New York Jets Fact Or False: Week 3 Edition

Chris Gross weekly Fact or False previews the Jets/Dolphins week 3 match-up

The New York Jets head into their third regular season game, a road trip to Miami, standing at 1-1, coming off of a very abysmal performance in Pittsburgh. As the Jets gear up to face the Dolphins, a seemingly must win game with San Francisco and Houston lurking afterwards, there are numerous issues to be addressed with this team. Which New York Jets will show up in Miami and in the coming weeks? Will it be the team that crushed Buffalo in the season opener led by an offensive explosion? Or will it be the team that faced the same troubles that haunted it last season – offensive woes and an inability to get the defense off the field on third down?

The Jets have come under heavy scrutiny following the loss to Pittsburgh. Mark Sanchez went from the league’s most improved Quarterback in week 1, to the scapegoat of the New York media that infatuates the Daily News more than Justin Bieber does to a teenaged girl. The mainstream media in this city has the most extreme love/hate relationship with the Jets’ fourth year quarterback. Simply put, they love to hate him.

What about the running game? What happened to that vaunted ground and pound that was preached all offseason? Tim Tebow was supposed to be a key part of Shonn Greene’s supporting cast, but so far, he has been completely irrelevant to this offense. Speaking of Greene, will he ever reveal himself to be the bell cow the Jets think he can be, or is it time to start spreading his carries out amongst New York’s stable of less than average running backs?

In terms of the defense, can the Jets prove that they can stop an elusive running back? While the run defense was fantastic last week in Pittsburgh, the Steelers’ didn’t exactly put Barry Sanders on the field. The Jets were gashed by CJ Spiller for 169 yards on opening day, continuing the trend that began last season of not being able to match up with speedy backs. Can they stop Reggie Bush, coming off of a career performance, the shifty Lamar Miller, and the rest of the Dolphins’ rushing attack this week?

Find out all of this, and much more, in this week’s New York Jets Fact Or False.

1.) Shonn Greene will average at least 4.0 YPC. False. Greene’s career high, in terms of yards per carry, against Miami came last year in the forgettable season finale, when he accumulated 55 yards on 14 carries, for a 3.9 YPC average. Now, Greene is coming off of two very sub par performances against Buffalo and Pittsburgh where he averaged 3.5 and 2.1 YPC, respectively.

Miami, on the other hand, has allowed just 3.0 YPC to Arian Foster in week 1, along with a ridiculous 2.0 YPC to Darren McFadden at home last week. To put it nicely, Miami has shut down two backs that are quite a bit more accomplished than Greene. Expect the Jets to rely on Greene for about 12-15 carries, while finally spreading the carries out amongst their other three runners in Bilal Powell, Joe McKnight, and Tim Tebow. With how Greene has played, combined with how excellent Miami’s run defense has been, there should be no reason for the Jets to believe that Greene can carry the entire rushing load on Sunday. Powell, McKnight, and Tebow have all been fair in the select time they’ve been given, so it is time to see what they can do with an expanded workload. Tony Sparano needs to get the ball to Powell and McKnight in space, via screens, sweeps, or misdirections. He should not be afraid to swing for the fences with these two on Sunday.

As for Tebow, it is time New York stop being so careful with their prolific backup quarterback. It seems as though the fear amongst the coaching staff is that if Tebow plays well in expanded minutes, they will face public pressure to insert him as the starter over Mark Sanchez, in the event that number 6 begins to truly struggle. However, if they use Tebow primarily as a runner, which they absolutely should be doing, he can be just another tool to assist the run game and take some pressure off of Greene.

However the game plan unfolds, do not expect Greene to surpass the 4.0 YPC mark. It simply is not going to happen.

Mark Sanchez will throw for 225+ yards and 2 TDs. Fact. Defensively, the Dolphins are built very much like the Buffalo Bills. They have a very above average front seven, with an extremely suspect secondary, even more so due to the recent departure of CB Vontae Davis. While the Jets running game may struggle to get going early, expect Sparano to allow Sanchez to sling the ball deep. Santonio Holmes, Stephen Hill, and Jeremy Kerley all have the ability to stretch the field, and when facing a secondary like Miami’s, there should certainly be free reign to do so.

The key will be for Holmes and Hill to prove they can respond to press coverage. Dolphins CB Sean Smith is a very physical player, and you can rest assured he took note of how Holmes and Hill struggled with the physicality of the Pittsburgh secondary last week. If Sparano can dial up some creative routes, and the Jets can prove to play well against this type of coverage, expect Sanchez to have a field day against this secondary.

3.) Reggie Bush will run for 100+ yards. False. While the Jets certainly have had their struggles with speed backs over the past season and two games (as previously noted), Bush will likely be their primary focus this week. In his sole contest against New York last year, the former Heisman Trophy winner picked up 71 yards on just 10 carries, for an eye-popping 7.1 YPC average. However, that was a Miami team that had a pro bowl receiver in Brandon Marshall, and a veteran quarterback in Matt Moore.

This time around, Miami brings out an offense led by a rookie at quarterback whose primary receiving option is Brian Hartline. Expect New York to key Bush early and often, and do everything they can to prevent him from getting the ball in space. Bart Scott looked quicker than he has in years last week in Pittsburgh, and although the Steelers’ backs certainly do not posses the speed of Bush, it is undoubtedly a sign of encouragement. Do not be surprised to see Rex Ryan send LaRon Landry on some Safety blitzes early in the game to introduce Bush to his hard hitting style, with the hope of rattling the 7th year pro and setting the tone from the beginning.

4.) Cameron Wake will have at least one sack. False. While Wake has established himself as one of the most ferocious pass rushers in the NFL over the past three years, he has registered just 2 sacks against the Jets in 6 contests. What’s even more surprising is the fact that he did not get to Sanchez at all over two games last year. This is likely a result of the Jets giving the recently (and thankfully) departed Wayne Hunter an abundance of help on Wake last year, something they will likely do again with Austin Howard this Sunday. While Howard is certainly an improvement over Hunter, Wake is Miami’s best defensive player and will be accounted for at all times. Sacks could still come from Miami, but Wake will likely be neutralized due to the high amount of attention the Jets will give him.

5.) The Jets will register multiple sacks. Fact. Dolphins Quarterback Ryan Tannehill has been sacked 4 times over the course of his first two NFL games, including three in the opener in Houston. While the Jets’ pass rush isn’t nearly as good as the Texans’, Rex Ryan and Mike Pettine will be sure to draw up some exotic blitzes to get in position to bring the rookie to the ground. New York sacked Ben Roethlisberger 3 times last week in Pittsburgh, but realistically had opportunities to bring him down at least thrice more. Tannehill is not nearly as difficult to bring down as Big Ben, so expect the Jets to finish this week. Tannehill should have some serious grass stains on his back come Sunday afternoon.

6.) Ryan Tannehill will throw 2 interceptions. Fact. Tannehill looked promising in last week’s win against Oakland, however in his opening day start against Houston, the Texas A&M product struggled mightily, throwing 3 interceptions to start his NFL career. This was largely due to Houston Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips getting extremely creative in his coverages and blitz packages, making Tannehill extremely uncomfortable and forcing him into making bad decisions. Like Phillips, Ryan and Pettine will look to confuse the rookie from the start. Expect the Jets to do a good job of disguising coverages and sending pressure at Tannehill. If they can rattle his cage early, it would not come as a surprise to see the young QB become overwhelmed, and turn the ball over more than once.

Oh, and if that wasn’t enough, this guy makes his return this week.

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 Week 2 – Early Thoughts On Jets/Steelers

A collection of early thoughts on the New York Jets week 2 match-up against the Pittsburgh Steelers

A collection of early thoughts on the New York Jets week 2 match-up against the Pittsburgh Steelers…stay with us all day today at TOJ as we have a roundtable discussion on the game coming later, along with new content from Mike Donnelly and Chris Gross

1. Regardless of the flaws on Pittsburgh’s offensive line and disappointing showing of their defense in week 1. This is a very tough match-up for the Jets. Heinz Field is never an easy place to play, nevermind when the Steelers are 0-1 and desperate for a victory. A win on Sunday would truly put the league on notice that the Jets are a legitimate contender in the AFC.

2. Early indications are that Darrelle Revis is going to play despite a mild concussion. The logic match-up is to put him on Antonio Brown, put Antonio Cromartie on Mike Wallace and come after Ben Roethlisberger like crazy in an attempt to take advantage of their struggling offensive line.

3. The players on Pittsburgh’s offense who have the ability to hurt the Jets the most are Emmanuel Sanders, Heath Miller and Jonathan Dwyer. We all know the history of slot receivers and tight ends taking advantage of Rex Ryan’s defense since he took over the Jets. This is a big week for Kyle Wilson and for the Jets new safeties, LaRon Landry and Yeremiah Bell, to show their ability in coverage. The reason I say Dwyer is because Pittsburgh has ran the ball down the Jets throat in their previous two meetings and Dwyer looks to be the workhorse back this week.

4. The Jets will receive a nice boost to their run defense if Sione Pouha returns to the line-up. Chris Gross will discuss this later in his film breakdown but the defense missed badly missed him last week at nose tackle. It will also be interesting to see if Eric Smith can play, as he would provide a boost to the special teams.

5. We will get a nice barometer of just how legitimate the Jets passing offense is this week. Pittsburgh has a seemingly endless collection of pass rushers and will receive Ryan Clark back at safety. Mark Sanchez played well both times the Jets went to Pittsburgh in 2010 and you know Santonio Holmes will be fired up for his return. Tony Sparano must stay aggressive in the passing game to keep balance on offense. It will be interesting to see how Stephen Hill responds to the extra attention he should likely receive now from opposing defenses.

6. If Mark Sanchez is playing like he did last week, I’d prefer even less of the Wildcat than we saw last week. Give the extra carries to Bilal Powell, particularly the edge rushes which Shonn Greene lacks the speed for.

7. What in the world would be the justification by the national media for a Jets win this week? Pittsburgh is having a down year? We won’t be impressed until they play Houston or San Francisco? Who knows…

8. It will be good to see Jerricho Cotchery again.

Initial Reaction – 48 Points And A Barrel Of Laughs, Jets 1-0

The New York Jets rolled to a 48-28 win…thoughts on how they handled Buffalo

While we are happy to say we told you so about the Buffalo Bills being overhyped and the New York Jets remaining the second best team in the AFC East, we certainly can’t say we saw that coming. 48 points? Special teams touchdowns? The Jets looking like a high functioning NFL offense for an entire game? Today was a fun one at MetLife Stadium. Fun, because today demonstrated just how good this team could be and just how ridiculous all the negative pre-season hype around the team was.

Let’s start at the top, with the most important positon on the field and the most important player on the Jets roster not named Darrelle Revis…Mark Sanchez. Outside of a bonehead interception in the first quarter that had Twitter ablaze with cheap shots, Sanchez was as accurate as we’ve ever seen him, consistently fitting passes into tight windows and pushing the football down the field. Credit Tony Sparano for an aggressive game plan but credit Sanchez for dropping in some gems. He effectively spread the ball around, completing passes to 7 different receivers and showing tremendous comfort with rookie Stephen Hill. When you protect Sanchez, he can make all the throws necessary to win in the NFL.

The Jets wide receivers took a beating all summer, particularly Hill who many people claimed wasn’t ready for a big time role. He silenced those critics by turning in a monster 5 catch, 89 yard, 2 touchdown performance. Hill is a faster, bigger version of Braylon Edwards who Sanchez was extremely comfortable with in 2009 and 2010. Jeremy Kerley also got himself out of Rex Ryan’s doghouse with a 4 catches for 45 yards, a receiving touchdown an electric punt return touchdown. If they can stay consistent, the Jets offense has a ceiling much higher than anybody expected.

Austin Howard deserves to be singled out for praise. Mario Williams laid a goose egg today and Buffalo’s pass rush in general did absolutely nothing. The whole line deserves credit but Howard just recently stepped into a starting role and has the most prove. He was more than up to the challenge against Buffalo’s much hyped personnel.

Defensively, it was playmaking. The Jets made Ryan Fitzpatrick look every bit the overpaid, mediocre quarterback he is by intercepting him three times and taking one back to the house (we have been waiting for that defensive TD Cro!). Yes, the running defense and the lack of sacks was a mild disappointment but ultimately when the game was still in question, the defense routinely made game changing plays. LaRon Landry seemed to be in on every tackle and there is no question the tandem of him and Yeremiah Bell are a major upgrade from last year’s safeties.

The Jets and their fans have every right to enjoy this one. It was a statement victory in the division. However, there will be an even better chance to turn some heads this week in Pittsburgh. The talent is there to win, but will the consistency be there?

Check back tomorrow for No Huddle, a full Report Card and a closer look at Sanchez’s performance

New York Jets Fact Or False: Week 1 Edition

Chris Gross Fact or False previews the Jets/Bills week 1 match-up

With the 2012 NFL season finally just a couple of days away, Turn On The Jets brings you the very first regular season edition of New York Jets Fact Or False. For the duration of the season, each week’s F or F will be previewing the upcoming Jets game for each particular week. During the bye week, we will have another edition of the ever so popular “Tweeter’s Choice,” where readers can send in topics for analysis via twitter. For now, let’s look at some keys to the game for this Sunday’s season opener against the Buffalo Bills at MetLife Stadium.

Fred Jackson will surpass 100 yards rushing. False.

While Fred Jackson is certainly a very effective running back, who seems to be aging like a fine wine, he has never surpassed 100 yards rushing against the Jets over his entire career. Jackson is coming off of a season ending leg injury from 2011, and being on the wrong side of 30 is a cause for serious concern for one of Buffalo’s most highly touted offensive weapons. Still, Jackson will likely turn out a productive season. That being said, don’t expect him to light up the stat sheet this Sunday.

Jackson’s career rushing high against New York came in their most recent meeting last season, a game in which he amassed just 82 yards on the ground. With the way the Jets’ defense has looked this preseason, particularly against the run, don’t expect Jackson to do much better than that. The Jets have added some youth and speed to their front seven to couple with veterans like Calvin Pace, Bart Scott, and David Harris. This defense should be fun to watch this season, and it will start by shutting Jackson down this Sunday.

Darrelle Revis will keep Stevie Johnson in check. Fact. 

We all expected the hype surrounding this issue coming into this game. The Bills and their fan base like to believe that Stevie Johnson is the only wide receiver in the league to have success against Darrelle Revis. Comparatively speaking, they surely propose a fair argument. In their last match up, Johnson caught 8 balls for 75 yards and a touchdown, numbers that are certainly more respectable than those of his counterparts around the league when facing New York’s All-Pro cornerback. However, following this matchup,the claim has been made that Johnson actually has Revis’s number. Unlike the prior argument, this holds no water.

Throughout his career, Johnson has faced Revis in six games. Over the course of those games, he has amassed 22 catches for 283 yards and 3 touchdowns, averaging out to about 3.7 receptions for 37 yards and .5 touchdowns per game. Considering the fact that Johnson is Buffalo’s number one receiving option, and one of their best offensive playmakers, these numbers do not quite scream domination. You can bet your last dollar that Darrelle Revis has been listening to all of the hype from the fanbase and media alike about Johnson’s success against him, which will likely cause him to take this matchup more personal than any other. Expect Revis Island to be at high tide this Sunday.

The outcome of this game will come down to whichever Quarterback makes the least mistakes. Fact.

The Jets and Bills are both built somewhat similar. Each team relies heavily on their defense and rushing attack to stay competitive in games, hoping that their respective quarterbacks can take that next step to propel them toward permanent contender status. This game will surely provide plenty of quality defense and could remain close for the greater part of 60 minutes.

Mark Sanchez and Ryan Fitzpatrick have each shown signs of quality quarterback play in the past, but each have struggled heavily at times as well, both becoming scapegoats for holding their teams back at some point in their careers. When speaking of each of these teams, the consesus for predicting their success seems to be the same – if the quarterback position can provide consistent, quality play, the team can do great things. That notion could not be more on point for this Sunday. While there will surely be plenty of plays made on the defensive side of the ball, as well as in the running game for each team, the quarterbacks will likely determine the outcome. Who is going to make the plays when they count the most? Who will choke under pressure and cost their team a victory with a vital mistake?

Mark Sanchez will be sacked less than 3 times. False. 

While Sanchez should certainly have better protection now that Wayne Hunter is off of the team and in St. Louis, Austin Howard is making his first career start against one of the most prolific pass rushers in all of football in Mario Williams. Williams inked a record setting deal with Buffalo this offseason, and one would think that he is going to be playing to prove his worth after Houston allowed him to depart as a free agent this spring. Combine that with the rest of Buffalo’s very talented defensive line, and Howard and Co. should have a very busy day this Sunday. Again, the line does look improved with Howard replacing Hunter, however Sanchez was sacked 4 times in the season opener last year, so if New York can limit Buffalo to 3, it is still an improvement.

Mark Sanchez will complete more than 58% of his passes. Fact.

One thing that Sanchez has shown this preseason, particularly in the Carolina game, is a much better command of the offense. In fact, over the course of the entire preseason, he posted a completion percentage of 68.6. While the offense may not be built for Sanchez to put up monstrous numbers, there is no reason for him to be inefficient. Ball security and efficiency are going to be key to the success of the offense this year, and Sanchez, now heading into his fourth professional season, needs to demonstrate each of these components. Considering Buffalo’s young secondary, Sanchez should be able to complete more than half of his passes this Sunday, if he is provided adequate blocking. If the offensive line struggles to protect him, however, all bets are off.

The “TebowCat” will be used on at least one scoring drive. Fact.

Everyone has been eagerly waiting to see what the Jets have planned, offensively, for Tim Tebow. The “TebowCat,” as this package is now being referred to as, will likely make its debut at MetLife Stadium this Sunday, and for good reason. As previously discussed, Buffalo has a very good, ferocious defensive line, that will likely play very aggressively. New York can slow that unit down by rolling out the Tebow-led package and running some draws and misdirections to keep Mario Williams and Co. on their toes. Expect this formation to be used on at least one scoring drive this weak, particularly inside the 20.

Exploring The Possibility Of MJD to NYJ

Chris Gross explores the potential pros and cons of the New York Jets trading for Maurice Jones-Drew

With a lengthy hold out seemingly poised to last well into the regular season, Jacksonville Jaguars star Running Back Maurice Jones-Drew has reportedly told the team that he is open to being traded if the two sides cannot come to an agreement on a new deal. Since then, many reports have surfaced linking the reigning rushing champion to the New York Jets. Some sources have reported that the Jets front office has contacted Jacksonville to inquire about the availability of Jones-Drew, while conflicting reports have stated that New York has no interesting in making a deal. Although signs currently point to the latter, with Jets General Manager Mike Tannenbaum, one can never quite say never.

In exploring a deal for Jones-Drew, there are numerous factors to take into account. First, why on earth would Jacksonville, under the new ownership of Shahid Khan, get rid of the face of the franchise, rather than pay him the money he commands? The answer is quite simple. With a completely new regime in place, the Jaguars seem ready to move forward in complete overhaul mode, meaning moving ahead with young players, leaving no room for high priced veterans who are going to cause a distraction to the new coaching staff and front office. With that in mind, Jacksonville would surely like to add some future draft picks to bring in their own, young players in the future, with the idea of building a playoff caliber team a few years from now.

What could also determine whether or not the Jaguars decide to retain, or move MJD, is the play of the man who has replaced Jones-Drew as the lead back in his absence, Rashad Jennings. Over the past two seasons in Jacksonville, Jennings has built a career rushing average of 5.4 yards per carry. Last season, he played in just 13 games while accumulating 459 rushing yards on just 84 carries, for a total of 5.5 YPC. The argument can certainly be made that Jennings is a beneficiary of Jones-Drew wearing down defenses for him to rip off big chunks of yardage, however Jennings has been quite impressive this preseason thus far without MJD carrying the load in front of him.

In his first two games this preseason, Jennings has carried the ball 23 times for a total of 118 yards, including 56 yards on the New York Giants starting defense, the same defense that held Jets starting Running Back Shonn Greene to just 36 yards on 11 carries. While Jennings may not be Jones-Drew, he has shown that he has the potential to be a very serviceable back in this league.

The next immediate question that comes to mind is whether or not this would be a good move for the Jets to make. First, let’s look at why Tannenbaum and co. would want to make such a trade:

Usually when players of Jones-Drew’s stature reportedly become available, the immediate concern for all teams interested is the cap space. According to nyjetscap.com, the Jets have just over $6 million left before going over this year’s salary cap. Jones-Drew is slated to make $4.45 million this season, and $4.95 million next season, so, for at least the immediate future, the move could work financially.

Talking strictly football, Jones-Drew could be a godsend for the Jets. For a team committed to establishing a “ground and pound” identity, they have proved to be anything but from what we have seen over the course of their two early preseason games. Not one back on the roster has stood out as someone who can carry the workload and be the lead back. Jones-Drew is a proven back who has consistently posted stats atop the league, rushing for over 1300 yards in each of the past three seasons, including an NFL leading 1606 yards in 2011. At 27, many believe MJD is nearing the point in his career when he will begin to wear down, but he has shown no signs of that up until this point, averaging his most yards per carry last season since his rookie year.

On the issue of age, Michael Turner signed with the Atlanta Falcons as a free agent prior to the 2008 season, at 26 years old, just a year younger than Jones-Drew’s current age. In his four seasons in Atlanta, Turner has run for at least 1300 yards, other than 2009 when he played in just 11 games due to injury. However, he has been able to rush for double-digit touchdowns in each of those seasons, including his shortened 2009. While there are concerns about the mileage of MJD, he is still likely a few seasons away from reaching his peak, before the inevitable descend of the NFL running back.

Additionally, bringing in MJD would actually help Shonn Greene–also 27 years old. Greene’s most productive season was when he was paired with Thomas Jones as a rookie in 2009. Jones was the Jets workhorse, as he would wear down defenses with his tough running style, similar to that of Jones-Drew, while Greene would spell him and take advantage of an exhausted defense, averaging a career best 5 YPC. Since then, Greene has struggled to take over as the lead back for New York. In 2010, he was beat out for the starting spot by LaDanian Tomlinson, who many thought was brought in to serve primarily in a back-up/third down role. Finally, in 2011, when Greene became the starter, he barely put fear in opposing defenses, running for just over 1,000 yards with 6 touchdowns. These are not exactly great numbers for a lead back on a team built to run the football.

While a change in coordinators was expected to help Greene, there has been no sign of that this preseason thus far. Jones-Drew and Greene could complement each other as well as Jones and Greene did back in 2009, and would be a step in the right direction in returning the Jets to the top of the league in rushing, assuming the Right Tackle situation is properly addressed. Still, Wayne Hunter’s run blocking isn’t nearly as bad as his pass pro, and many times, a back as dynamic as Jones-Drew can help mask, or at least band-aid, a weak link on the line like Hunter, while providing help in the pass game, as he is certainly one of the better pass blocking backs in the NFL.

MJD is also very effective as a receiver out of the backfield, an element that was virtually non-existent in the Jets offense in 2011. Over the span of his six-year career, Jones-Drew has compiled 279 receptions for 2,473 yards and 10 touchdowns. When was the last time the Jets offense successfully ran a screen that ripped off a big chunk of yards? Or better yet, when was the last time they effectively completed a pass to a back in any type of route out of the backfield?

Although the Right Tackle situation is surely a top priority for the Jets, that does not mean they can’t make moves that would greatly improve their roster in the mean time. Jones-Drew is a unique talent that would add a very interesting dynamic to an offense that lacks in that area.

When imagining Jones-Drew in the Green and White, strictly considering football reasons, there is very little, if anything, to dispel such an addition. However, anyone associated with this league knows how much of a role the business aspect plays in every decision, and when considering this, there is great reason as to why this trade would not work.

The price tag – MJD would not come cheap. Jacksonville would likely seek multiple draft picks in exchange for Jones-Drew, possibly a 2nd and 5th, which was what Marshall Faulk was traded for back in 1999 when the premium on Running Backs was much higher, or even two 3rd rounders, which was what Brandon Marshall was traded to Chicago for earlier this offseason. While the picks required to obtain Jones-Drew would probably not scare Mike Tannenbaum away, the eventual price to pay him likely will.

Although Jones-Drew would likely report to the Jets, if traded, prior to receiving a new deal, the Jets would be in a very difficult position come March, when they are going to be required to finally give Darrelle Revis his long overdue massive pay day. So, following this season, the Jets would be in a difficult spot. Do you pay Revis and ship out Jones-Drew, essentially making him a costly one-year rental? It would be very hard to imagine a scenario where the Jets spit in the face of Revis and awarded MJD with a contract before their most prized possession, as it would likely cause an immense outrage amongst the fan base. Tannenbaum and the front office couldn’t possibly be so short sighted.

The Holdout Factor – Even if the Jets hypothetically swing a deal for the coveted veteran out of UCLA, his performance almost surely will not be near where it has been in the past due to his lengthy holdout. When observing the history of star players who have held out recently, they never seem to hit their stride until much later than normal. In 2010, Darrelle Revis missed time due to injury following his holdout. Similarly, Tennessee Running Back Chris Johnson ran for career lows in both yards–1047–and touchdowns—4—after ending his holdout late last summer. Even if Jones-Drew were to be traded right now and reported to camp by Friday, he would me miles behind, both physically and mentally. He would likely not hit his stride until midseason, which would still leave the Jets in the same predicament they are in through a vigorous first half of the year.

As unlikely as a move for Jones-Drew may be, Mike Tannenbaum is notorious for pulling surprise trades. Under his management, the Jets have acquired Kris Jenkins, Brett Favre, Braylon Edwards, Antonio Cromartie, Santonio Holmes, and Tim Tebow via trade, just to name a few. Like any trade, though, there are positives and negatives of bringing in MJD. If available, it could simply come down to how desperate the Jets become offensively, something that is still very difficult to gauge.

New York Jets Fact Or False: Preseason Week 2 Edition

Chris Gross weekly Fact or False previews the New York Jets pre-season game against the New York Giants

Chris Gross is back with his weekly Fact or False, this week previewing the upcoming Jets/Giants pre-season game. Make sure to give Chris a follow on Twitter and for God’s sake get yourselves a TOJ shirt before we sell out to current Jets players –

For this week’s New York Jets Fact Or False, we preview the preseason edition of the Battle of New York. Although the Giants remain the victor in this rivalry until the next regular season match-up, Jets fans still have much to watch for in Battle of NY Lite.

A Jets win will help forget about 12/24/2011. False.

Unfortunately for Jets fans, even if Gang Green beats their cross town rival in blowout fashion, the image of Victor Cruz’s 99 yard touchdown catch on Christmas Eve will remain burned in their memories until the next regular season match-up between the two clubs. The Jets would certainly love to take the game, and at least have some sense of pride in the city, however the Giants and their fans will hold bragging rights until the Jets take Big Blue down in the regular season, or until they win a Superbowl, whicever comes first. Until then, the Giants remain the Kings of New York.

Victor Cruz will dominate. False.

Anyone familiar with either of these two teams knows that Victor Cruz has had his way with the Jets over the course of his young career. Cruz became well known to both Jets and Giants fans when he torched Gang Green for 6 receptions for 145 yards and 3 Touchdowns in their 2010 preseason match-up. Cruz seemed to hold onto that flame in last year’s Christmas Eve game when he hauled in 3 balls for 164 yards and a touchdown, including the infamous 99 yard touchdown reception that all but ended the Jets’ 2011 campaign. However, with Hakeem Nicks out, and Mario Manningham now playing in San Fransisco, Cruz will likely play as the team’s primary option at wide receiver, meaning he will be matched up on All-Pro Darrelle Revis. While this is an excellent opportunity for Cruz to even further showcase his skills and dominance of the Jets, chances of anyone getting off of Revis Island are extremely slim.

Revis has been clashing with Stephen Hill in practice throughout all of training camp. After the rookie had his way with the league’s best defensive back earlier this week, Revis had reportedly buckled down and blanketed Hill in the week’s later practices. Revis has been practicing against great speed throughout training camp, something Cruz has plenty of. However, this will be nothing new to what Revis has seen in practice thus far, and I would expect him to come out on a mission, considering Cruz’s past success against the Jets.

The Offensive Line will struggle to get Sanchez protection early. Fact.

Although the Jets Offensive Line has vowed to improve upon their abysmal performance in Cincinnati, there is still a very serious issue at Right Tackle. Although Austin Howard held his own, and has earned praise from the coaching staff, the Giants defensive front is among the best in all of football, if not the best. Last year, Defensive Ends Justin Tuck and Jason Pierre-Paul combined for 3 sacks and 4 quarterback hits on Sanchez, leading the team’s total of 5 sacks and 6 QB hits. Although part of the blame for these numbers can be placed on former Offensive Coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, who called for an idiotic 60 plus passing plays, the offensive line will have their work cut out for them. Expect Giants Defensive Coordinator Perry Fewell to attack the right side of the line with combinations of Tuck, Pierre-Paul, and Osi Umenyiora to get pressure on Sanchez. The task will be extremely tough for the guys up front come Saturday night.

The Jets will be able to run the ball effectively. Fact.

Although the Giants pass rush is a cause for concern, their run defense isn’t exactly stellar. The interior defensive line has been harped by early injuries, and the linebacking corps is average, at best. Last year, the Jets ran for 105 yards against them, on only 25 carries, for an average of 4.2 YPC. I would expect the Jets to try to pound the ball in the middle, while running a great number of draws in an attempt to take advantage of the Giants’ aggressive pass rush. For the first time, we could get an early glimpse of the Tebow package, as this makes great philosophical sense against a pass rush like the Giants’.

Eli Manning will throw for multiple touchdowns. False.

Other than the fact that he will hardly play past the first quarter, Manning actually struggled the last time he faced the Jets, contrary to popular belief. Other than the 99 yard touchdown pass to Victor Cruz, which was more of Cruz burning the defense after the catch, Manning completed only 8 passes for 126 yards and an interception against the Jets last season. Rex Ryan and Mike Pettine did a good job of keeping him in check by disguising coverages and mixing up blitz packages. Manning will also be going up against the most talented secondary he will likely face all season long. While he is among the NFL’s elite quarterbacks, taking these facts, plus limited playing time into account, it is very unlikely that Manning tosses even a single touchdown pass, let alone multiple.

Quinton Coples still has a lot to prove. Fact.

Although Coples looked fantastic in his preseason debut for the Jets (5 tackles, 2 TFLs, 1 Sack, 1 FF, 1 PD), he has taken a lot of heat recently. Following the Jets 17-6 loss in Cincinatti last Friday, Coples was still criticized as the majority of his statistics came against the Bengals’ second and third strings. Earlier this week, both Calvin Pace and Defensive Coordinator Mike Pettine questioned Coples’ practice habits, basically stating that they want to see the effort that he put into the game equate the effort that he practices with.

Coples has been under the microscope since the Jets selected him with the 16th overall pick in this years draft. Many have questioned the decision to pass on coveted OLB Melvin Ingram for Coples, leaving the rookie out of UNC with a lot to prove. Now, Coples needs to prove that he can make plays against the starters, while also continuing to prove that he has the proper mindset to improve day to day. Expect him to come out with a heavy chip on his shoulder yet again.

New York Jets Fact Or False: Preseason Week 1 Edition

Chris Gross weekly Fact or False previews the New York Jets opening pre-season game against the Cincinnati Bengals

For this week’s edition of New York Jets Fact Or False, we will begin a trend that will be prevalent all season long. Each week, F or F will be dedicated to the upcoming Jets game, as we will look at the most pressing issues facing Gang Green each week. For our initial take, let’s have a look at what to expect to see, as well as what to watch for, in tomorrow night’s game in Cincinnati.

AJ Green vs. Darrelle Revis will be the most intriguing matchup of the game. Fact.

AJ Green had a stellar rookie season last year, joining with Quarterback Andy Dalton to form the first ever rookie QB/WR tandem to make the Pro Bowl. Green hauled in 65 passes for 1,057 yards and 7 Touchdowns last season, while facing some excellent defenses along the way. However, this will be his first career matchup with Revis, and not to disrespect any other players, he has never quite faced a talent like this in his entire playing career. Revis is a completely different animal, but Green certainly has immense talent. Rest assured both of these players cannot wait to face each other, not only for the challenge, but for the opportunity to assert their dominance. Revis would undoubtedly like to strand yet another receiver on Revis Island, while Green would love to be one of the very few to get off. Although they will get limited reps against one another, expect each of those reps to provide the best matchup on the field tomorrow night.

Andy Dalton will outperform Mark Sanchez. False.

Although Dalton had a very solid rookie campaign last season, his numbers were average at best when facing defenses ranked in the top ten in the NFL. Against those opponents, Dalton completed 175 of 311 passes for 1,954 yards, 11 Touchdowns, and 10 interceptions with a completion percentage of 56.27 and a passer rating of 77.28. These numbers certainly are not terrible, especially for a rookie, but Dalton clearly struggled to protect the football. While he has already faced the stellar defenses of Baltimore and Pittsburgh twice each, he has yet to come up against a Cornerback tandem with the combined talent of Darrelle Revis, Antonio Cromartie, and Kyle Wilson. Factor in what should be improved Safety play, and Dalton could get overwhelmed quickly. He will certainly get his completions, however don’t expect him to outshine Sanchez. Sanchez is coming into this game with an extreme sense of confidence in relation to his knowledge of the new offensive system, and you’d have to think after what was probably the longest offseason of his playing career, he will be coming out with a heavy chip on his shoulder. Each of these players’ reps will be very limited, but look for Sanchez to play at a higher level than Dalton.

This will be a great test for the Ground and Pound. Fact.

Cincinnati ranked 7th in total defense last season, and for good reason. They have talent all over the board, especially in the front seven. They posses great size up front in players like Michael Johnson and Carlos Dunlap, as well as defensive leader Rey Maualuga who racked up 88 tackles, 3 forced fumbles, and an interception in just 13 games last season. This is a very tough, hard nosed defense, with great experience against offenses that can effectively run the ball, as they play Pittsburgh and Baltimore twice each season. Any team that has to face Ray Rice twice in the same year is no stranger to power football, so this will be a very good, early test for the Jets’ projected return to the “Ground and Pound” philosophy. Friday night should be an excellent gauge of how far along this new system is, as well as where improvements need to be made. It will be very interesting to see how the heavily scrutinized Shonn Greene, the rising Bilal Powell, and the polarizing Tim Tebow contribute.

Mark Sanchez has the most to prove in this game. False.

While Sanchez may have the most to prove over the course of the entire season, this game will have little effect on how he is judged as the Quarterback of this team. He will see very limited reps, plus there are a countless number of players with much more to prove tomorrow night.

Patrick Turner is certainly one of those guys, as he is constantly overlooked despite having quietly developed what seems to be a nice chemistry with Sanchez. Jordan White was extremely productive in college and should have ample opportunity to prove his worth with all of the injuries at Wide Receiver. LaRon Landry certainly would love to show that he is healthy and capable of playing at the level that made him the sixth overall pick in the 2007 NFL Draft. Quinton Coples would love to put all the question marks surrounding him to bed, and although that will not be possible in just one game, he can certainly take a step in the right direction.

Austin Howard will get plenty of reps with Wayne Hunter being sidelined, and he needs to prove to the organization that they do not need to add depth at the tackle position from the outside. As the season progresses, veterans like Bart Scott, Tim Tebow, Jeremy Kerley, and Santonio Holmes will all be highly motivated to put recent criticism behind them, but that will not happen in the first game of the preseason, especially for Holmes and Kerley who will not be participating in the contest. Tebow and Scott could certainly play well, but they will not be considered to have proven anything until the regular season.

The Jets Defense Will Impress Early. Fact.

Many observers forget how good this defense actually is. Rex Ryan and Defensive Coordinator Mike Pettine produced a top 5 defense last season, despite finishing 8-8 and missing the playoffs for the first time with the Jets. New York has done what it could to address the areas of need at Safety and in the pass rush, so each of those areas should be improved in comparison to last season. More importantly though, the Jets defense seems to have gotten their edge back. Reports out of camp already reveal that Bart Scott is back to his “Madbacker” form. Antonio Cromartie, although many times painfully outspoken, certainly will be coming into this game a bit enraged due to all the recent criticism directed toward him in the past week. LaRon Landry seems ready to run through a brick wall if he doesn’t hit someone in a different colored jersey soon, and Aaron Maybin and Ricky Sapp have been turning heads all camp.

From what we have seen in training camp so far, this defense has regained its speed, its motor, and most importantly, its swagger. Expect the starting unit to come out looking to make a statement early, especially considering the fact that they realize they will only have a few series to do so.

Rex Ryan is the most intriguing coach in this game. False.

Rex undoubtedly loves to be in the spotlight, and the media generally loves to focus on him. However, this game is not so much about Ryan as it is about the newcomers. It is going to be very interesting to see the first live action of Tony Sparano’s new system. There is plenty to look for including an established running game, command of the offense by Sanchez, and whether or not the offensive line has improved yet.

Moving over to the defensive side of the ball, it will be extremely intriguing to see the work of new defensive line Coach Karl Dunbar. Dunbar certainly has a surplus of depth and talent up front, so it will be interesting to see if he is in the early stages of maximizing that. New York’s pass rush has been built primarily on scheme since the appointment of Rex Ryan as head coach, so if they can generate a rush without having to blitz as much, it will be a very positive sign for Dunbar and his unit. Wide Receiver’s coach Sanjay Lal is another newcomer to the staff, and considering all the injuries at the position so far, the wide receiver play could say a lot about his coaching ability. If the younger, less experienced players come out strong, it could tell us something very good about Lal.

JETS FOOTBALL IS BACK TOMORROW, GET YOUR NEW SHIRT TO KICK OFF THE NEW SEASON

New York Jets Headline Watch – The Brawl Of The Century

Turn On The Jets looks at the over analysis of the New York Jets training camp fight today

Shockingly enough the New York media and the mainstream media will occasionally twist headlines to generate some type of controversy. We will use this series of columns to review what was actually said and whether there is any reason to be up in arms about it. Today’s topic is the brawl of the century that occurred at practice, along with a few other comments about today’s “newsworthy” topics –

The Headlines

The finger waving

What actually happened –

Defensive back D’Anton Lynn hit running back Joe McKnight late out of bounds. McKnight responded by throwing the football back at Lynn, leading to roughly a 20 player brawl on the sideline somewhat near the fans. The fight was broken up within a minute or so and practice resumed.

Of course the national hand wringing began immediately. Look at the Jets! No chemistry! Out of control again! Of course New England had about three brawls last week but you would never hear too much about that.

Needless to say, fights happen in training camp. A brawl between a player who won’t make the roster and a third down back isn’t going to make or break the Jets season.

Unfortunately this wasn’t the only dominant non-important  Jets news story dominating headlines today. Boomer Esiason thinks the Jets should cut Tim Tebow. Okay? They aren’t going to cut him, so why even bother discuss it? Boomer is a radio host…and a good one at that and comments like this are given to generate ratings.

What should be discussed today is how rookie Stephen Hill beat Darrelle Revis deep for a touchdown on a perfectly thrown 50 yard pass from Mark Sanchez. This is big news because nobody beats Revis deep. The Jets desperately need Hill to grow up fast because of how banged up their wide receivers are and because Sanchez is continuing a very strong training camp.

If you want to talk about the fight, talk about the mature way Sanchez handled it to the media today.

New York Jets Fact Or False: The Tweeter’s Choice Edition

Chris Gross weekly Fact or False on the New York Jets answers your submitted questions on the team

Throughout the season, we will periodically poll our Twitter followers for what they want to see addressed in New York Jets Fact Or False. For our inaugural edition of The Tweeter’s Choice, our readers brought the heat. Not one person disappointed with the issues they wanted to read about, which proves we have one of the most, if not the most, knowledgeable fan bases in all of football. Huge shout out to @Crazychimpan, @bleist25, @ItsOasus, @DrewFromJersey, and @Jetsforlife25 for sending in their suggestions this week. Be sure to give each of them a follow on twitter, and be sure to keep a look out all season, as we will certainly run another edition of this in the future. Thanks again, and enjoy!

8 DAYS UNTIL THE PRE-SEASON OPENER. WHERE IS YOUR NEW SHIRT?

The Jets will carry more than 5 RB/FBs going into season. (@Crazychimpman). False.

While five is a great over/under for the number of backs that will be on the active roster come opening day, don’t expect any more or any less. The three guaranteed spots will be Shonn Greene, who will presumably be the starter barring an injury, Joe McKnight, for his Special Teams value will lock him in, regardless of whether or not Bilal Powell gets the nod as the third down back, and John Connor, who established himself as the starting Fullback early in training camp as the team has already decided to waive journeyman Fui Vakapuna.

The next two spots are the intriguing ones. You’d have to think that, with all the talk about Powell, he will make it. However, Powell must truly prove that he is worthy of being a valuable option as a third down back. McKnight isn’t going anywhere, due to his worth on Special Teams, so for the team to carry two backs with strikingly similar skill sets, Powell must go above and beyond what’s asked of him.

Rookie Terrance Ganaway is also a very interesting case. Ganaway was seemingly drafted because he looks to be a perfect situational fit for this season, with the hope that he will develop into a perfect schematic fit long term. He has great experience in the option offense, running for an astounding 1547 yards and 21 touchdowns last season at Baylor, while posting a remarkable 6.2 YPC, which makes him the most logical back in any Tebow package. Ganaway also has tremendous size at about 6’0” 240 lbs, which makes him an ideal fit for the Ground and Pound that New York plans to implement under Tony Sparano. Unless Ganaway really struggles to prove he is not yet NFL ready, he should remain on the roster.

The Jets will likely remain set with these five backs. Unless Powell is written off, it looks very doubtful that New York will look to add a veteran. If Powell does not prove to be worthy of a spot by the time the season begins, the Jets still may remain content with just four backs, while relying on Tim Tebow to be a huge contributor to the run game. The only way I truly see New York adding a veteran is if Powell tails off, and Greene struggles immensely during the pre-season. Otherwise, it looks like the Jets are ready to roll into the season with what is currently on the roster.

Trader Mike will make a move for another RT before camp is over (@bleist25). Fact.

Tannenbaum took a shot swinging a deal with the Panthers for Tackle Jeff Otah, which clearly did not work out due to the former first rounder’s inability to pass a physical. With the Otah trade nullified, New York is back to square one with Wayne Hunter and Austin Howard as the two most logical choices at Right Tackle. Hunter has a serious edge over Howard, who will likely not see a significant down all season. That is a scary thought. Clearly, Mike T is aware of this, as displayed by the failed Otah trade. By now, I’m not sure anyone can argue with the notion that the Jets are not comfortable with the competition they currently have at the Right Tackle position.

The next logical step for Tannenbaum is to look to Free Agency. Many questioned why he hesitated to bring in a veteran during the offseason, but he likely wanted to see how Hunter and the other tackles looked during mini-camps and OTAs. Since Tannenbaum and the rest of the organization were clearly not satisfied, they can now look to add someone like Vernon Carey, who will come at a discount in comparison to what he may have cost them a few months ago.

“Mayhem” will play on more than just passing downs this season (ItsOasus). Fact.

Aaron “Mayhem” Maybin is already earning high praise from the media and coaching staff in the early stages of training camp. He has reportedly bulked up to 240+ pounds, which will help him greatly against the run. Calvin Pace will likely remain on one side of the field for the majority of downs, however the other side is open for competition. While most expect Bryan Thomas to retain the spot opposite Pace which he occupied prior to his season ending injury last year, there is a good chance we could see him in a limited role this season. While he has had success setting the edge on run-downs in the past, the praise Maybin has been receiving for his added size and relentless motor could propel him into an increased role to play a surplus of downs in a variety of spots on the outside. His versatility will be a huge weapon for Rex Ryan and Mike Pettine this season. Expect them to utilize that to the fullest extent.

Ricky Sapp will have more sacks than Calvin Pace this season (@DrewFromJersey). False.

Although Sapp has very exciting potential, he has still yet to record a sack at the NFL level. While he could very well break that trend this season, I wouldn’t give him an edge over the seasoned veteran that is Calvin Pace, even if he is entering the twilight of his career. Since joining the Jets, Pace has gotten to the Quarterback a total of 26 times. Sure, his sack total has decreased each year since 2009, however his experience, along with the amount of reps he will receive should make him good for at least 4 sacks, if healthy. Sapp, on the other hand, may still be able to compile 2-3, but will likely be used far less. Additionally, players with very little experience in real NFL game situations, unless tremendously talented, tend to compile more QB hurries and knockdowns, rather than actual sacks. Timing is everything on getting to the Quarterback before he gets rid of the ball, and it will likely take a full season of game experience before Sapp gets used to executing his moves just at the right time.

Early Camp Star Ellis Lankster will become a serious playmaker and collect at least 3 Interceptions as a shutdown nickel-guy this year (Jetsforlife25). False.

Lankster’s progress is extremely encouraging for New York thus far. With a serious question mark heading into training camp as to who would assume the role of the fourth cornerback, Lankster has provided a breath of fresh air for coaches and fans. However, he has played in just 17 total games over the course of his career, and has yet to register an interception. Additionally, the amount of reps he gets will likely be very limited. The Jets have a surplus of defensive backs including three excellent corners in All-World Darrelle Revis, Antonio Cromartie, and Kyle Wilson, whom many believe is on his way to becoming a very good corner in this league, as well as the Safeties Yeremiah Bell, LaRon Landry, and Rookie Josh Bush, who is realistically the best cover Safety on the roster. For Lankster, it will all come down to scheme. His inexperience will have some, but not much, effect on his ability to become a playmaker.

However, if the Jets choose to put out more packages of Revis, Cromartie, Wilson, and two safeties, which seems like the most logical approach, other than third and long scenarios, Lankster may not get the amount of snaps necessary to truly establish himself as a serious playmaker, while compiling 3 interceptions. As well as Lankster has been playing, it is unlikely he will beat out Wilson for reps as the third CB. You’d like to think with improved Defensive Line and Safety play, New York will not see a surplus of third and long scenarios this season. However, if these positions fail to live up to their potential, then all bets are off.

Josh Baker is the 2nd best TE on the roster (DrewFromJersey). Fact.

Baker wins the spot as New York’s second best TE, somewhat by default. Jeff Cumberland has great potential, and has showed flashes of solid play in the past, but he has participated in just 4 career contests. Baker, on the other hand, saw action in 11 games last season, while hauling in 3 balls for 27 yards, including a touchdown on Christmas Eve against the Giants. Hayden Smith is very intriguing, but as a guy who has never played a down of football in his life, he certainly does not have the edge over his competition just yet. The key for whoever becomes the second Tight End this season will be their ability to block. Unfortunately for New York, not one of them has truly proved to be able to do that, so it will be very interesting to see how this plays out.

Josh Bush will struggle in a forced role as the Jets only true cover safety (Jetsforlife25). False.

The fact that Bush will be forced into a role as the only true cover safety on the roster will actually benefit him. Prior to becoming a safety at Wake Forest, Bush was a corner, and has been noted for his cover abilities throughout his career. Last season, Bush had a team best 6 interceptions earning him First-Team All ACC accolades, as well as a spot as a third teamer on the All-American squad. Bush has sub 4.5 40 speed, and under the tutelage of savvy veterans like Landry, Bell, and Revis, he should fit nicely in a center field type role for the Jets. Sure, he will have his growing pains, but Bush will ultimately succeed more often than not this season.