Jets vs. Bucs: Game Breakdown

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First a few updates:

1. Kerry Rhodes got into a shouting match with secondary coach Dennis Thurman today because of his frustration about rotating with Eric Smith. Rhodes had an attitude with reporters after practice and made it sound like he isn’t thrilled with Rex Ryan or the prospect of playing in New York again next year. My opinion? See you later Kerry, we’ll be fine without you. The guy is lucky enough to be making a start this weekend because he certainly didn’t earn his position back last week. It is time for him to shut up and perform.

2. Larry Izzo has been placed on injured reserve with a neck injury. Rex Ryan said he expected Donald Strickland to be able to play this weekened but isn’t as confident in Dwight Lowery suiting up.

3. Kellen Clemens sounded confident talking to the media yesterday. This is a big game for Clemens career. He is auditioning for a job next season with another team because I expect the Jets to move Erik Ainge into the backup role next year. Another thing on the quarterbacks, I think it is insane to think Rex Ryan is punishing Mark Sanchez for not sliding. Ryan is simply being cautious with his franchise quarterback against a 1-11 team.

4. Anybody else enjoying all the drama going on in New England the past couple of days?

Jets vs. Bucs: Game Breakdown

PhotobucketOffense: Run, Run, Run. I would expect to see plenty of the Jets heavy set, where they bring in an extra lineman as a tight end and only split out one receiver. Tampa Bay knows the Jets are going to be running and I don’t think the Jets are going to care. You can bank on Thomas Jones getting 22-25 carries and Shonn Greene getting 10-15 carries. Also, expect to see the Jets continue with the misdirection plays to Tony Richardson or Brad Smith, which they used against Buffalo. I wouldn’t be surprised to see some Wildcat snaps with Smith either. Eventually, the Jets are going to have to take a shot down the field. Hopefully, Kellen Clemens can take advantage of some single coverage and an overstacked box by hitting Braylon Edwards, Dustin Keller, or Jerricho Cotchery for a big play. Remember that Clemens has no chemistry with Edwards, so he may look to Cotchery or Keller more.

Defense: Expect the Jets to come after Josh Freeman early and often. I don’t know if the Jets will lock Darrelle Revis on to Antonio Bryant, considering he is their top big play threat. Kellen Winslow could also be a match-up problem. Eric Smith and Kerry Rhodes will likely both take turns covering him. The reality is that the Jets defense should keep up their dominant streak against a Tampa offense that lacks big play capability and is susceptible to turnovers. This should be a healthy stat-padding game, but then again this is the Jets we are talking about. I wouldn’t be shocked to see Freeman go off and Cadillac Williams run for 175 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Special Teams: Bucs return man Clifton Smith is out for the season. Brad Smith should continue as the Jets kick returner. He has been okay. I still would like to see Jerricho Cotchery off punt returns but it looks like he will keep the job for now.

In Honor of AI Returning to Philly…Practice?

Jets vs. Saints: Key Match-Ups

First a few updates:

1. Lito Sheppard, Donald Strickland, Jim Leonhard, Wayne Hunter and Larry Izzo sat out practice today. Darrelle Revis and Kerry Rhodes were also limited. Despite the endless list of defensive backs on this list, Rex Ryan expressed confidence that all of them would be available on Sunday, withthe possible exception of Strickland. He didn’t rule out bringing in free agent Corey Ivy by the end of the week, if it looks like both Sheppard and Strickland won’t be able to go on Sunday. Ivy is familiar with Ryan’s system from his time in Baltimore, and would be able in step in right away.

2. Congratulations to linebacker Jason Trusnik for winning the AFC Special Teams Player of the Week Award.

3. Rex Ryan singled out Vernon Gholston for praise in his press conference, saying he was awarded a game ball for putting together an all around solid game, including saving a touchdown on a hustle play during one of Chris Johnson’s big runs.

Jets vs. Saints: Key Match-Ups

Tomorrow check back for an excessively comprehensive breakdown of the Jets/Saints 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.

The Jets Banged Up Secondary vs. Marques Colston/Devery Henderson/Robert Meachem/Jeremy Shockey: With our without Lito Sheppard and Donald Strickland, the Jets will have their hands full against the wide variety of weapons the Saints have on offense. Darrelle Revis should be able to handle Marques Colston, but there will pressure on the rest of the Jets secondary to keep the speedsters Henderson and Meachem in check. If the Jets are without Sheppard and Strickland, Dwight Lowery and Drew Coleman will again need to respond with big time efforts off the bench. Jeremy Shockey is becoming a bigger part of the Saints offense, so expect to see Eric Smith shadowing him on passing downs. Smith did an excellent job against Owen Daniels in week one and continues to develop as a playmaker in the Jets defense.

Thomas Jones/Leon Washington/Jets Offensive Line vs. Saints Front Seven: The Jets have stuck to their running game through the first three weeks but haven’t had anywhere near the success they did last season. Thomas Jones is under 4 yards per carry and is a couple of big runs against Houston from being under 3 yards per carry. Leon Washington is right at 4 yards per carry but hasn’t ripped off any big ones yet this season. The Jets must run the ball successfully to keep the Saints offense off the field for as long as possible. Don’t be surprised to see Shonn Greene get a few reps if the Jones has another slow start. However, all the focus can’t be on Jones and Washington. The offensive line needs to do a better job of opening up holes for their pro-bowl running backs.

Bart Scott vs. Reggie Bush: Don’t forget a few seasons ago, when Scott had this to say about Bush after the Ravens put a beatdown on New Orleans, “The media darling, aka the golden boy of the NFL, tried to take a cheap shot at me, so I told him I was going to put some extra on it. He can do all those shakes he wants, but I wasn’t going anywhere. I put a little hot sauce on that ankle.This was after a play in the 4th quarter, where Bush left with a sore ankle after Scott tackled him. In subsequent interviews, Scott said he wasn’t trying to imply that he intentionally hurt Bush, but rather was referencing the spicy food in New Orleans and was joking around. I haven’t seen footage of hit but from clicking around the Internet, it appears most people don’t think it was anywhere near a dirty play by Scott. One of our most frequent readers, my good friend Dan is a big Reggie Bush lover and correctly pointed out he is second in offensive yards on the team, so the pressure will be on Scott, David Harris and the rest of the Jets linebackers to contain him on his receptions out of the backfield. Bush has struggled running the ball (111 yards, with a 3.7 per carry average) but been a big factor in the passing game (164 yards, 11 yards per reception).

Mark Sanchez vs. Tracy Porter/Roman Harper/Darren Sharper/Jabari Greer: The Saints secondary is tied for the league lead in passes defensed and interceptions. There will be pressure on Mark Sanchez in this game to put up some points through the air, so the rookie must do a better job of protecting the ball than he did a week ago. Sanchez has looked good when throwing the ball down the field so far this season so let’s see if he takes some shots to Jerricho Cotchery, Dustin Keller, or maybe even David Clowney, fresh off his Twitter suspension.

Marques Colston Almost Has Hands As Good As Mine

Crazy Sunday For Jets: Updated Look At 53 Man Roster & Cuts

No time for non-football updates, on what has been a suprisingly active Sunday for the Jets:

1. The Jets have acquired former New England backup quarterback Kevin O’Connell from the Detroit Lions for an undisclosed draft pick (likely a conditional 6th or 7throunder). Regardless, both Dave Hutchinson and Rich Ciminihave confirmed that Kellen Clemens isn’t going anywhere and will remain the #2 quarterback for now. Why did the Jets make this move? Apparently the front office has always been high on O’Connell and wanted to jump at the chance to get him on the roster. Kellen Clemens is going to be gone after this season and they want somebody to battle it out with Erik Ainge for the #2 spot behind Mark Sanchez in 2010. In terms of this season, the Jets won’t carry four quarterbacks on their active roster, as Hutchinson smartly points out expect either Ainge or O’Connell to pick up a phantom injury and end up on injured reserve for 2009.

2. The Jets have also been working the waiver wire, today they acquired punter AJ Trapasso from the Tennessee Titans. Bye, Bye Reggie Hodges. Trapasso executed a fake punt for touchdown in the Hall of Fame Game this season and also boomed one off the Cowboys new scoreboard. They also picked up tight end Matthew Mulligan from the Titans, who is regarded primarily as a blocking tight end. He is a second year player from Maine, who is 6’5 270 pounds. In the pre-season he recorded 3 catches for 40 yards and a touchdown. Finally, they picked up fullback Jason Davis, who is a fourth year player that has primarily been with the Chicago Bears. Last year in Chicago, he started three games, had a rushing attempt and a reception for 12 yards.

3. Since the Jets have now added four players (O’Connell, Trapasso, Mulligan, Davis) they released running back Danny Woodhead, tackle Michael Kracalik, punter Reggie Hodges, and linebacker Brandon Renkart.

Quarterbacks:

  1. Mark Sanchez – Let’s translate strong pre-season into strong regular season.
  2. Kellen Clemens – Some concerns about an injured elbow, but remains backup for now. Gone in 2010.
  3. Erik Ainge – Great pre-season, could be eventual #2.
  4. Kevin O’Connell – There are some rumors the Jets may trade him to Denver now, but if he stays put expect him or Ainge to end up on the IR and then both compete in 2010 for the #2 spot.

Running Backs:

  1. Thomas Jones – Could be last year in Green and White.
  2. Leon Washington – Hope a new contract gets done soon.
  3. Shonn Grenne – Don’t know if he can contribute early because of injury plagued pre-season.

Fullbacks:

  1. Tony Richardson – Solid veteran.
  2. Jason Davis – Starting experience. I guess the Jets weren’t sold on Jehuu Caulcrick.

Receivers:

  1. Jerricho Cotchery – First year as an unquestioned #1 receiver.
  2. Chansi Stuckey – Top of the committee approach to the #2 spot.
  3. David Clowney – Another monster pre-season.
  4. Brad Smith – Quiet pre-season.
  5. Wallace Wright – Special teams ace.

Tight Ends:

  1. Dustin Keller – Potential for a monster season.
  2. Ben Hartsock – Doesn’t know the offense but is the #2.
  3. Matthew Mulligan – Doesn’t know the offense but is the #3.
  4. James Dearth – Long Snapper.

Tackles

  1. D’Brickashaw Ferguson – Hopefully can take game to next level in ’09.
  2. Damien Woody – Seems fully recovered from pre-season concussion.
  3. Wayne Hunter – Also has value as backup tight end.

Guard

  1. Alan Faneca – Stay healthy.
  2. Brandon Moore – Got a well deserved new contract, hopefully he maintains level of play.
  3. Robert Turner – Also the backup center.
  4. Matt Slauson – Draft pick, means he gets more time to develop,

Center

  1. Nick Mangold – One of the best in the business.

Defensive Ends

  1. Shaun Ellis – Will be back in week 2.
  2. Marques Douglas – Should be good replacement for Kenyon Coleman.
  3. Mike DeVito – Should start week one for Ellis.
  4. Ropati Pitoitua – Strong pre-season earned him roster spot.

Defensive Tackle

  1. Kris Jenkins – Straight beast when healthy.
  2. Howard Green- Great pre-season.
  3. Sione Pouha- Might not play much but provides decent depth.

Linebackers

  1. Bart Scott – Still love watching him rip that ball out of Brandon Jacobs hands.
  2. David Harris – Two words in this defense: Pro Bowl.
  3. Calvin Pace – Back in week four.
  4. Bryan Thomas – Had a quiet but strong pre-season.
  5. Vernon Gholston – Showed a pulse the past couple of pre-season games.
  6. Marques Murrell- Good special teams/depth player. Could see some defensive action in weeks 1-4.
  7. Jamaal Westerman – I think he probably hopped Murrell on the depth chart. Could be Jets top backup in weeks 1-4 at linebacker.
  8. Jason Trunsik – Quiet pre-season. Might be released when Pace or Ellis returns.
  9. Larry Izzo- Earned spot on reputation. Could still be cut when Pace/Ellis return.

Cornerbacks

  1. Darrelle Revis – Lock Down
  2. Lito Sheppard – Real worried about him.
  3. Dwight Lowery – Finished pre-season strong.
  4. Donald Strickland – Quietly will be a good addition for the Jets on defense.
  5. Ahmad Carroll – Special teams ace.
  6. Drew Coleman – Could be gone soon.
  7. Marquis Cole – Either him or Coleman could be gone in week 2 or 5. Seven corners is a bit excessive.

Safeties

  1. Kerry Rhodes – Should have a big year.
  2. Jim Leonhard – First time beginning season as a starter.
  3. Eric Smith – Good depth/special teams player.
  4. James Ihedigbo- Good depth/special teams player.

Specials

  1. Jay Feely – Quality kicker.
  2. AJ Trapasso – Bye Reggie Hodges.

To recap, strong candidates to be cut after the return of Ellis and Pace are: Larry Izzo, Drew Coleman, Marquis Cole, Jason Trusnik.

Our New Punter Scores a Touchdown

Eight Observations on Jets Training Camp

First a few updates:

1. Some schedule news – The Jets open their pre-season schedule this Friday at home against the St. Louis Rams. On Thursday, their practice will be closed to the media. Wednesday is family night at 6 PM out at Hofstra, throwing a bone out to the Jets Long Island fans. Tomorrow they have one full practice in the morning and an afternoon special teams session.

2. The Jets released their first official depth chart today, I will update it accordingly on the site which can be accessed on the top of the home page.

Ten Monday Observations on Jets Training Camp

– I know it is only one game and I know that it was somewhat expected but don’t underestimate the blow of not having Shaun Ellis for week one against the Texans. The Jets will now have their top two sack leaders from last season suspended for week one against a Houston offense that loves to spread it out and throw the football. They will be also now be giving two players their first ever NFL start, likely Mike DeVito at defensive end and Vernon Gholston at outside linebacker. If you want to look at the silver lining, DeVito and Gholston will gain some valuable playing time which will improve the Jets overall depth. However, in reality the Jets will be hurting without Pace and Ellis.

– Speaking of hurting, the list of minor Jets injuries is starting to concern me. It is almost comical how Rex Ryan brushes off every single injury as not significant and it’s not that I don’t believe him, it is just that a high number of key guys are nursing injuries. Nick Mangold’s knee is bothering him, Kris Jenkins is still out with a sore calf, Darrelle Revis isn’t taking part in team drills because of a tight hamstring, Tony Richardson is out with a hip pointer, Shaun Ellis sat out today with a tight back, and Donald Strickland is still out with a knee bruise…how can that not bother you a little bit? Richardson and Jenkins won’t play on Friday, which will give a big opportunity to Sione Pouha and Jehuu Caulcrick.

– Mark Sanchez has taken a few baby steps back since his big time performance with the starters on Saturday. He has struggled the last couple of practices with his accuracy, missing a few open targets while Kellen Clemens has been decent although he threw another interception today, giving him 11 throughout camp compared to Sanchez’s 3. Ryan is giving Clemens the start at home against the Rams because he will logically alternate and given Sanchez the 2nd start in the pre-season. Why would Ryan want Sanchez starting week 2? He wants to throw his highly touted rookie right into the fire on national television against his former team, the Baltimore Ravens on the road. You want to see what Sanchez has before the regular season…in Baltimore, against their starters for a full quarter on ESPN is a great test.

– So it looks like Wayne Hunter is really going to be the Jets #2 tight end. Apparently the big fella caught a 20 yard out route in front of Bart Scott the other day….impressive. Here is a fun fact about Wayne Hunter, the guy had an overall 100 morale rating in Madden 2008. Why is he so happy? I don’t know, but keep your spirits up Wayne and keep catching those passes.

– Rex Ryan raved about Vernon Gholston today like he was Bruce Smith because he has recorded a couple of sacks in the Jets last few practices. Yes, we are all happy to see Gholston finally making some plays in practice but keep in perspective that he has been outplayed all camp by Marques Murrell and Jamaal Westerman. I think we all would be encouraged by a sack this Friday night.

– I am disappointed by the quiet training camps from Brad Smith and David Clowney, especially Clowney. However, I am intrigued to watch Britt Davis and Wallace Wright this Friday and see if they can make a move up the depth chart.

– You have to love Leon Washington for putting together such a strong camp despite the Jets playing hard-ball with him on his contract negotiations…just pay the man his money, Mike Tannenbaum.

– A few observations on the Jets depth chart – Surprised to see Kareem Brown in front of Jack Simmons at tight end, Jamaal Westerman has already hopped Larry Izzo and Kenwin Cummings at inside linebacker, good to see Matt Slauson behind Alan Faneca at LG.

What Is A Successful Jets Season?

First a few updates:

1. The Jets released tight end Bubba Franks yesterday, moving them from being very thin at the position to being ridiculously thin. Behind second year player Dustin Keller, the Jets have a converted defensive end, a long snapper and two undrafted free agents. It might be time to consider a move before training camp starts, Mike Tannebaum, because the Jets are kidding themselves if they think Kareem Brown can start off the year as their number two tight end.

2. Kerry Rhodes was on ESPN Radio today and made a few interesting comments. He discussed the relief of having Jim Leonhard starting alongside of him because of the freedom it will grant him in the secondary. It was also clear from the interview that he was frustrated with the way Eric Mangini used him last season.

What Is A Successful Jets Season?

Over the past few days I have been reading numerous previews about the Jets in 2009 and listening to different football analysts talk about the team and have noticed a growing pessimism about them this upcoming year. The general consensus seems to be that the Jets and their fans have too high of expectations for 2009, and that there are many reasons to believe the team will struggle this season. The organization and the fans need to reconsider what a successful 2009 season equates to.

Reading these previews and thinking about the upcoming year forces you to question, what do you consider to be a successful Jets season in 2009? Personally, I always think a playoff appearance equals a successful season, but should I be satisfied with less?

There are plenty of reasonable and convincing arguments against the Jets being a playoff team in 2009. They have a rookie head coach. The last two defensive coordinators from Baltimore who became head coaches struggled in the top position. They are likely starting a rookie quarterback. Their schedule is difficult, especially in the first four games. They lack depth on both sides of the ball and are due for a rash of injuries after having a healthy 2009 season. Their offense has major question marks at tight end and receiver. Their defense will be without their best outside linebacker for the first four games. I hear you critics…and you got some valid arguments.

Here is a hypothetical: the Jets go 7-9 this year. Mark Sanchez wins the starting quarterback job, progresses nicely during the season and shows signs of being the guy the Jets drafted him to be. The defense starts out a little slow but adapts to the new system as the year moves on and they finish very strong. You get what you expect out of your pro-bowl running backs and your inexperienced receiving core. The season ends and the Jets spend the off-season acquiring a big time target for Sanchez and improving their overall depth, not that bad, right? Can you be satisfied with that for next year? Honestly, I can’t say I would because naturally I want to watch a team with winning record compete in the playoffs but in reality that wouldn’t be a terrible season.

The above scenario could very easily happen in 2009, as could even worse scenarios that involve major injuries, Mark Sanchez/Rex Ryan looking like a bust, and a 4-12 record. However, it also isn’t crazy to argue/believe the Jets can be a 9-7 to 11-5 team competing for wild-card spot and maybe even a division title.

The rookie head coach/rookie quarterback problem can be overcome (see Atlanta/Baltimore last year). I also remember the Jets making the playoffs with a rookie head coach in both 2001 (Herman Edwards) and 2006 (Eric Mangini). The Jets didn’t receive incredible quarterback play in either of those seasons but still managed to win ten games. Sanchez will make his mistakes but if he can be average/slightly above average, the Jets will be in every game because of their running game and talent level on defense.

I don’t buy the concerns about the Jets schedule. Their first four games aren’t the easiest in the world but there is no reason they can’t be 2-2. Houston is a team that everybody says is jumping to the next level every single season, yet they always go 7-9 or 8-8. The Pats are the Pats. The Jets whipped the Titans last year in Tennessee and now get them at home and the Saints haven’t made the playoffs the past two years. After those four games the Jets have Miami, Buffalo, Oakland, Miami and then a bye. Am I really insane to think the Jets can be 5-3 heading into that bye? The second half of the schedule isn’t a cakewalk but includes winnable games at home against Jacksonville, Cincinnati, and on the road against Tampa Bay and Toronto aka Buffalo. Carolina, New England, Atlanta, and Indy are tough second half games but if the Jets are a playoff caliber team, they will be able to pull an upset or two.

The Jets depth is a major issue on offense, period. If an offensive lineman gets hurt for an extended period of time, they could be in serious trouble although Wayne Hunter and Robert Turner have some game experience the past two years (as extra tight ends), there would be still be large drop off. They have one NFL caliber tight end on their roster right now and the receivers are a question mark. However, I do remember in 2006 when the same questions were asked about their receiving core and a little known player stepped up and turned into a capable NFL starter (Jerricho Cotchery) and the other one was a solid number one (Laveranues Coles). Why can’t Chansi Stuckey or David Clowney imitate Cotchery from 2006 this season and why can’t Cotchery imitate Coles, a player who he arguably played better than the last two years?

On defense, I think the Jets have pretty good depth. Their top three backup corners (Dwight Lowery, Donald Strickland, Drew Coleman) and backup safety (Eric Smith) all have starting or extended experience as NFL players. At linebacker, Larry Izzo is a seasoned NFL veteran, Jason Trusnick and Marques Murrell have flashed potential and when Calvin Pace returns in week 5, Vernon Gholston can bump back into being a pass rush specialist. They are definitely a little thin at defensive end but Howard Green and Sione Pouha are experienced backups at defensive tackle in the NFL.

Like just about every NFL team, the Jets can end up anywhere in the standings in 2009. We will learn alot about Rex Ryan and his new defense, along with Mark Sanchez right out of the gate on the road in Houston and home against division favorite/rival New England in week two.

Even if it isn’t fair, I can’t say I’d be happy with a 7-9 team, unless maybe they swept New England and Miami…nah maybe not even then. I want to see them at match last season’s win total and playing meaningful games in December.

New Jets Player Highlight of the Day: Bart Scott demolishes Ben Rothlisberger. Swaggalicious.