Preliminary Thoughts: Jets vs. Ravens

The New York Jets are back in primetime this week with a showdown against the Baltimore Ravens, who knocked them off in the season opener last year, 10-9. This season the Ravens are off to a 2-1 start and are coming off a 37-7 beating of the St. Louis Rams. This promises to be a physical, emotional game as Rex Ryan, Bart Scott, Derrick Mason and Jim Leonhard return to their old franchise.

As we all know, Baltimore is loaded on defense led by Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Terrell Suggs, and Haloti Ngata. Mark Sanchez and company will have their hands full, especially with Nick Mangold not likely to play this week. It will take a strong, smart performance from Sanchez coupled with a creative game-plan by Brian Schottenheimer to put enough points on the board to win. The Ravens can be thrown on. Let’s not forget they lost in week 2 to the Tennessee Titans, 26-13. In that game Matt Hasselbeck threw for 358 yards and a touchdown. The Jets have struggled to consistently keep their starting receivers involved, Santonio Holmes and Plaxico Burress, but they must work the football to them early and often to take advantage of the Ravens cornerbacks.

Baltimore went to the air more than usual last week, bombing it up to rookie Torrey Smith for three first quarter touchdowns. I got news for you, with Darrelle Revis likely matched up on Anquan Boldin, there are going to be plenty of deep balls to Smith coming Antonio Cromartie’s way. A scary thought at this exact moment. You can say Smith is a rookie and only had one big quarter but keep in mind what we saw last week. It is a feast or famine with Cromartie, so you never know what you will get. Ray Rice could also be problematic for the Jets considering his speed to the outside and ability to catch the football out of the backfield. They will likely look to attack the edges in a similar way the Raiders did.

In order to pull out this road victory, the Jets will need to be on top of their game in every third of the game. Their special teams have been a major weapon so far this year, and a big Jeremy Kerley punt return or Antonio Cromartie/Joe McKnight kick return could go a long way on Sunday night.

A win in Baltimore should erase any lingering sour feelings over last week’s ugly loss and give the Jets momentum heading into New England the following week. One loss should be a little adversity but with this team everything is magnified so last week has become a huge deal, let’s see how the Jets respond on a big stage.

Final Thoughts On Jets/Raiders

Game MVP – LaDainian Tomlinson, who ripped apart the Oakland defense as a receiver out of the backfield. For the second year in a row he is off to a very strong start.

Game Goat – Antonio Cromartie…the feast or famine act is growing old very quickly.

Play of the Game – Cromartie’s muffed kick is where the game went down the toilet. Fortunately, I can’t find a YouTube video link of it because I don’t want to see it again.

Trending Up

  • LaDainian Tomlinson – The Jets most consistent playmaker on offense through three weeks.
  • Plaxico Burress – He is still a match-up nightmare when given the chance.
  • Derrick Mason – Finished with 6 receptions and a handful of huge third down conversions.
  • Colin Baxter – Held his own in his first NFL start.

Trending Down

  • Wayne Hunter – A weekly regular in this category.
  • Antonio Cromartie – A lung injury could keep him out this week.
  • Santonio Holmes – Not necessarily on him but Jets must do a better job of getting #10 involved.
  • Bart Scott/ Calvin Pace/Bryan Thomas/David Harris – Not a pretty week for the Jets highly touted LBs.

1. I said before this game that the only way the Jets would lose is if they laid a complete egg. They found a way to do that in spectacular fashion for a key stretch of the game that put them in too big of a hole to climb out of. Penalties, turnovers, and missed tackles equal losses. It happens in the NFL. Too many people are making broad proclamations about the implications of this game as I will get into later today.

2. Jamaal Westerman is not an answer as a pass rusher. This team has to stop procrastinating each off-season when it comes to adding a player who can get after the quarterback.

3. Look for more Joe McKnight on kick return, especially if Antonio Cromartie will be nursing an injury. If Cromartie can’t play on defense, Kyle Wilson will likely get the start. He will get quite the chance for redemption after his rough season opener against the Baltimore Ravens in 2010.

TJ reviews his top five from the game

NFL Week 3 highlights

Grading Out Jets/Raiders

Check out the week 3 video recap

Quarterback (B-) – One of the best statistical days of Mark Sanchez’s career (27/43, 369 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT, 1 rushing TD) wasn’t one of his best overall games. He had a killer turnover and missed a few big throws, most notably a 4th and 2 slant to Plaxico Burress. He is also taking a beating behind his offensive line which continues to struggle which appears to be rattling him a little bit.

Running Backs (A) – LaDainian Tomlinson with 154 total yards and a touchdown gave one of his best performances in a Jets uniform. Shonn Greene also showed signs of life with 106 total yards. The Jets seemed to find something by running the football to the outside.

Wide Receivers (B) – Derrick Mason had his best game as a Jet with 6 receptions for 45 yards. Plaxico Burress made plays when given the chance and the offense did a poor job of getting Santonio Holmes involved as he finished with only 1 reception. Jeremy Kerley lost yardage on his first Wildcat snap of the season and Patrick Turner had a drop.

Tight Ends (D) – Jeff Cumberland and Matthew Mulligan both dropped touchdown passes. Cumberland is also now out for the year with a torn Achilles, taking away a promising part of the Jets passing attack. Dustin Keller had another solid day with 87 yards receiving.

Offensive Line (D) – Do they realize if Mark Sanchez gets hurt who the backup is? The only positive I can take away is that rookie center Colin Baxter held his own. Wayne Hunter looks clueless. Brandon Moore could still be feeling the effects of off-season hip surgery. It isn’t pretty right now.

Defensive Line (C) – A quiet day and they didn’t do enough to stop the run.

Linebackers (D) – No pressure and way too many missed tackles. Honestly, they looked slow out there and by the way Jamaal Westerman is not an adequate answer as a pass rusher.

Secondary (D) – The Cromartie curve ruins the grade for the whole unit. I know some of those penalties were awful calls but on the whole it was a terrible day for him. Darrelle Revis was himself. The safeties didn’t make an impact except in the missed tackle category.

Special Teams (D) – Cromartie curve. Considering his lung injury look for more Joe McKnight on kick return. Jeremy Kerley was terrific on punt returns.

Coaching (D) – No sufficient second half adjustments from the defense and a lack of preparation on the final drive both contributed to the loss. The Jets should have been kicking a field goal and then attempting an onside kick on the final drive, not going for it on 4th down.

Closer Look At Why The Jets Lost

Let’s rip open that wound one last time

Where did this game go wrong? A few key moments that are the reasons the Jets won’t be going 16-0 this year…

1) Untimely Turnover7-7 in the first quarter and the Jets have the ball on the 24 yard line after a beautiful punt return from Jeremy Kerley. They run a play action rollout and instead of Mark Sanchez throwing it away, he tried to force it in the endzone was intercepted. The solution? Throw the football away.

2) Dropped Touchdown – 14-7 Jets, with a 3rd and 2 on the 3 yard line. They call the same play that they scored their first touchdown of the season on against Dallas, but Dustin Keller slipped leading to Mark Sanchez scrambling and then finding Matt Mulligan in the end-zone, who dropped the pass. I am aware it was tipped but he still should have caught that pass. The solution? Catch the football.

3) Poor Contain – The Jets inability to further extend their lead in the previously mentioned opportunities, kept Oakland in striking distance when the Jets defense did a horrible job containing one of the league’s best running backs, Darren McFadden. They allowed him to bounce to the outside and then Antonio Cromartie didn’t keep contain. The solution? Tackle.

4) 4th and 2 – 17-17, the Jets defense is playing well to start the second half, forcing Oakland into consecutive punts. The Jets put a drive together and decide to go for it on 4th and 2 from Oakland’s 37 yard line. I don’t disagree with the decision or the call, a slant to Plaxico Burress, but it was a poor throw from Mark Sanchez. The solution? Be able to executive your money route, which for Mark Sanchez is the slant.

5) The Meltdown – In retrospect the Jets meltdown kicked off with the previous play. The Raiders roared back down the field and despite the Jets being prepared for two trick plays, a halfback option pass and a reverse, they failed to tackle leading to two monster plays. On the ensuing kick, Antonio Cromartie made one of the dumber plays I have ever seen. First off, not being prepared for a line drive kick after Sebastian Janikowski did it on the previous kickoff. Second, dropping the ball. Third, not falling on the football but instead trying to pick it up. The solution? Tackle and think.

The answers are simple. If you make stupid decisions and stupid mistakes, you will lose football games. The Jets must realize teams now get up to play them because of their recent success and because of how much they talk. Oakland treated yesterday like their Super Bowl and the Jets couldn’t match their intensity, especially after the momentum began to swing.

Initial Reaction: Painful One – Jets Lose Ugly In Oakland

One of the primary talks of this off-season was the need to win the AFC East, to avoid a three game road trip being the road to the Super Bowl. Today the Buffalo Bills, who must now be taken seriously as s contender knocked off the New England Patriots, giving the New York Jets an early opportunity to gain a game on them. Unfortunately, the Jets squandered that opportunity with an ugly performance in Oakland that resulted in a 34-24 loss.

After an initial punch in the mouth that put them down 7-0, they seemed to regain their balance after going ahead 17-7. Yet a huge run from Darren McFadden set the tone for the Raiders to come storming back to take a 31-17 lead. Despite a late comeback attempt, the Raiders did hold on.

Where to start? Antonio Cromartie and his bonehead play on kick return? Not only did he drop a line drive, instead of falling on the ball, he tried to pick it up resulting in a lost fumble. He left this game with injured ribs after being called for 4, yes 4 penalties. The officiating was an atrocity in this game but 4 penalties and a fumble is inexcusable. Overall it was a poor performance from the defense who allowed McFadden to run all over them, generated no pass rush, and couldn’t come up with any big plays.

The offensive line was terrible in the second half, making Mark Sanchez rattled. His stat line will look pretty in this one, as he threw for 369 yards and 2 touchdowns but this wan’t his best effort. He had another bad interception and was shaky in the pocket. The offense must also find a better way of getting their starting receivers involved. Plaxico Burress didn’t get going until late and Santonio Holmes only had 1 reception.

There was also poor coaching at the end of the game, as the Jets should have had the field goal team ready so they would have a shot for an onside kick. Instead they ran a play and Sanchez came up short on his scramble. Overall, it was just an ugly, uncharacteristic meltdown. Unfortunately there is no time for a pity party with Baltimore and New England coming up on the schedule.

Initial Reaction: Brutal Beatdown – Jets Roll 32-3

They won’t use this game film to teach offensive football, especially on the Jacksonville side but the Jets beat up on a severely inferior Jaguars team today, winning 32-3. The primary story of the day was quarterback Luke McCown’s general awfulness, along with the domination from the Jets defense, who recorded four interceptions, a safety, and two sacks. Antonio Cromartie had a hell of a bounce-back performance with two interceptions and two big kick returns. Muhammad Wilkerson recorded the safety on his first ever NFL sack.

You never felt for a second that Jacksonville had a chance in this game, despite the Jets offense being frustratingly inconsistent. After a brilliant first drive that ended in a Santonio Holmes touchdown, Mark Sanchez struggled throwing two interceptions. He did put together a nice second half drive ending in a Dustin Keller touchdown, as the Jets tight end finished with 101 yards receiving. However, you would like to see better than 17/24, 182 yards, with the 2 interceptions.

The main negative story out of this game was the Jets offensive line. Nick Mangold left in the first half with what is currently being reported as a high ankle sprain. He is expected to miss at least a few weeks. Undrafted rookie Colin Baxter came off the bench and struggled as anyone would expect him to. What was even more disconcerting, was how bad Wayne Hunter was for the second straight week. The running stats weren’t pretty again. Shonn Greene finished with 16 carries for 49 yards with a touchdown.

The Jets will now gear up for a rough three game road trip, starting in Oakland this week. Let’s hope for a speedy recovery from Nick Mangold and that the Jets front office still has Damien Woody’s number.

Jets vs. Jaguars: 12 Pack Of Predictions

Nothing is better than the cold weather and a 12 pack along with it. It feels like football outside today, which is a beautiful thing.

1. Joe McKnight will receive at least three touches on offense, as the Jets reward him for his game changing special teams play last week. What he does with those plays will determine how much of a role he starts to have moving forward. Also look for John Conner to play more reps this week and a catch a pass out in the flat. His hands are an underrated part of his game.

2. After this game, still nobody will know who the hell Jason Hill is.

3. Luke McCown is going to have a rough time against the Jets defense. He will throw for less than 175 yards, be sacked at least 2 times, and have at least one turnover.

4. Maurice Jones-Drew will have a solid day at the office but won’t rip off the big run that will kill the Jets. He will finish with 22 carries for 95 yards and a touchdown.

5. Mark Sanchez won’t turn the football over this week and will throw somewhere between 25 and 30 passes.

6. Santonio Holmes and Eric Smith are both questionable to play this Sunday. Both will suit up but will have a more limited role than usual. Look for more action from both Derrick Mason and Jeremy Kerley on offense and for more Brodney Pool on defense than last week.

7. Plaxico Burress will have another big game, finishing with over 70 yards receiving and another touchdown. He will also be more involved in the first half.

8. For the first time in just about forever, the Jets will score a first quarter touchdown.

9. Antonio Cromartie will have a much better performance than last week, recording an interception and ripping off a big kick return.

10. Shonn Greene will rush for less than 80 yards but will have an improved yards per carry from last week. LaDainian Tomlinson will have at least 4 receptions.

11. Calvin Pace will record a sack for the second straight week.

12. The New York Jets won’t pull away in this one until the fourth quarter but will ultimately win 24-13. Hello 2-0.

Jets vs. Jaguars: Game Breakdown

Offense: For the second week in a row the Jets are facing a defense that will be more susceptible to the pass than the run. Jacksonville is solid up front and won’t be easy to run the football on. However, that doesn’t mean the Jets need to be dropping Mark Sanchez back 44 times in this game. You would like to see them try to establish some type of balance and get Shonn Greene rolling with some type of confidence. The Jets are going to have favorable match-ups in the passing game that will be there to exploit, but being able to create the threat of the run will only open that up more.

Sanchez needs to do a better job of protecting the football this week and getting the offense off to a quick start. He can contribute to that by getting Plaxico Burress and Dustin Keller involved early.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see Joe McKnight get a few reps on offense this week, along with Jeremy Kerley maybe getting a longer look. The Jets are going to show the Wildcat at some point and using Kerley and McKnight in the backfield together could be a good way to break through against the Jaguars tough front seven.

Also keep an eye out for former Jets defensive backs Dwight Lowery and Drew Coleman, who both have quickly picked up large roles on the Jacksonville defense. Coleman had a sack last week and Lowery recorded an interception.

Defense: Jacksonville is lacking on major offensive threats in a big way. Maurice Jones-Drew is a beast but if the Jets can contain him, which they are equipped to do, Jacksonville doesn’t have many options to turn to. Mercedes Lewis is a very good tight end who would have the ability to gash a Jets defense that struggles to stop his position but he isn’t expected to play on Sunday. Their top two receivers, Mike Thomas and Jason Hill, shouldn’t be able to get free on Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie. Yet, let’s hope Cromartie is motivated to return with a strong game after a weak opening performance.

The Jets took the time to look at multiple pass rushers on the free agent market this week, including Tully Banta-Cain. It Is time for Jamaal Westerman to break through and make a statement if he wants to be a major part of this defense moving forward. I would also like to see Muhammad Wilkerson come up with an impact play or two. Jacksonville will be running right into the teeth of the Jets defense early and often, so Wilkerson should be able to fill up the stat sheet a little bit.

Luke McCown is going to be asked to manage the game and not make any turnovers. If the Jets can establish an early lead, they should tee off on McCown who is lacking in experience. I simply can’t see him being able to find open receivers down the field with a myriad of Jets blitzes coming at him.

Special Teams: It was hard not to be very impressed with both Nick Folk and TJ Conley last week. Let’s hope they can keep it up and maintain some degree of consistency. Mike Westhoff said this week Antonio Cromartie is going to handle the majority of kick return duties, with Joe McKnight occasionally spelling him. Cromartie has the natural ability to be one of the league’s best returners but he needs to refrain from trying those 109 yard returns. Jeremy Kerley will continue to handle punt return duties and did a nice job fielding the ball last week.

TOJ Week 1 Roundtable: Jets/Cowboys Key Match-Up

Joe Caporoso: I am going with Jason Witten versus the Jets safeties. The Jets were awful at defending the tight end last year and Witten has the ability to consistently hurt them if he is left in single coverage with the substantially smaller/inconsistent in pass coverage Jim Leonhard or Eric Smith. I wouldn’t be shocked if Darrelle Revis saw a few reps on Witten and the Jets also threw plenty of double teams at him.

Justin Fritze: Dez Bryant against Antonio Cromartie. This is the sort of battle of egos you pay big money to see. Cromartie has a lot to prove against the second year “star” 1st round draft choice. If Bryant takes it to the house against Cromartie, the third option of Kyle Wilson makes me shudder. Cromartie needs to do his best Revis impersonation and bump and run Bryant until the Jets can get a few sacks, at which point it will be check down time for Romo, seeing as how he wants to stay upright for longer than one week. I think Cromartie will keep him out of the end zone, but a few big plays could spell trouble for the island cornerback theory of Rex Ryan.

TJ Rosenthal: Terence Newman according to Rotoworld has been ruled out. The Cowboys secondary has struggled with him this preseason. The Jets new wide receiving corps has not yet gotten into gear either. Holmes however, is Mark Sanchez’s favorite target. What a great way it could be for the Jets to begin to open up the air attack by picking on backup Orlando Scandrick and a banged up starting CB in Mike Jenkins, and whoever else tries to help out Rob Ryan’s unit.

Rob Celletti: The Cowboys’ secondary looks ripe for the picking, but that depends on one thing: keeping Mark Sanchez’s jersey clean.  That’s why Sunday’s key matchup has to be D’Brickashaw Ferguson and the rest of the Jets’ line vs. DeMarcus Ware.  Not that it needs further explanation, but Ware is an elite pass-rusher, and if he’s allowed to get in Sanchez’s face consistently, it could be a long day for the offense.

Chris Celletti: I’m really interested to see Antonio Cromartie against Dez Bryant/Miles Austin. Whoever the Jets put Darelle Revis on will be taken out of the game, andd expect Tony Romo to look at Cromartie’s side of the field. Bryant and Austin are both explosive playmakers, and it will be imperative that Cromartie does a good job on whoever he is matched up against to keep the Cowboys’ offense at bay.

Jets – 17 Giants – 3: Ten Thoughts From TOJ

1. The positives for the Jets last night primarily were on the defensive side of the football. Despite allowing the Giants to move the ball, they bent but didn’t break, keeping them out of the end-zone all night, by coming up with timely big plays. The second unit made a nice statement with a 4th and inches stop on the goal-line against the Giants first unit. Overall, Rex Ryan has to be feeling good about his defense heading into the regular season.

2. David Harris was an absolute beast last night, playing like one of the top linebackers in the league that he is paid to be. He had 7 tackles, 2 passes defensed, and an interception. Beyond that he drilled Eli Manning in the chest forcing his first interception that was picked off by Jim Leonhard. He smashed Hakeem Nicks and separated him from the ball when he tried to come over the middle. When Harris is playing like he did last night, the Jets are tough to score points on.

3. Another standout on defense was Ropati Pitoitua, who is having a great pre-season and has outperformed rookie first round pick for Muhammad Wilkerson for the starting defensive end job. It was a positive and negative to see Wilkerson get into that scrap with Brandon Jacobs and get ejected. Jacobs is a notorious dirtbag on the field and it is good that Wilkerson stood up for himself as a rookie, yet the reality is that he needs to keep his cool and not get himself thrown out of games. He needs every rep he can get.

4. Darrelle Revis looks like he is in mid-season form. However, Antonio Cromartie continues to struggle in man coverage. Yes, he looked awesome on that kick return and can be a big weapon on special teams but the Jets are paying him to be one of the top number two corners in the league. He needs to be able to handle being constantly picked on.

5. Over to the offense, which was disappointing and inconsistent. Mark Sanchez looked erratic and had an ugly turnover on a fumble. It was good to see him shake off a poor start and stick in a great throw to Santonio Holmes for a touchdown but the Jets need more from their passing offense, as Plaxico Burress and Dustin Keller were invisible last night. The offensive line was pretty good as the Giants didn’t register a single sack last night and the running game was decent, although they never broke a big run.

6. Shonn Greene had a tough 42 yards on 11 carries and Joe McKnight is clearly looking like the number three back as he got 9 carries for 35 yards, compared to only 3 carries for Bilal Powell.

7. The Wildcat was back last night for the Jets as Jeremy Kerley completed a 18 yard pass to Matthew Mulligan, had two carries for 13 yards and handed off once to McKnight for a 8 yard gain. It was Kerley’s strongest overall performance as he had a nice punt return as well. It is nice that the Jets can keep their package of plays for Brad Smith in their offense this year thanks to Kerley’s versatility.

8. Sorry to hear about Logan Payne dislocating his wrist, he seemed to have the lead for the number five receiver job but after the injury Patrick Turner will likely grab that roster spot.

9. How good is it to see Jim Leonhard back on the field and making plays? He has two interceptions in the past two weeks and is going to provide a huge boost to the secondary.

10. Nick Bellore recorded a sack…Bart Scott alternated between missing tackles (allowing a huge play for Ahmad Bradshaw) and coming up with big tackles for a loss…how awful are the Giants special teams?…Kenrick Ellis had 2 tackles…Greg McElroy finished 4/5 for 39 yards.