New York Jets Playbook – Running the Zone Read

New York Jets Playbook – Where we break down a successful play from last season and explain how it worked. Today: a 39 yard run by Bilal Powell on Zone Read

Welcome to a new series at Turn On The Jets called “New York Jets Playbook.” In this series, we are going to look at a successful play out of the Marty Mornhinweg or Rex Ryan playbook from last season and explain why it worked, in the hope that we will see similar production on similar plays next season.

Today we look at Bilal Powell breaking a 39 yard run against the Cleveland Browns in week 16.

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Where Do the New York Jets Stand Now?

Mike Donnelly with post-game reaction to last night’s Jets vs. Giants game

As the meaningful part of the preseason comes to a close before the Caleb Schlauderaff and Ellis Lanksters of the football world battle it out against the Eagles in the last tune-up game before Week 1, the New York Jets unfortunately still have plenty of questions that need to be answered. The less-than-thrilling victory over the Giants in last night’s game did little to resolve these questions, and the Jets face a lot of uncertainty as the game that actually counts against Tampa Bay looms just two weeks away.  Continue reading “Where Do the New York Jets Stand Now?”

New York Jets – What Is Bilal Powell’s Value?

Does running back Bilal Powell have value for the New York Jets in 2013?

Despite being the New York Jets best running back down the stretch last season, Bilal Powell is frequently the forgotten man when it comes to discussing the running back position in 2013. He isn’t a flashy player and is never going to turn heads with his natural ability but there will be a role for Powell on the 2013 Jets because of his steadiness and versatility.

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New York Jets – Who Needs To Make The Jump?

What current New York Jets need to make the jump in 2013 to help expedite the team’s rebuilding process?

In a previous article this off-season, we discussed the necessary components of a rebuilding process for the New York Jets. When citing an example from how they quickly turned a disastrous 2005 season into a productive 2006, we mentioned younger players “making the jump” and having career years. A few examples of this in 2006 were Jerricho Cotchery becoming a capable, productive starting receiver, Victor Hobson becoming a playmaking linebacker, Bryan Thomas having a career high in sacks and Kerry Rhodes putting together a Pro-Bowl caliber season at safety.

The Jets aren’t going to be able to fill all their holes via free agency and the draft, there are simply too many. They are going to need young players currently on the roster to take their games to the next level the way Jeremy Kerley did in 2012, as one of the team’s few bright spots on offense.

Kerley having 56 receptions, 827 yards and 2 touchdowns in last year’s passing offense is a borderline miracle. He needs to continue building on that production because nothing is guaranteed with Santonio Holmes coming off such serious surgery and the rest of the wide receiver position in flux. Kerley showed he was capable of being more than a pure slot receiver and hopefully new offensive coordinator Marty Mornhingweg is more creative at using him than Tony Sparano was. But what rostered players outside of Kerley will the Jets need to make “the jump”?

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New York Jets – The Other Guys

A look at the other New York Jets who played yesterday besides the quarterbacks

Lost in the shuffle of the ongoing quarterback controversy surrounding the New York Jets is that other players actually took the field yesterday…and many performed well for a refreshing change of pace. These last four games remain critically important for many young players on the team’s roster who will be expected to be key parts in 2013 and beyond. Here is a recap of a few who stood out –

Bilal Powell – His role is growing every single week and he is taking advantage of it. Yesterday Powell finished with 58 yards on 12 carries, finishing with a 4.8 YPC. He broke a 17 yard run that helped propel the team’s only touchdown drive. Powell has good vision and is both shiftier and quicker than Shonn Greene. There is no reason that Powell can’t be a capable 1B option and 3rd down back for the team next season. On the year, Powell has 70 carries for 278 yards for 4.0 yards per carry. Hopefully, he can finish the season getting 10-15 carries each week and maintain that average at over 4 yards.

Stephen Hill – It has been a rough year for the rookie but yesterday was a step in the right direction. Hill had 5 catches for 40 yards and drew a penalty. What was encouraging is that many of the catches Hill made were difficult ones in traffic. He is going to be the team’s starting split end next year, so he must build momentum heading into 2013. Now that Hill looks like he is gaining confidence in the shorter passing game, it would be nice to see the Jets hit a big play down the field to him which is the primary thing he was drafted for.

Jeremy Kerley – It wasn’t a gaudy statistical game (3 catches, 37 yards) but Kerley made difficult catches in tight coverage. Most notably pulling down a key third down conversion with elite cornerback Patrick Peterson draped all over him. This has been a terrific all around season for Kerley who still has an outside shot of having a 1,000 yard season in one of the league’s worst passing offenses which is pretty damn impressive. If Hill develops alongside him and Santonio Holmes comes back healthy, the Jets have the makings of a very good group of receivers in 2013.

Muhammad Wilkerson – This isn’t anything new but Wilkerson is maintaining his play at a Pro-Bowl level. The 2nd year player is one of the few recent draft picks Mike Tannenbaum can really hang his hat on. If the Jets ever find an outside linebacker who can get into a quarterbacks’s zip code, watch for an explosion of stats by Wilkerson who will finally get to deal with less double teams. Put it this way, if you were playing the Jets wouldn’t just triple Wilkerson and let Calvin Pace and Bryan Thomas and their 7.8 forty yard dash times run free at the quarterback?

LaRon Landry – Not a “young player” but somebody who is making a strong case to be brought back in 2013. Landry isn’t without his flaws (occasional lapses in coverage and missed tackles) but on the whole he has brought a needed playmaking element and physical attitude to the Jets backend.

Turn On The Jets Week 4 Fantasy Football Preview

It has only been three weeks of fantasy football so far, and I totally understand your natural reactions to your team’s start. If you’re 3-0, you think the good times will never end, while if you’re 0-3, you’re cursing Evan Silva and the other “experts” who insisted you draft guys like Ryan Mathews and Cam Newton with top 5 picks. I get that, it’s perfectly natural to feel like that. But no matter what has happened so far, and no matter how well you drafted, you’re going to need to add some pieces off the waiver wire. The key to keeping your 3-0 team on top is going to be building solid depth for bye weeks and protect yourself against an injury. If your team looks poor now, all it takes is one big time waiver wire pick up and you’ll be right back in it.

Every year, starting players get injured and the backup steps in to take the league by storm. Some of these players single-handedly win fantasy leagues for people. Already this year we have seen a few players seemingly come out of nowhere to have monster games and are now mainstays on teams. Take a look around your fantasy league and you’ll see guys like Mikel Leshoure, CJ Spiller, Andre Brown, Christian Ponder, and Dennis Pitta already littering rosters and contributing in a big way. The key for your team going forward is to identify possible break-out candidates that are almost always running backs, stash them on your bench, and then keep your fingers crossed. Let’s identify some of these potential break through guys.

RB Jacquizz Rodgers – Readers of this column will know that I have been beating the Jacquizz drum since before the season. I think Michael Turner is absolutely useless, and you can see that the Falcons coaching staff is close to fully agreeing with me. Last week Jacquizz recorded 10 carries, 5 catches, 67 total yards, and a touchdown. In PPR leagues, he should already be on a roster in your league, but if he’s still there no matter what kind of league you are in, stop reading this now and pick him up.

RB Bilal Powell – Shonn Greene’s struggles this season have been well documented amongst Jets fans, and after last week’s game in Miami it appears as though the team is starting to lean more towards a running back by committee approach with Bilal Powell getting more and more touches. He was already the full-time 3rd down back and the preferred passing target out of the backfield, but now it seems as though he’s going to get a steady 10 carries or so a week with a chance for that number to greatly increase.

RB Kendall Hunter – The 49ers are going to remain a predominantly running team as long as Alex Smith is the quarterback, and I don’t think you can rely on starter Frank Gore all season long. The guy has a history of nagging injuries, and now that he’s getting older the team may err on the side of caution and start working Hunter in more and more, perhaps even getting a few starts.

RB Robert Turbin – The Seahawks loved the bruising RB in the preseason, and he’s the clear backup to Marshawn Lynch, who has been playing through a lingering back problem. Should Lynch break down from the 30 touches a week the Seahawks are forcing on him, Turbin would be in line for 20 or so touches a week, which makes him a real candidate to be a breakout star.

RB Lamar Miller – Jets fans everywhere are now rooting for Reggie Bush to get injured after his Darrelle Revis comments, and judging by the disgraced former Heisman winner’s history, it’s only a matter of time until he does indeed get injured. When he does, rookie Lamar Miller looks poised to take over rather than the terrible Daniel Thomas. If and when that happens, Miller could become a stud, even on a crappy Dolphins team.

RB Ronnie Hillman – Willis McGahee is a prime candidate for “starting RB who gets injured” status, and I believe rookie Ronnie Hillman will be the man to step in and get the bulk of the carries rather than Knowshon Moreno (who the coaches clearly hate), or Lance Ball (who isn’t that good).

RB Mike Goodson – If you own Darren McFadden and don’t have Mike Goodson on your bench to protect yourself, you need your head examined. If, or WHEN, McFadden suffers his yearly injury, Goodson should be in line for 15+ touches and some solid production.

WR Jeremy Kerley – Just a hunch…

WR Jerome Simpson – The Vikings are supposedly in love with Simpson and can’t wait to get him out on the field starting in week 4. He’s gotten a lot of buzz, but it’s guys like this who could end up turning your middle of the pack fantasy team into a legit contender.

WEEK 4 ONE-LINERS

“Get em in there!”

QB Christian Ponder @ Det – Few QB’s are playing better than Ponder, while few pass defenses are playing as poorly as Detroit.

QB Andy Dalton @ Jax – The Jags pass D is anemic, and AJ Green is dominating defenses.

RB Mikel Leshoure vs. Minn – The Vikings no longer have the dominant run defense they once did, and Leshoure is clearly the Lions bellcow, especially with Stafford hurting.

RB Ryan Williams vs. Mia – Yes, the Dolphins have a stout run defense, but Williams is a very talented runner and he no longer has to split reps with the useless Beanie Wells.

RB Jacquizz Rodgers vs. Car – The Panthers defense stinks, but the game could turn into a shootout where Rodgers gets lots of targets from Matt Ryan.

WR Jordy Nelson vs. NO – As a disgruntled Nelson owner, I feel your pain. But make sure you keep him active in week 4 as he catches up on 3 weeks worth of stats against that garbage Saints defense.

WR Lance Moore @ GB – I’d normally never recommend starting Moore outdoors, but this game is going to likely be a shootout, and someone has to rack up the yards.

WR Kenny Britt @ Hou – The Texans have a tough run defense, and this could be Britt’s 2012 coming out party.

WR Brandon Marshall @ Dall – I’ve seen him ranked in the late 20’s on plenty of ranking lists this week. I don’t get it at all, he’s a #1 receiver still.

TE Dennis Pitta vs. Cle – His season has not been a fluke. He’s the most targeted TE in football.

TE Martellus Bennett @ Phi – The Eagles linebackers still stink.

“Not this week”

QB Matt Stafford vs. Minn – Reports say he’s going to play. Unfortunately those reports don’t say he might just end up leaving the game after a few series.

QB Michael Vick vs. NYG – There’s a really great chance he doesn’t finish this game.

RB Frank Gore @ NYJ – I think the Jets D steps it up big time this week.

RB Ahmad Bradshaw @ Phi – Just don’t trust him to take back the job from Andre Brown quite yet.

RB Benjarvus Green-Ellis @ Jax – I’d still start him if you got him, but I wouldn’t expect the kind of production many are calling for this week.

WR Hakeem Nicks @ Phi – The Eagles are going to stick Asomugha on him and do everything they can to slow him down.

WR Marques Colston @ GB – I don’t expect Colston to rack up big numbers this week, despite the game likely turning into a shootout.

WR Dez Bryant vs Chi – The Bears cover 2 defense limits the big plays, and that takes away from Bryant’s output this week.

TOJ Staff Thursday Night Football “Race For The Steak” Picks:

Joe Caporoso – Baltimore (-12)

Chris Gross – Cleveland (+12)

Mike Donnelly – Cleveland (+12)

Chris Celletti – Cleveland (+12)

Rob Celletti – Cleveland (+12)

New York Jets Fact Or False: Week 4 Edition

As we enter the final week of the first quarter of the 2012 NFL season, we still aren’t necessarily sure who this New York Jets team is just yet. For a team striving to be built primarily through strong defense and a ground and pound offensive philosophy, the 2012 Jets have been anything but that. New York currently ranks 21st in overall defense this season, a ranking that could certainly grow worse with the loss of the team’s best overall player, CB Darrelle Revis. Offensively, the Jets rank 22nd overall, but are 29th in rushing yards per carry, with an abysmal average of 3.3. Shockingly, however, New York’s offense ranks just outside of the top ten in points scored, standing at 11th overall, only one spot behind Tom Brady and the New England Patriots, with 81 total points.

Translation? All is not lost for New York just yet, despite countless fans and media members declaring them dead without Revis lurking in the defensive secondary. For a team ranking in the bottom tier in defense and rushing offense, New York still stands at 2-1 and first in the AFC East. However, it is no secret that this team needs vast improvements in most aspects of the game, otherwise they will in fact suffer the complete landslide that everyone seems to be waiting for.

How can the Jets get back into that upper tier of teams without Revis? It begins with a few things. First, the Jets need to begin to limit Shonn Greene’s touches. By now, it is no secret that Greene is not the feature back New York thought he was going to turn into. Averaging an extremely disappointing 3.1 YPC this season, Greene has been arguably the most boring running back in the NFL this year. His lack of ability to make defenders miss and break tackles is noticeable to even the most fair weather fans. It is time Tony Sparano begins to divide his workload amongst the other backs on the Jets roster, namely Bilal Powell, who averaged 4.5 YPC last week in Miami, and (you guess it) Tim Tebow. Rex Ryan will also need to prove how great of a defensive mind he really is. Without Revis eliminating a player from opposing offenses, Ryan is going to need to show what made him such a successful defensive coordinator during his days in Baltimore. He will need to be very creative both schematically and personnel wise in order for this defense to assert itself as one of the league’s best again.

This week is sure to be a daunting test for each area of improvement for the Jets. Will New York be able to make the necessary adjustments in all phases of the game to overcome the powerhouse that is the San Francisco 49ers? Find out how it all will shake out in this week’s New York Jets Fact Or False.

Quinton Coples will register his 1st NFL sack. Fact. As good as San Francisco’s offensive line is in the running game, they have struggled so far in protecting quarterback Alex Smith this season. Smith has been sacked 10 times through the first three games this year. While Green Bay, Detroit, and Minnesota certainly have better pass rushes than the Jets, don’t be surprised to see New York’s first round selection get himself his first career sack this Sunday.

Although he has seen limited reps in his first few games, Rex Ryan proclaimed today that he expects the rookie out of North Carolina to take on a heavier workload this week. Coples has been an absolute mismatch when he’s been lined up on the inside on passing downs due to his superior athleticism against interior lineman. He has also been tremendous on the few stunts that he has run, often playing with excellent agility and leverage. Expect Ryan and Defensive Coordinator Mike Pettine to get creative with their blitzes and stunts this week to confuse an offensive line that has struggled in pass protection this season. That could very well leave the door open for Coples to get to Smith for his first, of what could be many, NFL sacks.

Mark Sanchez will finish with a higher passer rating than Alex Smith. False. This is not to say that Sanchez will not play good. However in terms of passing efficiency, there have been very few who have done it better than Smith over the past year. This season alone, Smith ranks 7th in passer rating among all starting quarterbacks in the NFL with a rating of 102.7, that includes 5 touchdowns to just 1 interceptions and a completion percentage of 69.6.

Sanchez on the other hand ranks last in the league in terms of completion percentage, having completed just 50.5% of his passes with passer rating of 78.3. Of course, Sanchez has been hindered by the Jets’ lack of running ability as well as a very inexperienced group of receivers.

This is not to say that this unit will not get it together and outperform Smith and the 49ers’ passing attack this Sunday, however, the primary X-Factor in this is the absence of Darrelle Revis. Without Revis in the secondary, opposing teams are completing over 70% of their passes against New York. When facing a team like San Francisco, whose entire passing game is built on efficiency and a lack of mistakes, it will be very difficult for Sanchez to outperform his counterpart.

Frank Gore will rush for 100+ yards. Fact. Over the course of his first three games, Gore has run for 264 yards on just 45 carries, for an excellent average of 5.9 YPC. Although he has surpassed the century mark just once this season, he has yet to be given a heavy workload, with a season high of 17 carries in week 2 against Detroit.

This week, however, expect San Francisco to put the Jets 22nd ranked defense to the test. Based on the success that CJ Spiller and Reggie Bush experienced against this defense, the 49ers would be wise to give Gore the ball early and often. While New York is much better suited to defend backs like Gore, rather than Spiller or Bush, do not be surprised to see the former Miami Hurricane get anywhere from 20-25 carries, taking him over the 100 yard mark for the second time this season.

The Jets will not surpass 100 yards rushing as a team. False. Yes, the Jets have struggled to run the ball this season, but as addressed above, that is a heavy result of the inabilities of Shonn Greene. To think that New York is going to abandon its ground and pound philosophy after just three games under Sparano is utter blasphemy. New York’s inability to run the ball is undoubtedly keeping Sparano up at night, surely enough to devise a very clever game plan against one of the league’s top defenses.

Sparano and co. are likely wise enough to realize that they will struggle to pound the ball against this defense in jumbo packages. Expect New York to come out in various spread formations, and actually look to pass early to open up the running game. If Sanchez can be efficient and prove to be able to stretch the field in the first few offensive drives, San Francisco will have no choice but to unload the box, giving New York ample space to run the ball. The Jets should divide the workload amongst an abundance of ball carriers who will all collectively gain over 100 yards.

At least 4 different players will carry the ball for the Jets. Fact. As touched on above, Shonn Greene’s days as a 20-25 carry back are seemingly over. It is time for the Jets to divide his carries amongst Powell, Tebow, and possibly the newly acquired Jonathan Grimes. While Greene will likely still get around 10-12 carries this Sunday, look for Powell to cut into that load the most with about 15-17 carries. Tebow will likely chip in out of the Wildcat with somewhere around 5-7 carries, and New York would be foolish not to give the ball to the speedy Grimes, or the recently “traded” Joe McKnight a few times to attempt a home run play.

While the Shanahan approach of playing an abundance of Running Backs is not necessarily a popular one in this league, Greene has left the Jets with no choice. In order for this offense to get on track, they need to be able to run the ball, and in order to be able to run the ball, the Jets need to divide the workload, plain and simple.

New York Jets Problems – The Running Game

A closer look at the New York Jets problems running the football

The New York Jets spent the entire off-season talking about their running game in prideful, reverential terms. Yet never made the effort to improve it. They didn’t pursue a blue-chip running back. They didn’t add a run blocking tight end. They didn’t upgrade at the fullback position. Basically, they stubbornly stuck to their average starting running back, a below average fullback, a collection of unproven backups, and a group of wide receivers playing tight end. Are we surprised they have struggled to run the football through three games?

Despite many people’s insistence at holding on to hope for Shonn Greene, the problems with the running game start with him. The film breakdown from the first two weeks (and the third week) show him consistently leaving yards on the field. The numbers support this as well. Greene has 57 carries for 157 yards, which comes out to an embarrassingly low 2.8 yards per carry. With 22 carries, backup Bilal Powell has averaged 4.0 yards per carry. The contrast was most clearly shown last week when Greene could only rack up 40 yards on 19 carries (2.1 YPC) and Powell was able to accumulate 45 yards on only 10 carries (4.5 YPC).

If Powell would have had Greene’s 19 carries, he projects to finish with a solid 85 yards on the ground. The excuse that the offensive line isn’t creating holes is simply incorrect. Are they a dominant unit? No. However, they are opening lanes on a regular enough basis for a competent NFL running back to average 4 yards per carry.

Greene is a plodding back who seems to have lost a step from last season, a harsh reality that could have him out of the league within a few years. He cannot get the edge on outside runs. He cannot make anybody miss when he gets to the second level on inside runs. He stumbles frequently when receiving handoffs and isn’t running anybody over because he can’t generate enough momentum. When you get 27 carries in a NFL game and can’t crack 100 yards as Greene couldn’t in week one, you aren’t good enough to be a starter.

We constantly hear how Greene is a slow starter in both seasons and games. Why do the Jets need to wait until week 7 for Greene to get going? How about he comes into the season down 15 pounds and looking to gain a step, instead of starting even slower than he has the previous two years? Are the Jets expected to wait until Greene’s 15th carry in every game for him to have a single run over 3 yards? I don’t think it is insane to have higher expectations of a starting running back than that. This is his contract year and he has 57 carries for 157 yards…57 carries for 157 yards!

So what is the solution? The Jets would be wise to add an option from outside the organization, whether it is Ryan Grant via free agency or Chris Ivory via trade. However, Mike Tannebaum has shown no inclination to improve the running back position so why would he start now? If the Jets are staying in house, the answer is simple – make Bilal Powell the starter, make Joe McKnight the third down back, considering he is arguably the fastest player on the offense and can catch an out route out of the backfield better than Tim Tebow could. Speaking of Tebow, make him the short yardage back from the quarterback position. In case you haven’t noticed, Greene is poor in short yardage situations as well and that is something Tebow traditionally excels at.

Outside of running back, Konrad Reuland should play above Jeff Cumberland as the backup tight end when Dustin Keller returns. He should also see more action at fullback, since anything that keeps John Conner off the field is a positive. The Jets should also incorporate Jeremy Kerley into the running game. Kerley is averaging a monstrous 23 yards per catch and has shown the ability to make things happen as a returner and runner (on reverses and out of the Wildcat last year). Have you seen how Green Bay uses Randall Cobb? That is how the Jets should use Kerley in their running game.

The New York Jets running problems will only be solved if they turn away from the ignorant 20 carries per game for Shonn Greene. It is time for a committee approach that is more creative and gives Mark Sanchez the hope of having a balanced offense.

New York Jets Week 3 – Early Thoughts On Jets/Dolphins

Early thoughts on the New York Jets week 3 match-up against the Miami Dolphins

Before we get into early thoughts on the New York Jets week 3 match-up with the Miami Dolphins, we want to offer a congratulations to Mike O’Connor who won our New York Jets mini-helmet giveaway from Gameday Goods. Get your Jets Gear at Gameday Goods and remember to enter in promo code “TurnOnTheJets” at checkout to save 10% on all purchases. 

If you are heading out to watch Thursday Night Football tomorrow or to the bar on Sunday for Jets/Dolphins. Make sure to take advantage of our partnership with Night Out who is hooking you up with this great deal at Traffic in New York City

1. This is an absolute must win for the Jets. An overstatement? Not with the best two teams in the NFL traveling to MetLife the following two weeks and a trip to New England only 4 weeks away. You cannot lose a division game to a rookie quarterback who has a number one receiver named Brian Hartline, period.

2. Reggie Bush is the only player capable on the Miami offense of giving the Jets defense a major problem. They struggle with speedy backs who are threats catching the football. Bush has been rejuvenated to his USC self since coming to the Dolphins and the Jets focus must be on building an early lead and keeping him contained. Unless Bush has a monster day, which is he capable of, this game shouldn’t be very close.

3. In case you haven’t noticed, I’ve had just about enough of Shonn Greene as this team’s primary ball carrier. Simply put, I do not think he is good enough to merit 20-25 carries per game. Yes, I think he has value in the 4th quarter when defenses are worn down but his complete inability to break tackles, make people miss and contribute in the passing game means he must see less playing time. I am for more playing time for Tim Tebow because of Greene’s shortcomings, not Mark Sanchez’s. Bilal Powell played well last week and Joe McKnight looked good on his only carry. It is time for 14 carries for Greene, 10 for Powell, 8 for Tebow and 5 McKnight. Spread it around. Greene doesn’t merit that many touches.

4. Miami is solid in the front seven but borderline awful in the secondary. The Jets need to test them down the field with Santonio Holmes (let’s hope his head is on straight), Stephen Hill and Jeremy Kerley. I wouldn’t sleep on a bomb to Clyde Gates either. He saw a good amount of playing time this past week and Sanchez has a history of completing long passes to irrelevant receivers against the Dolphins.

5. Paging Aaron Maybin. Paging Quinton Coples. Bueller? Bueller?

6. It is sounding like Darrelle Revis could be a game time decision. Obviously you want him 100% healthy for San Francisco and Houston and Miami lacks any major threats in the passing game but simply put, this defense is nowhere near the same without him.

Turn On The Jets Offensive Film Breakdown – Jets vs. Steelers

Breaking down the offensive game film from Jets/Steelers

Turn On The Jets broke down the offensive game film from the New York Jets week two loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. A big thank you to everybody who sent in their questions on Twitter on what they specifically wanted to see broken down from the film. Make sure to check back tomorrow when Chris Gross will go through the defensive game tape –

Let’s start with something positive, since the bulk of this article is going to be a negative review of Santonio Holmes, Shonn Greene, Mark Sanchez, and Jeff Cumberland. The New York Jets opening drive on offense was a thing of beauty. Mark Sanchez was accurate and aggressive, hitting Jeremy Kerley on a 45 yard completion on a well-designed play by Tony Sparano and a beautiful, shifty route from Kerley. The touchdown to Santonio Holmes took advantage of the Jets being so run heavy in their three tight end look that Sanchez’s well-executed play action held up both linebackers and brought the free safety towards the line to stop the run. This opened a huge window to Holmes for an easy touchdown. Great tendency breaking play-call by Tony Sparano.

Unfortunately after a strong start from Holmes, he grew impatient with Pittsburgh’s aggressive, physical coverage. He showed no ability to respond to it and terrible releases and overall route-running technique. On a key third down early in the game, Sanchez was keying on him to run a whip route (similar to an out, but when you run a slant, plant your inside foot and work back to the outside), however as Sanchez rolled right, Holmes slammed into a linebacker and falls over instead of releasing to the outside. With Holmes on the ground, Sanchez ended up taking a huge shot from Lawrence Timmons after throwing it away.

Later in the game, Holmes and Sanchez again struggled to connect on a third down. Last week on a nearly identical play, we praised Sanchez for being patient and hitting Jeff Cumberland on a 3rd and 9 instead of hitting Dustin Keller in the flat. However, here on 3rd and 16 and considering the Jets field position and complete lack of offensive productivity (this play took place midway through the 3rd quarter), he should have taken Kerley in the flat. Why? It either sets up a long field goal attempt, gives you a chance to go for it on 4th and roughly 6 or maybe Kerley makes a guy miss and gets a first down.

Regardless, Sanchez decides to wait for Holmes to reach the first down marker. Unfortunately, Holmes rounds off the top of his route. Instead of driving off Ike Taylor by threatening him deep, he rounds it off too early and doesn’t make a sharp cut back to the quarterback. This doesn’t move Taylor at all who squatted on the route and easily knocked the ball down.

Later in the game, Sanchez went to Holmes on a 2nd and 10 on a hitch route. Again, instead of driving his defender off, Holmes just slams into him and looks to push off. This disrupts the timing and it is why when he turned around, he wasn’t prepared to catch the ball which he dropped.

What I have seen through two games of Santonio Holmes this season is lazy route running, poor communication with his quarterback and endless complaining to the official to bail out his poor play. I have defended Holmes time and time again on this site, however so far this season he looks like a player who received a big contract and stopped working on the little things that make wide receivers great. When you watch players like Hakeem Nicks or Victor Cruz in the early game and then watch Holmes, the dropoff is enormous. Here is Holmes staring down an official after he dropped yet another pass (and there was no pass interference) while childishly trapping Ike Taylor’s feet between his legs. Taylor flipped out screaming at Holmes after this play for how long he held him there.

Moving on to Shonn Greene and the problems in the Jets running game. Here we see a well-blocked play and instead of Greene hitting the hole at full speed, he comes to a complete stop behind the of scrimmage and squats extremely low to the point of stumbling…again. This went for 3 yards and easily could have been a 7-9 yard again.

Later in the game, Greene had a monster hole on a well designed play by Tony Sparano. The Jets came out in a wishbone look and gave Greene a delayed draw. He literally goes untouched for 8 yards through the Pittsburgh defense, as you can see from both angles here. He has one person to beat, safety Ryan Mundy who steps up to fill. This is where it is a running back’s job to make the safety miss and score a touchdown.

What does Greene do? He squats as low as he can, starts stumbling and basically gives himself a concussion by getting smacked by Mundy for exactly a 9 yard gain. So basically Greene didn’t receive any contact until 8 yards down the field and finished with a 9 yard gain…not good enough.

There was a clear contrast between Bilal Powell and Greene in this game. Simply put, Powell looked quicker, more explosive and showed more of an ability to make people miss. On this play, Lawrence Timmons shoots through the gap unblocked and has a clear shot at Powell. If this is Greene, it is without question a 3 yard loss. However, Powell was fast enough to beat him through the hole and turn this into a 5 yard gain.

Later in the game, Powell should have had a 34 yard touchdown run. This play was well blocked up front and Powell made a great cutback. All it took was Jeff Cumberland sealing his man and he would have been off to the races. Unfortunately, Cumberland whiffed and the run only went for 10 yards. This is what happens when you have limited depth at tight end and don’t have a player who can block at the position.

Cumberland also showed no awareness on a hot route in the second quarter. If he read the defense properly, the Jets easily convert a 3rd down and don’t have to settle for a field goal.

A few other observations –

  • Austin Howard and the pass protection held up relatively well in this game. He did allow one sack but could have received more help from Shonn Greene on a chip block. Greene struggled in pass protection throughout this entire game.
  • Tony Sparano called a terrific first half. The Jets should have had an easy touchdown to Santonio Holmes in the end-zone to take a 14-6 lead. They rolled Sanchez out, got the coverage they wanted, Santonio Holmes ran a beautiful double move but Sanchez threw it high and behind him instead of out in front. Rob detailed this play here yesterday and it was a killer miss by Sanchez.
  • The deep ball to Stephen was another clever play call and a beautiful throw from Sanchez. Ultimately, it was just played very well by Ryan Clark. It is hard to put blame on anybody on this play. Hill probably could have ran a crisper route and he did struggle to get off press coverage all day…leading to Sanchez not looking his way very often.
  • Sparano got a little too conservative in the second half but his receivers weren’t helping the cause by getting pushed around so easily.
  • The 12 yard run by Joe McKnight was very impressive. There was nothing there and he broke a tackle, made two guys miss and showed good acceleration. It is time for more McKnight, Powell and yes Tebow running the ball. Shonn Greene doesn’t merit more than 15 carries per game at this point.