Are The Jets The Team To Beat In The AFC East?

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First a few updates:

1. Follow Turn On The Jets on facebook…for some reason we lost 2 fans in the past 2 days. I don’t think I offended anybody recently but who knows, all I know is we need somebody to make up for those 2 and we need to add a few more this week.

2. Good post today by Rich Cimini on who the Jets may be interested in for this year’s draft. #29 is a hard spot to project but Jared Odrick of Penn State has been a popular choice because of the Jets age and lack of depth on the defensive line. Yet, if Dez Bryant somehow falls to #29 or in the near proximity of it, it is hard not to see Mike Tannenbaum grabbing such a big name guy with such big time potential. Personally, I would rather see them take Odrick or another defensive lineman/outside linebacker instead of a receiver but you have to admit Bryant is an exciting possibility…and please, no Taylor Mays…we don’t need Vernon Gholston 2.0 at safety.

3. Nice quote from Calvin Pace in a Sporting News interview about playing for the Jets and their fans:

“When I signed with the Jets two years ago, I thought about that, and if that would help me do well. The people here are passionate, and you get really excited playing for the tem. That J-E-T-S chant gets you pumped up. It’s 24-hour football for these fans.”

4. As you can see at the bottom of the article, we have a new episode of TOJ TV. Our producer got a new camera and thought it would be fun to put together a movie trailer documenting how I began working for the site. I am saving all my football analysis for the upcoming Podcasts, which will world premiere on April 15thwith a draft preview, off-season review edition. TOJ TV can now fully embrace its role as entertaining videos related to being a Jets fan instead of a spot for analysis.

Are The Jets The Team To Beat In The AFC East?

PhotobucketA popular topic this off-season has been debating the question of whether the Jets or Patriots are the team to beat in the AFC East in 2010. On November 22nd 2009, this question would have been a no-brainer. New England took advantage of an awful Mark Sanchez performance and whipped the Jets 31-14. It seemed like the Patriots would be rolling to another division title and run at a Super Bowl while the Jets were headed to another year without the playoffs. However, over the last 6 weeks the Jets finished strong with a 5-1 record, while New England only went 3-3 down the stretch. In the wild-card round of the playoffs, the once mighty Patriots were completely humiliated on their home field by the Baltimore Ravens 33-14, while the Jets pulled out a gutsy win on the road against the Bengals 24-14. The Jets then followed that performance up with a 17-14 upset in San Diego, before eventually falling to the Colts by 13 in the AFC Championship Game. Is the torch ready to be passed?

So far this off-season, the Jets have had more than turnover than the Patriots. They added Antonio Cromartie to replace the ineffective Lito Sheppard, signed LaDainian Tomlinson to back up Shonn Greene instead of giving the job to the recently more effective Thomas Jones, and replaced the underachieving Kerry Rhodes with Brodney Pool. They let special teamers like Wallace Wright and Marques Murrell walk but recently signed special teams standout Lance Laury to help fill the gap left by them. It also appears Jay Feely and Marques Douglas won’t be back and the Jets are yet to fill the holes left by them…I don’t count Nick Folk and Mike DeVito as filling their spots properly.

New England has concentrated primarily on hanging on to their own players. They have brought back Leigh Bodden, Vince Wilfork, and Tully Banta-Cain on defense. On offense, they did let Chris Baker and Ben Watson walk at tight end but recently signed Alge Crumpler to fill the spot and also brought back Kevin Faulk and Stephen Neal.

Where does that leave the two teams right now? On offense, New England probably isn’t getting back Wes Welker until sometime in October and who knows when he will be back to 100 percent. Make no mistake, Welker is the Patriots most dangerous playmaker and important receiver, not Randy Moss who appears to be in decline. Also, spare me with the Julian Edeleman can be just as good as Welker in New England’s offense talk because regardless of Edeleman’s stats when Welker was out, here is what Tom Brady did without Welker in the lineup:

  • Vs Baltimore – 23/42, 154 yards, 2 TDs, 3 INTs
  • Vs Jets – 23/47, 216 yards, 0 TDs, 1 INT
  • Vs Atlanta – 25/42, 277 yards, 1 TD

PhotobucketOutside of a good game against a crappy Atlanta secondary, Brady could barely complete 50 percent of his passes without Welker in the lineup and had two of his worst games of the year when he didn’t have him as a safety valve. New England is still currently thin at receiver because Edeleman is injury prone (he missed 4 games last year) and Sam Aiken or Isaiah Stanback can’t handle major reps. They also have questions at running back because after a big rookie year, Laurence Maroney has been a bust who can’t hold on to the football. Fred Taylor and Sammy Morris are both ancient and can’t stay healthy and Kevin Faulk is nothing more than a third down back, although a good one at that. Beyond that, Tom Brady didn’t have his best year last season but considering the injury he was coming back from was still very good, until he had a meltdown in the playoffs. New England’s offensive line isn’t what it used to be but still remains one of the better units in the league.

On defense, the Patriots were pretty good last year. They finished #11 in total defense but laid an egg in the playoffs and were embarrassed a few times, including a dreadful performance on Monday Night against the Saints and when they choked away a big lead to the Colts in a Sunday Night game (no shame in that because the Colts also shredded up the Jets in the AFC Championship game and came back from a double digit deficit). Jerod Mayo was a disappointmentin his second year and they remain very average in the secondary. If you take Leigh Bodden’s stats away from the second Jets game when Sanchez gift wrapped him three interceptions, I don’t see how you could claim he is a legit number one corner and the rest of their corners are journeyman unless Darius Butler develops. New England’s front still has talent but you could run on them.

When I look at the Jets compared to the Patriots, I think they compare very favorably. The Jets have a superior offensive line, substantially more talent at running back, a better tight end, and a better #2 receiver until Welker makes it back to 100 percent. Yes, I would take Jerricho Cotchery over Julian Edeleman, Sam Aiken or anybody else they currently have to trot out there. The Jets don’t have somebody at receiver with the talent of Randy Moss but fortunately when we play them, we have Darrelle Revis to completely take him out of the game. Obviously, the Patriots have an advantage at quarterback but Brady is going to struggle against the Jets pass rush or any defense with a quality pass rush without Welker as a safety valve and a good running game to rely on. The Jets have a better all-around defense right now than New England. They are better at corner, linebacker, and with Jenkins back compare well with them on the defensive line.

They also have the benefit of playing the second place schedule instead of the first place schedule next year. Basically, that means they get the Texans and Broncos instead of the Colts and Chargers, yes it is only 2 games but in a likely close race, that could help the Jets. It would remiss not to mention the Patriots are set up much better for the draft than the Jets. New England has three second round picks, a higher first round pick than the Jets, and five seventh round picks. We have to wait and see how the Patriots could improve through the draft since they have missed more than a few recent selections.

PhotobucketRight now, I do think the Jets are the team to beat in the AFC East. By the end of the season, they were the best team in the division and I think when you factor in the return of Kris Jenkins and Leon Washington, their roster has improved from last year. Even though he is showing signs of slipping from his untouchable genius ways, Bill Belichick will still have New England in contention next year, and they remain the Jets primary challenge for the division title. What about Miami, you ask? Karlos Dansby was a nice addition even though they overpaid for him, but I don’t think they have done enough yet to move from a 7-9 team who was a Danny Woodhead keeping his outside contain on kickoff and Bart Scott tackle away from being 5-11. (Can you tell I am still bitter about those losses?) What about Buffalo? I don’t know let me see who wins the quarterback battle between Trent Edwards, Brian Brohm, and Ryan Fitzpatrick and then I will let you know.

TOJ Movie Trailer

Randy Moss Is A Slouch While On Revis Island

Jets vs. Patriots: Talking to the Enemy

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I exchanged five questions with Patriots blogger Eric Cunningham of http://Patschowder.com about tomorrow’s game, here is our conversation:

PC: I read in the Boston Globe yesterday that Braylon Edwards’ arrival in New York may be too much for the rookie quarterback to handle. It’s sort of like a mini-TO effect. They’ve gone 1-4 with him. What are your thoughts on all of this?

TOJ: I don’t agree with that assertion at all. Edwards has been a good soldier since arriving and is clearly trying to convince the Jets he is worthy of a long term contract. Sanchez and Edwards have appeared to get along very well and Edwards was one of the first players to get his back after the Buffalo game when Sanchez threw 5 INTs. He also hasn’t complained at all about the number of touches he receives, even though he probably should be getting more. Edwards main focus when talking to the press has been his desire to win. I don’t think the Jets are 1-4 in their last 5 because of Braylon, I think it is because they can’t close teams out.

PC: In my opinion, I think the Jets biggest problem is the loss of Kris Jenkins. Is this their biggest problem?

TOJ: Their biggest problem is they don’t know how to win close games. They lost four games on the last play. Their defense laid an egg with the game on the line against Miami on Monday night and against Jacksonville, Sanchez, Ben Hartsock, and their special teams choked in OT to lose to the Bills and they couldn’t finish off a game winning drive at home against Miami.

PC: Ok, let’s not beat around the bush. How do you really feel about your head coach was crying at his latest press conference?

TOJ: Well, he didn’t cry at a press conference. He cried in a meeting with the team on Monday and it was leaked to the press. I don’t have a strong opinion of it, we all knew Rex was an emotional guy when he was hired so this is part of what you get. I will love it if the Jets win on Sunday and hate it if they lose.

PC: Shonn Greene has disappeared since his big breakout game in week 7. Is he not the right fit, or are the Jets just dropping the committee and planning on Thomas Jones the rest of the way?

TOJ: Greene has ran a little timid since fumbling against Miami in week 8. Jones receives the bulk of the carries because he is playing at such a high level. However, I would still expect Greene to get his usual 8-10 touches this weekend, which is fine for a rookie learning on the job behind a pro-bowl caliber running back.

PC: Lastly, I asked my Twitter followers what they would want to know from the Jets perspective, and @mndTiiu asked “Has Mark Sanchez met, exceeded, or fallen short of your expectations?”

JETS V PATRIOTS STOJ: He has fell slightly short. He is turning the ball over more than I was hoping for and has made a few immature mistakes (eating a hot dog and running a scripted press conference). However, he has shown plenty of potential and intangibles and I still believe the Jets did the right thing by trading up for him. We will learn alot about him this weekend in the hostile conditions of New England.

TOJ: What is your opinion of Belichick’s decision on Sunday night to go for it on 4th and 2?
 
PC: I can’t honestly say that I loved the call, but I can say that I am less disappointed in the loss because of it. I love the fact that the Patriots have a coach that is willing to go out and win games as opposed to play safe and try not to lose them. In Sunday’s situation, I am pretty confident that Peyton Manning would have scored a touchdown from 60-yards out if he they had punted the ball anyway. Their best shot to win the game was to go for it by putting the ball in the hands of one of the best quarterbacks in the league and they did. Unfortunately, it didn’t quite work out.

TOJ: What is the biggest difference between the Pats team the Jets beat in week two and the Pats team the Jets are going to face this week?
 
PC:
The big difference is Tom Brady. That Jets game early on was his first real test. Now that we are 10 weeks into the season Brady is playing at a much higher level. Also, the linebacking core has gotten healthier with Jerod Mayo back in the middle as things have started to fall into place around him.

TOJ: Why won’t anybody in New England give Darrelle Revis any respect? Moss hasn’t done much of anything in his last four games against the Jets, especially when Revis is on him so why won’t anybody give him credit?

PC: Well, I for one will give him credit. The guy is a beast and I hate seeing him on the other side of the field. However, I think the Patriots players not giving him credit is all psychological coach talk. If Belichick can get the guys believing that he’s not good, then he isn’t good. Right?

TOJ: How do you feel about Laurence Maroney being your lead back going into the stretch run of the season? Do you think he will be phased out of the offense or remain the primary ball carrier?

PC: He makes me nervous. I was very high on Sammy Morris coming into this season. That worked for all of one game before he was banged up. What I can say about Maroney is that it has never been as big a question of whether or not he can play in the NFL, but whether or not he can stay healthy. So far, he’s healthy and the production is coming as a result of that. That being said, I would love to have a better insurance policy.

TOJ: Prediction for the game?

PC: This one is in Foxboro and the Jets are fading fast. It’s a win for the Patriots for sure, however, the margin of victory is never a big one for these two teams. I’ll say 24-17 Patriots.

Enough Talking About This Game, Let’s Go Already

Jets vs. Patriots: Prediction, TOJ TV Episode II

Enjoy episode II of Turn on The Jets TV, where I recap week 1 in the NFL, predict the Jets/Patriots game and go over my anguish of watching the Jets lose to New England at home the last 8 years.

This Week’s Song: The Game – We Stand Alone

Jets vs. Patriots: Key Match-Ups

First a few updates:

1. The Jets added recently released cornerback Marquice Cole to their practice squad and released tight end Jack Simmons off it.

2. Kris Jenkins missed a small portion of practice today to receive some treatment on his lower back, according to both him and Rex Ryan it isn’t anything serious but we’ll see on Sunday if Jenk is his normal dominating self.

3. The Jets have no interest in recently released Eagles receiver Hank Baskett.

4. Rex Ryan left all Jets season holders a voice mail today encouraging them to help the team out at home this Sunday be being as loud as possible. He reaffirmed his quote of the week about Bellicheck being a better coach than him and Tom Brady being a better quarterback than Mark Sanchez, but that it remains to be seen who has the better team. So, yes at this moment I am sipping on some green tea and getting my voice ready for the game on Sunday which I will be attending. Hey, all of section 313 and myself won’t be letting Ryan down, I can tell you that much.

5. Bill Bellicheck ignored questions about Rex Ryan’s “kiss the rings” comment in every way imaginable today. Tom Brady pointed out that “talk is cheap,” and disagreed with Kris Jenkins’ comment that the Jets are preparing for this game like it is the Super Bowl, reminding us that “Super Bowls are played in February,” regardless I hope Brady is having his face slammed into the turf as many times as he did the last time he played in February…remember New England fans, when you were undefeated but choked in the Super Bowl?

6. Patriots middle linebacker Jerod Mayo is out 6-8 weeks with a sprained MCL, which means he won’t be suiting up on Sunday. Another blow to the Pats defense which is quickly turning into a collection of strangers.

7. David Harris was named AFC Defensive Player of the Week…hopefully the first of many accolades for him this season.

Jets vs. Patriots: Key Match-Ups

Tomorrow check back for an excessively comprehensive breakdown of the Jets/Pats game and then again on Friday for my prediction, today I am going to focus on the key individual match-ups for this Sunday’s game.

Darrelle Revis vs. Randy Moss: Revis is at the top of the match-up list again as he gets no break after shutting down Andre Johnson last week. Ever since Randy Moss shredded the Jets for 9 catches, 183 yards and a touchdown on opening day in 2007 (also the first game of Revis’ NFL career), Revis has more than held his own against Moss. In their second meeting in 2007, Moss had 5 catches for 79 yards and Revis had a spectacular one-handed interception over him. In 2008, Moss was held to 2 catches for 22 yards in their first meeting and 3 catches for 26 yards in their second meeting, although he did catch the game tying touchdown (but it was on Ty Law). It will be important for Revis to continue keeping Moss from killing the Jets with the big play. Moss is coming off a great performance on Monday Night against the Bills, where he racked up 12 receptions. If Revis could start out the season shutting down Andre Johnson and Randy Moss, who else is going to catch passes on him this year?

Mark Sanchez vs. Bill Bellicheck: Bill Bellicheck excels at confusing quarterbacks young and old with his complex defensive schemes. Mark Sanchez had a great start to his NFL career last week against a suspect Houston defense but the challenge is obviously greater this week. New England won’t drop the interceptions the Texans did last week, so Sanchez needs to be extra careful with the ball while still playing with his usual confidence and swagger. Regardless, let’s not confuse this New England defense with the 2000 Ravens despite who is coaching them. Trent Edwards went 15/25 for 212 yards and 2 TD’s against them last week.

Dustin Keller vs. Adalius Thomas/Pierre Woods/Brandon Merriweather: Or whomever the Patriots decide to use in coverage versus Keller, who killed the Patriots when the Jets beat them last season with 8 catches for 87 yards, many of them converting big third downs. Keller is a difficult match-up for any defense and needs to build off his strong game in Houston last week. Look for Mark Sanchez to target his tight end early and often against New England.

Jets Organization/Jets Fans vs. The Aura of New England: We are all feeling it right now…we are excited about our new coach, new quarterback, and general new direction of the team. Yet, here come the Patriots to ruin it, like they always do. I have been at every single Jets/Pats game in the Meadowlands since 2001, which means I have sat through 8 losses like many of you out there. I remember believing in Herman Edwards in 2002 and 2004. I remember believing that Pennington would lead us to an upset in 2003 or that Brooks Bollinger could somehow get us a Monday Night win in 2005. I remember believing the Man-genius and Pennington would take us to an upset in 2006 and then kick the season off right in 2007. Of course, I thought Brett Favre would beat Matt Cassell last year in week two, and yet the last 8 years I have left the stadium disappointed…freakin 8 years, since I was 14 years old! I wasn’t even in high school yet the last time the Jets beat New England at home. This organization and fan base needs to forget the past, forget “kissing the rings” and go out and expect to beat New England, because we have a better defense, a better group of running backs, and a better offensive line…will it happen or will Brady, Bellicheck and the Pats find a way to curb all of our enthusiasm? Only time will tell.

One of my favorite vids of all time…it’s good to beat the Patriots, and I’ll say this, I don’t like Brett Favre and think he killed the Jets last year but you have to love the end of the video when he runs into the locker room screaming “F%#@ Yea!”