defense, on the road.

Mark Sanchez will play well enough to keep his job. Fact. Sanchez has certainly struggled recently, posting historically bad numbers in terms of his completion percentage. Despite his depleted arsenal of weapons, he is still inexcusably missing key throws that he should be making. That being said, Sanchez will likely get back two key pieces of this offense in rookie Stephen Hill, who was monstrous for New York in Week 1 (a game that feels like it occurred light years ago), and tight end Dustin Keller.

Keller has been famously known as Sanchez’s most trusted target and safety blanket. As the team’s longest tenured receiving option, that perception is absolutely correct. Sanchez relies upon a good receiving tight end in key spots. Last week, Jeff Cumberland watched a Sanchez pass go off of his hands into the hands of the Houston defense, ultimately sealing the game on Monday night. Whether or not Keller would have caught that pass is irrelevant. However, Keller’s presence alone should give Sanchez some much needed confidence and a better feeling of security in knowing that his trustworthy tight end is back. With the return of Keller and Hill, expect to see an offensive improvement this week.

The Jets will rush for over 100 yards. Fact. It is depressing to Jets fans everywhere, that each week they have to wonder whether or not this offense, supposedly built on running the football, can collectively surpass 100 yards on the ground. However, over their past 4 games, the Jets have faced 4 of the best run defenses in the entire league. Pittsburgh currently ranks 11th in run defense, Miami 1st, San Francisco 7th, and Houston 9th. Four consecutive weeks of facing top 11 run defenses. While this is not an excuse for the Jets lack of execution in this area of their offense, they head into week 6 facing a much weaker unit. Indianapolis currently ranks 26th in run defense, allowing 135.8 yards per contest. With Robert Mathis out, there is really no one within the Colts front seven that should cause problems for the Jets running game. Look for Shonn Greene, who got a recent vote of confidence from Rex Ryan, to continue to get the majority of the carries, finishing with 75-90 yards, while Bilal Powell and Tim Tebow chip in for a collective total of about 50 yards on the ground. Once again, it will not be pretty, but if anything, it will be an improvement from what we have seen.

Reggie Wayne will have 5 or more receptions. False. Since losing star cornerback Darrelle Revis to a season ending ACL injury in week 3, his counterpart, Antonio Cromartie, has stepped up his play tremendously. In week 4 against San Francisco, Cromartie held Randy Moss and Michael Crabtree to a combined 2 receptions for 15 yards. Last week, the veteran out of Florida State held Houston’s Andre Johnson to just one reception for 15 yards. Cromartie is proving to be in that elite group of defensive backs in this league. This week, it will be even more imperative for him to continue this level of play, as Reggie Wayne has been Andrew Luck’s most targeted receiver. Take Wayne away, and the rookie is left with a makeshift group of receivers. Shutting down Wayne will be key to defensive success as it will likely fluster the young Quarterback to not have the trusted veteran as an option. The defensive coaching staff has likely been preaching this to Cromartie all week, who has been playing with a heavy chip on his shoulder due to the vast amount of criticism he has received over the past year. Look for Cro’ to continue his elite level of play.

Quinton Coples will register his first NFL sack this week. Fact. Everyone is waiting for this to happen, and based on our defensive film breakdowns, Coples is right on the cusp of registering that coveted first career sack. The rookie out of North Carolina is growing with every rep he gets, and Indianapolis has given up 9 sacks in 4 games, not terrible, but certainly not very good. Look for Rex Ryan and Mike Pettine to continue to move Coples all over the board, and for a sack to come on an inside stunt, where he is such a mismatch for slower offensive linemen.

The Jets will return to .500 after this week. Fact. New York hasn’t lost 3 consecutive home games since 2009, Ryan’s first year with the club. The defense has slowly been improving, and this could be the week that they put it all together for the dominant performance everyone has been waiting for. Expect Ryan and Pettine to throw the kitchen sink at the rookie Luck, who will face arguably the toughest defense he has all year, on the road, and expect the offense to do enough to give the Jets a double digit victory.

New York Jets Defensive Film Breakdown: Week 2

Chris Gross breaks down the defensive game film from the Jets week 2 match-up against the Pittsburgh Steelers

If you missed our first edition of the New York Jets Defensive Film Breakdown, a season long series devoted to evaluating the play of everyone on the defense, with a focus on the defensive line, you can check that out here. For this week, we will look at what was a rather abysmal performance from a Revis-less New York Jets defense that allowed 27 points in Pittsburgh. While the run defense was much improved from week 1, allowing only 66 total yards on the ground to a stable of less than average Steelers backs, there is still much to improve on that would make this unit far more productive. As for the secondary, obviously losing the best defensive player in football is critical. However, that is not an excuse for the poor play of both Antonio Cromartie and Kyle Wilson. All will be touched on throughout this piece, but for now, let’s start with this column’s priority, the defensive line.

Muhammad Wilkerson – Wilkerson remains very hot and cold in his play. On some plays, he looks to be the best run stopper this defense has had in years. He is extremely fast off the ball, while his reaction time is second to none. This past week, there were numerous plays where Wilkerson clearly got a pre-snap read on the offensive lineman lined up over him, as he seemingly knew exactly what block was coming at him on that particular play, whether it was a double team, down block, drive block, pull, or pass set. On one specific play, with Wilkerson lined up as the three technique over the guard, he read the pull, got in the guard’s hip pocket, screamed down the line, and made the tackle three yards in the backfield. Textbook technique and reaction time by the second year pro out of Temple.

Wilkerson also flashes tremendous awareness at times. With 5:58 seconds to go in the first half this past Sunday, Wilkerson altered his pass rush lane after he noticed Calvin Pace jump inside of him. Rather than continuing to work upfield on the inside of the tackle, Wilkerson kept his outside arm and shoulder free, while maintaining leverage with his inside arm. This prevented Roethlisberger from being able to scramble out of the pocket, where he had would have had room to run for an easy first down. Unfortunately, this play resulted in a first down completion, but only because Pace once again struggled to close the gap on the Quarterback. An outside linebacker with any type of relative game speed would have come up with a sack in the pocket, which would have been a direct result of Wilkerson’s heads up play.

While Wilkerson certainly did a lot of good, as demonstrated by the praise above, he still has miles to go before he can be considered elite, particularly in the run game. Similar to week one, Wilkerson once again displayed a poor habit of peeking his head into another gap, causing a massive running lane to open. This past Sunday, these instances led to medium gains of 10-12 yards, but against a back like Reggie Bush, who the Jets will see this upcoming week in Miami, mistakes like this will surely lead to big gains, and possibly touchdowns, as displayed by the long runs of CJ Spiller in week 1.

As you can see below, Wilkerson begins this particular play in the opening quarter in excellent position. He maintains good leverage on the left tackle, while controlling his gap, ready to make a play if the ball comes to him, with Bart Scott sitting behind him, reading which gap the back will choose.

If Wilkerson stays home, Redman would be forced to run to the inside of the tackle. Bart Scott, reading the back, is patiently waiting to see which direction he will choose, ready to react and stop the play from either side.

However, as displayed below, once Redman steps to the inside, Wilkerson cheats and peeks his head that way, placing himself and Scott in the same gap, while leaving his unattended, resulting in a massive lane being opened, and a 13 yard gain, one that would have been much greater if facing a back with home run speed.

What should have been a gain of 1-2 yards, results in a gain of 13 and a Pittsburgh 1st down. Wilkerson cannot continue to make mistakes like this, particularly this week when facing Miami and Reggie Bush, who would have likely turned this play into a touchdown.

Marcus Dixon – Unfortunately, Wilkerson is not the only defensive lineman to practice this poor habit. Marcus Dixon was also very guilty of making the exact same mistake on Pittsburgh’s first touchdown drive. In the second quarter, with the ball at the Jets’ 13 yard line, the Jets had the opportunity to hold Pittsburgh to a field goal by stopping them in the red zone, heading into the half. However, on 1st and 10, the Steelers ran for a seven yard gain, setting up a nice 2nd and 3 from the six yard line, eventually leading to the Heath Miller touchdown. How did this happen? Take a look.

Here, just about everyone in the front seven, other than Dixon, is maintaining perfect gap leverage. However, Dixon is clearly struggling to maintain his ground. Instead of continuing to fight to his outside and hold his gap, he takes the easy route by ducking inside, in an attempt to get a cheap tackle. This opens up yet another massive running lane, leading to the seven yard gain that led to a Pittsburgh touchdown.

The closest person to making the play here is Yeremiah Bell, who, at this point, is about 12-13 yards away from the ball carrier.

Dixon remained very unimpressive in this contest. He more often then not gets knocked off the line of scrimmage, causing problems for the linebackers and creating large running lanes. Dixon has been caught out of position numerous times in the first two games, something that, if not fixed, will certainly begin to cost him playing time.

Kenrick Ellis – To me, Ellis was the most impressive defensive lineman on the field this past Sunday. He plays with unbelievable leverage, something that, when combined with his fantastic size and strength, makes him virtually immovable. Ellis proved to be technically sound, explosive, quick, and relentless. Expect him to begin to see more and more playing time as the season unfolds. A solid two man rotation at the nose tackle position could be a very dangerous weapon for this defense.

Garrett McIntyre – McIntyre, the man of the hour, delivering two sacks and a tackle for loss in his debut as a starter, certainly surprised a lot of people by his performance in Pittsburgh this past Sunday. However, take caution when anointing him the next leader of the New York Sack Exchange. Yes, McIntyre played very hard, and was certainly thrown to the wolves by having to face a Ben Roethlisberger led offense in his very first career start, but when observing the film, McIntyre hardly did anything spectacular.

His first sack was a direct result of a well designed, well timed line stunt. The Jets ran a loop with Quinton Coples, who was lined up on the interior of the defensive line. What this means is that Coples drove up field extremely hard for two steps, fooling the offensive line into thinking he was taking his normal pass rush lane, just before he bailed out to loop around to the end of the line to occupy the outside rush line. Meanwhile, McIntyre was sent like a bullet direct inside at Steelers Center Mike Pouncey, who never saw him coming as he was paying attention solely to Coples on the play. As a result, McIntyre ran Pouncey over from his blind side, and had a clear shot at Roethlisberger in the pocket. While McIntyre certainly deserves credit for coming in so aggressively, this sack was a direct result of Rex Ryan’s defensive genius and the respect commanded by Coples. Still, a sack nonetheless.

On McIntyre’s tackle for loss in the second half, he came off the edge completely unblocked and made the tackle on the back about 2-3 yards behind the line of scrimmage. To his credit, he made the offense pay for not accounting for him. However, it is not very difficult to make plays when not a single person lays a finger on you.

McIntyre’s second sack was his most impressive play of the game. He came upfield very hard on the left tackle, gaining leverage on the edge, and split the attempted chip by the back, taking him right to Roethlisberger for the takedown.

As far as coverage goes, McIntyre is a complete liability. On more than one occasion, he can be found running around in coverage like a chicken with his head cut off. He even warranted an unpleasant reaction from Kyle Wilson on one play early in the first quarter.

Based on his performance, McIntyre should not be a full time starter, however, his effort level lead to the majority of his execution. That alone, should continue to earn him some limited reps, with the hope that he continues to grow and develop into a decent contributor.

Quinton Coples – It remains a mystery as to why Coples is seeing such limited action. For a team that clearly has pass rush issues, one would think that this team would be eager to get one of their most athletic players in the game to get after the Quarterback. In this particular contest, Coples saw a fair amount of his reps on the interior, where he was a clear mismatch to the center and guards due to his superior athleticism. In order to establish a respectable pass rush, New York needs to get their first round selection on the field more.

Calvin Pace – Pace continues to be the most technically sound, disciplined player on the Jets defensive line. The veteran OLB/DE plays very, very tough, and is arguably the most consistent player the Jets have up front. However, his problem remains the same, and was displayed yet again this past week in Pittsburgh, in that he is just a step too slow at this point in his career. With his form and tenacity, if Pace had the speed and explosiveness of a 25 year old, there is a good chance he would be playing in a pro bowl due to how well he fits within the Jets’ defensive scheme. Expect him to remain solid, but not extraordinary, for the remainder of the season.

Mike DeVito – DeVito remains as one of the best run stoppers on this team, and arguably in the entire division. Time and time again this past week DeVito displayed that, although he will never jump off the stat sheet at anyone, he rarely gets caught out of position, or beaten by his opponent. He is certainly a fundamental piece up front, and his presence is surely missed when he is spelled by Marcus Dixon.

Sione Pouha – Pouha looked decent in his first start back from injury. He was very solid, as he has been in the past. He remains very strong as the anchor for the Jets in the middle of the defensive line, and his experience and knowledge of the game is very noticeable on film.  He commanded several double teams, which is certainly something to be said about a player who has been troubled by back issues. Pouha and Ellis together should give everyone else on this defensive line the ability to become playmakers due to the large amount of double teams they both command.

Aaron Maybin – Maybin was virtually non-existent yet again. He continues to show poor body control, as he repeatedly will fly upfield with no regard for where the pocket or Quarterback is. It seems as if the league may be catching onto his tactics, as the tackles in Pittsburgh, like Buffalo, used his own momentum to ride him past the Quarterback on his pass rushes. Maybin needs to display an expanded arsenal of pass rush moves and a much greater sense of awareness if he plans on building on his fairly strong 2011.

The Linebackers – David Harris was extremely solid, and remains a fundamental cornerstone of this defense. What really jumped off the tape was the athleticism and explosiveness displayed by Bart Scott. Scott was extremely impressive last week, particularly against the run. He is so fast in his reads and reaction time that his first two steps make up for whatever straight ahead speed he may have lost at this point in his career. He undoubtedly looks to be back to the Bart Scott of old.

The Secondary – The play of the Safeties was generally average and similar to week 1. Both Bell and Landry remain solid against the run, while both are still seemingly trying to get comfortable in coverage. Each of them were caught trailing the Tight Ends a few times, and Landry even came up with a couple of personal fouls.

Bell seems to play much more poised than Landry, who find himself out of control at times. He had more than one clear shot at Roethlishberger for a sack, on well designed blitzes, however, like Maybin, he came in so fast and uncontrollable, that Roethlisberger was able to easily avoid him in the pocket.

The Cornerbacks obviously took a serious hit this week, losing Darrelle Revis to injury. However, that is no excuse for how Antonio Cromartie and Kyle Wilson played.

Cromartie in particular, displayed no ability to finish a play. Numerous times, he started out great in coverage, but would lose the receiver he was matched up on by the end of the play, as displayed by the Mike Wallace touchdown. It is quite embarrassing that an inability to finish is a critique of a veteran like Cromartie. He is much better than how he played this past Sunday, and must start playing to his potential for this defense to succeed.

Kyle Wilson, on the other hand, was no match for Antonio Brown. The Steelers went after Wilson, and rightfully so, as they knew Brown held the clear advantage in the match up. To me, Wilson is seemingly a much better zone coverage corner, than he is man coverage corner. Perhaps it is a confidence issue because one would think a former first round selection would be able to match up, athletically, with someone like Brown, a former sixth round pick.

So, the obvious question that remains from Sunday is the same one that has been prevalent since Rex Ryan took over in New York – Where was the four man pass rush? Once again, the Jets relied on scheme to get pressure on the Quarterback. Well, at least for this week, the Jets’ four man rush was schemed against to perfection by Pittsburgh. The Steelers knew that Garret McIntyre would be seeing the majority of reps filling in for Bryan Thomas, and drew their protection around this perfectly.

Most of the time, when the Jets rushed four, Pittsburgh kept an tight end or back in to help in pass pro. This resulted in the following:

By leaving in an extra blocker, Pittsburgh allowed themselves to set up two mismatches. At the right of the screen, you can see a 3 on 2 matchup with a guard, tackle, and tight end on Ellis and Wilkerson. In the middle, the center and right guard are assigned to doubling DeVito, leaving the right tackle on an island with Garrett McIntyre, a matchup they were willing to take all day. While McIntyre finished with two sacks, only one came on a straight four man rush. Pittsburgh was smart to play these odds, as they clearly paid off, displayed by the Jets lack of pass rush with a four man front.

There is certainly much to be excited about when it comes to the Jets defense. It is still extremely early in the season, and most of the issues discussed above should be ironed out as the year progresses. However, make no mistake, this defense is far from dominant. The potential is there, but there is an abundance of things that need to be worked on before reaching it.

New York Jets: Stop Apologizing and Justifying

TJ Rosenthal on the New York Jets not concerning themselves with outside perception of their team

TJ Rosenthal checks in with another strong take about the current state of the New York Jets. Make sure to follow TJ on Twitter. Jets/Bengals is only two days away…watch the game in style. Check back later this afternoon for TOJ’s weekly beat writer rankings.  

They brawl with each other, when they aren’t busy saying whatever they feel like, whenever they they feel like it. They have a backup QB who plays smashmouth positions, yet feel the need to state every day that the guy ahead of him is the “clear cut” starter. Rookies are all over the field over veterans with experience as many wonder if youth can overcome the lack of years. All of this and more, being visible to the naked eye due to unbridled summer access again, this time thanks to ESPN. With it all though, whether or not one agrees with the club’s media policy or personnel choices, the Jets have to realize that they owe nobody an apology for any of this. Gang Green is responsible for just one thing. Being ready to rumble INSIDE of the ring when the bell rings. Starting Friday night against the Bengals.

Let’s go through some items that the Jets have no reason to explain at this time:

Knock It Off Boomer, You Had Your Chance

Former Jet QB, Boomer Esiason told the world boldly on Monday that Tim Tebow should be cut, because he can’t throw. Well the last time we checked the record book, Esiason’s rocket arm still read “2-10” as starter during his 1995 season with Gang Green. A 15-27 tenure overall in New York. A year in which by the way, he got KO’d for the season in Buffalo. He may not have the perfect mechanics, but a ten count AND presiding over a loser from behind center? Hey, that’s at least two things the arm challenged Tebow hasn’t come across yet either.

Tebow wins.

Tebow as a baller will be at his best as a runner who can throw. Whose roles will develop and become cemented more as his success from certain positions becomes apparent.

The Jets don’t have to explain how he will be used. What they ought to do instead, is realize that a more consistent arm should move soon to QB2. Whether it be the kids in camp or a cheap vet brought in. To do so would not be acknowledging a mistake in seeing Tebow as the number two. It would be strengthening a potential weakness.

If used right, this FOOTBALL PLAYER can help. The Jets need to stop feeling as though they need to send out a memo as to how and when it will all take place. Even if Hannah Storm and Ron Jaworski and Sal Paolantonio need to know now.

Woody Johnson says he’s surprised by the coverage surrounding Tebow but would be better off saying that he expected it. It shouldn’t matter either way since deep down Johnson has to feel that the kid will make plays. That’s why he was brought here first and foremost anyway, even if yes, he sells more merch than Lady Ga Ga.

Cro With An Ill Timed Thought, Not Exactly Breaking News

Antonio Cromartie said something ridiculous last week. Yes, and the sun rose and set each day all across the world as well. The Jets have an open door policy with players who tell you what they feel all the time. Often times the emotional words become headlines. If the Jets don’t like it, they can change the policy. That, or expect more nonsense.

On a trivial scale of an analogy of course, the Jets media approach is kind of like the 2nd amendment controversy. If the gun laws don’t change, the tragedies will continue. If the Jets want to stop the extra curricular chatter they have to close the doors and batten down the hatches. Changing their own amendment that was created once Eric Mangini was voted out office. Otherwise, let it ride.

Sanchez is the Starter? We Know That.

Mark Sanchez is more polished, more in command, more able to do more things with his arm consistently. He is the starter. The Jets have said it enough so as to let the outside world know that there is no QB controversy here. Enough already.

We understand the need for Rex and Co. to have gotten out in front of this story from the podium. Now it’s time put it to bed and start focusing on Sanchez running the offense well, and growing the young weapons he has to throw to. While considering the addition of a few vets for him along the way.

We are bordering now on too much noise about who the “clear cut” starter is, and not, in Jets nation, taking enough time to consider what a corps minus Santonio Holmes would really look like. If the rib scare wasn’t enough to strike fear in Jets brass, we’re not sure what it will take.

Are Hill, Kerely, Schilens and Turner enough?

Sanchez is the starter. We get it. Now keep an eye on things and make sure that he has what he needs on the outside so he doesn’t struggle. Forcing more post game quotes that support 6, as the Tebowmaniacs get louder.

Camp Fights Are As Old As Camps Themselves.

Teams fight. Brothers throw punches at the dinner table. People battling for jobs are desperate warriors with nothing to lose. These truths are as old as the bible.

Ryan has spent time this week trying to discipline his brawlers and hey, that’s a good thing. There is a fine line between “physical” and “illogical.” Sexy Rexy does not however, have to send players on extra laps primarily to show a nation of cable voyeurs that he is in control. He must do so only to draw the line between smart and tough, and what is dumb.

The 2012 Jets are a work in progress on many fronts. From the rookies being asked to contribute, to Tony Sparano’s new blend of the ground and pound with a wise aerial attack, to a new commitment towards being a shutdown defense again.

Stop apologizing. Stop justifying. Just come out of that tunnel and begin to head down the road that has been drawn up on paper. One that reads, “run hard, play physical, make the opponents go three and out, no turnovers.” Simple. Less sexy than the headline grabbers the Jets hand the media every day, but the formula for success that Ryan believes will get the Jets back on track.

Stay focused. Never mind what those outside of the bubble think or say.

No Huddle – Curtis Martin, Antonio Cromartie and Tim Tebow

TJ Rosenthal goes No Huddle looking at Curtis Martin HOF speech, Antonio Cromartie and Tim Tebow

TJ Rosenthal is back with his weekly No Huddle, talking on a number of different issues surrounding the New York Jets as they prepare for their first pre-season game. Make sure to follow on TJ on Twitter –

BUY YOUR TOJ SHIRT NOW

As we head into week one of the preseason schedule we take a look back on the past seven days in Jets nation. Never a dull moment around here –

Curtis Martin: 

What a Hollywood movie Curtis Martin’s life has been. From his tragic youth to redemption through the love for his mom and family, football and the coaches who become role models.

After making us all cry in the early part of his story, Curtis offered that even though he never grew up a football fan, the sport taught him about life. His speech taught us a few things too about perseverance, and the value of what’s truly important in this world.

Few Hall Of Fame acceptance speeches have been better.

A Week in The Life Of Antonio Cromartie:

Cro is a character. He’s up, he’s down, he’s athletic, he’s a game changer yet wears a bullseye on his back when he struggles. He’s quotable and he’s always honest.

That said, calling himself the second best WR on the Jets, even if it was taken out of context of it being a smack talk joke, was not what the Jets needed most regarding the passing game. What they needed and still need more, is for a true WR2 to emerge. And fast.

Later last week, Cro then of course goes ahead and almost breaks WR1’s rib during a Saturday night scrimmage. Figures. Only the Jets, right?. Luckily Mr. Holmes is OK.

Now Cro, make the same noise you made last week on the field and off, at your actual position. Be consistent. Lock down WR2. Jump some routes. Be that playmaker week in week out, that we envisioned you would be when you arrived.

As for wideout, if you streak downfield every so often on offense, we won’t complain either.

The Holmes scare:

Taking the Cromartie hit on Santonio during Saturdays intrasquad scrimmage a step further, sometimes a little doomsday fear is a good thing. Do the Jets REALLY feel safe if Tone were to go down? The answer is, depending on how they reacted for those few hours whoever awaiting X-Rays. Depth with experience still an issue.. Relying on potential for a win now team is a dangerous proposition.

Our suggestion? Pick up a vet who has made a few plays in this league before week one. This player can always be cut as time goes on. Be smart, not stubborn. Kids are kids. Give them time to develop and when the time is right, then allow them centerstage. Don’t just hand a young player a big job because there is no other choice.

Obama Chimes In On Jets QB situation:

First off, we truly believe Rex when he says as he did last week that Mark Sanchez is the clear cut QB and Tim Tebow is a special weapon who poses unique problems for opponents. We disagree with the Prez that fans should fear a controversy. We also wonder, ‘Mr President shouldn’t you be focused more on that 1970’s game show host that you will be facing in November?’

Then again, the NFL is alot more fun to banter about than any wonk talk about the economy is. Another diversion from the real issues, by some Commander in Chief.

We get it.

Boomer Esiason Says Jets Should Cut Tebow:

The former Jet QB now turned WFAN radio host offered this opinion this morning, mostly due to how Tebow throws the ball. Enough already with this people.

Tim Tebow is a runner who CAN throw at times, got it? The Jets do. As his role develops into something of a hybrid playmaker based on the potential to line up in many places, maybe everyone will finally believe Gang Green when they say they have a clear cut starter in Sanchez.

Now in defense of Boomer, the Jets will have to slide somebody up to the QB2 role at some point. No backup should be taking and delivering the hits that Tebow will this season. If the McElroy-Simms battle for the QB3 spot doesn’t develop one of those players into a viable 2 right now, the Jets might want to hit the market for a veteran.

Even if the move becomes a trick play on Tebow, who thought he was signing on here to be the backup. Hey, whatever is best for the team isn’t that true 15? You’ve said it yourself, that this is your goal in New York.

On more than one occasion.

Well what’s best may soon mean a slight change in plans. Tanny, Move Tebow to QB3 in time. This way, there will be a viable option if 6 goes down for a period of time. It’s still a passers league right now. The Jets have to prepare for the worst and be able to take part in an aerial show to some degree, if the worst does happen.

New York Jets Adjusting To Open Door Policy

TJ Rosenthal wonders if the New York Jets can handle an open door media policy?

TJ Rosenthal of The Jet Report is back with another feature, today looking at the New York Jets ongoing struggles with media exposure. Make sure to give TJ a follow on Twitter and to follow his work all season long at both The Jet Report and here at Turn On The Jets 

For the Jets, the offense with their return to the Ground and Pound, and the defense with their newcomers and hopeful additions of the 4-3 and the 46, are just the major concepts going under a transformation on the fly. There is more.  You have key players most notably Mark Sanchez who seek consistency and efficiency. Then there are the coaches starting with Rex Ryan who aim to have a better handle on guiding things than they did during the 8-8 disaster last year. Finally, you have the tricky open door media policy. One that provides a unique window into the minds of the personalities of this team directly, but when utilized foolishly, still threatens to divide before it conquers.

On Monday Antonio Cromartie told the world that he is currently the second best wideout the Jets have. It sounded like a joke, or a street ball challenge to us. It came off as a slight though to newly acquired Chaz Schilens. The episode made national headlines thanks to the fact that ESPN has replaced the idea of an HBO “Hard Knocks” return this summer by pitching it’s own tents in Cortland to stalk the Jets every morning. The episode forced Rex Ryan to remind his club and in a way himself, to be careful about HOW one addresses the media.

After all, it had only been days since Santonio Holmes, a star who constantly struggles with timing and tone (no pun intended) when it comes to airing out his thoughts near a microphone, stated publicly that a two QB system won’t work.

In Ryan’s mind, who knew what player would simply step up to the podium and do some damage next. Who could tell how the next words out of a Jet players mouth would be interpreted by fans, teammates, and sportswriters?

To Ryan, Monday early evening meant warning time.

Hey, Rex’s Jets will never end up quiet. Silent. Shy. It’s not in their DNA. They can however, like both sides of the ball, find a groove that works for them. That embodies who they are in an effective, rather than destructive way. Post practice articles that popped up and questioned whether or not this was the first new Gang Green locker room squabble, after a plethora of them took place last year, were jumping the gun. In the same way that QB pitch counts between Sanchez and Tim Tebow are jumping the gun right now. However, Ryan’s warning shot was on point in that it’s never too early to establish habits worth keeping throughout an entire season.

The Jets have to realize from the top of the organization on down that the media  will continue to look for anything that keeps the newsworthy club relevant in banner headline fashion. The Jets are one of those “it” teams, especially now that some guy named Tebow has joined them. How they finished last season only dramatizes further the storyline of the rise and fall of a cocky, confident, brash club. The real question now is where does the story end. Will the Jets rise again under Ryan or sink further into confusion and disarray that to some, only scratched the surface in 2011?

At this point in time it is all a work in progress and too early to tell. Rebranding the offense to feature the ground game, while unleashing a new versatile athletic defense provides a new roadmap for Sanchez and Co. to follow, as they seek a way back to the playoffs. Heading back down the winning direction however, while avoiding the pitfalls of quotes that writers can turn into locker room wedges, may be the biggest challenge of them all for the 2012 Jets.

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New York Jets Fact Or False: Secondary Edition

Chris Gross with his weekly Fact or False, this week focusing on the New York Jets secondary

Chris Gross is back with his weekly Fact or False, this week focusing on the New York Jets secondary. Make sure to give Chris a follow on Twitter

The New York Jets have one of the most intriguing defensive secondaries in the NFL. While they have, arguably, the greatest trio of cornerbacks in the league in (All-World) Darrelle Revis, Antonio Cromartie, and Kyle Wilson, they have not been very strong at the safety position as of late. However, the Jets addressed this issue the best way they possibly could this offseason, by adding 4 newcomers. The two free agents, LaRon Landry and Yeremiah Bell, along with the two rookies, Josh Bush and Antonio Allen, have the chance to revitalize this position for New York, and officially give the Jets the best secondary in the league. Will these additions, along with the players already on the roster, combine to make such a secondary? Find out all you need to know in this week’s edition of New York Jets Fact Or False.

Kyle Wilson will emerge as a starter this season. False. Although I fully expect Wilson to improve greatly this season, as we witnessed a fairly decent leap in play from his rookie to sophomore season, he is still not ready to take over as a full time starter. Last season, Wilson ranked 59th among active cornerbacks in the NFL in completion percentage when targeted, as opposing quarterbacks completed 66.7% of their passes when throwing at the former first round pick out of Boise State. While this number is certainly a bit inflated due to the fact that Wilson is picked on as the nickel corner in the same secondary as Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie, this number will need to decrease if Wilson is going to become a starter on this defense. Players are not selected in the first round to serve as situational/back up players, so look for the Jets to attempt to increase Wilson’s role in the defense, but only if he proves capable.

There is not one Wide Receiver in the AFC East that will escape Revis Island this season. Fact. We’ve previously gone over why Chad Ochocinco is no threat to Revis, but the obvious argument here is Buffalo Wide Receiver Stevie Johnson. Many feel that Johnson “owns” Revis due to the fact that over two games last season, Johnson caught 11 balls for 159 yards and a touchdown. While these numbers certainly are not Revis-like, let’s not put Johnson in that life boat just yet. Although he did beat Revis on a 52 yard catch down the sideline during their week 9 match up in Buffalo, the sole touchdown that Johnson has on Revis in his career was a clear case of miscommunication within the defense.

Prior to the 5 yard touchdown Johnson snagged off of a slant route, Revis was lined up in what appeared to be man coverage, as displayed by the rather tight alignment to the line of scrimmage. Just before the snap, though, an obvious check in the coverage was made as Revis bailed out just as the play began. Johnson hit the slant, which should have been covered by Calvin Pace, who was running around like a chicken with his head cut off, as he clearly missed the check. So, while Johnson did have his 5 seconds of fame against Revis, he by no means “beat” the All-Pro corner. This is not to say that Johnson is incapable of such a feat, but let’s see him gain some consistency against 24 before declaring him the victor in any such matchup.

The Jets will add another Cornerback before the season. Fact. While the Jets have arguably the greatest trio of corners in the NFL in Revis, Cromartie, and Wilson, there is not too much experience on the depth chart behind them. The five other cornerbacks currently on the Jets roster have played in a combined 31 NFL games. While Ellis Lankster and Isaiah Trufant have contributed on Special Teams in the past, it would not be wise for the Jets to enter the season with this amount of inexperience at the position, particularly if none of them stand out in training camp. One name that has been discussed greatly among Jets Nation is former Jet Drew Coleman. A free agent, Coleman is coming off of a career year in Jacksonville last season with 46 tackles, 2 sacks, 2 interceptions, and 9 passes defended. Coleman is also familiar with Rex Ryan’s scheme having played in it in 2009 and 2010. This would be a great fit for both sides if the Jets decide to add depth heading into the season.

Antonio Cromartie is unfairly criticized based on performance. Fact. While Cromartie’s tackling has certainly never been the strength of his game, his coverage numbers have been very good for a number 2 corner. Cromartie is typically criticized for poor play, however in his two seasons with the Jets, he has 7 interceptions with 29 passes defended. While he certainly gives up his share of catches, and misses more tackles than anyone would enjoy seeing, Cromartie has arguably the toughest job in football: playing opposite Darrelle Revis. It is nearly impossible for anyone who is targeted as much as Cromartie, due to the presence of his counterpart, to maintain a perfect resume. Therefore it should not come as a surprise to anyone to see him give up a few catches. Yes, the best ones prove to consistently shut down anyone that lines up against them, but how many corners are there like that in the league? About one, and he plays in the same secondary as Cromartie.

The Jets collectively have the biggest group of meat heads at the Safety position in the NFL. Fact. Although their coverage skills are going to be tested to their greatest extent this season, is there truly a bigger group of meat heads at this position than LaRon Landry (6’0″ 220 lbs), Yeremiah Bell (6’0″ 205 lbs), and Eric Smith (6’1″ 207 lbs)? While their play on the field is critical to the success of the Jets defense this year, there is no debating the fact that these guys get after it in the weight room. Besides the countless bone crunching hits we’ve seen from them in the past, this picture should put any argument on this issue to rest.

Bonus – Having no captains will hurt the Jets this season. False. The no captains policy that took effect at the conclusion of last season following the Miami meltdown has been blown out of proportion ever since Rex Ryan uttered those words at his year end press conference. Guard Matt Slauson summed it up perfectly when he said that not naming captains has forced players to step into leadership roles. Leadership ability is something that players either have or don’t have, it is not a quality that can be attained or taught. Appointing captains can sometimes hurt a team because it could place the wrong people in leadership roles that they are unfit for, while excluding players who are natural leaders from such a position (Brandon Moore anyone?). While captains have been important to sports, the title does not automatically make a player a leader. The focus on this issue is certainly being sensationalized. Regardless of whether or not players have the “C” on their jerseys, those who are leaders are going to lead, it is encrypted in their DNA. Expect to see players like Moore, Nick Mangold, Darrelle Revis, Mark Sanchez, and David Harris step into those leadership roles this season, on and off the field, without being officially declared as captains.

TOJ’s Top 50 New York Jets Countdown: 1-9

Turn On The Jets counts down the top 50 New York Jets currently on the roster, finishing today with the top 9 players on the team

Frustrated and confused after seeing the NFL’s Top 100 player list? TOJ was as well. Due to that, we have decided to rank the current New York Jets on the roster from 50 all the way down to 1. Along the way, we will be classifying the players into the following five categories:

  • Bottom of the Roster (strictly a depth and developmental player)
  • Middle Class (Situational player, spot starter)
  • Quality Starter (Capable starting player or very good role player)
  • Red Chip (Swiping this term from Michael Lombardi, an above average stater/borderline Pro-Bowler)
  • Blue Chip (Another swipe from Lombardi, an elite player at his position)

READ NUMBERS 40-50 HERE

READ NUMBERS 30-40 HERE

READ NUMBERS 20-30 HERE

READ NUMBERS 10-20 HERE

(STILL IN QUALITY STARTER CATEGORY)

9. Dustin Keller, Tight End – Keller has played great for stretches of time and put together a few monster games here or there but has never consistently played at a Pro-Bowl level for an entire season. He is coming off his best statistical season with 65 receptions, 815 yards and 5 touchdowns in 2011. The hope is that with Tony Sparano calling the plays, Keller will get the chance to stretch the field a little more and not have stretches where he seems to be forgotten in the game plan.

RED CHIP

8. Antonio Cromartie, Cornerback – Cromartie catches flak from fans at times for giving up big plays and not creating enough on his own. Yet few players in the NFL could stand up to the number of targets he faces opposite Darrelle Revis. Cromartie remains a very good corner, capable of manning up most receivers in the league which is essential in Rex Ryan’s defense.

7. Brandon Moore, Guard – One of the most underrated guards in the NFL, Moore has played at a Pro-Bowl level the past few seasons and is a key part to paving the way for the Jets running game. He is one of the most respected players in the locker room and a leader on the offensive side of the football.

6. D’Brickashaw Ferguson, Tackle – Despite coming off a disappointing season, Ferguson is one of the top left tackles in football. Considering his level of play since being drafted in 2006, it is hard not to expect him to come back strong in 2012.

5. Santonio Holmes, Wide Receiver – The biggest playmaker on the Jets offense and a receiver capable of taking over games. Holmes looked the part of a number one receiver in 2010 but struggled last season without a viable threat opposite of him. Hopefully with Stephen Hill’s speed and a further developed Jeremy Kerley, Holmes will see more favorable match-ups and go back to creating the big plays we expect of him.

BLUE CHIP

4. Sione Pouha, Defensive Tackle – Has worked his way into being one of the best run stopping defensive tackles in football. Pouha is an essential piece of the Jets 3-4 and is versatile and athletic enough to play in a 4 man front as well. Arguably the best move the Jets made this off-season was signing him to a contract extension. Along with Brandon Moore, Pouha is one of the players on the team who actually deserves a “C” on their chest for his leadership abilities.

3. David Harris, Linebacker – A tackling machine and one of the best inside linebackers in football. It is crime that he hasn’t been a perennial Pro-Bowler and has only made the All-Pro team once (2nd team in 2009). He isn’t a flashy player but is more important to the Jets defense than any player not named Revis.

2. Nick Mangold, Center – A laughable joke that he wasn’t named to the NFL’s Top 100 player list. Mangold is the best center in the NFL and has been All-Pro the past three seasons. The Jets badly missed him in 2011 when he missed a handful of games due to injury. He is the leader of the offensive line and the anchor for the Jets rushing attack.

1. Darrelle Revis, Cornerback – The best corner in the NFL and arguably the best defensive player in the NFL. Outside of a handful of quarterbacks, there is nobody in the league who dominates their competition more thoroughly than Revis does on a week to week basis. Simply put, a beast and a guy well on his way to being a first ballot Hall of Famer.

Why Do You Hate The Jets? NFC East Edition, Part II

Previously at Turn On The Jets, we reviewed which teams in the AFC East had the right to speak out against the Jets, who had some room to run their mouths, and who should just shut up. As part of our Why Do You Hate The Jets? series, we looked at the first part of the NFC East last week, focusing on why the Washington Redskins should keep quiet when it comes to Gang Green. In the second part of our NFC East review, we examine yet another team who should Just Shut Up, in the Dallas Cowboys, while also looking at why the Philadelphia Eagles have much in common with the Jets, and finally, why the Giants of New York have unconditional bragging rights, at least for the next four seasons, or until the Jets win a Super Bowl, whichever comes first.

Just Shut Up

Dallas Cowboys – While America’s team has been all over the headlines since the emergence of Tony Romo, they’ve seemingly gained popularity through all aspects of football other than winning. They have a glamor quarterback in Romo, a diva of an owner in Jerry Jones, and have experienced a coaching carousel that has seen five different head coaches since 1998. Sound familiar?

However, unlike the Jets, Dallas has won just a single playoff game in the past 15 seasons, despite entering several years as the preseason favorites. While the verdict is certainly still out on Jason Garrett as a head coach, the Cowboys have displayed no recent amount of stability, while maintaining themselves as one of the NFL’s most disappointing teams year in and year out. Tony Romo has been praised as one of the NFL’s best quarterbacks, having earned three trips to the pro bowl during his young career, however he is just 1-3 in playoff games. Mark Sanchez is one of the most, if not the most, heavily criticized quarterbacks in all of football, but is 4-2 in the post season. Regular season statistics are great, but an inability to win games when they matter the most can, and should, tarnish the status of any quarterback.

Similar to the Jets, the Cowboys have also done their fair share of signing high profile players with character concerns throughout the years. However, unlike the Jets signees, the troubled stars that Dallas has signed have rarely worked out.

In 2008, the Cowboys traded for troubled Tennessee Cornerback Adam “Pacman” Jones. Jones had been fresh off of several arrests as a Titan, most notably the infamous “making it rain” incident in which an alleged member of his entourage reportedly fired repeated gunshots into a crowd, following an altercation at a Las Vegas strip club. Believing they could assist in developing the young corner’s character, Dallas took a serious gamble on Jones. During his first season in Big D, Jones was involved in yet another incident in a Dallas hotel, and eventually checked himself into an alcohol rehab center following a mid season suspension.

Jones would return to play for Dallas in 2008, however he suffered a neck injury against Pittsburgh, leading to his eventual release in February of 2009, following just one season as a Cowboy. The Jets have been criticized for bringing in a cornerback of their own with supposed character issues, in Antonio Cromartie, yet Cro has not been involved in any serious off the field issues, while maintaining a solid level of play opposite the best defensive back in all of football.

Along with Jones, the Cowboys also signed Tank Johnson following his release from the Chicago Bears after repeated off the field incidents, including possession of illegal fire arms. Also a very talented player, Johnson could quite never get it right in Dallas, playing in just 24 games while recording 33 tackles and 3 sacks.

Arguably the most famous free agent signing by the Cowboys in the Tony Romo era is Terrell Owens. Although no one can deny Owens’ tremendous talent, there is also no denying the immense amount of headaches he has caused teammates, coaches, and front office personnel over the course of his career. Owens was up and down during his time in Dallas, but could never quite establish the dominance needed to propel Tony Romo into becoming a truly elite quarterback in the NFL. Owens was released by Dallas in 2009, followed by brief one year stints in Buffalo and Cincinnati, respectively. Owens now obtains work from the Indoor Football League’s Allen Wranglers. As for his time in Big D, Owens will undoubtedly be remembered for this famous press conference.

Some Room To Talk

Philadelphia Eagles – Although Philadelphia absolutely dominated the Jets in every aspect of their 45-19 blowout over Gang Green last season, they are strikingly similar to the Jets as an organization. Despite having great stability at the head coaching position since the arrival of Andy Reid in 1999, the organization has similarly struggled in championship games. Between 2001-2004, the Eagles made four consecutive NFC Championship games, losing all but one. Although the argument can be made that, unlike the Jets, they were able to get over the hump and actually make a Super Bowl, they were defeated by New York’s rival New England Patriots 24-21 in Super Bowl XXXIX.

More recently, though, the Eagles have prioritized themselves in signing high profile free agents. Just a season ago, the Eagles made the big free agent splash by signing CB Nnamdi Asomugha, DT Cullen Jenkins, WR Steve Smith, and QB Vince Young, who famously deemed Philly the “Dream Team,” prior to finishing an ultra disappointing 8-8, coincidentally the same record as the 2011 Jets.

Like the Jets, the Eagles certainly have a vast amount of character issues throughout their roster. Many people remember Santonio Holmes as the Wide Receiver to have a public meltdown during a game last season, however that same group of people should not forget the antics of Philadelphia WR DeSean Jackson, who, after a disagreement with Vince Young, was seen blatantly ignoring his quarterback on the sidelines, while he seemingly attempted to make peace with the star wideout.

Jackson has had questions about his character throughout his entire playing career, but like Santonio Holmes, was rewarded with a 5 year, $51 million contract this past offseason. Unlike the Holmes deal, Jackson got a new contract after his meltdown, rather than before it, as was the case with Holmes. Instead of questioning the move to pay a player with such character issues, Philadelphia has been lauded for taking care of their own. The Jets, on the other hand, have been heavily criticized for giving Holmes a similar deal more than a year ago, due to his public meltdown in Miami last season, and constant portrayal as the Jets’ villain throughout this entire offseason. However, since becoming a Jet, Holmes has certainly been no greater of a headache than Jackson, and has caught four more touchdowns, despite playing one less game during that time frame. To the critic, the Jets paying Holmes was a poor decision, while the Eagles paying Jackson is a classy organizational move to reward its own players, a double standard to say the least.

Unconditional Bragging Rights

New York Giants – The Giants have done everything the right way in establishing themselves as one of the NFL’s elite teams year in and year out since the arrival of Tom Coughlin and Eli Manning. They’ve built champisionship caliber teams through the draft, rather than over paying for high profile free agents, even if it has meant allowing some of their fan favorites to leave along the way. The Giants have groomed Eli Manning from the young, raw, question mark he once was, to a polished, elite NFL Quarterback with two Super Bowl MVPs.

Besides the fact that they have won four championships since the Jets won their single Super Bowl in 1969, the Giants have flat out dominated the Jets in terms of play. They all but ended the Jets’ season last year, after a horrible showing by Gang Green in the 29-14 Christmas Eve embarrassment. The G-Men have won two Super Bowls in the past four seasons, while the Jets have merely made it to two AFC Championship games. Giant fans, brag all you want. Until the Jets can prove to dethrone them, Big Blue remains King in New York. For now, Jets Nation can cling to this.

Jets vs. Ravens: 12 Pack Of Predictions

The 12 pack took a beating last week as the New York Jets lost their first game of the regular season. Yet, just like the team we cover, we don’t die easy. Here are 12 predictions for Sunday night football –

1. The Baltimore Ravens are going to pick on Antonio Cromartie early and often. Wouldn’t you? He will pick up a couple of penalties and allow a big play or two, but will also come up with a big play which he couldn’t do last week. I don’t expect to see him at all on kick return.

2. Speaking of kick return, Joe McKnight will have a big night as the deep man and will have a bigger role back there moving forward even when Cromartie is 100 percent healthy.

3. I am setting the over/under at 55 yards for Shonn Greene, and I am taking the under.

4. Mark Sanchez is going to have the pass rush in his face all game and take a few sacks. However, he will also create a few big plays outside of the pocket when the play breaks down and also burn the Ravens in a few situations where they leave Santonio Holmes and Plaxico Burress one on one. He will throw for over 275 yards.

5. Ray Rice will have at least a combined 125 yards rushing and receiving and get in the end-zone once.

6. Joe Flacco will turn the football over at least once, however he will also beat the Jets down the for a touchdown pass of 40 yards or longer. The Jets will only sack him once.

7. Santonio Holmes is going to have his biggest game of the season, in both yardage and receptions. He will also score his second touchdown of the season.

8. Darrelle Revis will keep Anquan Boldin under 40 total yards receiving if he is matched up on him throughout the night.

9. Kenrick Ellis and Aaron Maybin will both be active. Nick Mangold will be a gametime decision and won’t end up playing, as the Jets smartly work to get him near 100 percent for New England next week.

10. Nick Folk will miss a field goal, he is due for one.

11. Derrick Mason will score his first touchdown of the season.

12. Am I being naive for picking the Jets to eek out a tight victory, 21-20? Maybe so. We’ll see. This won’t be a pretty game but the Jets will find a way to gut one out late.

Game Breakdown: Jets vs. Ravens

Offense: Logically it makes sense for the New York Jets to attack the Baltimore Ravens primarily through the air, particularly outside of the hashes, away from Ed Reed. The weakest spot of the Baltimore Ravens is their cornerback position. The more one on one match-ups the Jets can get for their starting receivers, the better. This isn’t a day for Dustin Keller and Derrick Mason. This is a day for Santonio Holmes and Plaxico Burress.

I am not saying Keller and Mason can’t have their moments contributing in the short passing game and in third down situations. Yet, if the Jets want to win this game it will be on a collection of big plays from arguably their two biggest playmakers, Holmes and Burress. I am also not saying the Jets should be completely one dimensional. A complete ignorance of the running game will only fuel the Ravens pass rush. The Jets need to keep the defense honest by occasionally hitting the edges of the Ravens defense with Shonn Greene and LaDainian Tomlinson.

This is a night for Mark Sanchez. He has put together his share of “big boy” performances and now is time for another one. Let’s see our young quarterback go on the road, in primetime, against one of the league’s best defenses and put together a 22/30, 275 yard, 2 touchdown performance without any turnovers.

Defense: Gut-check time. It has been an ugly stretch of football for the New York Jets defense against NFL opponents (sorry, I don’t count Jacksonville). How about it Rex? How about it Mike Pettine? More importantly, let’s see the linebackers and Antonio Cromartie get up off the mat after last weekend. I don’t buy any talk about this defense losing their swagger. This is still a confident unit, who is in need of a performance to hang their hat on.

The linebackers need to set the edge on Ray Rice and keep him contained, and put this game on Joe Flacco. This unit is built to man up with Darrelle Revis and Cromartie, and send the house after the quarterback. Hit Joe Flacco in the mouth, early and often and he will throw you a few interceptions. If the Jets can create a couple of sacks and turnovers, they will be in good shape to move to 3-1.

Special Teams: Always a potential x-factor with a unit as talented as the Jets have. Jeremy Kerley looked like a major weapon on punt return last week and Joe McKnight will get a shot to make a statement this week on kick return.

Roster: Nick Mangold will likely be a game time decision. It would be unbelievably impressive if he returned this quickly from his high ankle sprain. Antonio Cromartie is going to start at corner but likely won’t be used on kick return. The Jets would be wise to make both recently signed Aaron Mayin and rookie third round pick Kenrick Ellis active this Sunday. They need help on the pass rush and in stopping the run, so why not give them a shot?