Turn On The Jets Week 12 Roundtable – Jets vs. Pats Match-Up

The TOJ staff discusses what match-up they are most looking forward to in the Jets vs. Patriots game tomorrow night

Joe Caporoso – Sanchez. Sanchez. Sanchez. Simply put, the Jets cannot win this game unless Mark Sanchez protects the football and makes a few plays down the field against a suspect New England secondary. He has been boom or bust against the Patriots in the past. If the Jets want to make a late season playoff run and Sanchez wants any semblance of job security for next year, it starts with a big time performance tomorrow night.

Chris Gross – Mike Westhoff vs. Himself: Has the former star of Hard Knocks already mentally checked out, about 8 weeks prior to his official retirement? The Jets once stout special teams play has been a disaster as of late. Most recently, last week in St. Louis, New York avoided an ultimate disaster after a holding penalty negated what would have been a Rams kickoff returned for a touchdown. Add the blocked field goal and failed fake punt, and it’s a miracle that this team was still able to win in a relatively dominant fashion. To pull the upset tomorrow night against the Patriots, the Jets will likely need to play a perfect game in all three phases. This means that New York cannot afford another Special Teams blunder. A blocked kick, big return, or falling asleep on the kickoff return team, resulting in New England successfully executing a surprise onsides kick (See Miami), will all spell disaster for Gang Green. Westhoff needs to have his unit ready, because based on their play over the past few weeks, Bill Belichick is likely licking his chops while thinking about how he can expose the flaws in New York’s special teams

Rob Celletti – Everyone knows that the Patriots have an abysmal secondary, which is why the key matchup this week for the Jets is actually their run game vs. New England’s defensive front. Mark Sanchez has proven to be an effective quarterback when he’s got a run game supporting him, as this opens up misdirection and playaction.  n my opinion, the Jets have gotten away from the ground game quickly in their losses this season, even when not trailing by multiple scores. Even if the Jets go down 10-0 quickly tomorrow night, they would be wise to continue handing off to the new backfield committee of Greene, Powell and McKnight.  Sanchez should still attempt 30+ passes in this game, but how successful he is on those throws will be tied to how successful the Jets are on the ground

Mike Donnelly – The matchup I’m most looking forward to seeing is the Jets Pass Rush vs. Tom Brady. There is no question that getting in Brady’s face and pressuring him is the only way to throw him off his game and give yourself the best chance to win. Look at what the Giants did to him in those Super Bowls. Look what the Jets did to him in that 2010 playoff game. It can be done, and the Jets need it to be done. Mo Wilkerson is playing like an absolute beast and Quinton Coples is developing nicely along side of him. Bryan Thomas and Calvin Pace are on the downside of their careers, but don’t be surprised to see them step up in what will likely be their last Patriots rivalry game of their careers. Ricky Sapp is getting a longer look lately, and there was ever a time for him to announce his arrival to the NFL, it’s this week. If the Jets are going to have any chance, they need to generate a pass rush, and that’s what I’ll be watching for.

Chris Celletti – The opportunity is in Mark Sanchez’s hands. The Jets’ quarterback can win this game for his team, he just needs to go out and do it. Just as in their Week 7 matchup against the Patriots, Sanchez will have chances all day to throw the ball down the field and rip off big chunks of yards against the Patriots’ spotty secondary. While the Pats’ offense is a bit banged up and missing their biggest weapon, I still wouldn’t bank on them putting up something like 17 points. They’re still the league’s best offense, and there’s that guy Tom Brady under center. So in order for the Jets to pull the upset, as they almost did in Foxboro earlier this year, they’ll need to put up points. The guy that can make sure that happens? Sanchez. Let’s see it, 6.

A Recent History Of New York Jets Ruining Holidays

A recent history of the New York Jets ruining holidays

Being a New York Jets fan certainly isn’t the easiest thing in the world. Generally, it provides a consistent cycle of inevitable let-downs and heartbreak. What has been interesting is that the Jets have found a way to impact numerous holidays in recent years. So much so, that in my 25 years on this planet very few holidays have passed without me having a distinct Jets memory related to it.

December 21st, 1997 – Jets Lose 13-10 in Detroit – As a 10 year old Jets fan, I’d never seen my team anywhere near the playoffs. They always seemed like this enormous thing that my lowly team would never get to be a part of. Yet, all the Jets needed was a win in Detroit to sneak in. The top of my Christmas List that year was a sloppily scribbled “JETS PLAYOFFS” After waking up at the crack of dawn and putting on my Keyshawn Johnson jersey, I watched an early lead trickle away behind interceptions from Leon Johnson (a running back) and Ray Lucas (an early version of Tebow). Why oh why were these players throwing second half passes in the biggest game of the year? My Dad (A Giants fan) could only laugh and tell me…get used to it. What did I get for Christmas that year? A Neil O’Donnell jersey that I cried into all day (pathetic, I know).

December 19th, 1998 – Jets Beat Buffalo 17-10 – I skipped a recreational basketball practice to watch the Jets clinch a AFC East title and was benched for it two days later in our game, which we lost to end our season. Since I was our leading scorer, the entire team was mad at me and refused to hang out with me over Christmas Break. (You can see how unhealthy it is to be a Jets fan already).

December 24th, 2000 – Jets Lose to Baltimore 34-20 – The Jets needing a win on Christmas Eve to clinch a playoff spot? What do you think happened? An obvious 14-0 lead was quickly erased, thanks mostly to Vinny Testaverde throwing an interception that was returned 99 yards for a touchdown right before the half. I spent the night at my Grandma’s hoping the Jets could stil get in because of a Pittsburgh loss in the late game…they didn’t lose. No playoffs. Miserable Christmas Eve.

December 26th, 2005 – Jets Lose to New England 31-21 – A long break in-between holiday memories, I know. I got tickets to this Monday night game as a Christmas present. My only memory is walking into the game and hearing Patriots fans yelling “YA QUARTABACK IS BROOKS BOLLANNGAHHH!” and sadly knowing they were right. The Jets lost by 10.

December 25th, 2006 – Jets Beat Miami 13-10 – Hey, a positive memory! Chad Pennington, Leon Washington and the rest of the upstart 2006 Jets knocked off Cleo Lemon in a primetime thriller to save Christmas and propel the Jets to the playoffs…where they were promptly stomped out by New England.

November 22nd, 2007 – Jets Lose to Dallas 34-3 – Finally some Thanksgiving Jets Football! Nothing like gathering around the television to watch Kellen Clemens, Chris Baker and Justin McCariens get the ever living crap beat out of them by Tony Romo and Terrell Owens. I remember thinking after this game that the Jets were the worst team in professional sports and would likely never reach playoffs again.

November 25th, 2010 – Jets Beat Cincinnati 26-10 – Another Thanksgiving night game for the Jets – this time a much more enjoyable one. The highlight of this game? Brad Smith ripping off two touchdowns, one on a kick return and one on a long reverse. Too bad the Jets only have the poor man’s version of Smith now AKA Tim Tebow.

December 24th, 2011 – Giants Beat Jets 29-14 – Somewhere Victor Cruz is still running.

New York Jets – Fork In The Road Again Involves New England

For the fourth straight year under Rex Ryan, the pivotal moment of their season will come against New England

The New York Jets are holding on to the slimmest of playoff hopes thanks to last week’s victory over the St. Louis Rams and the general mediocrity of the AFC. An upset over the New England Patriots this Thursday night could set the table for a late season playoff run, aided by an alarmingly weak schedule the rest of the way. The Jets don’t play a team with a better current record than 4-6 after this week’s game. Late season games against New England have marked the pivot points of every Rex Ryan led Jets season so far and this year appears no different. Hopefully, the Jets will be able to reverse their recent trend of disastrous performances in these pivot games.

In 2009, the team bottomed out at 4-6 after getting blown out 31-14 in New England thanks mostly to a four interception performance from Mark Sanchez. Ryan responded by benching Kerry Rhodes on defense and drastically scaling back the Jets offense and going even more run heavy than before (remember the color coded wristband?). The Jets won 5 of their next 6 and snuck into the playoffs to make an improbable run to the AFC Championship Game.

In 2010, it was the Monday Night Massacre which ended a four game Jets winning streak with a 45-3 loss. Another three interceptions from Sanchez and another loss to rally around, which the Jets didn’t truly do until they shocked the Patriots in the Divisional Round of the playoffs.

Last year, the 5-3 Jets were coming off an impressive road win in Buffalo and appeared ready to overtake New England for the AFC East lead. What happened? 37-16 New England at MetLife with 2 interceptions from Sanchez. They lost the following week in Denver before going 3-3 down the stretch to miss the playoffs.

The Jets have no margin for error this Thursday. There is no time to rally around another New England blowout loss and Sanchez stink bomb. Simply put, a win makes the Jets very relavant in December. A loss means they are basically playing out the string. They are catching New England without Rob Gronkowski and Chandler Jones, along with a banged up Aaron Hernandez. Yes, the Patriots are still a much better all-around team but the Jets out-played them a month ago and still found a way to lose a heart-breaker in overtime. They should be confident.

Take away the kick return touchdown. Take away the safety. Don’t get gun-shy conservative on defense in a big spot and keep a balanced, yet creative approach on offense. This game will be competitive in the fourth quarter and who knows what could happen then.

The Jets defense played a strong game up until New England’s final two drives in the previous meeting. Rex Ryan is smart enough not to come with the same scheme at Brady twice in one season. Look for Antonio Cromartie to work between Brandon Lloyd and Aaron Hernandez (if he plays), while bracketing Wes Welker in the slot. New England’s running game is more potent than in previous years but you’d rather force the Patriots to put together 12-13 play drives to score points. You can’t let them rip off 25 yards a play in the passing game. Muhammad Wilkerson needs to continue his recent hot streak and generate pressure upfront along with Quinton Coples. The Jets don’t really have the horses to blitz Brady because of their lack of talent at linebacker and if you don’t get to Brady when you blitz, he kills you.

On offense, the Jets got a good push in the running game earlier in the season against New England’s front seven. It will be important to stick with the committee approach, alternating between Shonn Greene, Bilal Powell and Joe McKnight to keep a fresh back. Powell and McKnight also need to be used to make an impact in the short passing game.

When it comes to throwing the ball, Mark Sanchez needs to protect the football above everything. New England is a bad defense but an opportunistic defense. If you don’t let them take the ball away, the Patriots aren’t pulling away in this one. There is going to be chances for big plays down the field, particularly from Jeremy Kerley and Dustin Keller out of the slot. The two combined for 213 receiving yards back in October.

We mentioned a “creative” offense a few paragraphs ago. The Jets still lack overall talent on offense and shouldn’t be hesitant to empty the playbook out a little bit on Thursday. A well-timed reverse or flea-flicker could steal points for an offense that desperately needs any they could get.

This game is a referendum on both Rex Ryan and Mark Sanchez. Can Sanchez protect the football and play well enough to give his team a chance to win, in a game that could propel a late season run that might save his job? Can Rex put together a game plan to steal a victory from a team with vastly superior talent? Any questions about Ryan’s head coaching future here will go radio silent with a national television victory over the Patriots with the current group of players he is working with.

Turn On The Jets Stock Watch – Jets/Patriots Preview Edition

Mike Donnelly is buying and selling for his weekly Turn On The Jets Stock Watch. This week previewing Jets vs. Patriots

It’s a bit of a shame that the Jets play on a short week against the Pats this week because I would like to savor that curb-stomping Rex Ryan and his defense handed to former Jets coordinator Brian Schottenheimer’s current St. Louis Rams offense just a little bit longer. After all, we haven’t had all that much to be pleased with this year, right? It sure was sweet to be on the other side of a patented Schotty game for a change. The Rams were gashing the Jets early with the run but I wasn’t worried at all. I’d seen this movie too many times and I know how it ends. Naturally, he immediately stopped calling run and a smile broke across my face. Just like we had seen for years here in New York, Schotty much preferred the 2 yard outs and 3 yard crossing patterns that repeatedly resulted in incomplete passes. It was all so very familiar, and all so gratifying to watch. Thank you, Schotty, thank you. Finally, you brought me some joy after six painful years.

Now before we sweep the Rams game under the rug, let’s touch on a few things from it before moving on into full-on Patriots Week mode…

SELL: The “Schotty’s Revenge” jokes – It was funny checking my Twitter after the Rams scored that opening touchdown, seeing all the many, many, many, many stupid and ignorant jokes put out there by so many “experts”, reporters, fans, and haters, all based around the premise that Schotty is, was, and forever will be a genius who the Jets stupidly got rid of. Ha-ha, jokes on the Jets, right? By the 2nd quarter, when Schotty was back to doing Schotty things, leading to his offense not moving the ball, I didn’t see a single thing about it. Weird how that works, huh?

SELL: The Mark Sanchez haters – It’s really gotten to the point that even when Sanchez plays well he’s going to get zero credit and zero respect, huh? Prior to the game all I read about was how the Rams defense was going to tear the Jets apart. Didn’t quite happen. Hey Jets fans, Mark Sanchez is the quarterback of the Jets. Regardless of how you feel about him, when he does well, you should be happy. I will never understand this.

BUY: Tony Sparano’s Gameplan – This was probably Sparano’s best game of the season. The use of play-actions, rollout passes, and creativity in getting the Jets’ many bad receivers open in space was great to see. What else? Glad you asked..

BUY: The Jets 3-Headed RB Attack – FINALLY! I re-watched the game tape five times just to make sure that what I thought I had seen on the TV was not a figment of my imagination: We actually had a Joe McKnight sighting on offense! It was pretty funny — and sad — watching the game and hearing the shock and disgust in the announcer’s voice when he said “That was Joe McKnight’s first catch of the season!” Tell me about it. After 10 weeks of praying to various Gods, lighting candles, begging, pleading, writing letters, and ritualistically sacrificing a few Patriots fans (ok, the last one may not have actually happened), the Jets FINALLY did what I wanted and got Joe McKnight involved in the offense, and threw him a pass. That’s all I wanted, just one pass to show me the coaches were aware it is in fact legal to throw a pass to the running back.

It was also great to see Bilal Powell get a few touches and turn them into two touchdowns. Who would have known that maximizing the various talents your running backs possess would be a better alternative than just having Shonn Greene stumble into the line 20 times a game?

SELL: Joe McKnight Inside the 5 yard line – I am all for more McKnight, but perhaps using him as a pseudo goal-line back is not the proper time. Let’s go ahead and rip that page out of the playbook and pretend it never happened, Tony.

SELL: Calvin Pace, Kyle Wilson, Ellis Lankster – Just reminding you that they still stink. This game changed nothing.

SELL: Jets Special Teams (other than Joe McKnight) – Also still very bad.

BUY: Mo Wilkerson – Big Mo has started to look like the dominant All-Pro defensive lineman Rex Ryan talked him up as prior to the season. The last few weeks have been especially impressive for the 2011 first round pick. The scary thing is that he’s only beginning to scratch the surface on what he can do on the field as well. As Quinton Coples develops next to him and an edge rusher is presumably brought in to come around the corner and clean up after Wilkerson’s disruption up the middle, he’s really going to look tremendous. Nobody gives more crap to Mike Tannenbaum and his player evaluation ability than me, but I have to give him credit for Wilkerson. Having Mo and other young talent on defense like Coples, Kenrick Ellis, and Demario Davis will set this defense up very nicely up front for years to come.

SELL: Stephen Hill being “raw” – Ok, enough praise of Tannenbaum. The Stephen Hill debacle looks worse and worse every week. All we heard about after the draft was how “raw” Hill was and how he would need time to develop. Well if that was the case, WHY THE HELL would you not bring in a reliable #2 receiver to start while the rookie developed? And not to mention, it’s always been my understand that “being raw” means he runs the wrong route from time to time, or can’t separate from the cornerback at the line of scrimmage. Being raw, to me, doesn’t include “not being able to catch”, because that seems like a pretty basic thing that all wide receivers should have learned sometime around the 6th grade. If Hill doesn’t learn to catch — and fast — he’s going to just be another in the long line of bust wide receivers who can run real fast and jump real high, but aren’t actually good at playing football — which is a pretty important thing.

Now about that little ol’ Patriots game we have coming up this week. Below are my three keys to this game. If I’m not back here next week in this very column buying all of these, there’s a really good chance I’m also going to be loading the column up with more than a few expletives because the Jets will have lost another big game and the season will more than likely be kaput.

1. Pressure Tom Brady – Mo Wilkerson is going to be double-teamed the entire game because quite frankly, Bill Belichick isn’t dumb. He knows Wilkerson can single-handily disrupt the Patriots offense by getting in Tom Brady’s face all night, just like Shaun Ellis did in the 2010 playoffs. So it’s going to be up to Quinton Coples to step up, along with Calvin Pace (doubtful) and Ricky Sapp (maybe) around the edge. Bryan Thomas has also elevated his play of late, and I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see him turn back the clock a little bit and step up in what will likely be his last Jets-Pats game ever.

2. Stop Wes Welker – With Rob Gronkowski out and Aaron Hernandez likely to be slowed a little by his injury, stopping Wes Welker will be an even bigger key to this week’s game than usual. Typically the Jets would be able to just put him on Revis Island and forget about it, but that option isn’t available this week. And as amazing as Antonio Cromartie has been this season, moving to the slot and covering shifty guys like Welker has never been his strong suit. And that means that — sigh — it’s going to be up to guys like Kyle Wilson and Ellis Lankster to play as well as they possibly can (which isn’t very well, unfortunately) and slow Wes down. There’s going to be a ton of bracket coverage played, and don’t be surprised to see Demario Davis play a major role this week covering some of these short passes over the middle. Just writing this paragraph is giving me anxiety. Ugh.

3. NO TURNOVERS!! – This is the biggest one of them all. When the Jets don’t turn the ball over, they win. Mark Sanchez is unquestionably at a crossroads of his Jets career, and a big-time performance this week against the Patriots will go a long way toward building the confidence not just of himself, but all of his teammates, and the fans. We all know the Patriots defense is comically bad, but they thrive on being opportunistic and causing turnovers, so the Jets absolutely can not fall into that trap. The mission statement on offense this week is simple: Protect the ball, find the many, many soft spots in the defense, and win the game. Easier said than done, unfortunately.

No Huddle – Crucial Win In St. Louis Edition

TJ Rosenthal goes No Huddle on the Jets crucial win in St. Louis

4-6 is not the type of record to go celebrating in the Meatpacking District over. The way New York athletes often do after big victories. Ending a three game skid and moving beyond a “Terrible Tim” storm that threatened to derail focus on the Rams is. The Jets win over St Louis has seemingly calmed the Florham Park madness down for the time being but more importantly, has moved Gang Green to within two games of a wildcard spot with six games remaining. The hated Pats minus Gronk are next, but a season on the brink was given a breath of life yesterday. Let’s at least be thankful for that at the start of this holiday week.

1 – Unraveling the Mystery That Is Mark Sanchez

Give Mark Sanchez an effective run game, a defense that gets stops, some screen passes with proper spacing, a few roll outs, and receivers who hold onto the ball, and you get a 118 rating. The entire team has to be functioning well in order for Sanchez to manage a game with confidence but when they do, the Jets starting QB can do his job well.

We wonder what minimizing the Tebow substitutions did to his rythym too as well. Should plays or packages that call for 15 more often reappear this season, it will be worth keeping an eye on how the production of Sanchez changes. Hopefully the staff monitors any differences should they arise, as well.

2 – Bart Scott’s Brief Boycott

The Jets animated veteran LB gave his defense post game orders to use the catch phrase “both teams played hard”  with the press. The boycott failed after a brief stand, but it’s intent, to combat a media that used unnamed sources to try and splinter a team already struggling with a three game losing streak and an undermanned roster, is understandable. It’s hard to blame the longtime veteran for being angry about the purposeful disruption.

The players though, should all know by now, that the Jets are painted as a circus tent who at times, bring the cartoonish characterization upon themselves. For a colorful team with an open door media policy like the Jets,  the all or nothing Big Apple coverage is heightened to the utmost degree.

On the flip side, there is nothing like winning in New York. An upset over the Patriots Thursday will change the storyline from “implosion” to “another Rex late season charge” towards the playoffs.

3 – Three Headed Monster: A Wish Finally Granted

We asked for GM Mike Tannenbaum to acquire one more veteran RB this offseason in order to bolster the ground and pound concept that Tony Sparano was hoping to reinvigorate this year. We didn’t get our wish.

Finally in week 11, we got the next best thing. A three pronged attack that included speedy Joe McKnight and shifty Bilal Powell into the mix. Shonn Greene has been effective as of late, and the help he got Sunday proved that the Jets can aid Mark Sanchez by moving the chains on the ground while setting up play action. Let’s hope this approach continues. There ought to be no going back to the “Greene as Bell Cow Back” daydream ever again.

4 – Gronk’s Injury 

Rob Gronkowski got injured in the waning moments of a 59-24 Patriot blowout win against the Colts Sunday. The great TE’s broken forearm was an unnecessary one, especially when you consider that it happened on the extra point blocking team in a 35 point game.

On the one hand we respect Bill Belichick for working on his offense’s playbook and crispness with his starters, even when a victory is in the bag. On the other hand, the mindset comes at a great risk to the health of key starters. New England lost Wes Welker in a meaningless final game three years back, and could have used him during their first round playoff exit at the hands of the Ravens at home weeks later. Team history was there for Belichick to lean on before deciding to take that type of chance again.

What Gronk’s injury means for the Jets is two fold heading into their must win matchup on Thanksgiving night. First, that the only unguardable player in one on one coverage will be out . A reality that will help the Jets at times. Second, that Belichick has often been able to offset an injury in the short term by utilizing backups and other positions anyway.

The Patriots are still the Patriots as long as Tom Brady is the QB and Belichick is the HC. Don’t let any one injury, even to the league’s best player at his position, allow you to think otherwise.

5 – Other Jets/Pats Thoughts

The Jets will take this win over the Rams to believe in themselves again. Rex Ryan told them prior to Sunday, that it was the “Jets against the world” again and the often used tool in Ryan kit worked. As it has on many other occasions. The players’ confidence in Ryan and the coaches game planning, will have a huge effect in how the Jets prepare mentally for Thursday night.
Ryan will now also remind his team that they had the last meeting between the two clubs won, were it not for one failed stop on the game’s final regulation drive. BEFORE Rob Gronkowski, the unguardable one, was lost due to his work on XPT team blocking duties, while up 35 points with seconds left against the Colts.
Rex should also make the team aware that in the short term, Bill Belichick is a master at covering up a key loss by making weapons out of anyone and everyone at his disposal. That keeping a peddle down on the gas is the only to continue climbing out of the big hole Gang Green has made for themselves.

Sanchez Breakdown: One at a Time

Rob Celletti with a breakdown of Mark Sanchez’s performance against the St. Louis Rams

Stat line: 15/20, 178 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT; 75% completion pct., 118.3 QB Rating

Season Stats: 168/314, 2,038 yards, 11 TD, 9 INT; 53.5 completion pct., 73.4 QB Rating

We’ve gotten to a point – and maybe rightfully so – where Mark Sanchez can do no right in the eyes of some Jets fans. Yesterday, Sanchez played a smart, effective, efficient, well-rounded game. He was sharp, confident, decisive and consistent through four quarters. He played turnover-free football. Yet, lots of chatter on Twitter and the like after the game was, “MEH, SANCHEZ STILL SUCKS.”

I’m not here to be reductive, and as a matter of fact, analyzing Mark Sanchez is the same thing as analyzing the Jets’ season. At this point, you have no choice but to take it one game at a time. So regardless of how you feel about the Jets quarterback in a big-picture sense, you can’t deny that he played well yesterday. That was good enough to get a floundering team to 4-6 and keep the lights on for at least three more days.

The Best: Our esteemed editor has pointed out the pump fake as one of those infuriating Sanchez habits that needs to be broken. Yesterday though, Sanchez looked comfortable and under control in the pocket. The pump fake wasn’t a frantic sign of indecision, but rather a tool Sanchez used to move safeties and wait for the play to develop down the field. The touchdown throw to Chaz Schilens was opened up by a feigned screen into the right flat. Sanchez pumped, the defense bit, and Schilens got open behind the defense. The Jets scored a touchdown on a similar play in week 1 against Buffalo.

Perhaps the most encouraging part of yesterday’s game for Sanchez was that on more than one occasion, he went through his progressions and found his second or third receiving options. One of Sanchez’s glaring weaknesses has been tunnel vision and staring down his primary receiver, but he made strides in the right direction in that area yesterday.

The Worst: Very little went wrong for Sanchez yesterday, though they did need a little bit of luck early on. Sanchez was sacked and stripped on the first drive of the game, but the ball bounced right back into his waiting arms. Disaster averted.

The Key Moment: The Jets were up 13-7 and driving late in the third quarter when they faced a 3rd and 3 from the Rams’ 23 yard line. Off of a playaction fake, Sanchez looked to his right for Stephen Hill on a quick slant, but pulled the ball down and instead dumped it in the left flat to a wide open Konrad Reuland. How many times have we seen Sanchez double-clutch in that situation, only to not get rid of the ball and take a sack? Instead, a simple dump off pass to his safety valve led to Bilal Powell’s first touchdown three plays later. When you hear coaches and quarterbacks talking about “positive plays”, this is exactly what they mean. Credit Sanchez for being patient here, getting 18 big yards, and setting up a key score.

So now, Sanchez needs to do it again, in three days. Yesterday’s success is no indicator of future performance, and like the team, Sanchez will be evaluated one game at a time.

New York Jets Week 12 – Early Thoughts On Jets/Pats

Early thoughts on the New York Jets week 12 Thanksgiving Night match-up against the New England Patriots

The New York Jets season received a shot of life with a 27-13 win over the St. Louis Rams. However, it will take an upset over the New England Patriots this Thursday night to truly make them relevant in the AFC playoff picture again. Here is a collection of early thoughts –

1. The big injury news this week is that Patriots tight end Rob Grokowski will not play because of a broken forearm. Considering he is the league’s best tight end and had 2 touchdowns in their early season match-up…yes this is a huge deal. Aaron Hernandez is expected to play and the Jets coverage attention must now shift to him and Wes Welker. It will be interesting to see how the Jets play Welker since Isaiah Trufant, who covered him the majority of the first match-up, is now out of the season. Look for them to frequently bracket him and throw a collection of different corners at him, hopefully led by Antonio Cromartie who is the only one with the ability to cover him man to man.

2. Mark Sanchez’s best game of the season came against the suspect New England secondary, as he went 28/41 for 328 yards with a touchdown (although he did have two turnovers). Sanchez finally looked in rhythm yesterday as the Jets kept Tim Tebow on the bench outside of three plays. This is another game to keep him on the bench. You don’t beat the Patriots with the Wildcat. You beat the Patriots by throwing down the field on their secondary.

3. That being said, the Jets still need to hit 35-40 carries to keep balance on their offense, protect Sanchez and give the play action passing game a chance. We saw the beginning signs of a committee approach yesterday. Bilal Powell merits 10-12 carries a game, along with Joe McKnight deserving at least 5-7. Powell and McKnight also need to remain factors in the passing game. They are both better screen and checkdown options than Shonn Greene. McKnight also has the ability to split out at wide receiver, something the Jets should consider with their lack of depth at the position.

4. Speaking of receiver, it is time to send Stephen Hill to the bench and reduce him to being a role player. The rookie clearly has his confidence shaken and cannot handle major reps. Chaz Schilens should start at split end, with Jeremy Kerley in the slot. Reduce Hill’s workload to 15-20 snaps and build his confidence back up with a few easy catches on smoke screens or hitch routes. Clyde Gates is another player who shouldn’t be seeing more than limited reps in certain packages. He does have very good speed but is a poor route runner.

5. The Jets special teams needs to wake the hell up. There is no way they could beat New England if they have another killer mistake from that unit.

6. An upset victory over New England on national television is the type of win that could start a late season playoff run, especially when you look at the Jets next two opponents (home vs. Arizona and at Jacksonville). The Jets are appropriately 6.5 point underdogs but this is a winnable game. The team should have confidence from the earlier match-up that they should have won and New England’s defense still has many holes.

Rex Ryan must reverse a disturbing trend since he has taken over. Since 2009 (his first year), the Jets are 0-3 in their second regular season match-up against the Patriots with an average margin of defeat of 26.6 points. Mark Sanchez has also played very poorly in all three of those games with 2 touchdowns to 9 interceptions overall. There is no better time to break this trend than right now.

Initial Reaction – Needed Relief: New York Jets Finally Win

Initial reaction to the New York Jets 27-13 victory over the St. Louis Rams

It has been awhile hasn’t it? The New York Jets ended their three game losing streak with a dominant win over the St. Louis Rams, 27-13. After allowing an early touchdown drive, the Jets defense took over by forcing three turnovers and constantly staying in the face of Sam Bradford who was completely overwhelmed all afternoon. Shockingly, Brian Schottenheimer’s offense countered the Jets with confusing play calls and poorly timed short passes…or not shockingly to every Jets fan in the world.

Muhammad Wilkeson had another strip sack and is starting to look like the All-Pro the coaching staff was hyping him up to be this summer. In the back end Antonio Cromartie, LaRon Landry and Yeremiah Bell all played very good games. Landry had 8 tackles and forced a fumble, Bell had 2 tackles for a loss and a pass defensed and ‘Cro kept being ‘Cro. Since the second half of the Houston game, the Jets defense has generally been pretty good and it needs to keep improving with the Patriots on the way in four short days.

On offense, Mark Sanchez played an encouraging game finishing 15/20 for 178 yards with a touchdown but most importantly ZERO turnovers. The Jets finally moved Sanchez out of the pocket a few times, did a relatively good job protecting him and he responded with an accurate, savvy day. Most encouragingly, we saw him look off his main target and come back across the formation for his secondary target a few times. Chaz Schilens had a strong game with 4 catches for 48 yards with a touchdown. Schilens needs to be put in the starting line-up for Stephen Hill who looks overwhelmed right now…and that’s being kind.

The running game got a good push all day. Shonn Greene led the way with 18 carries for 64 yards. But in the second half, the Jets started leaning on Bilal Powell more often and he responded with two touchdown runs. He had a nice overall day with 11 carries for 42 yards and 2 receptions for 18 yards. This could be a sign of the Jets moving more towards more of a committee approach as Joe McKnight also chipped in 4 carries for 14 yards.

Overall, it was a badly needed victory against a mediocre team. The Jets are on the fringes of the AFC playoff race and could make some noise if they pull an upset at home on Thanksgiving against New England.

For a few days at least…all is good in Jets land.

Turn On The Jets Week 11 Roundtable – Jets vs. Rams Predictions

The TOJ staff gives their predictions for Rams vs. Jets

Joe Caporoso – 12 Pack 

Chris Gross –  Jets 23-Rams 17: Can New York turn a week of internal turmoil into enough motivation to grab a road victory in a must win situation? At what point does this team develop a chip on their shoulders for all the doubters and perceived negativity they are subject to, week in and week out? If I am Rex Ryan, my pregame speech is similar to Lou Brown’s in Major League:

“I’m not much for giving inspirational addresses, but I’d just like to point out that every newspaper in the country has picked us to finish last. The local press seems to think that we’d save everyone the time and trouble if we just went out and shot ourselves. Me, I’m for wasting sportswriters’ time. So I figured we ought to hang around for a while and see if we can give ’em all a nice big sh*tburger to eat!”

Will the Jets channel their inner “Wild Thing Rick Vaughn” and go on a fairytale run into the postseason? Probably not. But, at the very least, they can salvage some respect heading into 2013, starting with a great effort in St. Louis on Sunday, amid a week of drama, finger pointing, conspiracy, anonymous sources, and a poor display of interview ability from their owner, general manager, and head coach.

New York needs to come out swinging, not taking their foot off the gas pedal for 60 straight minutes, in all 3 phases of the game. The Jets once stout Special Teams play has become a liability in recent weeks, subjecting their defense to an even greater responsibility to carry this team, something that they are clearly ill-equipped to handle at this point. Offensively, New York needs to do a couple of things.

First, the run must be established. San Fransisco rushed for a team total of 183 yards in last week’s tie with the Rams. Do the Jets have Frank Gore ability in their RB stable? Absolutely not. However, there is no reason that Shonn Greene shouldn’t be given the ball 20 times, with newcomer Kahlil Bell contributing with a minimum of 10-12 carries. Offensive Coordinator Tony Sparano must get creative with this run game, meaning some possible end-arounds, jet sweeps, and shuffle passes to Jeremy Kerley. Let Kerley play a Percy Harvin type role this week, as he is one of the Jets very few consistent offensive players. Kerley must touch the ball at least 10-15 times through a variety of carries and receptions. There is no time left to keep thinking within the box. New York is at, what seems to be, a breaking point in the Rex Ryan era. Nothing can be held back at this point. (Disclaimer: I refuse to comment on Tebow’s role in these predictions until the Jets prove to have any type of coherent plan on how to use him).

Second, the Jets need to get Mark Sanchez out of the pocket more often than not this week. Prior to the season, our very own Editor-In-Chief Joe Caporoso highlighted the most effective ways to put Sanchez in a position to succeed. Among them was getting Sanchez out of the pocket on designed roll outs and play action passes. St. Louis had a team total of 5 sacks last week against San Francisco’s Colin Kaepernick and Alex Smith, two players known for their mobility. St. Louis did an excellent job of containing them, as their fierce pass rush racked up the sacks. If the Jets can get Sanchez on the move, they should be able to effectively move the chains on medium down (3-7 yards) situations. If he is forced to sit in the pocket, however, things could get very ugly for this offense.

Defensively, New York needs to attack throughout the entire game. Last week, San Francisco was able to register only 2 sacks on Sam Bradford, resulting in a 275 yard, 2 Touchdown performance from the former #1 overall pick. The Jets don’t have anything close to the pass rushing talent of the 49ers, so Rex Ryan and Co. will have to be extremely creative with their blitz and pressure packages once again. If New York can effectively pressure Bradford, and get some big hits on him, they will be in an excellent position on the defensive side of the ball.

Aside from getting to the Quarterback, New York needs to do two things. First, Stephen Jackson needs to be shut down at all costs. The Jets actually did an effective job of shutting down Marshawn Lynch last week, despite the back’s 4th quarter surge that was a result of a defense that had been worn down both physically, and mentally at that point. Jackson accumulated 101 yards last week against San Francisco, but was only able to muster up a 3.5 YPC average. New York needs to key him on 1st downs and short yardage situations, as limiting him to 75-85 rushing yards will be essential to victory.

Finally, the Jets need to put Antonio Cromartie on Danny Amendola in any man coverage scheme. Ellis Lankster and Kyle Wilson’s documented struggles in man coverage are very real, something Amendola and the Rams are well aware of. Ryan needs to challenge the remainder of St. Louis’s receiving corps to beat his secondary by shutting Amendola down. The only way to do that this week is by putting Cromartie on him for the majority of the contest.

If New York can do each of these things on both sides of the ball, while not having any special teams meltdowns, this game shouldn’t even be close. However, this is a Jets team that has seemingly made more mental errors all season than most of us can remember. There will be breakdowns in all facets of the game, but I think New York will finally respond to them this week. Expect a hard fought, back against the wall, fight for survival from the Jets, resulting in a game won through a total team effort. There won’t be any single player on the offense or defense that is going to put up a monster stat line, but through a cohesive, aggressive game plan, and proper execution of the little things, the Jets will ultimately top the Rams in St. Louis by 6.

Mike Donnelly – Jets 20-13 

Rob Celletti –  When it comes to sports, and the teams I root for, I try to be an optimist. If I’m watching a hockey game (remember hockey?) and the Rangers go down by three goals early, I usually think to myself, “if they gave up three that quickly, they can score three of their own just as quickly.” Needless to say, things don’t usually work out that way. Especially when it comes to the New York Jets.

Is it possible that the Jets find a way to eke out a win on Sunday and at least give themselves half a chance at meaningful December football in a weak AFC?  Well yeah, ANYTHING is possible. It’s also possible that the Mayans were right, and that Earth will get sucked into a black hole in 35 days, rendering all of this discussion moot. The Rams win Sunday, 17-10.  It will be, as usual, an excruciating three hours for Jets fans. Last time things were this bad going into Thanksgiving, Kellen Clemens was playing quarterback.

Chris Celletti – For some reason, and I really can’t explain this, or justify it with football reasons, but I think the Jets are going to win this game. Maybe it’s because I’m all giddy about the Knicks (they were 6-0 at the time of my filing of this), or maybe it’s because the Rams aren’t any good . They employ Brian Schottenheimer. And Wayne Hunter. And Matthew Mulligan. Although I have no faith in the Jets’ offense (or defense or special teams or PR department or the Kraft Tee Kids at Metlife, for that matter), I do think this will be a tight, low scoring, close game that is there for the taking. Can Mark Sanchez engineer like two scoring drives? If so, pop a defensive score or a special teams one and BANG, there’s your fourth win of the season. Jets 15 (why not?), Rams 10

Turn On The Jets 12 Pack, Week 11 – Jets vs. Rams

12 predictions for the New York Jets week 11 game against the St. Louis Rams

The Turn On The Jets 12 pack is back with 12 refreshing predictions for your 3-6 New York Jets who this week travel to St. Louis to face Robert Turner, Brian Schottenheimer, Matthew Mulligan, Kellen Clemens, Wayne Hunter and the rest of the 3-5-1 Rams. You may laugh at those names but the Jets are appropriately 3.5 point underdogs because in the game of football you need to score points and the Jets cannot do that. 

1. Shonn Greene, Joe McKnight and Khalil Bell will combine for 35 touches on offense. The Jets are going to run early and often on offense and I expect plenty of Mark Sanchez checkdowns, some completed and some knocked down at the line.

2. Danny Amedonla will take advantage of the plays Antonio Cromartie isn’t near him and lead the Rams in receptions and receiving yards, with 7 for 85.

3. St. Louis will struggle to run the ball on the Jets front seven. Steven Jackson will finish with less than 55 yards rushing and Daryl Richardson with finish with less than 35 yards.

4. Dustin Keller will lead the Jets in receptions and receiving yards, having a nice bounce-back game after his disastrous performance last week.

5. Mark Sanchez will have another fairly ugly stat-line, barley completing 50% of his passes, throwing for under 200 yards and having another turnover. He will also be sacked at least twice.

6. Sam Bradford will throw for 200 yards and a touchdown but will also have at least one turnover. The Jets will sack him at least twice.

7. Stephen Hill will have less than 25 yards receiving. Jeremy Kerley will again be the only Jets receiver who makes any type of impact on the game.

8. Tim Tebow will finish with 30 total offensive yards. Yawn.

9. Joe McKnight won’t get the chance to return any kicks because of Legatron.

10. There will be 3 or less total touchdowns in this game.

11. #63 will in fact be eligible…for at least 10 plays this week.

12. The entire week I picked the Jets to lose this game, including in my Q&A with the Rams Herd, yet something about it almost seeming too obvious to pick them to lose and the fact that St. Louis is coming of a full five quarter emotional tie in San Francisco…what the hell? I am taking the Jets 17-16.

Predicted Game Outcome Record (8-1)