New York Jets Fact Or False: Week 7 Edition

Chris Gross weekly Fact or False previews the Jets/Patriots week 7 match-up

Make sure to check out Tammany Hall this weekend for 20 wings and 2 pitchers for only $20, courtesy of our friends at Night Out!

It’s hard to believe that we are already heading into week 7 of the regular NFL season. For the New York Jets, to say it has been a roller coaster season up until this point would be an understatement. After a week 1 blowout of the Buffalo Bills, all looked extremely promising for Gang Green. Following that game, many felt as if the Jets were finally poised to be a legitimate threat to New England’s AFC East throne. However, since then, the Jets have suffered tough losses and injuries to their two most high profile players in Darrelle Revis and Santonio Holmes. New York has responded well the last two weeks, though, with a tough effort against Houston and a blowout of the Indianapolis Colts to put them back to .500 and give them their current lead in the division.

The landscape for the remainder of the season still remains to be seen. This sudden group of low profile Jets seems to be starting to develop an attitude of camaraderie based around the notion that their season is dead in the water. Unlikely players like Chaz Schillens have stepped up into leadership roles by voicing out against the popular belief that this team doesn’t have a chance to make it out of the regular season with a winning record. This is something that we have yet to see in the Ryan era, but for this group of Jets, it could be a recipe for success.

This week will be a true test of how valid that idea may be. New England, although also .500, still remains the top dog in the AFC East. As Rex Ryan so eloquently put it, you need to beat the man if you wish to be the man. That’s exactly what this group will attempt to do this Sunday in Foxboro. Will the “us against the world” concept drive this team to be successful? Or was last week merely a mirage in a season poised for a serious let down? Come Sunday night, we should know a lot about where this team truly stands heading into the second half of the season.

For now, let’s breakdown some likely, and unlikely, scenarios that we expect to see in this week’s rivalry matchup in our latest edition of New York Jets Fact Or False.

The Jets will do everything in their power to prepare for New England’s hurry up offense. Fact. We are already seeing the makings of a package designed specifically to defend the hurry up offense. Antonio Allen is active again, and the Jets recently activated LB/S Marcus Dowtin from the practice squad. As noted here earlier in the week, these guys are players who fit perfectly into the “big nickel” package. What this means is that Rex Ryan will try to put his most versatile players on the field at once. Allen and Dowtin have the size to line up in the box and defend the run, as well as the speed to get out in space and cover tight ends. There is a very good chance that Allen will see extended reps and that Dowtin will be thrown right into active duty, just days after being signed.

Also, expect to see a big game out of LaRon Landry. Landry has linebacker size, with safety speed, something that will make him a weapon against this type of offensive scheme. Rex has been getting extremely creative with his defenses this past week, and you can bet your bottom dollar that he has been up all week devising a package that he believes will be effective against the hurry up. Whether it proves to be truly effective remains to be seen.

Tom Brady will be sacked at least twice. Fact. The Jets are familiar with the formula for beating the Patriots, as their counterparts in New York have made it a point to set the blueprint on how to take down New England’s high powered offense. You want to beat the Patriots, you need to get Tom Brady to the ground and throwing out of the pocket. The last time the Jets beat New England, in the 2010 playoffs, they did a great job of pressuring and hitting Brady. Brady notoriously becomes frazzled when facing a premiere pass rush, but the key is to get pressure without having to use a surplus of blitzes.

Brady has made a name for himself torching blitz packages for years. The Giants have success against New England because their pass rush is good enough to get to him by rushing just 4. The Jets had similar success in the 2010 playoffs. This year, the Jets finally have some natural ability up front that will allow them to get pressure on Brady without having to blitz too frequently. Quinton Coples is finally coming into his own as a pass rusher, primarily from the interior, where he could be deadly against a struggling Patriots offensive line. Muhammad Wilkerson will surely bring pressure as well, and if Aaron Maybin can duplicate his play from last week, the Jets may have a real good chance to get to Brady numerous times.

Shonn Greene will run the ball for 100+ yards for the second consecutive week. False. Shonn Greene is coming off a career week against the Colts in which he rushed for 161 yards and 3 touchdowns. While this is certainly an encouraging sign for the Jets rushing attack, don’t be fooled by these numbers. Yes, Greene looked more decisive, elusive, and powerful than he has in years, but the Colts rank in the bottom tier in rushing defense. New England, on the other hand, ranks 6th in that area, surrendering just 82.7 yards per contest on the ground.

With Bilal Powell and Joe McKnight out, the burden to carry the load will be on Greene. We know that he has struggled in such a role, but if the Jets can get yards from Tim Tebow and Jonathan Grimes, then Greene still has the potential to amass somewhere between 75-90 yards. As far as the century mark, don’t be disappointed looking at the box score after the game. Greene can be effective, but it is highly unlikely he surpasses 100 yards rushing in consecutive weeks, which would be a career first.

Tim Tebow will see over 30% of the offensive snaps this week. Fact. It was one thing to expect to see more of Tebow with a depleted group of wide receivers. The popular thought was that, with little playmaking ability in the offensive arsenal, Tebow would be used more frequently to generate a spark for this offense. As we have seen, that has not been the case since losing Holmes in week 4. However, this week presents an entirely new set of obstacles for this offense.

Following a week where New York finally seemed to gel in terms of running back depth and rotation, two of the three most used backs were lost due to injury and are out this week. That leaves the Jets with Greene and a very untested Jonathan Grimes. New York seemingly has no choice but to use Tebow on the ground, if not in the wildcat, then in a running back role. Greene may struggle as the only proven running threat, and it is unclear what exactly Grimes will bring to the table at this point. Why not add another proven runner to that stable of backs and allow Tebow to carry the ball 10-15 times in any type of capacity? There is no reason for the Jets to avoid this, and it will certainly be in their best interest to include a heavy dose of TT in the run game this week.

THURSDAY NIGHT PICKS

  • Joe – SF (-7)
  • Chris G – Sea (+7)
  • Chris C – Sea (+7)
  • Mike – (-7)
  • Rob – SF (-7)

Turn On The Jets Talks With Pats Propaganda – Jets/Patriots Preview

Joe Caporoso talks with Mike Dussault of Pats Propaganda about the upcoming match-up between the Jets and Patriots

I had the opportunity to talk with one of our favorite writers behind enemy lines, Mike Dussault of Pats Propaganda, to preview the upcoming New York Jets/New England Patriots showdown. Here is our conversation –

JC – What is the issue with New England’s secondary and is it a solvable problem this season? Is it actually as bad as it is being hyped up to be?

MD – Really the only issue, and it’s a glaring one, is that they cannot stop the 20+ passing plays. They’re giving up almost 6 per game. It really just boils down to that, and it’s maddening because they’ve been the worst in the NFL at it for two seasons and just can’t seem to get it fixed. Now injuries have played into it somewhat. When Russell Wilson heaved the 46-yard game winning TD last weekend it was two rookies that were on the back end. But things weren’t especially better when it was starters Steve Gregory (out since week 4) and Patrick Chung (dinged at the end of the game).

JC – Are you surprised by some of the game management issues that are arising, particularly with two Hall of Famers like Belichick and Brady leading the way?

MD – Yes, there have definitely been some head scratching moments this year, like last week’s debacle at the end of the first half, where they took an intentional grounding with one second left inside the 10-yard line that basically cost them the game in the long run. They should’ve just kicked the field goal when they had the chance with 6 seconds left.

There are a couple factors contributing. With Josh McDaniels back and his aggressive/often unconventional style, and the Pats trying to execute at such a fast pace it has led to some of the miscues, but ultimately I think they’ll be okay in the long run. There’s no question they’re still trying to lock down their identity and I think that has played into it as well. Sometimes they’re unstoppable, other times they seem to be going backwards. They need consistency and with that the game management stuff will take care of itself.

JC – Can you talk about how New England has rebuilt this offense to be a dual threat with their newly found power running game?

MD – Honestly I don’t think they have much of a straight up power running game as some might think, and we saw that against the Seahawks last week.  What they excel at is running on nickel and dime defenses, and once their passing game that’s when their run game is most dangerous.

Now there’s no question Stevan Ridley, Danny Woodhead and Brandon Boldin are still a more dynamic group than they’ve had in some time, but so far we’ve only seen them dominate the run game situationally, when teams are on their heels and overly concerned with the passing attack. Whether they can consistently move the ball on the ground to run the clock out and seal a win, when the opposition knows they’re trying to run, remains to be seen. This includes short yardage situations too. And we’ve already seen a ton of negative plays that were rare in recent history. Make no mistake, you’ve got to stop the passing game first and foremost.

JC – If you were the Jets how would you attack the New England defense? The New England offense?

MD –  For the Jets offense you have to take some shots down the field. There’s no weaker link than the Patriots back end. They’ve been effective in stopping the run every week, with Brandon Spikes really being the tone setter there, and they’re a good tackling team for the most part as well. The short pass and ground attack is less effective so far this year than it has been in year’s past.

But if you look at Seattle’s game plan, they stuck with their ground game even though it wasn’t dominant and took a lot of play action shots down the field, especially on early downs. The Jets have some ammo to keep the Pats defense off balance, I’m sure Rex has been saving something Tebow-y just for New England. Those plays that confuse or put the Pats on their heels will open up the long balls down the field. But the difficult thing, and most key part, is not throwing interceptions on those deep shots. Simply put if Sanchez and the offense have one turnover or less they’ll be in the game until the end and then they just have to make the clutch plays. The Patriots defense lives or dies by turnovers, if you give them two or more New England will probably win.

For the Jets defense it’s all about patience. There will probably be a couple drives where the Patriots run no-huddle and look unstoppable. You just have to weather those storms and continue to force them to execute for 60 minutes. Because they’ve got a habit of going stone cold during crunch time. I know Rex loves to mix things up a lot, but the Pats no-huddle will make that difficult, so I’d say stay in base and simplify the calls so they can get in quickly. If the Jets go DB heavy the Patriots will not hesitate to run so they’ll have to be prepared for that as well.

Obviously they must try to confuse Brady’s reads as much as possible, and when the Pats offense goes no-huddle they must be prepared. So much of the damage New England does in the no-huddle is because teams are not lined up, don’t have the call, or simply gassed. You can’t give them anything easy. Make them work for it till the end and it’s entirely possible they won’t make the clutch plays in the clutch moments.

JC – Prediction for the game, how many wins the Patriots finish with and how many wins the Jets finish with?

MD – Well hey, I’m biased but even when I do my best to be non-biased I like the Pats in this one. They’re always tough coming off an embarrassing loss, even moreso at home. I’d expect them to bring their A-game this week.

The wild card is Sanchez and the deep ball. If the Jets can get a couple long scores, not turn the ball over, move the ball a bit on the ground, and keep it close until the 4th quarter it could be anybodies game.

Let’s go Pats 24, Jets 13.

At this point I like the Pats at 12-4. Jets 9-7.

MD – The Jets have had a season of injuries like none I’ve seen before. Who are some of the players that might be unknown to Patriots fans but have been elevating their play in the absence of so many starters?

JC – On offense, Jeremy Kerley has stepped into being the offense’s top playmaker. He is averaging over 17 yards per catch and has shown a consistent ability to create big plays down the field. The Jets receiving core gets a ton of flak for lacking talent but that isn’t a fair assessment. Outside of Kerley, Chaz Schilens has been a capable possession receiver and a healthy Stephen Hill has big play potential. He already has three touchdowns, despite missing 2 and 1/2 games.

On defense, Patriots fans know Antonio Cromartie obviously but he has taken his play to a different level in the absence of Darrelle Revis. The past three weeks have been the best I’ve seen Cromartie play since joining the team and he seems to have embraced a leadership role in the secondary.

MD – Is this a make or break year for Mark Sanchez? Has he progressed or regressed as a quarterback?

JC – Considering the structure of his contract, he will likely be back next year unless the bottom truly falls out on the season and his performance. Even the staunchest Sanchez apologist would have to admit he has regressed since the 2010 season. There have been flashes of strong play but the inconsistency has been maddening. The last two weeks have been baby steps in the right direction after a disastrous game against San Francisco. We have seen some of Sanchez’s best work against the Patriots since his career started, so hopefully he can keep building positive momentum.

MD –  How have the defense and offense evolved this year, if they have? What kind of team are the Jets trying to be? Is ground and pound really accurate?

JC – Ground and Pound needs to go as an expression (which is why we changed the tag-line on our site haha). Prior to last week, the Jets had been dreadful running the football and stopping the run, along with having a non-existent pass rush. We saw strides in the right direction beginning the in second half against Houston and then carrying over to the Indianapolis game. On offense, they are still going to be run heavy but do take more shots down the field than they did under Brian Schottenheimer. On defense, Rex Ryan seems to recognize his base defense’s shortcomings and has slowly been getting more creative with his schemes and integrating younger players into more playing time.

MD – Name a player on offense and a player on defense that will be key to the Jets chances of knocking off the Patriots.

JC –  Offensively, it has to be on Sanchez to hit his throws down the field. The Jets have the players on the outside who can beat the Patriots secondary deep (Hill, Kerley and yes even Cromartie) but Sanchez must be accurate. Defensively, they must knock Tom Brady off his mark and get him rattled early in the game. Muhammad Wilkerson and Quinton Coples are their best natural pass rushers and both must make an impact early and often.

MD – If you were the Patriots where would you attack the Jets offense and defense? What can be exploited?

JC –  The Jets still lack speed at linebacker in a big way. I would be running to the outside heavily with RIdley and Woodhead, along with looking to hurt the Jets in the screen game. If the Jets try to match up the Patriots tight ends in man coverage with their safeties, it should be a match-up Brady can take advantage of as well. On defense, I would make Sanchez beat you. Bottle up the running game and force him to hit throws down the field into tight windows and hope he throws a few interceptions.

 

Turn On The Jets Week 7 Roundtable – Jets vs. Pats Match-Ups

The Turn On The Jets discusses what match-up they are most looking forward to in Jets/Pats

Joe Caporoso – Mark Sanchez vs. Patriots secondary – The Patriots are extremely susceptible to the deep ball and for the Jets to pull the upset it will be up to Mark Sanchez to take advantage of that. We saw Russell Wilson do it last week. We saw Joe Flacco do it a few weeks before. Stephen Hill, Jeremy Kerley and yes Antonio Cromartie all have the speed to get down the field but Sanchez can’t misfire when the plays are there to be. Beyond that, he absolutely cannot turn the football over. Simply put for this season, when the Patriots don’t force turnovers, they don’t win.

Chris Gross – Patriots Tight Ends vs. Jets Safeties – The long awaited, heavy weight bout between LaRon Landry and Yeremiah Bell against Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez will finally be underway this Sunday in Foxboro. Gronkowski and Hernandez have fared well in their respective careers against New York with Gronkowski averaging 3.5 catches for 42.5 yards and .5 touchdowns and Hernandez averaging 5 receptions for 62.25 yards and .25 touchdowns per contest.

New York has been improved, but still somewhat average against opposing tight ends this season. Some games, they have done a good job of shutting down the position that shredded them time and time again last season, while other times, they have given up big chunks of yards and critical red zone touchdowns. At the end of the day, this year’s Jets are still giving up just 4.7 catches for 54 yards and .5 touchdowns per game to opposing tight ends.

New York had severe holes at the safety position, something that was exploited in their most recent matchup with the Patriots in which Gronkowski went off for 8 receptions, 111 yards, and 2 touchdowns. As a result, the Jets went out and signed two proven veterans in Landry and Bell, and also used two draft picks on safeties in Josh Bush and Antonio Allen. These four players were brought in, not entirely, but primarily for this game.

It will be very interesting to see how this matchup plays out. With all the hype surrounding New England’s talented duo of tight ends, you’d have to think Landry will be coming out like a man possessed, looking to make a statement. Look for both Landry and Bell to be extremely physical in their coverage with each of these tight ends, something that has been lacking in the secondary prior to this season. A physical approach and sound, but creative, game plan could be just what the doctor ordered to finally keep this dual threat of Gronk and Hernandez in check.

TJ Rosenthal – We can’t help wondering how fast this new “starless” Jets team can gel. They seem commuted to each other and must be vining off of the perception that they should just pack up and go home now that Revis and Holmes are done this year. The key may be the run game. When the Pats are held to under 100 yards they are 0-3 this year. When Shonn Greene goes over 100, the Jets are 7-0. Was the Jets run game a mirage that fed off of a bad Colts run defense? Perhaps. If it was a case of the ground and pound finally kicking into gear though, hold the phones. Because maybe some respect on the ground will open up an already questionable Pats secondary to play action. Hold them under 100 and get Greene going again. That’s what we’d like to see. If the matchups up front on both sides of the ball yield something close to it, then the Jets can win in Foxboro Sunday.

Chris Celletti – I’m anxious to see how the Jets cover New England’s downfield passing game. The Patriots haven’t been as dominant through the air this season, but they’ve also faced very good defenses in all three of their losses (Baltimore, Arizona, Seattle). Stevan Ridley and Brandon Bolden have given New England a semblance of a running game, something they haven’t had in quite a while, but this unit has been a bit feast or famine so far this year. Make no mistake, New England still prefers to move the ball through the air, and Tom Brady still has plenty of weapons to use. . I’m interested to see how effective Rob Gronkowski is against LaRon Landry and Yeremiah Bell. Sunday’s game is one of the main reasons the Jets felt the need to make a huge upgrade at safety after last season. Overall the Jets’ secondary has a tall order ahead of them, but keeping the Pats’ passing game in check will go a long way towards the Jets beating their hated rival on the road.

Mike Donnelly – Jets New look D vs. Pats Hurry up O – The matchup I’m most looking forward to seeing this weekend is how the Jets matchup and play against the Patriots quick strike offense. In years past the Patriots have been able to catch the Jets off guard by getting a certain defensive personnel package on the field and exploiting it by going no-huddle and not letting the team make substitutions. Rex Ryan has made a conscious effort the past two years to get more players who can play all three downs effectively to match up with New England specifically. On the defensive line we’ll see less Po’uha and DeVito and more Quinton Coples and Muhammad Wilkerson, which is a massive improvement over Marcus Dixon. At linebacker we’ll see more of Demario Davis, Antonio Allen, and the newly signed Marcus Dowtin to play “hybrid” roles where they can still effectively defend the run and cover the Patriots excellent tight ends. Obviously not having Darrelle Revis is a major blow, but with the improvements made elsewhere, I think the Jets are going to be able to do a solid job covering the Pats many weapons.

Rob Celletti – Jets Front Seven vs. New England’s hurry-up. Two weeks ago, I sat, semi-horrified, watching Tom Brady march the Patriots up and down the field on the Broncos, utilizing a ruthless hurry-up offense that was just as likely to pick up 15 yards on the ground as it was through the air. But I didn’t see their opponent in orange and blue; I saw them in green and white.  This seems like a truly worst-case scenario matchup for the Jets, who are slow at linebacker and largely inexperienced along the defensive line.  Would there be anything more torturous than watching Brady hurry the Patriots to the line and kill the Jets with handoffs to Stevan Ridley and Danny Woodhead?

But remember, the Jets are coming off of a brilliant defensive performance, albeit at home against an inferior opponent.  They have leaned on some younger players which has increased athleticism; but can these pups handle a Brady-led offense? Again, the onus is on Rex Ryan to prepare this defense to try and hold New England to around 24 points in order to give the Jets a fighting chance at the upset.

Comparing AFC East Teams To The Corleone Children

Turn On The Jets compares the teams of the AFC East to the Corleone children from The Godfather

This is the time of the NFL season where it is important to do things like compare AFC East teams to the Corleone children in The Godfather. If you didn’t comprehend that first sentence, go watch all three movies…thank me…and then come back to read this article. The original inspiration for this article came from a group of Buffalo Bills fans referring to themselves as #BillsMafia on Twitter, where I couldn’t help but respond by calling them the Fredo of the AFC East as they promptly lost 8 of their last 9 games. Let’s fill out the rest of the family heading into the 2012 NFL season –

New England Patriots – Michael Corleone – The head of the family and the head of the division. Sneaky, ruthless and willing to do whatever it takes to maintain power. Bill Belichick and Tom Brady came out of nowhere to run the AFC East, just like Michael came out of nowhere to run the family. Belichick is notoriously paranoid about every piece of information surrounding his team, while Michael was paranoid enough to kill his own brother. We know that Belichick back-stabbed the Jets by resigning from their head coaching position and Michael was never shy to back-stab anybody on his rise to the top. The Patriots have the media (Peter King, Pro Football Talk) in their pocket just like the Corleone’s did under Michael’s leadership. Beyond that, couldn’t you see Belichick showing up at the Spygate hearings in the NFL office with a member of the family of anybody who was going to testify against him?

New York Jets – Sonny Corleone – Hotheaded and a little too outspoken for their own good at times. Rex and the Jets had a short reign at the top after knocking New England out of the playoffs in 2010 before coming crashing down from their brash words and actions in 2011. Sonny got hit on the causeway because Carlo gave him up. Who is Carlo? I am going with Brian Schottenheimer and his atrocious playcalling throughout the 2011 season, most notably dropping Mark Sanchez back over 60 times against the Giants pass rush in a game that all but ended their playoff hopes.

Buffalo Bills – Fredo Corleone – Always looking for respect when they have done nothing to deserve it. Every year they are hyped up as a contender but are then “stepped over” in the division by the Patriots and Jets. Buffalo can’t compete with their brothers, considering their combined record against the Pats and Jets since 2009 is 2-10. Yes, we hear everybody saying they can handle things in 2012 and will be a contender but we think they will be stepped over yet again.

Miami Dolphins – Connie Corleone – Not taken seriously. Connie is a floozy bouncing in and out relationships, while still being financially dependent on her brothers. The Dolphins put tarps over their seats, sell Jets apparel in their gift shop and will have David Garrard throwing passes to Chad Johnson Ochocinco Johnson this season. Hysterical…

Unfortunately, the New York Giants have to currently be Don Corleone since they are the reigning champs and their cloud hangs over the Patriots and Jets. Yes, it isn’t always being a Jets fan but “this is the business we have chosen”

Turn On The Jets 12 Pack: Damn Those Patriots

Can the Jets bounce back from an ugly 2011 against the Patriots and find success against their rivals from the north?

Inspired by a business trip to New England which I am currently taking part in, this week’s 12 pack is going to focus on the Patriots: what the Jets can do to get back to beating them, what New England has added this off-season, and a few more items pertaining to the team we love to hate. Make sure to give myself and staff writers Chris Gross and Mike Donnelly on Twitter, Turn On The Jets a follow on Facebook

1. Maybe it is because I am only 25 years old and I’d love to hear older Jets fans opinion on this, but isn’t the divisional round win in New England the second greatest win in franchise history behind Super Bowl III? Beyond that game, the Jets have only won three other times to put themselves in an AFC Championship Game. I know beating Jacksonville and San Diego wasn’t as sweet as ending the Patriots season and I am assuming the 1982 win over Los Angeles in the strike shortened season wasn’t either. Considering the circumstances around that game (the Monday Night massacre, being such heavy underdogs), how they won (smacking crap out of Brady and visibly rattling him), it doesn’t get any better for a Jets fan outside of a Super Bowl win, right?

2. On the other end of the spectrum, the Patriots thrashing of the Jets on Sunday Night Football last season ended the Jets as a serious contender in 2011. Yes, I know they were still alive after that but people forget how vulnerable the Patriots looked heading into that game and how the Jets had just rolled Buffalo. It was a clear shot for the Jets to take a stranglehold of the division in their own building and they were embarrassed in the second half and ran off the field. The Patriots made it apparent that the Jets had become too slow and reactive on defense and lacked any kind of firepower on offense to take advantage of a defense with holes in it.

3. What was even more frustrating about last season’s meeting with the Patriots is when you consider how New England beat them in their first meeting. They ran the ball down the Jets throat as Rex Ryan stuck with a defensive back heavy lineup too frequently and on offense they dared the Jets to throw the ball on the field and Brian Schottenheimer refused to. In the second meeting, the Jets adjusted to stop the run and Tom Brady threw all over them and offense the Jets tried to open it up and were overmatched. Bill Belichick was completely out-coached by Rex Ryan in the playoff loss but worked him over last season as revenge.

4. This season we are treated to Jets/Patriots on Thanksgiving. The Jets have been hit or miss on holidays as of late. In 2006, they all but clinched a playoff spot by beating Miami on Christmas as I happily cheered on in my Leon Washington jersey. In 2007, they were humiliated by Dallas on Thanksgiving as I purposely spilled cranberry sauce on my Kerry Rhodes jersey. In 2010, they beat Cincinnati on Thanksgiving as we laughed in our Darrelle Revis jersey at Terrell Owens and Chad Johnson trying to get open. Last year, the Jets ruined our Christmas by losing to the Giants on December 24th and propelling their Super Bowl run.

5. New England added some nice pieces in the draft this year, by grabbing Chandler Jones and Dont’a Hightower in the first round, two players many Jets fans coveted. Jones will provide a needed pass rush boost after New England lost Mark Anderson in free agency. Hightower has the skill set to step into being an every down player immediately. Belichick has made his share of errors in recent drafts but it is hard to see either Jones or Hightower being a flop.

6. Brandon Lloyd is going to be a playmaker in New England’s system. They badly needed an outside threat who could stretch the field and Lloyd fits the bill, particularly with his comfort in Josh McDaniels offense. It will be hard for him to rack up a high amount of catches with Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez and Wes Welker likely prioritized in front of him but his yards per catch should be impressive.

7. The Patriots added Steve Gregory and our every own Marquice Cole to their secondary. These aren’t big name additions but they are the type of players who will end up being major contributors. Remember James Ihedigbo last year?

8. New England deserves to be heavy favorite in the AFC East this season. The Jets must find a way to beat them head to head, once if not twice to keep themselves in the mix for a division title. It will be on Rex Ryan to bounce back after beating picked apart by Brady and Belichick last season because the Jets have the talent on defense to at least slow down the Pats attack. On offense, Tony Sparano needs to control the clock with his running game but not be shy about taking chances on the Pats questionable secondary when the time calls for it.

9. How to stop the Patriots tight ends this year? The Jets lack one player who can cover either Gronkowski or Hernandez. It will have to be combination of new additions Yeremiah Bell, LaRon Landry, Demario Davis and Josh Bush. The Jets could also slide Revis or Cromartie inside on certain situations but ultimately the safeties are going to have to step up.

10. What is your favorite Jets play against the Patriots of the Rex Ryan era? I will go with either Calvin Pace nearly ripping Brady’s arm off, Braylon Edwards dragging half their defense into the end-zone or Shonn Greene rocking them to sleep…unfortunately none occurred last year and all occurred in one game.

11. When projecting New England’s win total this year, how could you put them at anything under 11, considering the consistency of their success?

12. I don’t care what anybody says Buffalo, the Jets remain New England’s biggest threat to a divisional title repeat.

The Dead Zone – A Brief Review Of the NY/Boston LoveFest

Justin takes a look around the state of the sports franchises in New York and Boston in the slowest sports time of the year

Sometimes it’s great to be a New York sports fan. Especially when you’re doing tequila shots in a NY located “Boston sports bar” and the bartender is wearing a Celtics shirt, the Celtics of course losing to the god awful Lakers (Nobody likes World Peace) only minutes before. I have to admit I felt a momentary lapse of sadness for this guy, who has in the last 5 days probably been bombarded with drunk Giants fans issuing proclamations that Boston sports are about to undergo a nuclear winter.

Which they are.

The Celtics are in the middle of a Ainge vs. Fans battle that is going to lose hearts, minds, and general optimism for about the next 2-3 years. The Boston Red Sox are being managed by Bobby Valentine (SERIOUSLY? METS MAN BOBBY V?), and are going to be the biggest target in baseball coming off a series of articles that paint the locker room as something out of Blue Mountain State and Animal House combined, the Patriots are going to undergo the “Belichick as GM” annual scrutiny, and anything less than using at least their two first round and two second round draft picks is going to turn away die hard Pats fans until Ryan Mallett starts suiting up and Tom Brady has a touch of gray in that hair, leading to a civil war between Mallett fans and Brady fans, and even a few ancient Bledsoe fans who will issue bible proclamations “for he who taketh that which is not his, that much will be taken away”.

So everything’s good in NY right? Maybe for the Giants, who are going to most likely dump guys that didn’t play this year and possibly trade Osi if they take a defensive end/outside linebacker in the first round of the draft. Jason Pierre Paul is doing his best impression of someone whose genuinely happy just to play for the Giants. Oh yeah, and he is doing the unthinkable in mastering a professional sports position in about 2 years, and will probably go to the Pro Bowl between 7 and 10 times in the next decade while Vernon Gholston starts a football summer camp and contemplates partial ownership opportunities of the IFL.

I’d like to add a general thank you to the Giant fans who gave me a couple bud lights and a few shots of tequila on the 7:16 AM train to Penn Station from Deer Park this past Tuesday (The day of the parade). Really helped me start my day right.

Meanwhile, the Jets have Wayne Hunter and Vlad Ducasse. Jealous yet? They have a half decent (no pro bowls, no all pro nods) receiver who may undergo the Burnett syndrome (who the Yankees are trying to shop as we speak, but are having a GlenGarry Glen Ross moment, Jack Lemon specifically) the next year as he and Mark Sanchez have a Days Of Our Lives style back and forth exchange of opinions, strategies, while everyone wonders why in god’s name the Jets have decided to completely revamp their receiving core every year of Rex Ryan’s tenure.

I’ll tell you why. Because Rex Ryan frankly has little to no interest on the offensive side of the ball. The case stated as thus: If he did, their line wouldn’t have been complete garbage, they wouldn’t have passed 63 times in a game, and they wouldn’t have signed someone like Derrick Mason because he was great 6 years ago.

All Rex Ryan cares about, genuinely lives or dies by, is his defense. And even that didn’t get it done, so for those of us who continually asked, “WHY IN GOD’s NAME IS CROMARTIE NOT PLAYING PRESS COVERAGE?!?!?!?!?! DENNIS THURMAN SAID HE NEEDS TO PLAY PRESS COVERAGE!” we got a whole lot of Mike Pettine, which is fine, except for the fact that the head coach is one of the best defensive coordinators in football. That’s like Mike Martz being your head coach, and having the offensive line coach call the plays.

So what do I make of Jeremy Lin taking over the Knicks? Fear, love, joy, apprehension, etc. etc. Why? Because for the first time in two years I saw glimpses of the D’Antoni system, which is going to die for a while once Carmelo gets the ball back in his hands. And pivots. Pivots back. Pivots again. Ball fake. Crossover. Stop. Pull up jumper. Basket. At times, Carmelo might work better with a bunch of cardboard cutouts stationed at various points throughout the floor, because no point guard is going to run this system while Carmelo is around.

What could fix this? Dumping Amare with a first round pick and getting Deron Williams/Brandon Jennings/ anyone not 38? (sorry Steve) Maybe. That would at least let Lin start off the bench and Shumpert go back to being “anything but a point guard”. So what’s stopping it? James Dolan’s heart of pure evil. That and the fact that Mike D’Antoni is probably going to be coaching the Clippers next year. (Just a strange thought).

I frankly don’t care what happens with the majority of the Yankees roster, as long as they kick the piss out of Bobby Valentine’s Red Sox at least 8 times next year. To add to this wish list, I and others will hope that Kuroda and Pineda keep their ERA under 4, A.J Burnett will play for the Pirates, and Bob Lorenz gets real loose on air and admits his hatred for the amount of corporate advertising around the new Yankee stadium.

Despite the inherent ugliness, I will be at Yankees stadium, where for every pregame I will find myself looking out at the beautiful rooftops of the projects from the Target shopping center parking garage, wondering if I’m going to be walking/crawling/running out of the stadium and hoping my record improves from last year’s 0-3.

For now, it’s winter? (49 in February). Time to be productive and attempt to crawl upwards in my analysis of the 4-12 Buccaneers and Browns. At least there are serious changes coming to both organizations.

What New York Jets Fans Should Be Rooting For Sunday

A list of what New York Jets fans should be rooting for on Sunday

The Super Bowl is just about here. As expected, it hasn’t been the greatest two weeks to be a New York Jets fan with both the Patriots and Giants getting plenty of shots in on our team while they are down. It isn’t easy to root for the Giants and it isn’t easy to root for the Patriots. There is nothing wrong with rooting for neither but here are a few things for Jets fans to root for on Sunday –

1. A huge mistake from Steve Weatherford, who thinks he has parlayed one decent season into being a media celebrity who has the right to trash one of the league’s greatest special teams coaches. Hey Weatherford, you are a punter. I don’t care if you win a Super Bowl, you are a freakin’ punter. Westhoff’s impact on the game will still outweigh yours tenfold. Jets fans should be rooting for an untimely shank, a dropped snap, or a self-inspired fake on 4th and 18.

2. Antrel Rolle and Brandon Jacobs eating their Rex Ryan sized words after a poor performance and a loss this Sunday.

3. Tom Brady having an awful performance, continuing his streak of playoff mediocrity since 2007.

4. Most importantly, Curtis Martin getting into the Hall of Fame this Saturday night (I know it isn’t on Sunday but whatever).

5. No PepsiMax commercials featuring Rex Ryan or Mark Sanchez.

6. The most important thing to root for and maybe you disagree with this, but a blowout one way or the other. At least if there is a blowout, you have a little ammunition for the rival fanbase next year. At least let’s hope to avoid an epically, amazing game that one of the team wins on one of the luckiest plays imaginable.

Free agency and the draft, hurry up!

New York Jets Receive Plenty Of Love At Media Day

The New York Jets received plenty of love yesterday at media day

It was a day full of sunshine and love for the New York Jets yesterday as the New York Giants and New England Patriots did everything they could to kick the Jets while they are down —

Antrel Rolle got in a few more jabs at Rex Ryan and confirmed it was the Jets who began the Giants run to the Super Bowl. Imagine if Kyle Wilson and Antonio Cromartie could tackle? Or if Eric Smith wasn’t the slowest safety in the NFL?

Brandon Jacobs talked about Plaxico Burress wanting to be with the Giants this past year, not the Jets. Along with subliminally criticizing the Jets organization, offensive system and quarterback Mark Sanchez.

John Mara also took a shot at Rex Ryan’s personality when talking about why he liked Tom Coughlin.

Shaun Ellis talked about the Jets lack of loyalty.

Tom Brady talked about being happy for Shaun Ellis after he never went anywhere with the Jets.

It is Rex Ryan’s fault the Giants kept Victor Cruz.

Good times, right Jets fans? We will really be able to separate the bandwagoners and the real Jets fans in the coming months/season. It was easy to be a Jets fans the past two years, let’s see who sticks around after a season that is more in line with the rest of their history.

New York Jets…And The Hysteria Sets In

One regular season loss and the hysteria has set in for Jets Nation

Let’s not sugarcoat anything from the New York Jets game last night. It was embarrassing to make the number of mental errors they did. The table was set perfectly for them to make a run for a AFC East title and they choked. Nobody played well. Nobody coached well.

Now for some perspective: despite a missed chip shot field goal, a muffed punt, a tipped ball interception, horrific clock management, horrific protection, and a mediocre performance from the quarterback, the Jets were down by a touchdown with less than 10 minutes left.

This loss hurts as it ended any realistic chance of the Jets winning the division and hosting a home playoff game. The road to the Super Bowl will again be spent…on the road. Now the key is actually getting to the point of the playing those road playoff games.

I don’t care how much last night stung, the Jets are still sitting at 5-4 with 5 straight games coming up in which they will be favorites. They are in a conference where there could be a 9 win team who makes the playoffs and nobody is pulling away in the wild-card race. If they do make it into the tournament, who is unbeatable?

New England was unbeatable last year and we know how that went. Baltimore just lost to Seattle. Pittsburgh has looked vulnerable at times. The AFC West is a mess and Houston has never played a playoff game and now has Matt Leinart under center. It is a wide open conference where the team who gets hot at the right time will end up in the Super Bowl.

I am not trying to blind with you some sunny optimism about the Jets and the holes on their current roster. There is real problems that we will get to addressing later. Yet, for now they are more than talented enough to beat Denver and their college style offense even on short notice.

The pity party solves nothing, similar to the rash of hysteria that follows every loss this team has. I have news for you Jets fans, Mark Sanchez isn’t going anywhere. He is our quarterback and this isn’t a bad thing. Is he inconsistent? Is there room for improvement? Yes. Sanchez is a young, developing quarterback who had minimal experience in college and has dealt with a revolving door at wide receiver and some questionable play-calling. On the whole, he will likely make a statistical improvement in every major category this year from last year…just like he did from his second year in comparison to his first year.

Stop saying the Jets can’t win with him because he has already won four road playoff games and wasn’t the reason they lost of either of their AFC Championship Games. The media gives Sanchez the rashest and harshest treatment because of his coach and the team he plays on.

Matthew Stafford threw four interceptions yesterday, his team has lost 3 of 4, and he is always banged up. Should the Lions give up on him? Josh Freeman has been terrible this year compared to last year and has never won an important game. Should the Bucs give up on him? Matt Ryan zero playoff wins. Time to cut him loose? Joe Flacco can’t get past Pittsburgh in the playoffs and just lost in Seattle, why keep him around?

The same thing goes for Rex Ryan, don’t hate on his personality and brashness when the team loses but embrace it when they are winning. You can say this about Rex, he is consistent. He is himself and that never changes. Either like it or dislike it, don’t say he needs to stop being who is because the Jets didn’t run the table after starting 2-3.

Last night was an ugly loss to our hated rivals…it brings out plenty of negative emotions. Vent them out but save your big picture judgements until the season is over. The same people who buried the Jets today are the same people who buried them in 2009 and 2010 after regular season losses to New England.

Initial Reaction: Outclassed – Jets Get Smacked By New England

It was an ugly night at MetLife Stadium…

Sometimes football isn’t a very complicated game. When you miss chip shot field goals, commit stupid penalties, turn the football over, and manage the clock poorly, you aren’t going to win.

Tonight was an ugly, sloppy effort from the New York Jets at time when they could least afford it. Don’t put this one on any single individual or unit. Tonight was a team loss, that was as much about mental mistakes as it was about physical mistakes.

The sob stories will start surrounding this team again, as they blew a golden opportunity. Realistically a AFC East crown probably isn’t happening. It is now on to the dogfight for a wild-card spot. Shame on Rex Ryan for not having the team properly prepared tonight, particularly not having his defense ready for the Patriots hurry up. Shame on Joe McKnight and Donald Strickland for not being able to catch or fall on a punt. Shame on Mark Sanchez for an inconsistent performance and poor clock management. Shame on the offensive line for being abused all night, the linebackers for generating no pass rush and shame on Eric Smith for being generally awful at his job.

Fortunately, there isn’t time for the Jets to wipe up their tears. They will take the whipping in the media they deserve and hear how overrated they are yet again but the reality is that they are playing Denver in a couple of days and they badly need a win to wash the taste of tonight out of their mouth. The soft part of the schedule is here and the Jets need to tonight quick to take advantage of it.