Grading Out the Jets/Titans Game

First a few updates:

1. Your 2009 AL East Champs…The New York Yankees.

2. I review the weekend for the AFC East and entire NFL tomorrow, but just as a preface: The Jets aren’t looking so stupid for trading Chad Pennington anymore are they? It didn’t take a genius to see what was coming this year for the Dolphins who are well on their way to a 4-12 season. Pennington has never put together back to back healthy seasons in his career. Their schedule is substantially harder and they generally lack talent (especially in an overhyped, overrated linebacker core). Enjoy beginning to play out the string in October Jason Taylor, Channing Crowder, and the rest of Dolphins nation. I do feel bad for Chad, who I always liked and I hope he gets healthy soon but how can I not enjoy the Dolphins being 0-3?

3. I actually felt bad for Eric Mangini watching his press conference yesterday. The Browns actually might go 0-16. It sounds like there isn’t a more hated coach in the league right now, since at least five of his players are filing grievances with the NFL about his fines. I thought Favre was more to blame than Mangini last year but I don’t understand why it appears that he didn’t learn anything from the mistakes he made with the Jets.

4. Speaking of those 3-0 Jets, I saw on ESPN that they are early 6.5 point underdogs to the Saints. This will be the third time in four games the Jets are underdogs.

5. Peter King ranked the Jets #4 is his weekly Power Rankings and put Darrelle Revis #5 on his MVP watch list.

6. Site Updates – The new episode of TOJ TV has been uploaded to the “TOJ TV” page and Jets/Titans highlights have been added to the “Game Highlights” section. The stats have also been updated.

Grading Out the Jets/Titans Game

Quarterbacks: (B-) Sanchez came out of the gate on fire, then turned into the rookie he is supposed to be, and then finished strong enough for the Jets to get a win. It was an up and down for “The Sanchise,” who finished 17/30 for 171 yards, with 2 touchdowns and an interception. The positives? He showed his toughness by barreling over Michael Griffin in the end-zone, had a beautiful play fake on his touchdown pass to Ben Hartsock, and showed his arm strength/accuracy on a picture perfect 46 yard connection down the side-line to Jerricho Cotchery. The negatives? He needs to work on his ball handling. The rain led to the ball slipping out of his hands a few times, and he was also stripped because he kept the ball too low. Also, don’t pile all the interception blame on Chansi Stuckey because Sanchez sailed that pass.

Running Backs: (D) Not a pretty day for Thomas Jones, who finished with 20 yards on 14 carries. Leon Washington had slightly better luck (12 carries, 46 yards) but still averaged less than 4 yards per carry. We are still waiting for Leon to rip off his first big run of the season and Jones looked a step slow to the hole, even though he wasn’t aided by the offensive line, who struggled. Don’t be surprised if Shonn Greene slowly begins to be worked into the offense next week. The Jets didn’t draft him to sit on the bench all season.

Wide Receivers: (A) Jerricho Cotchery played a terrific game and is turning me into a believer that he could be a legit number one receiver. He is catching every thing that comes near him and showed his speed on his 46 yard over the shoulder grab and his toughness on his touchdown catch. Brad Smith finally registered a couple of catches, including an impressive 16 yard grab as he a took a huge hit. Chansi Stuckey was quiet and David Clowney was inactive, which wasn’t surprising considering the conditions.

Tight Ends: (B) How great was Ben Hartsock’s prototypical white guy who has never scored a touchdown celebration? It consisted of him jumping straight up and down while holding up the #1 sign and then having an awkward timed jump into D’Brickashaw Ferguson. Dustin Keller had a leaping 18 yard catch on the first drive but was quiet after. I’d like to see the Jets get him more involved (probably because I have him on my fantasy football team).

Offensive Line: (D) You have to expect better than 83 rushing yards and three allowed sacks from an offensive line with this much talent. They also need to cut back on the penalties.

Defensive Line: (B) Great games by Kris Jenkins (2 TFL’s) and Shaun Ellis (.5 sack, 1 TFL). Sione Pouha and Marques Douglas were also active up front. The unit did a good job keeping Chris Johnson under 100 yards and was constantly pushing the pocket on Kerry Collins.

Linebackers: (A) Bart Scott was all over the field and David Harris keeps making big plays. Bryan Thomas has quietly put together a strong three games to start the season. Vernon Gholston looks like he is actually improving. I was somewhat surprised to Jamaal Westerman end up being inactive.

Secondary: (B) They were defintley some breakdowns and Kerry Collins threaded the needle on them a few times. However, Drew Coleman stepped up and had a great game as the nickel back. I still can’t believe this is the same Eric Smith from the past three years. He is all over the field and has turned into one of the Jets top playmakers on defense (6 tackles, 2 passes defensed, and an interception). Jim Leonhard always seems to be around the ball. Darrelle Revis and Kerry Rhodes didn’t have their best days. Dwight Lowery was okay as a replacement for Lito Sheppard.

Special Teams (A+) Forced two key turnovers that were the reason the Jets won on Sunday. Great all around play by Jason Trusnik on fumble during the kick return. Brad Smith made a smart play by wrapping up Ryan Mouton to prevent him from recovering his muffed punt and Larry Izzo hustled down to make the recovery. Jay Feely has now made 19 straight field goals. Steve Weatherford had one bad shank but beyond that had a decent day.

Coaching: (B) It was a good decision to come out with the no-huddle, passing attack which caught the Titans off guard. Rex Ryan started out with a less aggressive scheme but with the game on his line, went back to what the Jets do best, blitz the hell out of the quarterback. The bottom line is that the Jets avoided a natural let-down game and found a way to win without having their “A” game.

Jets/Titans Game Highlights

Undefeated: Jets Move to 3-0, Instant Reaction

As I sit here watching the Dolphins fall to 0-3 (cause Chad Henne is awful) and the Bills fall to 1-2, I can’t help but have a big smile on my face because our New York Jets are now 3-0 which isn’t an easy thing to do in the NFL (unless you are Denver and have played three crappy teams). It wasn’t pretty and they were greatly assisted by a rookie returner with butter fingers, but the Jets found a way to win. We’ll take them anyway we can get them, and now it is on to New Orleans to battle the 3-0 Saints. Super Bowl Preview? Just kidding…

Special Teams Love…Jason Trusnik came up with a huge play by knocking Ryan Mouton off his block and then recovering the fumble, which set up a first quarter touchdown. Brad Smith did a great job holding Mouton down when he muffed a punt in the second half, allowing Larry Izzo to recover it, which switched the momentum of the game back in the Jets favor. Jay Feely also remained perfect on field goals for the season and I believe has hit his last 19.

New Attitude…Bart Scott led the Jets with 9 tackles and made sure to fire back at Ahmad Hall in the post game press conference by telling reporters to go look at the tape to see his dominance of the match-up. He also pointed out, “For anybody out there who thinks that this is a gimmick defense and can’t play smashmouth, how dare you.” The Jets defense looked a little sluggish in the second/third quarter, but stepped up with the game on the line. One little thing from the game I loved, one of the Titans lineman took a cheap shot on Jim Leonhard and Shaun Ellis jumped right to his defense, getting in the lineman’s face. Leonhard then responded with a huge punt return and Ellis and the rest of the defense were going crazy on the sideline for him.

In The Negative Corner…Where is the running game? 14 carries for 20 yards by Thomas Jones isn’t going to cut it, it was also a quiet day for Leon Washington (12 carries 46 yards). Sanchez also was sacked three times and struggled a little bit with the wet ball. There were some breakdowns in coverage and the Jets were aided by a few dropped passes from Tennessee.

But Let’s End With Some Positives…David Harris with a huge 4th quarter interception and sack. Eric Smith is now turning into a playmaker on the Jets defense and had 6 tackles, 2 passes defensed, and an interception. Drew Coleman stepped up in the nickel role. Jerricho Cotchery is becoming a legitimate number one receiver and had a great game. The Jets scored touchdowns on three of their four red-zone trips. Kris Jenkins was a straight beast today, as usual. Vernon Gholston put together a strong all-around effort. I need to add Ben Hartsock to my fantasy roster.

Jets vs. Titans: Game Breakdown

First a few updates:

1. Rex Ryan doesn’t think corner Donald Strickland is going to play this week, while Lito Sheppard will probably end up being a game-time decision. Expect to see Dwight Lowery start opposite Darrelle Revis and Drew Coleman as the nickel, also keep an eye out for Ahmad Caroll or Marquice Cole to potentially get some reps off the bench.

2. The Jets added recently released tight end Mattthew Mulligan to their practice squad.

3. Bart Scott took a stand for Darrelle Revis, who received no respect from Randy Moss after being shut down by him last Sunday. Here is what Scott had to say, “I hear the easy cop-out by Moss that anyone can play cornerback. Sometimes, you got to give the man his credit, that [Revis] was the better man that day. It doesn’t take away from the fact that Moss is a great receiver in this league. But [Revis] shut him down. Randy was coming across the middle real slow. Tell him to man up and come across the middle like a man if he wants to be a complete receiver in this league.” Whooo, well said Bart.

4. Make sure you check in tomorrow for episode III of Turn On the Jets TV. I got some great footage from the Jets/Pats game from inside the stadium, along with a prediction for the Jets/Titans game, some smack talk for the rest of the AFC East and plenty more.

5. Jerricho Cotchery’s foundation will be hosting their second annual “Tailgate with the Pros” at the ESPN Zone in New York City on Monday, October 19th from 7:30-10:30 PM. The event will feature Jets players, great food, a comedian, and the Monday night game. All proceeds from the event go to the Pride Academy Charter School in East Orange, NJ and six Citizen schools in Newark, Brooklyn, and Harlem, helping create more educational opportunities for the children.

Jets vs. Patriots: Game Breakdown

Jets Offensive Game Plan: The Titans have been stingy against the run so far this season but have struggled heavily against the pass. Regardless, the Jets shouldn’t forget who they are on offense and turn away from Thomas Jones and Leon Washington. Yes, they should open it up a little more than they did last week and use some spread looks, along with a few more vertical passes but there is no reason Jones and Washington shouldn’t remain in the 35-40 touches range. The Titans have allowed three different receivers to go for over 100 yards on them in only two games so Jerricho Cotchery should be licking his chops. I think he has looked the part of a #1 receiver so far, and the potential is there for a big game on Sunday.

It will be interesting to see if the Jets attempt to get a few other players involved in the offensive game plan this Sunday. David Clowney and Brad Smith are yet to record a reception this season. Shonn Greene is also yet to receive a carry. Sanchez has only taken two shots down the field so far, once he hit Chansi Stuckey for a touchdown and he overshot Jerricho Cotchery last week. I really do think this will be the week where the Jets go play action and attempt to air one out to Clowney.

Don’t forget about Dustin Keller, who pulled in 6 catches against the Titans last year. He was only involved in the short passing game last week, so look for the Jets to try to hit him down the seam. I was disappointed to see the Jets only attempt one screen last week (it went to Thomas Jones for a 1 yard gain). Leon Washington and Keller are both big threats on a well executed screen, and the Jets hurt the Titans with a few last season. Rex Ryan got on his offensive line a little bit last week, so they’ll be playing with something to prove, particularly in the running game.

Jets Defensive Game Plan: All eyes will be on Chris Johnson, who is coming off one of the better games a running has put together in recent history. Johnson is a burner, who can score any time he touches the football so the Jets need to swarm him and wrap him up before he builds up a head of steam. Don’t expect Rex Ryan to scale back his aggressive style because of Johnson’s big play ability. He will put his faith in his defenders to make open field tackles and not allow Johnson to break free.

Kerry Collins isn’t very mobile and prone to fumbling the football, so the Jets will looking to hit him early and often. They didn’t record a single sack last week, despite spending the entire game in Tom Brady’s face. I am sure Ryan will be reminding his defenders about being sack-less in his pre-game speech. The Jets could be short handed in the secondary with injuries to Lito Sheppard and Donald Strickland, which will put pressure on Dwight Lowery and Drew Coleman to step up. Tennessee has some speed at receiver and will take their shots down the field, likely on Lowery since it makes no sense to throw the ball at Darrelle Revis.

Special Teams Breakdown: Reggie Hodges will be looking for punting revenge against the Jets, as he was signed to replace the injured Craig Hentrich. Leon Washington had a big game returning kicks last week, although the Titans usually are very solid all the way around on special teams.

The Jets Will Win If…They come out with the proper mindset and haven’t been reading too many of their press clippings this week. Mark Sanchez is able to hit a few big throws down the field to soften up their defense, allowing Thomas Jones and Leon Washington to get going. The Jets force Kerry Collins into a couple of turnovers with their constant pressure and Chris Johnson isn’t able to rip off any monster runs or receptions to give the Titans quick points.

The Jets Will Lose If…They can’t match the intensity of a 0-2 Titans team playing for their lives. Chris Johnson has another monster day. Mark Sanchez finally looks like a rookie and has a few turnovers. The Jets running game never gets going, forcing Sanchez into too many obvious passing situations where their pass rush gets to him.

Every Mark Sanchez Pass From Last Week

NFL Week 2 Recap/Jets vs. Titans First Look

First a few updates:

1. The Jets hopped up to #8 in ESPN’s Power Rankings. Generally, more and more people seem to be jumping on the team’s bandwagon now after their victory over the Pats. It is funny listening people talk about guys like Darrelle Revis and Leon Washington like they just appeared out of thin air. The Jets have had talent, it just seems that now they have the right quarterback and head coach. However, let’s not get crazy…it is only week 2. It is easy to feel unbeatable right now, but a loss will come at some point and how this team responds to adversity will be interesting to see.

2. Apparently Lito Sheppard only had a severe cramp in his quad and is expected to play this week despite potentially being limited in practice. Donald Strickland’s status is a little more up in the air.

Wrapping Up Jets/Patriots

Defensive Player of the Game: Darrelle Revis – He won the award last week with David Harris, and this week he gets it by himself. Don’t let the lack of respect shown by Randy Moss fool you, Revis is a legit lock down corner. Outside of Ed Reed, I wouldn’t trade this guy for another defensive back in football. Remember the Andre Johnson who had no impact in the Jets/Texans game? Yea, well that same guy went for 130 yards and 2 touchdowns last week against a quality Titans defense

Offensive Player of the Game: Jerricho Cotchery – The Jets number wide-out kick started the second half with a 45 yard catch, which led to their go ahead touchdown. Cotchery continues to be excellent after the catch and is a sure-handed, reliable target for Mark Sanchez.

Honorable Mentions: Donald Strickland for being all over the field…Dwight Lowery for stepping up when Lito Sheppard was hurt…Dustin Keller for being the red-zone target the Jets need him to be…Shaun Ellis for a consistent, quality effort in his first game of the season…Kerry Rhodes for leading the team in tackles…The Jets fans for creating a serious home field advantage.

AFC East Observations

New England Patriots – What do you call a team with a quarterback who can’t complete passes under pressure, no consistent running game, a suspect defense, and a difficult schedule? You call them the 2009 New England Patriots. The Pats are going to have their hands full the next two weeks against the Falcons and Ravens. 1-3 is not out of the question.

Buffalo Bills – They have been impressive through the first two weeks of the regular season and if it weren’t for Leodis McKlevin, they’d be 2-0 right now. Fred Jackson is playing out of his mind right now and Trent Edwards is spreading the ball around well. However, their inexperienced offensive line and entire defense are serious questions for this team.

Miami Dolphins – I loved watching Channing Crowder, Joey Porter, and Jason Taylor get shredded up by Peyton Manning last night. It was like he was playing a high school defense. Chad actually played pretty well  but when he is your quarterback, you can’t manage any come from behind victories since every touchdown drive needs to be 19 plays. The Wildcat looked good last night, but that stuff isn’t working on a Rex Ryan defense. 6-10 Miami, 6-10. I can’t wait to play there on Monday Night in a few weeks.

Five Teams That Impressed Me

  1. New York Giants – Even as a Jets fan, I enjoyed watching the G-Men ruin the Cowboys home opener.  Mario Manningham is a player.
  2. Baltimore Ravens – Joe Flacco looks like an all-pro right now, which is scary to combine with Baltimore’s defense.
  3. New Orleans Saints – Saints offense versus Jets defense is going to be fun week 4.
  4. Cincinnati Bengals – Hard Knocks, baby! Nice win for the Bengals against the favored Packers.
  5. Indianapolis Colts – Peyton is surgical with that offense, even throwing to division 3 receivers. I am available right now, if the Colts are looking.

Five Teams That Looked Like Garbage

  1. Cleveland Browns – There is nothing like a combination of Eric Mangini’s paranoia and blowout losses.
  2. Dallas Cowboys – Protect the ball Tony, protect the ball.
  3. Kansas City Chiefs – You lost in Oakland in your building? Ut-oh.
  4. Carolina Panthers – Could be a long season for a team with playoff aspirations coming into the year.
  5. St. Louis Rams – 2-14 sounds about right.

Other Observations

I can’t believe how anemic the Redskins offense has become. They barely edged out the St. Louis Rams, who are like a college team at this point. Everybody in the stadium was pulling for the Lions to get their first win in 19 games against Favre and the Vikings, unfortunately AP saved the day for #4. The Falcons are looking like the real deal this season. The battle between them and the Saints for the NFC South should be fun to watch. I was very surprised by the bounce-back performance from the Texans against the Titans. Maybe the Jets are just that good…

Jets vs. Titans First Look

The Opponent: Coming off a 13-3 2008 season, the Titans were considered serious contenders in the AFC this season. After a tough opening night loss to the defending champs, where they played very well, Tennessee had a big let down loss to the Houston Texans at home last week. They now sit at 0-2 and are facing a desperation game against the Jets. I am sure the Titans remember the beatdown the Jets handed them in their building last year to end their bid for a perfect season. Running back Chris Johnson is coming off a monster game is one of the top playmakers in the league, and the Titans always have a stingy defense. The schedule makers weren’t kind to the Jets, as they face another tough opponent this week.

Tennessee Titans Starters/Key Reserves

OFFENSE

  • Quarterback: Kerry Collins – 43/68, 460 yards, 3 TD’s, 2 INT’s
  • Running Back: Chris Johnson – 31 carries, 254 yards, 2 TD’s, 98 yards receiving, 1 TD
  • Running Back: LenDale White – 14 carries, 53 yards
  • Wide Receiver: Kenny Britt – 6 receptions, 107 yards
  • Wide Receiver: Justin Gage – 9 receptions, 105 yards, 1 TD
  • Wide Receiver: Nate Washington – 5 receptions, 44 yards, 1 TD
  • Tight End: Bo Scaife – 5 receptions, 48 yards
  • Tight End: Alge Crumpler – 6 receptions, 49 yards
  • Left Tackle: Michael Roos
  • Left Guard: Eugene Amano
  • Center: Kevin Mawae
  • Right Guard: Jake Scott
  • Right Tackle: David Stewart

DEFENSE

  • Defensive End: Jevon Kearse – 2 tackles, 1 sack
  • Defensive Tackle: Tony Brown – 4 tackles, 1 sack
  • Defensive Tackle: Jason Jones – 4 tackles, 1 sack
  • Defensive End: Kyle Vanden Bosch – 6 tackles
  • Outside Linebacker: Keith Bulluck – 15 tackles
  • Middle Linebacker: Stephen Tulloch – 19 tackles, 1 TFL
  • Outside Linebacker: David Thorton – 9 tackles, 1 TFL
  • Corner: Nick Harper – 18 tackles
  • Corner: Cortland Finnegan – 14 tackles, 1 INT
  • Safety: Chris Hope – 16 tackles, 1 PD, 1 TFL
  • Safety: Michael Griffin – 11 tackles, 1 FF

SPECIAL TEAMS

  • Kicker: Rob Bironas
  • Punter: Craig Hentrich
  • Returner: Ryan Mouton

Key Players: Chris Johnson is the Titans most explosive player and can score from anywhere on the field. Kenny Britt and Nate Washington are both big play receivers, with good speed. Kyle Vaden Bosch and Jason Jones lead a very strong front four, while Keith Bulluck is consistently one of the better linebackers in the league. Cortland Finnegan is a pro-bowl quality corner, who had an interception against the Jets last year.

Injuries: Donald Strickland and Lito Sheppard will both likely be limited all week in practice, but should be able to go by Sunday. David Thorton and Nate Washington both returned from injury last week for the Titans.

Early Story Lines: Titans are desperate at 0-2…Jets guarding against let down game after emotional win over Pats…Jets embarrassed Titans last season…Kevin Mawae returns to the Meadowlands.

Highlights From the Titans Week 2 Loss to the Texans