New York Jets: Can We Throw This Guy A Pass?

The New York Jets need to get the ball to their playmakers to score points

He isn’t half bad when given the chance.

How about a deep ball…and by deep I mean in the air for over 40 yards to this guy?

What about a screen to him?

If you want points, get the ball to your playmakers…

A Closer Look At The New York Jets Stats

TOJ with a closer look at the New York Jets stats through 7 games

Passing

  • Mark Sanchez – 129/231, 55.8 completion percentage, 1545 yards, 12 TDs, 6 INTs

Despite all of the scrutiny he is under, Sanchez is on pace for a season that many of us would have signed up for statistically. Of course, the Jets don’t need him to rack up All-Pro stats. All that matters is his ability to continue to win football games, play well in big spots, and be a leader on the offense. Considering their move back to Ground and Pound and the expected continued growth in chemistry with Plaxico Burress, there is no reason Sanchez can’t finish with over 25 touchdowns and around 3,500 yards.

Rushing

  • Shonn Greene – 113 carries, 426 yards, 3.8 yards per carry, 2 touchdowns
  • LaDainian Tomlinson – 34 carries, 111 yards, 3.3 yards per carry
  • Joe McKnight – 10 carries, 26 yards
  • Mark Sanchez – 13 carries, 67 yards, 2 touchdowns

Shonn Greene is getting the bulk of the carries, as was talked about all off-season. He wasn’t doing much with it until last week. A big second half from Greene will likely equal a new contract and a commitment to him as the long term feature back. A shaky second half could lead to a spirited pursuit of Matt Forte or Maurcie Jones-Drew next off-season. Tomlinson’s top contributions come in the passing game. McKnight is slowly becoming more acclimated to the offense. Sanchez is underrated as a mobile quarterback.

Receiving

  • Dustin Keller – 25 receptions, 372 yards, 2 touchdowns
  • Santonio Holmes – 22 receptions, 311 yards, 3 touchdowns
  • LaDainian Tonlinson – 2o receptions, 260 yards 1 touchdown
  • Plaxico Burress – 18 receptions 243 yards, 5 touchdowns
  • Jeremy Kerley – 9 receptions, 82 yards, 1 touchdown

I would expect Keller to end up leading the team in receptions. Holmes numbers will eventually pick up but it is hard to see him ending up being a 1,000 yard receiver. If Burress finishes with 40 receptions, 500 yards but over 10 touchdowns, I consider his signing a success. Jeremy Kerley’s role will only continue to grow throughout the year. I would expect him to finish with over 30 receptions.

Kicking

  • Nick Folk – 10/10 Field Goals, Long of 50 yards

He never misses.

Return

  • Joe McKnight – 13 attempts on kick return, 520 yards, 40.0 average, 1 TD
  • Jeremy Kerley – 14 attempts on punt return, 143 yards, 10.2 average

McKnight has been a Pro-Bowl caliber kick returner so far this year. Kerley is also an explosive option on punt returns.

Defense

  • Eric Smith – 44 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 1 INT
  • David Harris – 36 tackles, 2 sacks, 1 INT
  • Bart Scott – 36 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 1 FF
  • Calvin Pace – 33 tackles, 3 sacks, 2 FF
  • Darrelle Revis – 20 tackles, 10 PDs, 4 INT
  • Muhammad Wilkerson – 17 tackles, 1 sack, 2 TFL
  • Antonio Cromartie – 22 tackles, 5 PDs, 3 INT
  • Jamaal Westerman – 16 tackles, 2.5 sacks
  • Aaron Maybin – 6 tackles, 3 sacks, 3 FF

A few highlights from the defense. Despite their stat lines, it does feel like Bart Scott and Calvin Pace have missed their share of tackles and are struggling a little bit out in space. The coaching staff has been raving about Pace and their improvement in run defense against San Diego should be attributed to him helping set the edge. Darrelle Revis has been the Defensive Player of the Year in my opinion. Aaron Maybin racked up those 3 sacks and 3 forced fumbles in a limited amount of time. You will see plenty more of him down the stretch and I wouldn’t be surprised if he ended up with double digit sacks. Eric Smith and Antonio Cromartie both have decent enough stat lines but have been wildly inconsistent so far.

TEAM RANKINGS

  • Passing Yards – 207.7 yards per game, 24th in NFL
  • Rushing Yards – 92.4 yards per game, 28th in NFL
  • Opposing Passing Yards – 196.7 per game, 7th in NFL
  • Opposing Rushing Yards – 126.9 per game, 26th in NFL

Other Notes

  • 11 interceptions through 7 games in 2011, 12 interceptions all of 2010 season. The defense is also on pace for more forced fumbles and sacks this year.

Five Remedies To The New York Jets Offense

Relax and take notes Brian Schottenheimer before people start picketing in front of your home…

1. More McKnight, More Screens – The New York Jets always had an issue using Leon Washington enough back from 2006-2009. Not surprisingly, Brian Schottenhiemer has done a poor job of incorporating Joe McKnight into the Jets offense. Wasn’t he drafted because of his ability to spread out as a receiver, along with be a running back. Can we split him out and get a mismatch on a linebacker? Can we throw the guy a screen pass in some space, since he is ripping off a monster kick return a week right now? One carry isn’t enough, he should be getting 6-10 touches on offense and on the whole the Jets need to use more screens to him, LaDainian Tomlinson, Dustin Keller, and their starting wide receivers.

2. Look Deep Early – Teams load up to prevent the Jets running game and short/intermediate passing “attack.” They need to take a shot deep early in the game to loosen up the opposing defense. How about a slant and go, since the Jets throw about 8 slants a game? I recall the Jets running that route once under Schottenheimer and it going for a 80 yard touchdown.

3. Where Are You Dustin? – The Jets offense always seems to operate at a better rate when Dustin Keller is actively involved in the offense. He has been MIA the past few weeks after a big start. The excuse that teams are doubling him doesn’t work. He has the ability to move around all over the formation. The Jets need to get creative about getting him involved.

4. The Happy Medium – You don’t have to either be an all out Ground and Pound or a pass happy, chuck and duck attack. There could be a gray area or a happy medium. You run the football to help protect Mark Sanchez but don’t hold him back if the opportunities are available down the field.

5. More Of This – Back shoulder fades to Plaxico Burress…LaDainian Tomlinson and Shonn Greene in the same backfield…The Wildcat with Jeremy Kerley and Joe McKnight in the backfield…A vertical pass to Santonio Holmes.

Preliminary Thoughts: Jets vs. Raiders

The New York Jets have their first road game of the 2011 season this Sunday when they face the 1-1 Oakland Raiders. In their last trip out to Oakland in 2009, the Jets rolled to a 38-0 win, however that had a large part to do with JaMarcus Russell being under center. Oakland has since improved but is coming off a heartbreaking loss to the Buffalo Bills, where they allowed a massive second half comeback led by Ryan Fitzpatrick and Fred Jackson.

On offense, Oakland begins and ends with Darren McFadden. Jason Campbell is a decent quarterback and rookie wide receiver Denarius Moore had an incredible game last week. Yet, a Campbell/Moore combination doesn’t do much in the face of Darrelle Revis, Antonio Cromartie, and Rex Ryan blitzes. The Raiders best chance lies in a huge day from McFadden both running and catching the ball out of the backfield. On defense, the Jets may want to consider having a safety like Brodney Pool shadow McFadden out of the backfield, so he can avoid being matched up on a linebacker.

The Raiders are solid on defense but are clearly missing Nnamdi Asomugha, as they were carved apart by Fitzpatrick last week and couldn’t cover Stevie Johnson or David Nelson. Fred Jackson was also able to pile up well over 100 yards on their rush defense, which looked terrific the week before against Denver. But then again, doesn’t everybody look great stopping the run versus Denver? Mark Sanchez should be able to move the football, even with the absence of All-Pro center Nick Mangold.

In order to protect rookie Colin Baxter, who will be starting in Mangold’s place. The Jets must implement a high amount of quick passes to the outside. Get the ball in the hands of Santonio Holmes and Plaxico Burress in space, as both should have mismatches this week. Dustin Keller should also be a major factor in the short/intermediate passing game. The Jets can also help Baxter by shifting their rushing attack to the outside, which could lead to an increased use of 2nd year back Joe McKnight and hopeful Brad Smith clone, Jeremy Kerley.

Week 3 Must Win? Yes, For Jets

The term “must win” is thrown around far too often in the NFL, yet I am going to take the same liberty many others take with it and proclaim the Jets “must” win their upcoming week 3 road game against the Oakland Raiders.

We aren’t blind, the following two games are on the road against the Baltimore Ravens and New England Patriots. Nobody is more confident in this team than myself but coming off a long trip to Oakland, I think any realistic person would sign up for a split of those games. A win in Oakland would allow the Jets to come out of their most difficult three game stretch with a 4-1 record facing two home games, a bye week, and a very manageable final nine games that includes games against the Chiefs, Broncos, Giants, Dolphins, and two games against the Bills. (Yes, I am aware Buffalo is better this year but the Jets will appropriately be favorites in both of their match-ups).

Oakland is an improved football team but let’s not go crazy. They are a substantial cut below the Ravens and Patriots. They beat the Broncos in a tight game to start the season and then blew a large second half lead against Buffalo. Darren McFadden is a beast but the Jets know a thing or two about stopping the run and Jason Campbell doesn’t have the weapons in the passing game to handle Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie. Oakland’s defense is tough on the run but highly susceptible to the pass, as they were shredded apart by Ryan Fitzpatrick last week. If you can’t cover Stevie Johnson and David Nelson, you can’t cover Santonio Holmes and Dustin Keller, never mind Plaxico Burress.

If the Jets consider themselves an elite team in this league they will handle business this week. If you want to win the AFC East there is no room for losses at Oakland. It is going to take 12 or maybe even 13 wins to take the AFC East this year, which makes the margin for error razor thin. It is time for this team to win their division, get a bye and a host a playoff game. You want that to become a reality? Don’t lay an egg to the Raiders this week.

Can Jets Put Two Tight End Set To Use?

Many Jets fans had immediate dreams of a two tight end set the minute that Tom Moore, the former Colts offensive guru arrived in Florham Park as the newest member of the Jets staff. However, even with the emergence of Jeff Cumberland this summer with the second unit, the Jets never unveiled what many thought might be a new look for the playbook. Priorities made it such that the Jets in limited time had to work the new receiving corps out first. Perhaps the two tight end set is next in line. Even kept under wraps on purpose for the time being.

The Jets would have loved by this time to have their new wide receiving corps that includes Plaxico Burress, Derrick Mason, and rookie Jeremy Kerley healthy and firing on all cylinders, which hasn’t happened yet. Former Rams WR Mardy Gilyard has now been added to this group. One that will go into week one unproven.

Both Burress and Mason missed time due to minor injuries and the offensive line started some second string players during the time that Mark Sanchez took first half snaps. Therefore the playbook was limited to safer throws that kept Sanchez safe as possible.

With the wideouts being the passing game’s top priority it is understandable that the club hasn’t gone to the next phase of development in adding 6’4 Cumberland to downfield routes with Keller yet. That’s doesn’t mean it won’t happen.

Should they roll out a formation that does include both Cumberland and Dustin Keller, one that the Patriots took to another level in 2010, it will be done without having attempted it during any of the four summer tune ups.

If and when it the duo do emerge out of the huddle together, there will also be no guaranteed success that the duo of Cumberland and Keller will match the effectiveness that Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski displayed up in Foxboro.

With Moore’s tutelage and track record however, this type of addition to the air attack could provide Sanchez the ability to find a high percentage rythym with big targets at close range. In places on the field that don’t include the flat. Where moves have to be made by those with the ball, just to cross the line of scrimmage.

Many who follow the Jets still wonder if this scenario will unfold in 2011, while dreaming about the potential upside it could bring the Jets offense.

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.

New York Jets Should Increase Jeff Cumberland’s Role

After an impressive 6 reception, 77 yard performance against the Houston Texans. It is time for offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer to find a way to involve tight end Jeff Cumberland in some packages with the first unit. The Jets kept him on the roster all of last season as an inactive player, obviously believing he had a high amount of potential and he displayed it last night.

Cumberland is 6 foot 4, 260 pounds and had experience at both tight end and wide receiver in college at Illinois. He has terrific hands and looked good running in the open field last night. I would imagine he still has to improve on his blocking to become a more full time player, yet he could contribute as a pass catching weapon immediately.

If Plaxico Burress is missing time with an injury, Cumberland could provide some of the height the Jets are missing. Even with Burress in the line-up, he is another weapon to use in the red-zone and on passing downs. Dustin Keller is enough of a match-up nightmare for opposing defenses, never mind worrying about how to defend Cumberland if the Jets show a two tight end set.

Matthew Mulligan is basically like another tackle playing tight end. There is a danger in showing too much of a tendency by using Mulligan as the second tight end on running downs and Cumberland as the second tight end on only passing downs. Yet, if Cumberland can block somewhat adequately, the Jets should be able to incorporate him on offense. If he continues to grow and develop, he could become an excellent number two option at tight end behind Dustin Keller.

New York Jets: Roster Just About Done?

The New York Jets appear to be done making major moves to their 2011-2012 roster. Unless there is a major injury or surprising turn of events, the week one staters/key reserves are already in place.

On offense, improvement will be found by young players taking the necessary next step in their development, most notably quarterback Mark Sanchez who now enters his third year. He has clearly established himself as the unquestioned leader of the offense but now must find a higher level of consistency and accuracy on the field. A great season from Sanchez is going to mean the Jets offense will improve, regardless of the turnover at wide receiver.

Shonn Greene and Dustin Keller are two other players who need to fully realize their potential. Similar to Sanchez, Greene is also entering his third year. He failed to become the lead back the Jets drafted him to be last year but now with LaDainian Tomlinson a year older must become the workhorse to lead the “Ground and Pound.” We have seen what Greene is capable of when he gets going and if he can consistently receive 18-22 carries each week, there is no reason he can’t be a 1200 yard back.

We have heard about Dustin Keller’s potential since the day he was drafted, yet have never seen him put together a full season of being consistently productive. With Tom Moore now helping out on offense and the flux at the wide receiver position, Keller needs to become the Dallas Clark type weapon he is capable of being. He should develop into Sanchez’s security blanket and needs to become a bigger factor near the red-zone.

A higher level of productivity from Sanchez, Greene, and Keller will allow Plaxico Burress more time to get acclimated to the NFL again and put less pressure on Derrick Mason as he picks up the intricacies of playing slot receiver in the Jets offense. There is also the hope that Joe McKnight can become another weapon out of the backfield and promising rookie Jeremy Kerley can offer a few big plays at wide receiver.

On defense, the turnover hasn’t been significant. The biggest question mark is on the defensive line where first round pick Muhammad Wilkerson will immediately step into the starting line-up to replace Shaun Ellis.

Yes, I think the Jets did an awful job by letting Ellis walk to the New England Patriots and would like to see them bring back Trevor Pryce as a veteran mentor to Wilkerson. However, it doesn’t appear that is going to happen so Wilkerson must quickly become a key part of a largely no name and somewhat inexperienced defensive line rotation along with third round pick Kenrick Ellis, Ropati Pitoitua, and Marcus Dixon. Sione Pouha and Mike DeVito are quality blue-collar players who can lead up front and should help keep the Jets stingy against the run.

At linebacker, it is about time for Calvin Pace to give the Jets a 16 game season and become a 10 sack player. There is no excuse for him not to be in this scheme with his talent level. A contribution from Jamaal Westerman to the pass rush would be nice but Pace is still the team’s pass rusher and needs to produce like it.

In the secondary, Kyle Wilson will have the chance to grab the nickel back role and hopefully develop into the playmaker Drew Coleman was last year. If he can’t, Donald Strickland and maybe Marquice Cole provide good insurance.

On most teams you would be concerned about the turnover on special teams the Jets have seen this off-season, yet with Mike Westhoff leading the way, it is hard to see them not being one the league’s better units again.

Here we are, one week out from the opening pre-season game. Do the Jets still look like a Super Bowl contender to you? They do to me, but only time will tell if the way Mike Tannenbaum and the Jets front office handled this off-season properly.