Turn On The Jets Off-Season Roundtable – Quarterback

The Turn On The Jets staff discusses how the New York Jets should handle the quarterback position this off-season

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Welcome to our off-season review of the New York Jets roster at Turn On The Jets. Each week we are going to attack a different position. We will have a roundtable discussion on it, Steve Bateman will submit a film breakdown examining it and our draft staff will look at potential prospects the Jets could add. This week, we start at quarterback…

How should the New York Jets handle quarterback this off-season?

Joe Caporoso – There are few people who were bigger Mark Sanchez defenders/apologists heading into this season than myself. However, at this point I truly think he cannot play quarterback for this team any more. There is too much vitriol from the fan-base towards him and players in the locker room have to question his ability to lead them to victories. New York has worn him down and he is in need of a fresh start elsewhere. Despite the cap hit, the Jets must completely cut ties with their quarterback situation from last year (which includes ridding themselves of the Tebow Media Circus). The recruitment of a capable veteran will be harmed by Sanchez’s presence both because of his contract and how last season played out. Tebow’s presence would also discourage veterans from signing here for obvious reasons.

The answer isn’t a sexy one. It likely involves finding a low cost veteran like Matt Moore, Kyle Orton, or Brian Hoyer and hoping he can hold the fort for a year or two. This year’s draft is heavy on mid-round quarterback prospects and it wouldn’t hurt to take one in the 3rd or 4th round in hopes of finding the next Russell Wilson or at least a developmental project. Overall, these decision are going to be heavily influenced by the offensive coordinator hiring and what type of system he runs.

A few names Jets fans should forget about happening – Mike Vick and Alex Smith because of their price tags. Kirk Cousins because of RG-III’s injury. Matt Flynn will also likely fall out of their price range. Greg McElroy because he simply doesn’t have the physical tools to start in the NFL.

Chris Gross – As the Jets continue with their rebuilding of the front office, the ultimate elephant in the room remains – what will the organization decide to do at the quarterback position? As the season ending press conference revealed today, all offensive personnel decisions will rely largely on who the new Offensive Coordinator will be. Personnel depends on system in football. It is mightily difficult to assume what the Jets will do at quarterback until they have an idea of what type of offense they will have next season. That being said, here are a few possible scenarios:

Mark Sanchez – By now, it is no secret that Mark Sanchez will be the most difficult piece of this roster to move this offseason. His guaranteed $8 million + make him a very unappealing trade part, while the dead money in excess of $12 million to be left if he is outright released will make it extremely tough for him to be cut. Are the Jets stuck with the former 5th overall pick? Maybe, maybe not. The bottom line will end up being how the new General Manager views Sanchez as a fit in the new Offensive Coordinator’s system. If he feels that a new coach and plan can resurrect his career, he will be on the roster to compete for the starting job heading into next season. If the GM feels that there is no way that Sanchez can make a turnaround, look for him to try and move the player who was once viewed as the franchise quarterback. Only time will tell.

Tim Tebow – If I had to guess, I’d say Tebow will be released once the front office is put into place. However, like Sanchez, this could depend heavily on the new coordinator and how he views Tebow as a fit to his system. If the new GM is convinced that Tebow can be a vital piece of the Jets offensive plans moving forward, perhaps he could be brought back to compete in camp as well. On the other hand, if the new GM wants nothing to do with the media circus that surrounds the most polarizing figure in professional football, expect him to be moved rather quickly once he officially gets to work.

Matt+Moore+Washington+Redskins+v+Miami+Dolphins+qZak_tDNg42lVeteran – This is a very likely move. Regardless of who remains on the roster out of Sanchez and Tebow, a competent veteran will need to be brought in to compete for the starting job. Again, who that player is will depend on how he is viewed as a fit in the new offensive system. Possible names to keep an eye on include Matt Moore, Jason Campbell, Alex Smith, Matt Flynn, and Brian Hoyer. A trade for Redskins backup Kirk Cousins would be an ideal, low cost move, however with the recent injury to Robert Griffin III, it is highly unlikely that Washington will part ways with Cousins.

Draft – The draft class of quarterbacks is average at best this year. Surely, many of these guys will see their stocks rise and fall as the Senior Bowl, Combine, and individual workouts unfold, but it is highly unlikely that the Jets use anything earlier than a fourth round pick on a quarterback, considering the vast holes all over the roster. We will have a more in-depth look at potential quarterback prospects later in the week.

Ultimate Prediction – Sanchez is brought back due to the handcuffs his contract places on the organization. Tim Tebow will either be traded or released, paving way for a free agent veteran signing, or trade. Question is, what free agent will be willing to come here knowing how much Sanchez will be making next season, particularly looking at what happened at the position this past year. However, some players will need a job, and with a coach in Rex Ryan, who is clearly no longer committed to Sanchez as this team’s starting quarterback, the Jets will surely be able to lure someone to come in and compete with him for the starting job next season. The Jets may look to draft a developmental player in the later rounds, but this need could get pushed until next year’s draft when a stronger class of quarterbacks is expected to be in play. The Jets would be wise to focus on their other needs in the draft this year, while bringing Greg McElroy back to compete with Sanchez and a veteran addition in training camp.

Mike DonnellyAs everyone knows, quarterback is the most important position football and arguable in all of sports. Unfortunately for us long-suffering Jets fans, it’s also the position that our favorite team has failed to find a long-term answer at for going on four decades now. Our latest failed experiment was in the form of 2009 #5 overall pick Mark Sanchez, whose very name being mentioned these days elicits all kind of anger and hatred from this fan base. Well I’m here to tell you that you may as well get ready for one more season of the Sanchize.

By now, we all know that the cap ramifications of cutting Sanchez are far too great to go down that road. What the team should –and likely will– do, is bring in a veteran like Matt Moore to compete with Sanchez in the offseason and have the best man play. Just as importantly, they need to get a REAL quarterbacks coach (Norv Turner!) in here to coordinate the offense and develop whichever guy is throwing passes for us, because for the past 4 seasons the offensive coaching here as been abysmal.

Forget about drafting a QB at #9 because there really are no players entering the draft worthy of that spot. Forget about trading for a stud, because there are none available out there. Forget about signing an established player, because they don’t exist. The Sanchez/mystery-decent-veteran-QB combo is going to be our best available option for 2013 and I full expect that to be what happens. I just hope the fans who wrote Sanchez off this year are able to let bygones be bygones and actually cheer for him when he wins the job next year rather than boo from day 1 and carry over the toxic atmosphere from this season. WIshful thinking, I’m sure…

Rob Celletti – The New York Jets are at a crossroads with their quarterback, and in a league that requires stability and quality at that position to ensure consistent success, the decisions the Jets make in the coming months are crucial. The way I see it, there are three options for the Jets GM-to-be:

1) “The Obvious Option” – Acquire a middling, veteran, game-manager type quarterback and bring him in with the idea that he’s probably going to be your opening day starter. Think along the lines of Alex Smith or Matt Moore.

2) “The Revolutionary Option” – Rehabilitate Mark Sanchez. I call this the “Revolutionary Option” for two reasons: 1) In order to do this, the Jets will need to revolutionize (see what I did there?!) their offense, i.e., new system, new players; 2) If the Jets choose this option, there’s a good chance there’s a fan revolution at Florham Park in August.

3) “The Nuclear Option” – Michael Vick. Odds are the Eagles will let him go. Vick turned the ball over about as frequently as Sanchez, and also plays a physically taxing style that leads to frequent injury. But acquiring Vick would be exciting, and his style of play does fit the modern NFL. At least if the Jets lose, they’d be scoring points while doing so. I probably like this option more than I should.

As I wrote in my Sanchez wrap-up last week, none of these options is particularly appetizing.  It doesn’t look like there’s an Andrew Luck in the draft that’s going to fall into Gang Green’s lap.  Our new colleague Steve Hunter, who knows more about the X’s and O’s of football than I ever will, still gives Sanchez a puncher’s chance at becoming a successful NFL quarterback. I could give the kid another year personally, but I know most Jets fans cannot.

Steve Bateman – This won’t make me popular amongst the masses, but despite enduring a season that was in parts nothing less than shocking, my belief is that Mark Sanchez is still equipped to lead the Jets offense in 2013.

I think it’s fair to say that personnel-wise the 2012 season was – in almost every imaginable way – a freak, and it’s probably wise to bear that in mind and carry some perspective forward going into next season. Sanchez had a year to forget, that’s way beyond dispute, but let’s not suppose that his troubles necessarily herald the end of his career in the Big Apple. On the contrary, things may just be about to get interesting…

If Sanchez is to survive this storm he needs to be supported – not in the sense of the tired old argument that “he needs more weapons” or the ridiculous tabloid caricature that he’s some kind of feeble-minded kid trapped inside a man’s body – but in a much simpler, and more obvious way. Essentially, it’s time for the Jets to respect the fact that Sanchez is the hub of their offensive unit and finally begin to act according to that fact.

Early indications suggest that this season’s car-crash may have been the short, sharp shock that the Jets needed – long-time QB coach Matt Cavanaugh has already been shown the door, and it appears to be a matter of time until offensive coordinator Tony Sparano follows him. Now the front office has to get it right and acknowledge that for way too long they have been trying to ground and pound a round peg into a square hole.

At long, long last it’s time for the Jets to give the Californian what he needs and return him to the environment that made him a first-round draft pick in the first place. Sanchez can still succeed, but that can only happen when the West Coast Offense makes its way East.

TJ Rosenthal – Mark Sanchez has dwindled into a mental molecule. A new Jets OC and QB coach will have to re-program his mind in order for Sanchez to face his own home stadium, let alone opposing defenses. Keeping Sanchez while he rehabs his emotional state as an experienced vet is added to compete for and hopefully win the job, makes the most sense. Sanchez as a backup who has won four playoff games already? We’d sign on for it. Give him a chance to repair but no way Rex. No pilot’s license for 6. Even if that means changing your the jersey number on your tattoo.

Closing the Book on Another New York Jets Quarterback

Rob Celletti closes the book on another New York Jets quarterback

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The first time I sat down to write for this website, this is what came out: http://turnonthejets.com/2011/07/two-decades-of-jets-quarterbacks-the-good-the-bad-and-the-ugly/. Heading into the 2011 season, it was a simple overview of the five primary Jets starting quarterbacks I had watched since becoming a fan of this team over twenty years ago. I started with Boomer Esiason in 1993, as my memories from before then are foggy at best. So, after doing some simple math, I realized that the Jets have burned through five quarterbacks – actually six, if you count Brett Favre – in 19 years. That averages out to a new quarterback every 3 or 4 seasons.

Success in the NFL is defined by stability in two places: head coach and quarterback. After the 2010 season, Jets fans could not be blamed for believing that they had finally found both key pieces. Now, less than two calendar years removed from the second greatest win in franchise history, the Jets are back to square one at one at quarterback, which is a bad, bad place to be in the pass-happy NFL of 2013.

I have argued, and will always argue, that the Jets were as responsible for the failure of Mark Sanchez as he was himself. It’s a true 50/50 split. Yes, Sanchez turned the ball over at a ridiculous rate, and unlike other turnover-prone quarterbacks like Philip Rivers and Eli Manning, did not have the big play capability to make up for it. He threw interceptions on screen passes. He gave us the butt-fumble: the type of thing that makes the Jets seem a lot more like the Cleveland Browns than they actually are.

But Sanchez was also failed by the organization’s refusal to embrace a modern approach to NFL offense. Sure, you can argue that going into 2011, the Jets wanted to “open it up” and throw more. They said they did. But getting Plaxico Burress and Derrick Mason was the absolute worst way to go about doing that. Still, Sanchez was one of the better red zone quarterbacks in the NFL that season, and actually made strides in every area statistically, throwing what will likely be a career-high 26 touchdowns and running for 6 more.

But instead of building around their quarterback with better skill players and protectors along his offensive line, the supporting cast deteriorated. Rex Ryan announced that the Jets were going back to their “ground and pound” roots. The problem with this theory? In order to win that way in the NFL, you need a running back with the initials AP or MJD, supplemented by an all-world defense. The Jets had neither. They hired a totally incompetent offensive coordinator to replace a bad one. The team got progressively worse in all facets on the side of the ball that has become more important in the NFL over the past decade.

So as this season spiraled into the utter disaster it became, one thing became clear: Mark Sanchez was broken. He was undone by his own mistakes, by the deterioration of the situation around him, by the shortcomings of a coach that simply doesn’t know offense, by the vitriol of an impatient and unrealistic fan base. It came to a head when Sanchez needed to be benched for the Jets to beat the woeful Cardinals, and exploded fantastically (and in true, Same Old Jets fashion) on a Monday night just a few weeks ago in Tennessee.

The Jets need to find a new general manager before they can find their next quarterback, but the immediate solutions are not appetizing. As the Colts and Redskins have shown this year, one-year rebuilds in the NFL are possible, if Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III happen to fall into your lap. The Jets are likely entering a “stop-gap” phase at quarterback, which means, most-likely, mediocrity.

At the risk of beating the dead horse, the simple truth is this: you must throw the ball to be successful in the NFL. To be honest, I’m tired of hearing otherwise. Eleven – that’s right, ELEVEN – quarterbacks threw for more than 4,000 yards this year, and Eli Manning was just 52 yards away from being number 12. That’s why the Tim Tebow trade drove me to the edge as a fan. It was symbolic of just how out of touch the Jets are with the league they’re competing in.

So as fans wait for this team to join the 21st century on offense, they’re left to wonder: who is the quarterback that will lead them there? It certainly seems as though Mark Sanchez’s time is up.

Initial Reaction – Buffalo Embarrassment, Fitting End to 2012

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The New York Jets final regular season game, a 28-9 embarrassing loss to the Buffalo Bills, was an accurate microcosm of the entire 2012 season. Mark Sanchez looked as pitiful as he has all year. While he finished 17/35 with 205 yards, the player once viewed as the franchise quarterback for this organization represented exactly what he has become through 4 seasons in the NFL. A first quarter interception returned for a touchdown, over looking wide open receivers down field, badly missing open targets, and an overall demeanor that sums up what has become a sorry excuse for a career. Shonn Greene ran very hard, but finished with his typical 3.9 yards per carry average, Bilal Powell was under utilized, receiving just 12 carries while averaging 4.7 YPC, and Joe McKnight continued to be ignored as a member of the roster, as he had just one touch on offense.

Jeremy Kerley finished his impressive season at wide receiver with a strong effort, considering the circumstances, finishing with 3 receptions for 88 yards. Braylon Edwards continued to highlight the poor decision by Mike Tannenbaum to let him leave following the 2010 season, as he hauled in 4 balls for 42 yards, while more importantly establishing a leadership presence that was clearly absent from this team throughout the duration of the past two years.

Defensively, the Jets were stout against the run, limiting CJ Spiller to just 2.5 YPC, and allowing only 109 total rushing yards. However, New York witnessed a first hand account of irony as former Jet Brad Smith scored a fourth quarter touchdown out of the wildcat formation, surpassing Tim Tebow’s season touchdown total out of that very formation in a single play. The Jets secondary seemingly mailed in the final game of 2012, allowing Ryan Fitzpatrick to pass for 225 yards and a touchdown, with wide receiver Stevie Johnson leading Buffalo’s receiving effort with 6 receptions for 111 yards. Fitzpatrick was hit 4 times, but was never sacked, representing the pass rush woes that have haunted the Jets since Ryan took over in 2009.

While the outcome of this game was basically meaningless due to the fact that neither team was alive for postseason play, the effort that the Jets turned in today leaves no one within the organization with any sense of job security. Heads will begin to roll as early as Monday. Offensive Coordinator Tony Sparano will reportedly be fired after just one season in New York. General Manager Mike Tannenbaum is sure to be relieved of his duties, but it is still rather unclear whether he will be outright fired or reassigned to a salary cap management role. Defensive Coordinator Mike Pettine’s future is extremely uncertain, as he has already turned down a contract extension offered to him earlier this season. Rex Ryan has been believed to be safe for the majority of the year, but after such an uninspiring loss to finish his second consecutive season of missing the post season, there are absolutely no guarantees that he will be retained as of right now.

Lisa Zimmerman of CBS Sports has reported that owner Woody Johnson has hired Jed Hughes of Korn/Ferry International to assist in leading New York’s search for a new General Manager, assuming Tannenbaum is officially removed from the position. Hughes has a background in coaching and scouting, having served under five Hall of Fame coaches throughout his 20 years of prior coaching experience. Hughes is no stranger to leading efforts to install officials into leadership positions for football teams at the professional and college level, as he has previously played a significant role in the hirings of current Jets President Neil Glat, Green Bay Packers CEO Mark Murphy, and the University of Michigan’s head football coach, Brady Hoke. Changes are sure to be made within this organization, likely as early as tomorrow, and you can rest assured that there are absolutely no guarantees with this team as of right now.

Woody Johnson has a history of making knee jerk reactions, and following a two year post season drought, there is no doubt that significant pieces of this organization will be replaced. The rumor mill has been extremely active over the past few days, but outside of the firing of Sparano, and the potential firing of Tannenbaum, the majority of these rumors can be dismissed until the powers that be are sorted out. There has been plenty of discussion about Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow being moved this offseason. While these are likely scenarios, there are far too many pieces that need to fall into place before decisions like these will be made. It will surely be a hectic week in Jets land, but make no mistake, an overhaul is coming in some way, shape, or form.

Heading into “Black Monday,” plenty of activity is on the horizon. The most likely departures include Sparano, Tannenbaum, Sanchez and Tebow at some point, and a surplus of other players including, but not limited to, Calvin Pace, Bart Scott, Eric Smith, Bryan Thomas, Sione Pouha, Dustin Keller, Shonn Greene, Brandon Moore, Matt Slauson, Jason Smith, Clyde Gates, Lex Hilliard, Mike DeVito, and LaRon Landry, to name some. Depending on what changes are made, Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie certainly do not have a clear future with this organization either.

Where this team is headed from here on out depends largely on the approach that will be taken by Johnson and the newly appointed Hughes. If they decide to take the rebuild approach, expect the entire coaching staff to be relieved, along with efforts to move any high priced players on the roster. If the retool approach is taken, many players will still be let go, but Ryan could remain as the Head Coach of a roster that will likely look nothing like what was on the field in Buffalo today.

It is certainly a dark time for the New York Jets, who have just posted their worst overall record since 2007 when the club finished 4-12. There will be plenty to discuss in the coming days, and Turn On The Jets will be bringing you updates and analysis every step of the way, so be sure to stay with us. Until then, there is no need to lose sleep speculating the changes that will be made due to the high level of uncertainty as explained above. 2012 was as bad as it gets for New York, but one positive we can all take from this season is that change is on the horizon for an organization that desperately needs to rid themselves of the immense amount of drama and overall abysmal play that have plagued this once promising team since 2010. Rest easy, Jets nation. Changes are on the way.

New York Jets: Looking at the Roster Beyond 2012

Chris Gross with an in-depth look at the New York Jets roster options and why any current report about 2013 personnel decisions is BS

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Following Rex Ryan’s decision to replace the embattled Mark Sanchez with third string quarterback Greg McElroy this past Tuesday, multiple reports have surfaced citing unnamed sources within the organization claiming that the powers that be in Florham Park will decide to part ways with both Sanchez, and second string quarterback Tim Tebow, following the conclusion of the 2012 season. However, much like the Mayan Calendar, the script for the New York Jets has not yet been written beyond 2012. While the said powers that be may be in favor of moving both Sanchez and Tebow, there is a very good chance that they are no longer the powers that be following the week 17 season finale in Buffalo. Regardless of what sources are claiming, or what reports are emerging, there is simply no way that a front office and coaching staff, seemingly walking on eggshells trying desperately to save their jobs within these final two weeks, have had the time to sit down and discuss monumental decisions like the ones mentioned above.

Following New York’s disastrous, playoff ending loss to Tennessee on Monday night, Rex Ryan supposedly made the decision to bench Sanchez as his team shamefully strolled into the locker room. On Tuesday afternoon, Ryan announced his decision to the media, and by Wednesday night, the Jets had apparently decided to not only move on from both Sanchez and Tebow, but to pursue Michael Vick in free agency this offseason. So, let’s think about this, chronologically for a minute.

Monday 12/17/2012, roughly 11:00 PM EST: Ryan notifies Sanchez he will not be the starting quarterback for the Jets week 16 matchup against San Diego.

Tuesday 12/18/2012, 3:52 PM EST: The New York Jets official twitter account announces that Greg McElroy will be the starting quarterback for the Jets final home game of 2012 season.

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Wednesday 12/19/2012, 9:44 PM EST: Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News reports via Twitter that the New York Jets will try to trade Mark Sanchez following the conclusion of the season.

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Wednesday 12/19/2012, 9:58 PM EST: Mehta tweets the link to the full story on the Jets apparent decision to move Sanchez after the season. Included in that story is another unnamed source confirming that the Jets do have interest in soon to be free agent Michael Vick, citing Rex Ryan’s “love” for Vick as the “X-Factor” in the veteran signal caller coming to New York this offseason.

Thursday 12/20/2012, 12:02 PM EST: The Daily News reports the Jets will look to trade or release Tim Tebow following the conclusion of the season.

So, according to Mehta and other various reports, in just over a day after naming McElroy the starting quarterback for this week, the Jets also decided that they will not only be parting ways with a former top 5 draft pick, whom they traded up to obtain, but have already had discussions about bringing in another high profile veteran to replace him.

Hmm. 24 hours is surely a long time, particularly in the NFL where sleep is relatively scarce during the season. However, for a front office and coaching staff desperately scrambling to find a way to somehow save their jobs, after another miserable performance that ultimately ended their season, it does not seem logical that they’d be using what little time they have to muster up a .500 record by discussing trading two of their highest profile players, and acquiring another, within 48 hours, on a 6 day week.

We also aren’t just talking about making mindless releases, trades, and additions to the roster. We are talking about a concluded plan on how to deal with a player who was once viewed as the face of the franchise, is owed over $8 million in guarantees next season, counts for $17 million against the salary cap if released, and is someone that both the head coach and general manager have pledged their undying loyalty to. We are also talking about moving one of the most polarizing figures in all of professional sports. Then, we are talking about acquiring one of the most controversial, yet dynamic players the NFL has ever seen. Do you honestly think all of this was decided between 11 PM on Monday night and Thursday at noon?

Well, with the Jets, anything is certainly possible. Woody Johnson has become known as one of the greatest knee-jerk reactors in the entire community of professional sports ownership. Could Johnson have muttered some things like this out of extreme frustration, causing someone to overhear him and leak his statements to the News? Sure. But these reports are suggesting that these are organizational decisions, meaning internal discussions between the front office, ownership, and even the coaching staff. As Rex Ryan stated earlier in the week, he is involved in every decision that is made with this team. Whether or not that is true, certainly remains to be seen, but the reality of the fact is that Woody Johnson does not posses nearly the amount of football knowledge that it would take to devise a plan like this in under three days, without consulting with the people he pays to run his team. You can rest assured Ryan did not partake in any such discussion this week, considering he is likely coaching to save his job in these final two games. Do you honestly think he’s sitting in a meeting room with Mike Tannenbaum mapping out their future, when the future of both men is insanely unclear?

What I am alluding to here is obvious. However, for the sake of argument, let’s say that Tannenbaum has met with his staff and these discussions were, in fact, had, and these decisions were, in fact, made. Let’s assume all of this speculation is one hundred percent true. Now let’s assume that the Jets lose their final two games, finish 6-10 and everyone, including Rex Ryan and Tannenbaum, are relieved of their duties. Now all of a sudden the roster is frozen. No moves will be made until a new regime – GM, front office, and coaching staff – is installed.

Now, we suddenly have a General Manager and head coach who come in and take a long look at the roster on day one, considering the play of each person on the team, as well as contract terms and conditions. This imaginary GM looks down at his roster, studying it closely. He sees the name Mark Sanchez. He then looks to his salary figures, noticing the guaranteed money, and potential cap trouble if Sanchez is outright released. This GM now has a massive decision to make. Does he give Sanchez one more chance to compete to be the starting quarterback for the Jets, or does he begin his reign as General Manager by releasing Sanchez and crippling himself with a $17 million cap hit?

Then that same General Manager continues to look over the roster and sees the name Tim Tebow. He consults with his new coach about the player. For the sake of argument, let’s say that coach is Jon Gruden, a red hot name on the list of potential NFL head coach replacements for 2013. Gruden then begins to gush to his new GM about how he has spent time at Oregon with Chip Kelly learning the spread offense, and how he thinks he can make it work at the professional level. He then tells his general manager that the only person on the current roster to make that system effective, is Tim Tebow. Now, all of a sudden Tebow goes from being thrown out of town, to the foundation of this team’s rebuilding process.

Are either of these situations going to happen? No one knows at this particular point in time, but that’s just the point. If the regime that is in place now is replaced, all supposed roster decisions that you have heard in the last few days are suddenly meaningless. While it is still unlikely that the current regime has made these decisions already, it is even more unlikely that the majority of the decision makers within the front office will be with the organization next year, rendering any apparent decisions for 2013 completely obsolete. Basically, we know very little about what this team will look like in 2013.

So what do we know? Well, the Jets have several key players under contract that will surely be on the team next season. They also have very inexpensive role players that will likely stick around as well. Then, there are a surplus of players who have underperformed and will be released to create cap relief, as well as players whose contracts will expire after this season, many of whom will not be brought back.

Then comes the interesting portion of the roster. Outside of Sanchez and Tebow, there are several players whose respective fates remain up in the air depending on what happens with the powers that be of the New York Jets. Below is a chart of what you can expect to become of every player currently under contract with the Jets, including a list of those players whose fortunes have yet to be decided, regardless of what you may hear or read, for the reasons aforementioned.

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Let’s start with who will remain on the team beyond 2012. In the secondary, Antonio Allen and Josh Bush are two rookies who have each contributed in relatively small roles this season. Allen has impressed the coaching staff enough to earn rare public praise from Special Teams Coordinator Mike Westhoff, while Bush has chipped in sporadically on defense and special teams throughout the year. Both Allen and Bush are very young, inexpensive players, who will see their roles grow in the coming years. Kyle Wilson is Kyle Wilson, but will make just over $2 million next season. While he hasn’t performed to the level of where he was drafted yet, there is no reason for him to be moved. Ellis Lankster certainly isn’t Deion Sanders, but at $630,000, he has played beyond his pay grade this season.

At linebacker, DeMario Davis was drafted to replace Bart Scott, a role he will likely step into next year, barring any unforeseen additions to the position this offseason. Garrett McIntyre shouldn’t be asked to start, but has played well in his time as a reserve this season, and will likely be the only returning outside linebacker on the roster. Nick Bellore is a solid special teams player who makes just over a half a million dollars per year. These players will all be Jets in 2013.

Along the defensive line, Wilkerson, Coples, and Ellis are primed to become one of the most dominant units in the league, with youngster Damon Harrison providing a much cheaper alternative to spell Ellis at NT than anyone else currently on the roster.

The offensive line has cornerstones in Ferguson and Mangold, while Austin Howard has certainly played well enough to come into camp as the starting right tackle next season. Vlad Ducasse hasn’t been nearly as horrible as he has looked in the past, and at under a million dollars in salary next season, he provides inexpensive experience on the interior of the offensive line.

Jeremy Kerley has played tremendously all season, and he should be a big part of this team’s plans moving forward. Although Stephen Hill had his troubles this season, he is still an extremely bright prospect with tremendous upside. Considering this, and the fact that the organization used a 2nd round pick to obtain him, expect him around for the long run.

At running back, Bilal Powell and Joe McKnight remain under contract at low costs. Powell has played well this season, and should be the team’s 1B back next year, with McKnight playing his usual role on special teams, while still trying to find some type of niche in the offense.

The specialists Folk, Malone, and Purdum have all performed well this season, and there is no reason to fix what isn’t broken.

To the far right of the chart lies the list of names that you can all but certainly rule out for a return to Gang Green in 2013. Eric Smith has been nothing more than a role player this season, a role that will likely be filled by Antonio Allen next season. The longest tenured Jet among the safeties becomes the first salary cap casualty, allowing New York to save $3 million upon his release.

Calvin Pace and Bart Scott have been solid players for this team in the past, but neither have performed to their pay grade over the past two seasons. Both would have been cut following 2011 if not for having guaranteed money due to them in 2012. This year, New York can save about $15 million in cap space with a release of both players. Their days with the Jets are all but finished. Bryan Thomas played his heart out this season after being cut and resigned before the year, but he is on a one year contract and will likely retire.

Sione Pouha has been fantastic for this organization, but unfortunately back injuries have taken their toll and diminished his play. With the emergence of Ellis, the Jets can save about $1.5 million i cap space by releasing Pouha.

At running back, Shonn Greene was a monumental part of the two AFC Championship game runs, but he has proved he is not a lead back at the NFL level. Greene is still a very capable 1B option, but the Jets need a true 1A at the position. With how Powell has played this season, the Jets will be wise to insert him into the 1B role, while spending the money saved by allowing Greene to leave to get a true lead back via free agency. Lex Hilliard was average at times, and awful at other times. The team needs a real solution at fullback, rather than an emergency signing to cover for the botched John Conner pick.

At wide receiver, Gates, Gilyard and Schilens were all brought here out of panic in an effort to assemble a last minute receiving corps for Mark Sanchez, but all are free agents at the end of the year, and not one of them has earned the chance to receive a new contract. Dedrick Epps, to my surprise, is still on the injured reserve, but there’s no reason for him to be back next season in what will likely be an entirely revamped group of tight ends. Josh Baker showed promise early in his career, but injuries and an overall lack of production have worn out his time in New York.

Now we get to the interesting part. In the middle of the chart above is a list of players whose fates with the Jets will ultimately be decided by a number of factors, none of which are apparent at the present moment. The most eye popping names are Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie. Revis has been the best player on this team for 3 years, but his future hinges on the GM situation. If Tannenbaum remains in charge, expect Revis to be gone. Tannenbaum and Revis’s agents have a poor relationship, have failed to come to a long term agreement in the past, and likely have little interest in working with each other on a new deal. If Tannenbaum is the GM of the Jets, look for him to try to move his All-Pro CB to alleviate some of the cap trouble that he created, while obtaining some much needed draft picks in return.

Cromartie’s situation really depends on what happens with Revis. If Tannenbaum is fired, there is a good chance that the new General Manager comes in and makes signing Revis to a long term deal his first priority. If that becomes the case, look for that GM to move Cromartie, who is coming off of a career year with trade value likely higher than it will ever be. The Jets are a team in dire need of cap relief, and when you don’t have the luxury of being flexible with your salary cap, it is not feasible to have two highly paid cornerbacks on your roster.

Yeremiah Bell stated that he would like to be back with the Jets, but this again depends on the GM. A new hire may want youth at the position. Personally, I see Bell coming back either way on a one year, inexpensive contract, but his situation can certainly go one way or the other. LaRon Landry has played very well this season, but will look to cash in and will likely command more money than the Jets can give him. A return is not completely out of the question, but as of now it looks highly unlikely.

Aaron Berry, Donnie Fletcher, Darrin Walls, and Isaiah Trufant are all inexpensive, but none have contributed much of anything due to injury or other circumstances.

Josh Mauga is a restricted free agent, and after missing a year to injury, his situation will likely depend on how well the regime in place feels he can come back. Ricky Sapp has been on and off the practice squad all season, while struggling through injuries, but could stick around through mini-camps and training camp due to the overhaul of the position.

Mike DeVito is a fundamental piece to the defensive line, but his situation remains as unclear as any. Tannenbaum has a history of letting players like DeVito leave rather than paying them their market value, and having drafted Quinton Coples last year, you have to wonder how much any GM will be willing to pay for DeVito, who will likely end up as a reserve/situational player if he remains with the team next season.

On the offensive line, it is mind boggling that Caleb Schlauderaff still has a spot on this team. Any competent GM will likely release him simply to regain his roster spot, but for some reason, Mike Tannenbaum is infatuated with him, convinced he will become the next Victor Cruz. So, if Tannenbaum sticks around, expect more Schlauderaff in 2013. Matt Slauson has played relatively well this season but his status also depends on the front office. Slauson will be an unrestricted free agent this year, and will likely be seeking a decent contract. If the Jets are confident with Ducasse and a rookie or cheaper free agent occupying the guard spots, they will let Slauson walk. If they see him as valuable, the price will need to be right.

espnnewyork_a_sanchez_mb_600Wide Receiver and Tight End are also very intriguing. Santonio Holmes, like Mark Sanchez, is due a surplus of guaranteed money next year, however unlike Sanchez, he may hold some type of trade value. It is difficult to gauge exactly what that value would be considering he has missed the majority of the season due to injury and has been known to be a headache in the locker room. If the Jets wish to move Holmes, they will likely have to pay part of his salary as well. This is very unlikely, but if a new GM with a no-nonsense attitude comes in, he could make a clean break with Holmes before developing any type of relationship with him.

Braylon Edwards will probably be back on a one year, inexpensive deal, but again, this depends on what happens with the front office and coaching staff. A new GM with no history with Edwards may be indifferent toward signing him. Conversely, if Rex Ryan is fired, and Mark Sanchez is released or traded, Edwards may look to go to a more stable quarterback situation (or wherever Sanchez ends up).

Jordan White has potential to be a solid contributor, but he was a seventh round pick, and if a new GM is brought in, he certainly isn’t guaranteed anything. Royce Adams will not see a down on the active roster next year, but could hang around on the practice squad for another season.

Dustin Keller is likely going to leave via free agency, however if a new offensive coordinator, someone like Norv Turner, is brought in, perhaps the Jets and Keller regain interest in one another with the implementation of a pass heavy offense, with a relatively large role for the tight end. Jeff Cumberland and Konrad Reuland have been average at best, but one of them could hang around as the third tight end, assuming two are added either by draft or free agency, or one is added and Keller is retained. Aussie Hayden Smith should be back for the offseason, and will likely get another crack at making the active roster in training camp.

The quarterbacks, as described above, are both likely to be gone under the current regime. However, as we have explained, a new General Manager and coach could come in and have a different vision for either of these two, whether it be potential cap ramifications or judgment of their actual ability. While all signs surely point to both not being here next season, there are far too many factors that will play into that decision, making their futures unrealistic to predict at this point in time. Tebow has apparently expressed displeasure with the organization for choosing to start Greg McElroy over him, but what if Tebow gets a chance to start in week 17 for some reason? Or what if a coach comes in with a vision to build around him? The same goes for Sanchez. While it is certainly fair to speculate on their futures based on how things have played out so far, it is still too early to predict what will happen after the season.

By now, you’re probably asking yourself how the Jets will address all of the positions that will be vacated next season. Be sure to check back later in the week for an exploration of the best possible Free Agent options for the Jets by position, as well as an introductory draft piece that will kick start our draft coverage here at Turn On The Jets. 

**All New York Jets salary cap information courtesy of www.nyjetscap.com**

Sanchez Has More Than One Job To Save Now

Woody Johnson wanted Greg McElroy. GM Mike Tannebaum and OC Tony Sparano backed Mark Sanchez. Rex Ryan could have hitched his wagon to the owner while distancing himself from the embattled GM and quarterback. Instead, Ryan jumped into the lifeboat with all three. Now only Sanchez can save the crowded sinking ship.

The mind boggling three quarterback controversy, that never really included Tim Tebow, grew in proportion when it became clear to Ryan that a switch would mean more than McElroy simply getting a late season start. It would signify the possible end of the Sanchez era. Due to one third quarter benching with no reprieve. A price that in the end, Ryan saw as too high to pay in one fell swoop.

Sanchez was given a hefty extension prior to training camp and has had to endure a season with second rate personnel around him. While his two top targets Santonio Holmes and Dustin Keller, have been injured for most of the year.

The greatest problem working against Sanchez has been his demeanor. Sanchez has looked doubtful, glum, and unsure. Too often appearing defeated. Resigned to the fate that the Jets inexperienced receivers will fail him. Traits that hardly bode well for a leader. The distraction of a Tebow-led wildcat package rotating in at any time, has not made life easy for Sanchez either.

All have combined to erode Sanchez’s focus. Like it did on Thanksgiving night, when after calling the wrong play, he tried to dive to the ground towards safety. Only to run into the backside of Brandon Moore, in what is now certain to become a blooper for the ages.

Sanchez’s three interception, 91 yard performance at Met Life Stadium against the lowly Cardinals, truly warranted a mid-game switch. Matching the God awful play of Cards QB Ryan Lindley, was no way to remind anyone about a resume that includes 33 career wins and four playoff victories as a starter.

McElroy had nothing to lose and only a modest task to complete, when he entered the huddle as the Jets trailed 3-0 with 4:58 to go in the third quarter last Sunday. The second year pro simply had to engineer one touchdown drive and not turn the ball over after the fact. However, it was obvious from the minute Sanchez exited, that this was not a simple case of a substitution for a player having an off day. The energy of an entire team and stadium changed. Instantaneously. A fan base that craved seeing Sanchez holding a clipboard instead of a football, went into a frenzy as soon as McElroy began warming up. Key notions that in the end, failed to outweigh Ryan and Tannenbaum’s commitment to Sanchez, as the final decision was being made.

Tannebaum’s future is up in air after a string of poor drafts, and minimal free agent talent brought in to replace important role players who have left. If Sanchez can settle down over the final four games, Tannenbaum may rest easier knowing that he can better justify the extension given.

Ryan has had these past seventy two hours to go in a different direction. Away from his GM, and for a team that rose with McElroy for one quarter of play. He chose not to. The issues for the fourth year head coach are now twofold. Another vote of confidence may not kickstart a player who has none himself. The move may also now put Ryan on notice in the process. Sanchez is back in the pilot’s seat, but will carry a bigger weight than before. Knowing that he has more than his own job to save. In what will be his final chance to prove that he is the long term answer in New York

The Sky Is Falling! Mark Sanchez Named Starting Quarterback

Mark Sanchez will remain the Jets starting quarterback

The New York Jets are staying with Mark Sanchez as their starting quarterback this Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars. While this has come as a shock to many, we detailed here yesterday how there was a reasonable argument for this to happen. Not surprisingly many Jets fans are acting like the sky is falling right now…threatening to abandon the team…cursing out Rex…cursing out Sanchez etc…

Here is the simple reality – Mark Sanchez is getting paid 8.3 million dollars from the Jets next year regardless of whether he is on their team, another NFL team or laying on a beach in California. The Jets are finishing up a playoff-less season against four mediocre football teams. The hope is that he plays well in these games, builds some measure of confidence back up and becomes a reasonable option to start in 2013 (he should still be forced to compete with a veteran next summer).

Believe it or not, this team is going to give every chance possible to a former first round pick who has won more playoff games than any other quarterback in franchise history. Is it worth the risk of playing him the last four games when you are 5-7 and nearly half your team won’t be back next year? Yes…it probably is.

If you want to get mad at somebody, get mad at “cap expert” Mike Tannenbaum for how he structured Sanchez’s contract. Get mad at him for the contradicting actions of doubling down on Sanchez in 2013 and then supporting him by bringing in a PR circus as a backup quarterback and not upgrading running back, wide receiver or offensive line this off-season. Sanchez already took a step back last year but the Jets front office greased the skids on his regression this season by having an awful off-season.

Sanchez has been generally terrible this season but the Greg McElroy infatuation only comes from his last name not being “Sanchez.” Ask yourself this, if McElroy’s fourth quarter interception stood (like it should have) and the Jets lost 9-7, is this debate so heated right now? If McElroy is the savior that many are exaggerating to call him and Sanchez is truly that awful. Guess what? Sanchez will be benched at some point in the next four gams and McElroy will get his chance.

As for the ongoing pity party Jets fans are throwing for themselves. Get a grip on reality. Look around the NFL. Since 1997 the Jets have 12 seasons at .500 or better, 7 playoff wins, 3 AFC Championship Game appearances and yes despite it being over 40 years ago…the Jets have won a Super Bowl. How do you think Bills fans have enjoyed the last 15 years? Lions fans? Eagles fans? Chiefs fans? Browns fans?! The list goes on.

Mark Sanchez starting a week 14 game in a 5-7 year is the straw that broke the camel’s back in your support of this team? Really? Not letting the roster go to crap after  back to back AFC Championship Game appearances? Not the PR-stunt Tebow trade? This is the decision? And people wonder why the general perception of Jets fans is so negative.

There is no reason to be overly optimistic that Sanchez is going to turn it around and have a brilliant final four games but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t logic behind this decision. It also means the most logical thing for any Jets fans to do is root for Sanchez to succeed…otherwise go become a Bills fan.

A couple of appropriate Godfather clips

Sanchez Breakdown – A Swan Song for the Jets Quarterback

Rob Celletti breaks down the play of both New York Jets quarterbacks yesterday

The mob at MetLife Stadium got its wish.

Rex Ryan had seen enough, and rightly pulled Mark Sanchez out of yesterday’s game in the third quarter, unofficially ending this quarterback’s reign as starter for the Jets. Sanchez was given every chance, if not the support that he needed, to keep his job and he failed. The shame of this situation is that had Rex Ryan made the move earlier this season, Sanchez might have had an opportunity to respond and win his job back. Ryan didn’t make that move because the man behind Sanchez on the depth chart – initials, T.T. – is not a viable NFL quarterback.

Greg McElroy might not be either, but he provided what most backup quarterbacks provide a languishing team: a spark. All of a sudden, the Jets were exploding off the ball, opening holes for their running backs, and making catches in traffic that they weren’t making for their beleaguered starter. Which is not to say that Sanchez wasn’t absolutely god-awful on Sunday. He most certainly was. I feel confident saying that had he stayed in the game the Jets probably would have lost.

The fact remains that the Jets played harder and better and still only managed to score one touchdown (and turned the football over once, which could have been twice if not for a pretty lucky call that went their way). They are still a bad football team and Greg McElroy doesn’t change that. Luckily, they were playing a team with an even worse quarterback situation than their own. I’m amazed that Ryan Lindley made it out of high school playing football. He made Dave Brown look like Dan Fouts.

I have been a noted supporter of Mark Sanchez, and not for any real reason other than I wanted the Jets to win a lot of football games. In order to do that, you need “the guy” at the sport’s most important position. At times in 2009 and through most of 2010, Sanchez appeared to be “the guy”. However, when adversity struck, Sanchez handled it poorly. It affected his play. What Sanchez needed was some tough love, which his coach was reluctant to provide. He needed to lose his job, even for just a few plays, but not in Week 13 of what’s probably a lost season. It probably had to happen during one of the many blowouts that the Jets have suffered this season. But now, Greg McElroy is going to start the rest of the way in 2012, and he should. The Jets need to find out what they have in order to properly assess (ha! The idea of this front office assessing its roster properly is laughable) their quarterback situation going forward. So let’s talk a bit about the Mac Attack.

What struck me from my seat in MetLife Stadium – albeit a seat that requires the game to be viewed through a telescope – was McElroy’s physical similarity to a former Jets quarterback: Chad Pennington. I am not in any way saying that McElroy will be capable of replicating the success that pre-injury Pennington had – he’s thrown 7 NFL passes. But McElroy’s stature, mannerisms, questionable arm-strength, hell, even the way he handed the ball off, all brought back memories of those early 2000s Jets teams. I did like that he took a shot at a 1 on 1 matchup down the field right away, and was certainly impressed by the back-shoulder throw to Jeremy Kerley on third down, which essentially iced the game.

McElroy showed some mobility, and the Jets rolled him out more frequently in a quarter-plus than they rolled Sanchez out in the past two seasons combined. He didn’t appear to be confused by anything he saw from Arizona.

Look, Greg McElroy was a 7th round draft pick. More than likely, he’ll be nothing more than a backup-level NFL quarterback. And really, that’s the saddest part of today if you’re a Jets fan: the team is once again back to square one at its most important position. Very rarely do franchise quarterbacks fall out of the sky and into your lap. They need to be scouted, drafted, and developed for the modern game.

The Jets failed Mark Sanchez just as much as Sanchez failed them. And now they’re starting over. Less than two years removed from an AFC Championship Game, that’s just depressing, regardless of the excitement Greg McElroy provided yesterday.

New York Jets Fact or False: Week 13 Edition

Chris Gross with his weekly Fact or False, previewing Jets vs. Cardinals

My, what a wild year it has been in Jets land (what else is new?). After a strong showing at opening day at MetLife Stadium back in September, when the Jets romped the Bills 48-28 to begin the 2012 season (Yes, that game actually occurred in the same season as this), the New York Jets have progressively fallen far from grace. In week 2 the Jets went into Pittsburgh without their All-World defensive back, Darrelle Revis, and despite coming out strong on the opening drive, ultimately fell to the Steelers at Heinz Field 27-10. Since then, New York hasn’t mustered up one convincing win, while being blown out 3 times at home. Although the Jets have had to deal with injuries to two essential players (Revis and Wide Receiver Santonio Holmes), this team’s total lack of depth and talent has put their fans in an uproar, and rightfully so. Sure, the Jets held their own against two of the AFC’s top teams when they hosted the Houston Texans in week 5 and when they took the Patriots to overtime in Foxboro in week 7.

However, the games the Jets have been able to win this season have been against far inferior opponents. Buffalo, Miami, and St. Louis have a combined recored of 13-19-1. Indianapolis came to New York with their rookie quarterback Andrew Luck having to face a Rex Ryan defense for the first time in his career. Luck will be great, but it is a daunting task for a rookie to solve the puzzle that is Ryan’s defensive scheme on the road. To put it into perspective, the 2012 Jets, although not horrendous, are simply a poor football team.

This column has been dedicated to making a handful of predictions based on past games, tendencies, and matchups for each week – predictions that have often failed to come to fruition. Last week, we observed what the Jets needed to do against the Patriots on Thanksgiving in order for them to upset their longtime foe. Looking back, they really failed to do any of these things.

Since it has become nearly impossible to predict what this team will do in terms of game plan (see Tebow, Tim; week 12…actually all season), execution, and outcome, this column will now focus on key points, all of which the Jets must achieve to have any chance of reigning victorious again this year.

This week’s New York Jets Fact or False will focus primarily on how the Jets need to attack their upcoming opponent, the Arizona Cardinals, what matchups will be crucial, and who needs to come to play, in order for New York to put patch one of the holes of the sinking ship that is their 2012 season. This team is all but guaranteed to not reach the playoffs this season, but the Jets can certainly do their best to salvage what is left of this mess and head into 2013 on the right foot. Whether or not they can do that, however, will depend on how they perform from top to bottom in these remaining five weeks. Let’s take a look at Arizona.

The Jets’ active rookie wide receivers need to step up big this week. Fact. As depleted as this team’s receiving corps has been all season, think about this for a second: Clyde Gates has been ruled out for Sunday’s contest, creating a serious issue at wide receiver. Wow. After week 1, would you have ever thought that this is what we’d be analyzing heading into week 13? Unfortunately for New York, however, that is exactly where the Jets stand. Aside from Gates, Chaz Schilens is questionable with concussion symptoms, and Jeremy Kerley (the only receiver who has been somewhat productive this season) is still hampering a leg injury.

While it is a scary thought that the Jets could potentially be starting a receiving corps led by Kerley and rookies Stephen Hill and Jordan White, this could be a blessing in disguise. While no one should expect this group to be world beaters, it is essential to see if Sanchez can develop some chemistry with his young passing options. Stephen Hill started 2012 with a bang, hauling in 5 balls for 89 yards and 2 touchdowns in the season opener against Buffalo. Since then, however, Hill has hit the growing pains that we all expected him to heading into this season. All is certainly not lost for the promising rookie with tremendous upside out of Georgia Tech, so getting him touches the rest of the way this year will be crucial to his development.

Jordan White is a player who has been on the radar here at Turn On The Jets since New York selected him with their final pick in this year’s draft. A highly productive college player, White stood out in our post draft evaluation due to his high football IQ, strong route running, and ability to catch balls in traffic. It was expected that he may take a bit to come around, but on a team in need of hope in week 13, White could start his campaign to give some promise to this team’s depleted group of skill players.

Now, it would be foolish to think that White is going to come out in his first game and light up Arizona, prompting a surplus of waiver wire claims from fantasy football league owner’s heading into their respective playoffs. However, White is fully capable of catching anywhere from 2-5 passes this week, while beginning to gain some momentum in an attempt to be a long term asset to this roster.

Regardless, the Jets need these two to not play like wide-eyed rookies this week, but instead play with a certain level of confidence and reliability, so they can provide some security to Mark Sanchez, who desperately needs it. If Kerley and Schilens are a go, they will likely start, but do not be surprised to see Sanchez target the youngsters to gauge where they are at as he tries to find some continuity in these final 5 weeks. If this offense looks to have momentum heading into next season, it starts with these young players at receiver stepping up and asserting some kind of presence this Sunday.

The Jets need to get Mark Sanchez airing it out on Sunday. False. While the Jets do need to see some signs of life from Sanchez, following one of his most horrific performances,in terms of ball security, last week, the key to being successful on offense remains the same as it has been since Sanchez arrived in New York – a strong running effort, with a limited amount of drop backs. Look at the Jets two most convincing victories this season, against Indianapolis and at St. Louis. Sanchez was 11 for 18 for 82 yards and 2 touchdowns and 15 for 20 for 178 yards and 1 touchdown, respectively. What do you notice about those numbers? That’s correct, no turnovers.

The Jets ground attack during those two games, however, was on point. Although the total rushing yardage against St. Louis was not eye opening – 124 total yards – the Jets stuck to a successful formula of a running back by committee approach. Bilal Powell was able to record his first two career touchdowns in that contest, primarily because Tony Sparano took some risks in obvious passing situations in the red zone by giving Powell the carries, and it paid dividends.

The bottom line is, the more Sanchez is asked to throw, the more likely it is for him to commit a mistake and turn the ball over. New York needs to give him a strong running effort once again, while allowing him to make some high percentage throws on slants, play action passes, and designed roll outs. If the Jets can limit him anywhere between 20-25 attempts, while running the ball 35-45 times, not only will they be helping Sanchez regain some much needed confidence, but they will also be putting themselves in the best position to win. Is it ideal to have to game plan like this with a fourth year quarterback? Of course not, but at this point the reality is that Sanchez has performed poorly, and has a depleted group of receivers to throw to. If the Jets can stay grounded this week, they will control the clock and field position, while keeping their defense off of the field.

The Jets defense needs to come up with a surplus of quarterback sacks and hits. Fact. New York’s pass rush has been absolutely horrendous over the past five seasons, mostly because they have done a poor job of outside and self scouting at vital pass rushing positions during that time. However, Arizona ranks dead last in sacks allowed throughout the entire league this season, and they will be starting a rookie quarterback on Sunday. Remember what we said about that Andrew Luck guy? Ryan Lindley isn’t anywhere near the type of player that Luck is, but he does have a solid group of wide receivers to throw to against a very shaky Jets secondary. If he is given ample time to throw the ball, he will make plays.

Muhammad Wilkerson and Quinton Coples will be licking their chops when they line up against this poor offensive line on Sunday. However, they will need support from the linebacking corps in order to establish a strong pass rush. All season long, these two have been hampered as a result of facing a vast amount of double teams, due to the complete lack of a pass rush from the outside and inside linebackers. Whether it is the dinosaurs that are Calvin Pace and Bryan Thomas, Garret McIntyre, or DeMario Davis, the Jets need to find a way to get Arizona’s attention off of Wilkerson and Coples, so they can be put in man blocking situations. If New York can rattle the cage of Lindley early, and throughout the course of the game, this offense should not be able to move the ball. If they let him sit in the pocket and gain comfort, however, it will likely be another week of excuses, pouting, outrage, and turmoil heading into week 14.

The Jets need to focus primarily on Larry Fitzgerald to shut down Arizona’s passing attack. False. Aside from getting to the quarterback, the Jets need a strong game plan against the Cardinals’ number 2 and 3 receivers. Andre Roberts has been very productive for a team with the poorest quarterback situation in the league this season, accounting for 50 receptions, a team high 639 yards, and another team high 5 touchdowns. Michael Floyd and Early Doucet are two players who haven’t had the productivity of Roberts this year, but are highly skilled. Each of these receivers have the ability to exploit the embattled Kyle Wilson and Ellis Lankster. Aside from getting to the quarterback, New York needs to figure a way to neutralize these two, primarily from scheme. If the Jets expect to put Wilson and Lankster in man coverage on Sunday, without generating a pass rush, they will not win this game., plain and simple.

Dustin Keller needs to establish a veteran presence and allow Sanchez to lean on him. Fact. Lost in the disaster that has become the 2012 Jets is the player that Mark Sanchez became comfortable looking toward in previous times of struggle. Although Keller is second on the team in receptions, that number is a mere 26. 26 catches from a player who was thought to be Sanchez’s go to guy. While he has been hampered by injury for the majority of the season, Sanchez is usually the most efficient when Keller gets going. Look at the first matchup against New England. Many will refuse to admit this, but Sanchez played one of the best games of his career, prior to overtime, that week. A lot of that success has to do with Keller’s strong day of catching all 7 passes thrown his way for 93 yards and a touchdown.

Now, it is unfair to blame this lack of production on Keller. The lack of receiving threats on this team makes him an easy focus of opposing defenses. However, he needs to find a way to get open and give Sanchez that much needed security. If Keller can get going with some early catches to move the chains, Sanchez’s confidence will only grow as the game progresses. As of right now, aside from the run game, Keller is the straw that stirs the drink on this team’s offense. If he can get some early receptions, Arizona will be forced to shift their coverage toward him, allowing ample opportunity for those young receivers to get open and make plays. Sanchez, in the meantime, will only be able to grow on all accounts because of this. Yes, he should be limited to no more than 25 passing attempts, but each of those 25 will be critical. The Jets’ quarterback has no margin for error anymore. Most people are ready to write him off as the New York’s signal caller. Whether or not this is just, it is the harsh reality of the NFL and particularly of professional sports in New York. Dustin Keller can help Sanchez slowly climb out of the abyss with a strong performance this week.

The Jets cannot afford any more Special Teams blunders. Fact. There is no need to explain this one. The Jets’ Special Teams has been horrendous for the majority of the season. With a struggling offense and a defense that has had its troubles getting off the field on third downs, special teams mishaps are a recipe for the perfect disaster. This needs to be turned around immediately. Period.

 

New York Jets: Don’t Give Up on Rex Ryan Just Yet

Chris Gross on why Rex Ryan shouldn’t be the fall guy for the New York Jets struggles this year

Over the past few weeks, the New York Jets have seen their season come undone in front of their very eyes. The Jets have lost 4 out of their last 5 games, 2 of which came in blowout fashion in their home stadium. Many have attributed this to poor coaching. Analysts, fans, writers, and even casual football observers have suggested that perhaps Rex Ryan is not quite head coaching material yet, that maybe he is better served as a coordinator. The same groups of people have also suggested that the Jets need to go after a former head coach with championship pedigree, someone like Bill Cowher or John Gruden.

However, the issues with the New York Jets go far beyond the coaching staff. The front office of this franchise has put this team in hole that could likely set it up for another year of poor play and mediocrity. General Manager Mike Tannenbaum and those who work within the department have maliciously restructured and back loaded a surplus of player contracts, guaranteeing the salaries for this season and beyond to guys who would have likely been released due to their dip in performance over the past two seasons. Bart Scott, Calvin Pace, and even David Harris have all played mediocre at their best this season, and absolutely horrible at their worst. Yet, Scott and Pace, who began to slide last year, had guaranteed salaries for 2012, so they were not expendable for the Jets. Remember when Tannenbaum supposedly gave Scott permission to seek a trade this past offseason? Other teams likely laughed at the notion. Who would be foolish enough to take on the guaranteed salary of a player past his prime, clearly on the downside of his career?

Fortunately for the Jets, Scott and Pace can be released next season without any serious financial repercussions. Harris, on the other hand, is guaranteed just over $9 million for 2013; so unless the Jets can do what the Yankees did to David Justice when they traded him to Oakland, don’t expect Harris to be playing elsewhere next season. The reason these guaranteed contracts are tied into the current state of affairs with the Jets is because they limit the money that can be spent elsewhere throughout the roster. This is why you are seeing this team, who was an AFC Championship contender just two seasons ago, fall so far from grace that they are the laughing stock of the league. So poorly General Manager Mike Tannenbaum has constructed this roster, that the Jets are stuck starting players who likely would not see the field, or possibly make the active roster, on some quality teams around the league.

The Jets have lost a total of 7 games so far this season. While people continue to point to the coaching as the primary reason for these losses, many are forgetting just how depleted and shallow this roster really is. Let’s take a look at how the Jets talent compares to the teams that they have lost to this season, starting with the offensive personnel.

The information in green in the above chart represents the Jets offensive season statistics up until this point in the year. Based on the team’s depth chart, players are inserted into their proper position (Sanchez at QB, Greene at RB1, Powell at RB2, and so on and so forth). The information on the right side of the chart (in white) represents the season average of all of the Jets opponents’ statistics at their respective positions. The idea here is to give a representation of how truly overmatched the Jets have been, in terms of talent, against the teams that they have lost to this season.

Let’s start by looking at the quarterback. Mark Sanchez is performing statistically below average, in comparison to his opponents that have defeated him, in every single category. His completion percentage is nearly a full 9 points lower than the average completion percentage of that group, while his turnover ratio is much higher, touchdowns are much lower, and QBR and passer rating aren’t even comparable.

Now, the obvious argument here is that he has faced Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger, two Super Bowl winning quarterbacks who alter the average because of their inflated numbers. Well, that assertion is false. Also included in that group are two rookies in Ryan Tannehill and Russell Wilson, a quarterback in Alex Smith who has just been replaced in San Francisco, and Matt Schaub who is good, but is certainly not the next Joe Montana. This is an average based off of two great, one decent, and 3 below average quarterbacks. An argument could certainly be made if these numbers were somewhat close, but for the most part they aren’t even comparable. Sanchez’s QBR isn’t even half of the average of that of his opponents, and his passer rating is nearly a full 20 points lower, as well. The level that he has played at for Rex Ryan and the Jets this year, would surely render him a backup if placed on any of these teams, and possibly in a third string role in some cases (New England, San Francisco, Seattle, and perhaps even Miami). The NFL is a quarterback driven league, as everyone is well aware of, and when you’re quarterback is performing well below the average of his competition, it is a miracle that you are able to win any games, never mind four.

Onto the running back situation. It’s no surprise that Shonn Greene is below the average of opposing starting running backs. This is an assertion most people who have observed the Jets this season have come to terms with. Greene is not a feature NFL back. He would be most productive in a stable of effective backs, primarily as a downhill runner late in games, as he was in the early stages of his career.

Unfortunately, though, Greene clearly is not in a solid stable of backs with the roster currently in place in New York. Take Bilal Powell for example. Although Powell has gotten one carry less than the average of RB2 on the teams the Jets have fallen to this season, he is still well below in total rushing yards, and is averaging nearly a full yard less per carry. His 24.4 yards per game and 0 carries of 20 or more yards are just not the numbers of a solid number two back capable of spelling a solid lead runner. His 3 touchdowns are impressive by comparison, but remember two of those came by clever play calling by Tony Sparano in St. Louis. Powell can be better if given a bigger role, but he has not performed to the average of his counterparts thus far.

Joe McKnight is, not shockingly, the only back outplaying his roster spot in comparison to RB3 on teams New York has lost to. Turn On The Jets has been a McKnight advocate all season long. His 22 carries are almost 5 less than the average at his position, however he has attained over 25 more yards than the average third back has. His yardage per game is only slightly above average, but remember, as the weeks continue to pass without him getting carries, that number is out of his control. By comparison, this position is the only one on the Jets offensive depth chart that they hold an advantage to over their opponents – the third running back spot.

As far as the wide receivers on this team go, the numbers speak for themselves. First, note that Santonio Holmes, who has been inactive since week 4, is still second among this group of receivers in receiving yards, and third on the team, overall. Now, let’s break into the current depth on the active roster.

Jeremy Kerley has been solid for the Jets this year, as the only real viable option in the entire corps. Unfortunately, though, Kerley just simply isn’t a number one receiver, a role he has been forced to take on due to injury and (what do you know) a lack of depth. As the chart displays, Kerley would be a solid number 2 receiver by comparison to the average of those opponents. As a primary target, though, he is, like his teammates, well below average. With nearly ten fewer catches, over 67 fewer total receiving yards, and just about 10 fewer yards per game, Kerley is a number 2 option that has been forced into a number 1 option due to poor roster depth.

Now, observing the remaining three receiver spots, you will find that New York has three players that play to the level of the average third wide receiver on those opponents. Gates is slightly below that average, but slightly above the average of the fourth receiver, outside of yards per catch and yards per game. Schillens and Hill would both be decent third receivers at this point, which Schillens basically is, but neither are even close to being an average number 2. In other words, the Jets have one number 2 and three number 3’s or 4’s on their roster. Combine that with the QB play that is well below average by comparison, and again, it is a miracle that this team is able to accumulate any type of passing offense.

The Tight End numbers are a bit altered because of injury, with Keller missing reps and Cumberland having to fill the void of TE1, but what you’ll see is New York is, once again, far below average at the position. It his hard to judge whether or not Keller would be better, statistically, and Cumberland worse, if Keller never missed time due to injury, but the bottom line is, neither of these Tight Ends are playing up to par at their respective positions.

Offensively, this team’s lack of talent is a true display of how hard it has been for the Jets to scratch out four wins so far. You have below average starters at every position, many of whom aren’t even playing at the level of opposing backups. Look at the opponents on that list and go through their rosters position by position, comparing them to the players on the Jets. Many players on this roster would not make some of those teams – Clyde Gates (who actually didn’t make one of those teams), Cumberland, and perhaps even Dustin Keller (NE, SF). When observing this personnel and the level each player has performed at thus far, is it really surprising that the Jets have lost seven games, or is it shocking that they have won four?

Onto the defensive side of the ball – Below is a chart similar to that of the one that represents the Jets offensive personnel in comparison to the opponents that they have lost to, position by position. The numbers in the orange represent the average numbers of the top three players at each position on opponents the Jets have lost to, with the exception of defensive tackle, where the average has used the top two spots on the depth chart from each of those teams. In the green, each defensive player on the Jets is represented. The number of players used coincides with the number of players used to determine the average of the opponents, to give you an accurate representation of where each player stands.

First, let’s observe defensive end. It should come as a surprise to no one that Muhammad Wilkerson is playing far above the average of opposing defensive ends. Wilkerson is superior in every statistical category, with the exception of sacks. Coples is only slightly below in terms of tackles, but is well above in tackles for loss. Sack wise, unfortunately, is where he, like Wilkerson, is below average. DeVito, is well above the average number of tackles, but again, lacks in sacks and even tackles for loss.

At defensive tackle, Sione Pouha has performed slightly above average, despite missing time, while Kenrick Ellis has been hampered by injury, causing his numbers to be below average. Taking the two of them into account, the Jets have had fairly average to slightly below average play at the NT position this year, a position that is vital to a successful 3-4 defense.

Another vital position in this scheme is outside linebacker. Here, the play is below average in nearly every statistic, at every spot on the depth chart. As far as sacks go, it isn’t even close. The defensive line is hampered by the inability to rush the passer from the OLB position. Often times, as our film breakdowns have revealed, teams can easily block one of these player using only one lineman or back, resulting in a great amount of double teams to Wilkerson and Coples. In other words, the OLB’s inability to rush the passer is preventing the defensive line from rushing the passer. This is a vicious cycle in this scheme, but a true representation of why this team has struggled so mightily in the area.

To finish out the front seven, we move to inside linebacker. David Harris is well above average in his run support, but far behind against the pass (only 2 PD vs. the average of 4, and 0 INT vs. the average of 0.7). This should come as a surprise to no one, considering how Harris’s struggles in coverage have been noted throughout the season. Behind Harris is Bart Scott and rookie DeMario Davis. Scott is clearly a well below average LB at this point in his career, and is making a strong push for the “poor” category. Scott likely doesn’t make the active roster in San Francisco, New England, Miami, Seattle, or Pittsburgh. Davis is promising as a rookie, but clearly he hasn’t performed up to par as well. Basically, this team has four starting linebackers who would be backups at best if placed on one of these opposing teams.

In the secondary, Landry and Bell have played excellent in run support, as the numbers indicate. Landry has performed better than Bell in the coverage area, but is still slightly below average, which tells you what you need to know about Bell’s play in coverage thus far. Eric Smith has been in and out of the active lineup because of injury, but considering he is the third safety on the roster, he hasn’t played insanely bad.

As far as the corners go, the only player worthy of any type of recognition is Antonio Cromartie. Cromartie has three more passes defended than the average opponent, and nearly 2 more interceptions. His touchdown separates him from a majority of the group as well. Kyle Wilson and Ellis Lankster have been decent in terms of tackling, both still below average, but not necessarily horrible. However, in terms of coverage, it is rather embarrassing. Wilson has defended less than half of the average number of passes than his opponents, and he is a starter. Lankster isn’t quite as bad, but remember he has a lot more passes thrown his way when in the game, so that number is likely inflated.

In Short, this defense is solid at about 3 positions – defensive end, strong safety, and cornerback. You have about three players on the entire unit that are playing above the average of those players on opponents that have beaten the Jets. Combining this lack of talent, with the clear lack of talent on the offensive side of the ball, is a clear indication of how poorly this roster has been built.

Most people want to put the blame on Rex, and their motives are certainly justified. Rex is far from perfect as a head coach. His lack of holding players accountable, particularly Mark Sanchez, needs to be altered if he wishes to have any success as a head coach in this league. However, Tom Coughlin altered his coaching style from a pure disciplinarian, with little personal connection to his players, to more of an emotional coach, back in 2007. This slight tweak in his coaching philosophy has led to two Super Bowl wins. Now, no one here is comparing Ryan to Coughlin. Coughlin is surely the superior head coach, and will be for some time. The point is, coaches can adjust and achieve success. Rex is more than capable of this adjustment. The true question is whether or not he is willing to do it.

Aside from this flaw, Rex is the right man for this head coaching job, at least for the next year. Among the head coaches in Jets history, Ryan ranks second in winning percentage behind only Bill Parcells. Ryan also has the most playoff victories of any of these coaches. Is this more of a reflection of how poor the coaching has been in this franchise’s history? Perhaps, but the point is, when you get a guy who has shown that he can win games, you don’t kick him out the door at the first sign of struggle. All coaches struggle at some point; it is part of the business.

Now the next argument that is often made against Ryan is that he inherited a loaded roster in his first two years, which is the only reason for his early success. This is another assertion that is very narrow-minded. Remember, there were only 4 new starters from the 2008 roster during Rex’s first year. Brett Favre, who made the pro bowl in ’09, was replaced with a rookie from Southern California who had only one year of college starting experience under his belt. Braylon Edwards was brought in after the team had already won three games, and proved to be a useful weapon to the rookie Sanchez. Defensively, the only two additions that were made to the starting unit were two free agents in Bart Scott and Jim Leonhard, who happen to have been previously coached under Ryan in Baltimore. With these minor additions, Ryan propelled this defense from 16th to 1st in a year. Offensively, Ryan’s strong rushing philosophy kick started a run game that jumped from 9th in 2008 to 1st in 2009.

Most importantly, though, Ryan changed the culture of this franchise. For years, the Jets had accepted mediocrity, often hovering around .500, or sneaking into the playoffs and being bounced in the first or second round. No one in the league seriously feared the Jets, but when Ryan arrived he installed a bloodthirsty attitude throughout his team. Suddenly, the Jets went from the hunted to the hunters. In 2009 we saw a Jets team that displayed a higher sense of urgency and team bond than he had seen in years, for some of us, a lifetime.

Ryan came in and did what no other coach in the history of this franchise has been able to do – win 4 playoff games. Never mind the fact that he did this in his first two seasons; that number currently ranks first in playoff wins by a Jets head coach, as previously noted. Unfortunately for the Jets, after 2009, the personnel department slowly began to dismantle the roster, resulting in the current lack of talent and depth that we have gone over.

In 2010, the Jets drafted Kyle Wilson in the first round. Wilson has played at the level of about a 4th rounder for the majority of his career. Many people want to blame Rex for this pick, but remember this decision was made in anticipation of a Darrelle Revis holdout. The front office likely wanted to have insurance and leverage over the looming Revis extension. So while it is easy to think that Wilson was Rex’s choice, remember that Mike Tannenbaum likely wanted to cover his rear end in the event that he could not structure a new deal for Revis.

Since then, the front office has done its best to dismantle this team. They have let key pieces leave, while replacing them with far inferior players. Tannenbaum has given guaranteed contracts to players in the tale end of their careers, who haven’t lived up to their ends of the bargain. Blame Ryan all you want, but don’t forget that the General Manager has the final say in all personnel decisions. Is it a surprise that teams run by Jerry Jones and the late Al Davis have had so much trouble keeping a head coach and finding adequate talent? This isn’t to compare Tannenbaum to either of those two, but the point is that head coaches are there to coach the players given to them by their front office, and that is exactly what has happened with the Jets.

Rex Ryan, although flawed, is not at fault for the troubles of this season. He has been given a well below average roster, and has still mustered up 4 wins, while coming very close to beating two of his conference’s best teams. The 2009 and 2010 teams, although talented, did not really have any superior players, other than Darrelle Revis, and Ryan brought each of those teams within a play or two from the Super Bowl. Rex has what it takes to get this team its first championship in over 40 years, but based on the numbers and clear lack of talent, not even the best of coaches could get this team above .500.

The front office of this organization is to blame for the misfortune you have all witnessed, not the coach. Based on the information presented here, Ryan has exceeded the talent on this team, and at only four wins, that tells you all you need to know about the poor work done by the front office in recent years. The common desire is for New York to bring in a head coach with championship pedigree, like Gruden or Cowher, as mentioned above. But remember this very true statistic – no coach in the history of the NFL has ever won a Super Bowl with two different teams.

Rex has the ability to lead this team to a championship, and most importantly he has the hunger to do so, as well. Give him average talent, not even great, and this team will be able to compete for a championship. As the roster stands now, the Jets are not only below the top performers at each position, but they are well below average. No coach is winning with what Rex has to work with. Changes need to be made, but Head Coach is the one spot that needs to remain intact for the Jets to get where they want to be in the quickest manner.

 

New York Jets Fact or False: Thanksgiving and Rivalry Edition

Chris Gross with his weekly Fact or False previewing the Jets/Patriots Thanksgiving Night showdown

Happy Thanksgiving, Jets fans! After a much-needed victory in St. Louis last week, the Jets find themselves in a familiar, yet unfamiliar, spot in the Rex Ryan era. What’s familiar about tomorrow night’s game against New England is that the Jets always seem to find themselves in a pivotal point of their season when matching up against the Patriots for the second time in the 17 week regular season.

In 2009, New York headed to Foxboro at 4-5. A win would have been monumental as it would have not only gotten the Jets back to .500, but it would have completed a regular season sweep of New England for the first time since the 2000 season, when they were still led by the likes of Vinny Testaverde and Curtis Martin. New York fell that week 31-14, aided partly by Mark Sanchez’s 4 interceptions.

In 2010, the 9-2 (!!) Jets squared off with New England in Foxboro for sole possession of 1st place in the AFC East. Heading into that game, New York’s average margin of defeat in their only two losses was a meager 5 points, so naturally most people were optimistic about 2010 finally being the year that the Jets knock Brady’s bunch off of their pedestal and claim dominance in the division for the first time in a decade. What happened that night? The Jets were embarrassed 45-3 on national, prime time television.

Finally, in 2011, the Jets were hosts to the second regular season matchup between the two clubs. New York stood at 5-3 heading into their week 10 matchup with New England, fresh off of a dominant performance against the Buffalo Bills in Orchard Park, NY. The Patriots, on the other hand, were also 5-3, but seemed to be spiraling downward, coming off of a 2 game losing streak to the Steelers and Giants. This was finally it. The Jets had New England right where they wanted them – reeling with an equivalent record, in their own building. It finally seemed that New York was ready to take over the division and earn a home playoff game, something many felt had held them from reaching the Super Bowl in the previous two seasons. Unfortunately for Gang Green, same story, different day. The Patriots smacked the Jets 37-16 in a game that was never close. It seemed as if this habit of dropping the second regular season matchup to New England might never be broken.

Now, the Jets finally have a chance to break that very habit. New York finds itself at a crossroad in their season. Standing at 4-6, this team has been hit from all angles. Darrelle Revis and Santonio Holmes are out for the year with season ending injuries. The media has used Tim Tebow’s presence in various attempts to stir up drama and rip this locker room apart. Ryan, General Manager Mike Tannenbaum, and Owner Woody Johnson, each praised for their brash styles at their respective positions in years past, have all come under heavy criticism. In short, Ryan’s once up and coming Jets have become the punch line for countless jokes revolving around the NFL.

So what does it all mean? It means the Jets face New England for the second time of the regular season in a relatively new position. Instead of being poised to topple the Patriots through a monumental victory that could shift the tide in the AFC East, New York now finds themselves with their backs against the wall. As we all know, Rex Ryan’s squad has done quite well in these situations in the past. Yes, in 2009, the Jets were aided by Jim Caldwell’s decision to pull all of his starters in their week fifteen matchup against the Colts in Indianapolis. However, New York still had to defeat the AFC North champion Cincinnati Bengals in week 16 to secure a playoff spot. As you may recall, New York came out with a vengeance, blanking the Bengals 37-0, propelling them to their first AFC Championship Game run under Ryan.

Similarly, in 2010, the Jets traveled to Foxboro for the AFC Divisional Round game against the Patriots. No one in the world gave New York a chance, considering how lopsided the outcome of the previous matchup between the two clubs was. With their backs against the wall once again, New York pulled off one of the most satisfying wins in franchise history, upsetting the Patriots 28-21, leading to one of the most memorable post game speeches in the history of the sport.

By now, you are asking yourself what this all means for tomorrow night’s game. The answer is simple. These two teams have never faced each other under these circumstances. The Jets, although notoriously laughable in this game under Ryan, will be hosting the Patriots with their backs against the wall for the first time in this situation. You can throw the history books out, because regardless of the outcome, a new chapter will be written in this rivalry on Thanksgiving night. Key players on both teams are out of this competition. Rex is out to prove his worth as a head coach in an attempt to rally his team toward an unprecedented playoff run, a goal that suddenly becomes attainable with a win at MetLife stadium tomorrow, considering the fact that New York’s remaining opponents have a combined record of 17-33. The circumstances are different, but New York has another chance at a monumental victory over their long time foe.

How will it all pan out, though? For the Jets, there are several feats they need to attain to put themselves in a position to reign victorious. Rather than using outright predictions, this week’s New York Jets Fact or False highlights exactly what Gang Green needs to do in order to stage an upset of the Patriots on the biggest stage. Digest these proclamations with your holiday bird, and be sure to give thanks for a full day of NFL madness, regardless of any outcome.

The Jets need Shonn Greene to carry the load of the running game past the Patriots. False. This is a no brainer. New York looked like an entirely new offense last week using a running back by committee approach. While many have attributed their success to a poor opponent, St. Louis actually ranks thirteenth in total defense in the NFL. Are the Rams great? Absolutely not. But Jeff Fisher’s club is certainly not the laughing stock it once was. New York needed a strong offensive effort, and that is exactly what they got, led by the resurgence of Shonn Greene as the battering ram, the emergence of Bilal Powell, who scored his first two career touchdowns, as the elusive scat back, and the somewhat proper utilization of Joe McKnight as the explosive, all purpose back. The result? Mark Sanchez put together his most efficient performance of the season, and New York won in dominant fashion in a must win situation. Sticking to this philosophy is an absolute necessity against New England tomorrow. Control the clock, keep Brady off the field, and give Sanchez something to lean on.

The Jets need to find a way to pressure Brady without a heavy amount of blitzing. Fact. Most people are now aware of the blueprint on how to shut down Brady and the high-powered Patriots offense. Hit the prolific quarterback over and over and over. However, the reason that teams like the Giants have been so successful against New England is because they can do so without a heavy amount of blitzing. Tom Brady has been lights out against the blitz this year – 86 attempts, 10 TDs, 0 INTs, 90.0 QBR, and a 127.2 passer rating. New York needs to find a way to get in his face without using the blitz.

New England has lost three games this season – home against Arizona, and on the road in Baltimore and Seattle. In those three losses, Brady has been sacked 9 times, while being hit 17 times. New England’s offense can surely sputter if opposing defenses can get to Brady. The key is to do it without letting him burn you on the blitz. Rex and his staff need to get very creative disguising their pressure schemes to create the illusion that the Jets are bringing more heat than they actually are, through an effective use of zone blitzes, similar to how they were able to rattle Brady in the 2010 playoffs. Look for Ryan to mix up his fronts, using a variety of four man rushes, led primarily by Muhammad Wilkerson and Quinton Coples. With All-Pro Guard Logan Mankins ruled out for tomorrow, New York will have optimal opportunity to generate a strong interior pass rush. Based on the play of Wilkerson and Coples as of late, New England could easily have their hands full tomorrow night.

Tom Brady is the only part of the Patriots offense that needs to be stopped. False. While Brady is certainly the key to New England’s offensive success, the run game must be stopped at all costs as well. In each of the Patriots three losses this year, they have failed to generate more than 90 total rushing yards as a team. New York needs to make the offense one dimensional, and then worry about getting to Brady. A tall task, yes, but nothing will be easy in achieving the upset tomorrow night.

The Jets need to generate turnovers to win. Fact. Historically, the Jets under Rex Ryan have had their best success against the Patriots when they’ve been able to take the ball away from Tom Brady. In Ryan’s 3 total wins against New England, Brady has thrown a total of four interceptions. In New England’s five victories against Ryan’s Gang, Brady has turned the ball over via interception just once. This trend holds true to two of New England’s three losses this year. Brady has just three interceptions on the season, however one came in the home loss to Arizona, with the other two coming from the loss in Seattle. Another daunting task for the Jets, particularly without Darrelle Revis, but remember, Brady is missing two key pieces of his offense, as well, in Mankins and TE Rob Gronkowski.

The Jets Special Teams need to wake up. Fact. In order to pull off this upset, the Jets need to be nearly perfect in all three phases of the game. New York’s once stout special teams has been a complete disaster as of late. Blocked kicks, big returns, losing focus and succumbing to a surprise onsides kick have haunted the Jets in previous weeks. To quote ESPN’s Cris Carter, “Mike Westhoff, where you at?!” The prolific coach, now a household name thanks to his role in HBO’s 2010 season of Hard Knocks, seems to have lost the grasp of a unit that was once regarded as a crutch for New York in times of struggle. Westhoff must get his unit ready to play. Any lapse on special teams will likely spell disaster for New York. While you may be able to get away with some blunders against mediocre teams, New England is a different animal. Bill Belichick has likely gone through hours of Jets special teams footage, looking for ways to exploit this suddenly weak group. A big play on special teams cannot happen in any way whatsoever if the Jets wish to begin a late season playoff push.

Enjoy the game, enjoy your families and friends, and most of all, enjoy the Jets tomorrow night, folks. From all of us here at Turn On The Jets, we wish you and your loved ones a very happy, healthy, and safe Thanksgiving.