The Plot Thickens As Jets Prepare To Face Miami

TJ takes an early look at Jets/Dolphins and if the Derrick Mason trade was a warning shot to the rest of the team

MIAMII DOLPHINS (0-4) VS. NEW YORK JETS (2-3)

Miami

  • Scored 69 points (17.2/g), 29th of 32 in the NFL
  • Allowed 104 points (26.0/g), 24th.
  • Differential of -35 points (-8.8/g), 28th.
  • Takeaway/Giveaway Differential -5 (-1.2/g), 30th.

Miami is in the bottom rung of every category and that’s why they are 0-4. Matt Moore is the new QB though, so stats can be put on hold. When there is a new sheriff in town, you never know how the citizens who follow him will react.

NY JETS

  • Scored 121 points (24.2/g), 13th of 32 in the NFL.
  • Allowed 125 points (25.0/g), 20th.
  • Differential of -4 points (-0.8/g), 18th.
  • Takeaway/Giveaway Differential +1 (0.2/g), 14th.

Notice the Jets are between 13-20th in all categories. That’s the middle third of the league or the .500 area. Some would call it the mediocre range..Sometimes stats don’t lie. Time to pick it up guys.

*The Jets are scoring 1.3 more pts this year than last but are giving up 6.0 pts more to opponents.

Derrick Mason said he would never criticize an offensive coordinator. The Jets claim that he was benched Sunday in Foxboro for his lack of performance. Not for allegedly voicing his displeasure. Here we go again. The Jets are back in the weekday spotlight. Where they have resided so many times during the Rex Ryan era. Let the “he said she said” episode begin. As perhaps some insight as to what is really going on inside of Florham Park makes it’s way to the surface.

Mason, who now joins a Texans team in need of help with the recent injury to star Andre Johnson, could do more for the Jets than he did on the field, by airing his thoughts on the 2-3 club on his way out the door. Opinions that could provide a clue as to why the Jets have struggled on offense this season in both production and a focused direction.

The issues on offense have been widespread, yet tied together. First there is QB Mark Sanchez’s lack of growth so far, in this his third season in the NFL. The debate over his alarming lack of progress is over whether Sanchez’s inability to take that next step stems from his own limitations, or a deep lack of trust from the coaching staff. A fear emanating from the sidleines that has now found the way inside of the quarterbacks damaged mental state.

Then there has been the issue of playcalling, and how the Jets are unable to incorporate all of their pieces. A drama that has lead to a clear inability to stretch the field. Last week’s march by the entire wide receiving corps into Rex Ryan’s office, to complain about offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer’s system, was a meeting that according to Ryan, actually never happened. More drama.

This supposed pow wow to express unhappiness by those who were brought in to bolster Gang Green’s air attack, was followed by the Jets curious desire to return to the Ground and Pound against the Patriots. Despite the inability over the first four games to have any sort of respectable ground game whatsoever. While Mason sat on the sidelines for all of six plays during the game.

Mason’s departure can and will be viewed in many ways. There will be the belief by some that this was a warning shot for any remaining players who lack trust in the coaches and their overall concepts. Mason will be painted by others as a convenient scapegoat for a season that has more cracks in it than anyone could have imagined back in August. When hopes were high, as new faces replaced loyal soldiers who were sent packing. The most notable element to this all could be that of a failing team chemistry.

Maybe the Jets, beyond any of the underachieving they’ve accomplished between the lines over five games, are now recognizing the imperative need to repair a singleminded belief in one another. One that, in following this theory, has somehow been disturbed by the behavior of Mason. A unity that prior to the recent string of defeats, was NEVER a question under Rex.

If the Jets are correct that trading Mason will provide a new energy, what remains to be seen from this point on, is whether the fresh start will translate into a spike in performance by the offense. Time will tell. One thing is for certain. The Jets brash confidence, invincibility, and sense of entitlement, has wilted amidst the confusion of a shocking three game slide.

The Jets have now made what they hope will be the first proactive step towards initiating a new starting point. A rebirth for a season whose wings were clipped miles away from home. Beginning in Oakland in week three. Where the Jets lost not only a game, but misplaced the essence of a collective pulse that Ryan helped to build singlehandedly. Brick by brick, from the ground up.

New York Jets: Jeremy Kerley Ready To Take Off?

The most obvious beneficiary of the decision to trade Derrick Mason is rookie receiver Jeremy Kerley. In his first extended action last week, Kerley finished with 3 receptions for 35 yards and a touchdown, making more of an impact than Mason already had all season which accelerated the decision to trade him.

Kerley was probably the most hyped Jets player throughout training camp as he repeatedly made big plays in every practice. He had a somewhat quiet pre-season and didn’t do much until the Raiders game when he ripped off a big punt return. Last week was the first time he really had a chance at receiver and he showed the big play ability the coaching staff was raving about all summer.

The decision to move Mason is a smart one in that it will give Kerley the chance to grow into the slot receiver role that he appears ready to take over. He has the short area quickness required for the position but also has the speed that Mason lacked to push up the seam. The more Kerley is involved in the regular offensive packages, the more the Jets will likely expand his use in the Wildcat, which will help diversify their attack.

Kerley doesn’t have the pressure of becoming one of the unit’s top options with Santonio Holmes and Plaxico Burress also at receiver. Yet, he should be a complimentary weapon who gradually takes on a bigger role. Hopefully the coaching staff will also begin to expand the role of running back Joe McKnight by incorporating him in the screen game and giving him more outside handoffs, which coupled with Kerley’s greater use will provide a needed shot of speed to the offense.

New York Jets Trade Derrick Mason

The New York Jets have traded veteran wide receiver Derrick Mason to the Houston Texans

In a move that shouldn’t come as a surprise to anybody who has followed the recent news surrounding the New York Jets, the team has traded veteran wide receiver Derrick Mason to the Houston Texans. The reported compensation is a conditional 7th round draft pick and I only wish they could have traded him to the Pittsburgh Steelers for Jerricho Cotchery who is languishing on their bench.

The transaction is a bold admission of a mistake by General Manager Mike Tannenbaum, who released Cotchery in favor of Mason only two months ago. Mason never seemed to get in sync with the Jets offense, as he had a dropped touchdown week one versus Dallas and was the target of a handful of Mark Sanchez interceptions in the following weeks. He was benched in favor of rookie Jeremy Kerley last week after making critical post-game comments following the Jets loss to Baltimore and Kerley responded with 3 receptions and a touchdown, flashing his big play potential.

Ultimately, this is the right decision at this moment for the Jets who will now at least get some compensation for Mason. Kerley is a young player with more potential, so why not give him the reps?

Final Thoughts On Jets/Raiders

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

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

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

Trending Up

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

Trending Down

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

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

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

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

TJ reviews his top five from the game

NFL Week 3 highlights

Final Thoughts On Jets/Jaguars

A few final thoughts on Jets/Jaguars…

Game MVP – It has to be Antonio Cromartie, who bounced back from being last week’s Goat in this article. Cromartie came up with 2 interceptions and 2 big kick returns, demonstrating his big play potential.

Game Goat – I will go with Wayne Hunter, who has given Jets fans no reason to believe the right tackle position is in good hands moving forward without Damien Woody.

Play of the Game – The first quarter touchdown strike from Mark Sanchez to Santonio Holmes, ending the team’s first quarter touchdown drought, showing Sanchez’s accuracy and that Holmes was healthy.

Trending Up

  • Dustin Keller – Back to back big games, as he finished with 101 yards and another touchdown.
  • Muhammad Wilkerson – First career NFL sack went for a safety.
  • Bart Scott – Second straight week with a sack. Scott looks poised for a big year.
  • Nick Folk – 3/3 on field goal attempts.

Trending Down

  • Nick Mangold – Will likely be out 3-4 games with a high ankle sprain.
  • Wayne Hunter – Badly in need of a steady performance against Oakland.
  • Derrick Mason – Still hasn’t found his niche in the offense.
  • Mark Sanchez – Two ugly interceptions. He must protect the football better.

1. Calvin Pace and Scott have been consistently getting pressure on the quarterback, which is limiting the need for the Jets to blitz as much. This is an encouraging trend moving forward. It will also help if Muhammad Wilkerson can continue to get after the quarterback.

2. Colin Baxter should be living at the Jets facility the next month. After Oakland, he has Haloti Ngata and Vince Wilfork headed his way. Brandon Moore and Matt Slauson need to step up to help him out.

3. Regardless of double teams and his mature attitude on the situation. The Jets must do a better job of getting Plaxico Burress involved in the offense, in the first half. Throw the guy a quick hitch or slant and let him get in the flow of the game.

TJ Rosenthal reviews his top 5 keys from the game

New York Jets: Flight 1017 Experiencing Delays

After Hurricane Irene rocked the east coast this weekend, it was inevitable that flights would be delayed and cancelled.  But under clear skies Monday night, it was disappointing that Flight 1017 couldn’t get off the ground in New Jersey.

“Flight 1017” of course, is how Plaxico Burress referred to himself and Santonio Holmes in this Tweet yesterday, prior to the Jets’ pre-season game against the Giants in the first inaugural Snoopy Bowl.

The possibilities were certainly there for the Jets to get into a rhythm in the passing game against a less-than-convincing Giants secondary.  The third pre-season game is always dubbed the “most important” of the four meaningless tilts because the starting units usually play more than half of the game, and it does constitute a dress rehearsal for Week 1, of sorts.  So as the Jets have gone through training camp, promising to become a more well-rounded offense with the ability to air the ball out as well as “ground and pound”, fans were hoping for some empirical evidence to support those claims.

What they received instead, was just another day at the office from Brian Schottenheimer and the Jets’ offense.

Now, I realize that it is a tad absurd to criticize Schottenheimer on August 30th, 12 days before the beginning of meaningful football.  But what happened last night is something that Jets fans have seen far too often during Schottenheimer’s five-plus seasons as offensive coordinator: an offense that needed four plays to – barely – get a first down on two occasions; painfully predictable play-calling in all scenarios; a passing offense characterized by poor spacing and bad timing between the quarterback and receivers; zero use of a very talented tight-end.

What makes this so frustrating for Jets fans of course, is the personnel: a gifted, competitive young quarterback surrounded by excellent receivers, supported – often led – by a powerful running game.  Sounds like a recipe for success, and yet, this unit had three games last year in which it did not score a touchdown.

The truth is this: the NFL is a league where it has become increasingly easy to throw the ball.  Last season, 12 quarterbacks threw for more than 3,500 yards, with five throwing for 4,000 or more.  Yet the Jets, even with their plethora of talent on the outside and their match-up nightmare tight end Dustin Keller on the inside (joined this year by Derrick Mason), have seemed to find ways to make the opposite look true.  Receivers don’t get the one-on-one match-ups where they should feast.  Dustin Keller runs the same button-hook patterns and out-routes, never anything down the seam challenging the soft space between the linebackers and safeties.  Sanchez often checks down too quickly (often to Shonn Greene, who can’t catch), rather than going to his third progression on a passing play, despite having a rock-solid offensive line in front of him.

Yes, Santonio Holmes scored a touchdown last night, on the receiving end of Sanchez’s best throw of the night: a 17 yard rocket into a tight space.  On the flip side, Plaxico Burress was held without a catch.

Let’s hope that when the curtain rises, the show doesn’t look like the dress rehearsal.

New York Jets Passing Offense Has Chance To Be Special

It may have only been the pre-season and it may have been against the Cincinnati Bengals, who should have an over/under of about 4 wins this year. Yet, it was hard to watch the New York Jets passing offense in action and not think about just dangerous it could be this year.

Considering the following: it was pouring out, it was Plaxico Burress’ first game back in over two years, and Derrick Mason was sidelined with an injury. However, Mark Sanchez still racked up over 170 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the first half.

If healthy, you are going to have a difficult time finding a team with a better top five receiving options than Santonio Holmes, Plaxico Burress, Derrick Mason, Dustin Keller, and LaDainian Tomlinson out of the backfield. Holmes and Burress both have the ability to abuse single coverage, Mason is a savvy veteran who can work effectively both on the outside and in the slot. How many team’s number three corners are going to be able to handle him one on one? Not many. Keller is a walking mismatch, as linebackers are frequently too slow to cover him and safeties are too small and finally Tomlinson is only one of the better receiving running backs in NFL history.

Beyond those top five, you still have rookie Jeremy Kerley who has looked electric in camp, tight end Jeff Cumberland who is having a terrific pre-season, and running back Joe McKnight who caught a touchdown pass last night.

Obviously, how productive the passing offense will be ultimately falls on Mark Sanchez’s shoulder. Yet, the third year quarterback has looked poised and confident so far this pre-season and has been terrific off the play action. If he takes the same sized leap forward this year, that he look last year, he will be able to utilize all of the previously mentioned weapons.

Let’s not ever forget the Ground and Pound, but the pieces are in place for the switch to be seamlessly flipped into a wide open passing attack.

Jets vs. Bengals: What To Watch For

The Jets 20-16 loss in Houston last week left Jets fans concerned about depth on the roster. Thankfully the big pieces to the puzzle, Mark Sanchez, Shonn Greene, Santonio Holmes and the starting defense were sharp in limited action. Perimeter issues rose up however upon review of the contest, primarily that of the club’s backups heading into 2011 season. That said, here is what to watch for Sunday night at home as the Bengals come to town.

PLAX IS BACK:  It has taken two plus seasons but Plaxico Burress will finally return to a football field Sunday night. Burress will start after sitting the first week against Houston due to an ankle injury. All eyes will be on number 17 to see how he cuts, runs and handles game one of his partnership with new QB Mark Sanchez. The stadium will be rocking when Plax touches the football, making it the most exciting story of the night.

THE DUCASSE MICROSCOPE: Aside from Burress, no player will be scrutinized every single play by Jets fans though the way Vlad Ducasse will. The second year Jet caught the evil eye of many in Jets nation for his inability to slide laterally consistent enough in week one of preseason.

Ducasse is a key backup in more than one position on the offensive line this year and that scares alot of folks. Vlad needs a solid night to begin to build his own confidence. It’s not easy constantly switching positions and assignments. Howver, that is what the Jets have in store for him this year so he must start to provide a sense of calm to those around him. The danger created by his failure to achieve that is too scary to even talk about.

MAYBIN OR MAYBE NOT? Aaron Maybin turned out to be Buffalo’s Vernon Gholston. A first round bust of monumental proportions. However, as a Jet, the speed rushing LB simply needs to be disruptive during a handful of snaps each a week. Is Maybin going to be a steal, or an ex Jet by the opener?

MOVE CUMBERLAND AND TURNER UP: TE Jeff Cumberland took matters into his own hands last Monday. Was that a result of his going against the second and third string? We’d like to see Cumberland run routes early in this one, to get a sense of the type of weapon he could be in a a two TE set. Perhaps the Jets could even feature a two TE set with Dustin Keller on passing downs as well.

Patrick Turner’s hands looked great in Houston. His size was a factor in the red zone with his short slant route TD. Let’s see him work against the Benglas starting corners. What a nice WR corps this could turn into if Turner joins Kerley as new faces mixed in with older players like Santonio Holmes, Plaxico Burress, and Derrick Mason.

POWELL’S CHANCE: With RB’s Shonn Greene out and Joe McKnight one week removed from a concussion, Powell may be poised to make his bid for a spot in the rotation. Ladainian Tomlinson will get a bunch of reps but the rest could go to Powell should McKnight get dinged up early on.

Last week Powell looked quick, cut nicely, and waited patiently for his blockers. We wait not so patiently to see him do it behind Nick Mangold and company. Sunday night may be Powell’s chance to show that he can be a guy who could contribute in 2011.

Offensive Injuries Concerning For Jets

Both quarterback Mark Brunell (calf) and wide receiver Derrick Mason (knee) left the practice field today and are now questionable for Sunday’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Considering the Jets depth issues at both positions, these injuries are nothing to minimize. Greg McElroy was encouraging at times in his pre-season debut but you don’t want a rookie 7th round pick being a snap away from playing. Honestly, I don’t want Brunell a snap away from playing either and would like to see the Jets coax Marc Bulger out of retirement or maybe sign Brodie Croyle. Either way, the Jets depth at quarterback is seriously shaky.

At wide receiver, Plaxico Burress is still returning from an ankle injury and Jeremy Kerley is only a rookie. Mark Sanchez needs as many reps as possible with his new receiving core to gain the necessary chemistry. However, a Mason injury could give more reps to young players like Logan Payne, Patrick Turner, Scotty McKnight and Danny DePalma as they battle for the fifth receiver spot. All of them have shown potential at times, and the spot remains wide open.

Injuries at an increased rate were to be expected with this messed up off-season, however quarterback and receiver are areas the Jets especially need to stay healthy at.

Reasonable Expectations For Plaxico?

Plaxico Burress has finally returned to the practice field and is expected to play this Sunday night against the Cincinnati Bengals. Yet, considering his slow start to camp due to his ankle injury, what are reasonable expectations for him the rest of the pre-season?

I wouldn’t expect the Jets to stretch Burress too thin on Sunday, even if the starters play into the second quarter. They should be content with a few series from him, along with a catch or two. I would expect them to throw him a safe, short pass early in the game to get him in the flow and then hopefully get the chance to get him involved in the red-zone.

The following week against the Giants, you know Burress will be raring to go and Rex Ryan is the type of coach who will make sure everything that can be done to get Burress a touchdown, will be done…even if it is only a pre-season game. Hopefully, by that point he can put together a full half and really get into the flow of the offense.

None of the starters usually play in the pre-season finale, although if Burress doesn’t get enough work the next two weeks, they could give him a few reps. You still have to wonder if he will be ready to handle 60-70 reps week one against the Cowboys. Even if he isn’t, Derrick Mason is more than capable of stepping in.

I never envisioned Burress as 70 reception type guy for the Jets this year. If he can give them around 50, I’d be satisfied as long as he is producing in the red-zone. With Tom Moore now helping out, there is no reason he shouldn’t be able to give the team 6-8 touchdowns, at minimum. More importantly, you hope that he begins coming on strong late in the season as he gets his legs fully back under him and is ready to become the dominant force he once was in the post-season.