PSA: Turn On The Jets/Night Out Partnership

Turn On The Jets is happy to announce a partnership with Night Out

Turn On The Jets is happy to announce a season long partnership with Night Out: The Nightlife Community. You will notice that fresh new banner across the top of the home page promoting it. What is Night Out? I think this lovely lady does a much better job explaining it than I do –

Stay tuned all year as Night Out will providing special deals for New York Jets fans in our weekly 12 Pack for the New York City/Hoboken area. If you are looking for somewhere to watch the game, they are going to hook you up with the best deal possible on food and drink. Our TOJ staff will be attending the different venues on gameday that are hosting deals for TOJ/Jets fans to watch. So if you want to give Chris Gross or Mike Donnelly a piece of your mind about one of their recent articles or tell me how immensely talented and handsome I am, feel free. 

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New York Jets – Is Mike Tannenbaum Asleep At The Wheel?

Is New York Jets GM Mike Tannenbaum’s inactivity this August acceptable?

It has become a weekly topic here at Turn On The Jets to question the New York Jets depth on the offensive side of the football.  In general, Mike Tannenbaum has done more good than bad since becoming the team’s general manager. The extent he is criticized by outlets like Pro Football Talk and Mike Lombardi on NFL.com is overdone and out of touch with reality. Regardless, facing arguably the most important season of his career, he has been surprisingly (and somewhat disturbingly) inactive in addressing his team’s issues.

Let’s start with something as simple as acquiring a blocking tight end before getting into the tired running back/wide receiver debate. The New York Jets want to be physical on offense. The New York Jets want to run the football. The New York Jets have pass protection issues at right tackle. The New York Jets don’t have a single blocking tight end on their roster. This makes no sense. You can’t bring in Jeff Cumberland to help block if he can’t even get a hand on the immortal (sense my sarcasm?) Manny Lawson before he steamrolls Mark Sanchez.

There was no logical reason for the Jets not to bring a player like Justin Peelle, Daniel Graham or another blocking tight end before training camp. Pittsburgh just signed Peelle to improve their depth at tight end and fullback because of an injury they sustained because smart teams who are perpetually in the playoffs and Super Bowls make sure they have depth.

If Jeff Cumberland keeps getting beat like a drum, perhaps Tannenbaum will sign a player a week or so before the season starts. That player will then have limited time to master the offense and pick up chemistry with the offensive line, likely leading to an early season slew of penalties and miscommunication…aka Matthew Mulligan 2.0. Why wait?

At wide receiver, Stephen Hill hurt his finger today in practice. Let’s say the Jets play it safe and keep him out this week against the Giants. Mark Sanchez will be throwing to a top three of Patrick Turner, Jordan White, and Royce Pollard. Not exactly the best way to break in a new offense for the Jets starting quarterback, right? Throughout the year if Hill gets hurt because he is a rookie and isn’t used to the rigors of a NFL season or Santonio Holmes re-injures his ribs or Jeremy Kerley’s balky hamstring acts up, where is the depth?

The Green Bay Packers just signed Cedric Benson. They did this because smart teams who are perpetually in the playoffs and Super Bowls make sure they have depth. Green Bay might run the ball 25% less than the Jets do this year but now have better depth than them at running back. Is Mike Tannenbaum and the Jets front office that much smarter than Green Bay that they couldn’t take on Benson for a veteran’s minimum deal?

All it takes is a rolled Shonn Greene ankle for the Jets to have the worst depth chart of running backs in the NFL…I repeat all it takes is a rolled Shonn Greene ankle for the Jets to have the worst depth chart of running backs in the NFL. The mighty Ground and Pound who is going to run it more than any team in the NFL will not have a single back on the roster who has eclipsed 150 yards in a season.

Smart teams who are perpetually in the playoffs and Super Bowls make sure they have depth. Wake up Mike.

New York Jets – Breaking Down Sanchez’s 9 Dropbacks Friday Night

Breaking down Mark Sanchez’s 9 dropbacks in the New York Jets pre-season opener

New York Jets starting quarterback Mark Sanchez was asked to drop back for nine pass attempts in the team’s pre-season opener. Here is a breakdown of what occurred on each play and an overall analysis of his and the first unit’s performance in the passing game –

1) – 1st and 10 on NYJ 20 yard line – Completion for 0 yards to John Conner

The Jets opened the game in a double tight formation (Dustin Keller and Jeff Cumberland) with Stephen Hill split out wide and two backs. They ran a basic play action bootleg out to the right (a play Jets fans are familiar with from Brian Schottenheimer). Hill cleared out leaving Keller as the first read but he was covered, the only other viable option on the play was Conner in the flat who Sanchez threw the ball to. Conner made the reception but was immediately tackled by Manny Lawson. A simple, safe play that was defended and tackled well.

2) – 3rd and 8 on NYJ 22 yard line – Sacked for 9 yard loss

The Jets came out in shotgun on 3rd long with a bunch formation to the right. Sanchez never had a chance on this play as the Bengals sent a blitz to the right side. Austin Howard picked up the proper man but running back Bilal Powell missed Rey Maualuga who brought Sanchez down before the play had a chance to develop.

3) 3rd and 2 on NYJ 28 yard line – Incompletion to Jordan White

Again the New York Jets ran a play that was popular during the Brian Schottenheimer years. The short yardage, speed out to the slot receiver was a bread butter play for the Jets in both 2009 and 2010, with Jerricho Cotchery frequently running it, although Braylon Edwards ripped off a big gain on it in 2009 against the Jacksonville Jaguars. This play was designed for Jordan White and it is basically going to him no matter what, as from the slot he is supposed to run an immediate speed out a 1/2 yard to a yard past the first down marker on the short side of the field. The ball gets thrown to the low and outside where only the receiver can get it.

White cut his route a little short (a frequent mistake for young receivers), throwing off the timing. Sanchez threw the ball where it was supposed to be but White failed to pull in the tough catch (Terrence Newman had nice coverage as well).

4) 1st and 10 on NYJ 33 yard line – 6 yard completion to Patrick Turner

Turner ran an angle route over the middle from the slot position. He quickly beat his man to the inside (Leon Hall) and as the primary target Sanchez got the ball to him quickly. Hall recovered to make a nice tackle. Overall, a successfully executed first down play that is probably better suited to a quicker player like Jeremy Kerley.

5) 2nd and 4 on NYJ 39 yard line – 6 yard completion to Patrick Turner

The Jets ran double speed outs with their outside receivers (Turner and Stephen Hill). Turner was on the short side of the field and was receiving a substantial cushion. Sanchez made the right read and a good throw to convert the first down. Again a simple, safe call to convert on 2nd and short.

6) 2nd and 11 on NYJ 44 yard line – 9 yard completion to Patrick Turner

As you can tell, Sanchez was easily the most comfortable with Turner out of any of his wide receivers. On this play, Turner ran a comeback route and was the primary option. Sanchez delivered a well timed throw. Leon Hall provided fairly good coverage and wrapped Turner up immediately. Either way, a successful play on a 2nd and long.

7) 3rd and 2 on CIN 47 yard line – Sanchez scrambles for 4 yards

It is hard to tell whether Sanchez taking off up the middle was the primary option on this play. The Jets sent their outside receivers on deep post corner routes (both of whom were blanketed) and the middle of the field was cleared out as well by vertical routes. Sanchez stepped up in the pocket and had nothing but green in front of him. He got enough for the first down and got down.

8) 2nd and 8 on CIN 41 yard line – Sanchez sacked 7 yard loss

Simply put, backup tight end Jeff Cumberland was smoked off the line by Manny Lawson, barely getting a hand on him. Sanchez hadn’t even set his feet and Lawson was on him. Can we sign a blocking tight end?

9) 3rd and 15 on CIN 48 yard line – Incompletion to Jordan White

The Jets didn’t run an aggressive play here to attempt to get a first down. It looked more like the intent was to get half the yardage to either go for it on 4th down or kick a long field goal. Jordan White ran an option route in the slot but never really came open. Sanchez waited and bought himself a little time by scrambling out to his left but basically threw it away because of how covered White was.

Analysis – Tony Sparano didn’t give Sanchez much of a chance to push the ball vertically and that might have been wise considering some of the protection issues. Neither of the sacks or incompletions were on Sanchez. Rookie Jordan White was the target of both incompletions and failed to run a good route both times or catch the ball in the one case. Sanchez was given no time on either sacks. On his completions (outside of the dump off to Conner), Patrick Turner was the primary target and he got him the ball every time. Two 6 yard and a 9 yard completion may not seem impressive but considering the context (6 yards on first down, converting a first down on 2nd and short and picking up 9 yards on 2nd and 11, respectively) they were good throws.

Keep in mind, Santonio Holmes will be in Turner’s spot on those type of plays and has the ability to get more separation and create more after the catch.

A Word On Tebow 

The Good – His slant route to Stephen Hill for 12 yards was a very impressive thrown. Cover 2 is the last type of coverage you want to see on a slant route and Tebow fit it into a tight window. The scrambles were all very athletic plays, even if he might have pulled the ball down a little early on a few. Regardless, you don’t complain when you are picking up chunks of yardage like that. He also had a nice throw to Stephen Hill on a 3rd and 7 that Hill blatantly dropped.

The Bad – The interception was awful, by both him and Jeff Cumberland. Cumberland had an option route and should have hitched back to the quarterback instead of breaking out. Regardless Tebow locked into him and threw it regardless even though the linebacker had cut underneath. He had a poor read and throw to Chaz Schilens on a slant and go. Tebow again locked in even though Schilens was blanketed by two guys and floated a poorly thrown ball. He should have checked down in that situation.

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New York Jets: Offense Remains Work In Progress

The New York Jets still have a long way to go on the offensive side of the football

There is no need for overreactions to week 1 of the NFL pre-season. There is no also no need to stick your head in the sand and act like the New York Jets offense doesn’t have a hell of a long way to go. When you review the depth chart, when you see them consistently handled in practice by the defense (yes, a very good defense) and then look completely listless in their pre-season opener, it is a valid cause for concern.

There is talent on the offensive side of the football for the Jets. There is hope in a new offensive coordinator whose vision is better aligned with the team’s talent and Rex Ryan’s philosophy but we need to start seeing some kind of production.

Tony Sparano’s comment about the Jets “pushing around” the Bengals was glorified coach-speak. The Jets didn’t push anybody around Friday night. Shonn “the bell-cow” Greene had 11 yards on 5 carries. Mark Sanchez was sacked twice in eight dropbacks and the longest plays of the nights came from a checkdown to Joe McKnight and a scramble by Tim Tebow. It was ugly, little league caliber football.

Yes, the game plan was vanilla but so is everybody’s in the pre-season so let’s stop with the excuses. This unit just isn’t very good right now and has a little less than a month to get their act together.

Where will it come from? The hopes for help at the wide receiver or running back position from outside the team are lowering with each passing day. Improvement will have to come from within.

When it comes to the passing game, the receiver situation is only going to get better. Stephen Hill will improve with the monster share of reps he is receiving in practice and throughout pre-season. He did have a drop on Friday but also pulled in two other nice catches in traffic. In the next couple of weeks Santonio Holmes and Jeremy Kerley will return to the line-up. Holmes is the team’s top playmaker and somebody who can take a 5 yard slant route 50 yards for a touchdown. Kerley, despite a disappointing off-season showed immense potential in the slot last season and will be a third down weapon.

Improved play at wide receiver will help Mark Sanchez get rid of the ball quicker because his receivers will actually be able to get separation. The Jets protection remains shaky at best. They seriously need to consider adding a true blocking tight end because Jeff Cumberland looked comically bad trying to block on Friday. You can’t support inconsistent play at right tackle if you don’t have a blocking tight end to help out.

Tony Sparano will have to get creative to buy Sanchez time in many situations, whether that is rolling him out, increasing his number of 3-step drops and bringing in an extra tackle to play blocking tight end.

In the running game, Tim Tebow is a unique and dynamic weapon to have at their disposal. The “Wildcat” or whatever you want to call it will hopefully provide a needed X-Factor to an offense lacking overall proven big play capability. If Tebow can give the Jets 35-50 yards rushing on a weekly basis it will be a needed supplement to Shonn Greene.

Joe McKnight had an impressive showing Friday night but neither him or Bilal Powell are anywhere near proven. Hopefully one of them can become a factor on outside runs and as a receiver out of the backfield. The Jets desperately need a back who can break a big run because for Greene a big run is 7 yards.

If you are anticipating a high amount games in the 20s and 30s this year you will be sorely disappointed. This Jets offense is not going to light up the scoreboard. With their defense, they may not need to on many weeks but they still need to find ways to produce big plays and touchdowns. Will it be Tebow and McKnight rejuvenating the running game? Will it be Hill and a healthy Santonio Holmes producing more than it expected? Hopefully, it will be some combination of both.

No Huddle – New York Jets Pre-Season Recap

TJ Rosenthal goes No Huddle on the positives and negatives we saw from the New York Jets first pre-season game

TJ Rosenthal is back with his weekly No Huddle piece, this week focusing on the good, the bad…and the very ugly from the New York Jets pre-season opener. Make sure to give TJ a follow on Twitter and to check back later in the day for further coverage and analysis – 

Well one preseason game is now in the books and with it an opportunity to feel good in some way about the new offense right out of the gates.

Oh well.

It is time to move on towards a date with the world champs on Saturday but before we do, we huddle up and run some quick outs. Or shall we say, roll right screens to John Conner, regarding the past weekend –

1 – Coples the Game Changer?

Rookie Quinton Coples made plays. He stopped runs, tipped passes and got to the QB. A game full of production that topped the entire career of Vernon Gholston, the last pass rushing hope the Jets selected in the first round, in just one night.

The question is, can Coples get on the fast track now and become a real game changing force. A Jason Pierre Paul type of disrupter who can help cover up struggling offenses and any holes in the secondary that may arise during a game. If so, the Jets will have gained a much needed home run hitter. After all, Tim Tebow can’t line up on defense and rush the passer too.

2 – Offensive line, Stop Being Offensive

OC Tony Sparano says that the five sacks the Jets gave up Friday night were due to the lack of scheming for Cincy.

Really?

We did notice a few stunts or two but are you telling us that Mike Pettine doesn’t dial up a few criss crosses in Cortland during the week? Linemen have to communicate. Running backs have to chip in and chip. Football 101. Simple as that. If this doesn’t improve, the Jets record of 8-8 from 2011 won’t either.

3 – Tebow The Playmaker

Tim Tebow is not a pocket passer. Never will be. On a team with few proven touchdown makers however, he is a necessity right now.

We all saw what he did out there. In typical Tebow fashion he moved chains and created a threat to be accounted for. He wasn’t pretty, in dodging tacklers and rarely is. If the Jets can’t block though,  he’ll be needed more often to escape jailbreak pressure. His attributes are best suited for that type of desperation.

Don’t hate on him Jets nation. Be thankful that he provides the Jets with that choice.

4 – No Wildcat Marvin Lewis? Then Don’t Blitz Either

Now we already discussed the Jets struggles in protecting Mark Sanchez, Tebow and Greg McElroy. Apparently however, Marvin Lewis called Rex Ryan Friday morning and asked him not to run the Wildcat during the game. Fine, then why did Lewis send blitzers to get after any Jets signal callers?

If you’re asking a team to play vanilla then do the same.

5 – Safeties In The Same Zip Code As Tight Ends

How shocking was it to see Bengals tight ends covered? OK so nobody out there resembled Gronk and Hernandez but it is a start. We’ve moved from not being in the same time zone over the past few seasons, to being in the same zip code as tight ends.

It was a welcome sight.

Now if the Jets defense can build off of this, and actually take away the middle of the field option from opposing QBs once in a while, that would be the next step in the growth towards becoming the shut down unit Ryan and Co expect to be in 2012.

Initial Reaction – New York Jets Inconsistent Against Bengals

The New York Jets had an inconsistent performance, at best, in their pre-season opener against the Cincinnati Bengals

A handful of thoughts from the New York Jets pre-season opener against the Cincinnati Bengals, a 17-6 loss that was far from the prettiest football game you will ever see –

1. Mark Sanchez didn’t receive much help in the way of protection or his receivers getting separation. However, he protected the football, scrambled for a first down on a 3rd down and hooked up with Patrick Turner 3 times. Overall, the first offense was rather disappointing, particularly Shonn Greene who finished up with 11 yards on 5 carries. Tony Sparano’s new offense remains a work in progress but remember how vanilla they were tonight.

2. Tim Tebow was Tim Tebow. He had three very impressive scrambles and finished as the team’s leading rusher with 34 yards on 4 carries. Yet, he struggled to throw the football only finishing 4/8 for 27 yards with an ugly interception. I remain confident in my belief that Tebow will be the team’s second leading rusher and is more of their number two running back than their number two quarterback.

3. Quinton Coples was the star of the night. Few people were more critical of his selection than yours truly but the rookie impressed tonight with 4 tackles, a tackle for a loss, a sack, a forced fumble and a pass defensed. Yes, many of his big plays came against the Bengals second unit but Coples looked athletic and like he could be a factor against both the run and pass.

4. Bilal Powell played over Joe McKnight as both the third down back and number two running back but it was McKnight who stole the show at running back. Powell finished with 16 yards on 5 carries and 1 reception for 4 yards, along with a missed block that led to a sack. McKnight showed some good giddy-up with 32 yards on 7 carries and 3 receptions for 34 yards.

5. Overall the defense was very good against the run, surrendering only 2.8 yards per carry. Kenrick Ellis filled in admirably for Sione Pouha and David Harris racked up 4 tackles in limited action.

6. Defensive end Jay Richardson had a head turning performance with 4 tackles and a sack. Garret McIntyre also had a sack and was active. Rookie linebacker Demario Davis had 4 tackles and a tackle for a loss.

7. Aaron Maybin struggled against the run and wasn’t effective getting to the passer despite extended reps. Isahiah Trufant and Julian Posey were beat like a drum all night long at corner. Josh Bush also doesn’t look quite ready for any kind of first team reps yet.

8. The Jets backup offensive lineman were downright awful, nearly getting Greg McElroy killed in the 3rd and 4th quarter. Depth is a major concern with this unit.

9. Can we keep Bart Scott out of coverage? When you can’t keep up with BenJarvus Green-Ellis over the middle, you have a problem. Demario Davis needs to be in on passing downs.

10. Rookie Stephen Hill had an ugly drop on a 3rd down. However he did haul in two high Tebow passes. It would have been nice to see him stretch the field but I’m sure that will come in time.

11. I would hate to be in the special teams meetings tomorrow…

Jets vs. Bengals: Turn On The Jets 12 Pack Of Predictions

Turn On The Jets with 12 predictions for the Jets vs. Bengals pre-season game tonight

Turn On The Jets is back in the prediction business with 12 for tonight’s Jets/Bengals pre-season game. Make sure to take advantage of our one day sale to celebrate the return of New York Jets football. All Turn On The Jets shirts are 25% off. It would be crime against your fandom to not take advantage of a deal like that. When you put this shirt on not only can you play the guitar…your bench will also increase 25 pounds

On to the predictions –

1. Mark Sanchez won’t turn the football over and will lead one scoring drive. He won’t have a high yards per completion but will have a high completion percentage. I expect many shorter, safe throws to Dustin Keller and Josh Baker, along with maybe one shot down the field to Stephen Hill or Chaz Schilens.

2. Bilal Powell is going to lead the Jets in touches and total yards at running back. Look for the Jets to get him out in space in the screen game and give him a decent amount of reps with the first unit. It is time to see if he can translate his practice field success to the game.

3. Stephen Hill will have at least three receptions. Tony Sparano needs him up to speed immediately, so he will try to get him going early with a few quick hitch routes or smoke screens.

4. Demario Davis and Antonio Allen will be the most impressive rookies on the field tonight.

5. Tim Tebow will be Tim Tebow. He will run the ball well, make a few plays on third down but ultimately struggle throwing the football.

6. Aaron Maybin and/or Ricky Sapp are going to have 1.5-2.5 sacks between them.

7. Jordan White is going to make a name for himself as a viable contender for reps in the slot tonight. Look for him to be frequently targeted on third downs.

8. I don’t anticipate Quinton Coples making much noise tonight.

9. Austin Howard will play well enough to keep the right tackle position “open for competition” a few more weeks.

10. Look for a big game from Kenrick Ellis and Muhammad Wilkerson upfront, particularly Ellis who will start for Sione Pouha.

11. Marvin Lewis will look confused on the sideline.

12. The Jets defense will force at least two turnovers.

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Turn On The Jets Roundtable – Jets vs. Bengals Preview

The Turn On The Jets roundtable previews the New York Jets pre-season opener versus the Cincinnati Bengals

Welcome to our first Turn On The Jets Roundtable of the 2012 season. We will be doing this throughout the year to get multiple opinions in a single article to both preview and predict upcoming New York Jets games. Today myself, Chris Gross and Mike Donnelly discuss what we are most looking forward to seeing tomorrow night –

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Joe Caporoso – It has to be Tony Sparano’s new offense. We have heard all off-season about the “Ground and Pound” so let’s see it in action. Last pre-season the Jets were awful running the football and it carried over into the regular season. Let’s see Shonn Greene churn out at least 4 yards a carry on his touches and Bilal Powell or Joe McKnight pop a run over 15-20 yards. The Jets are depleted at wide receiver but that is no reason to not give Mark Sanchez a chance to work with his new vertical threats, Stephen Hill and Chaz Schilens. And yes, it will be interesting to see Tim Tebow in action. I don’t think we will see much of The Wildcat but I’m sure he will break out of the pocket for a few runs with the second offense.

Can Austin Howard hold his own at right tackle and become a viable competitor to Wayne Hunter? Can one of the wide receivers make a big enough impression to prevent Mike Tannenbaum from swinging a trade? My money is on Patrick Turner or Jordan White having such a game.

Chris Gross – Command, control, and confidence out of Mark Sanchez. – The worst thing fans can do is expect Sanchez to come out tomorrow night and air it out early in his limited reps. The majority of his receiving corps (that he is most familiar with) will be sidelined, so don’t expect to see too many big plays out of number 6. Instead, look for him to, first, be confident in the new system. A very encouraging sign will be to see Sanchez exhibit early signs of the Tony Sparano “Know and know you know” philosophy. Look for Sanchez to show confidence in the new system, while displaying command, and most importantly the ability to protect the football. Improving his turnovers will be vital to his success this season, and Sanchez can take a step toward that tomorrow night.

Defensive Speed – The biggest area of need for the Jets following last season’s conclusion was team speed on the defensive side of the ball. New York is hoping that they improved on that with the additions of rookies Demario Davis and Quinton Coples, as well as veteran LaRon Landry, and a reborn Aaron Maybin, who finally has a full offseason under his belt with the Jets. It will be interesting to see these improvements in speed in live action tomorrow night. Expect Rex Ryan and Mike Pettine to come out swinging early with some aggressive blitz schemes

Mike Donnelly – Well I think my Stock Watch this week pretty much covered many of the things I’m looking forward to seeing in this game, but there are a few that bear repeating. Obviously I would love to see the Jets plan for Tim Tebow or see just how much Mark Sanchez has grown and improved this offseason, but this game won’t be a good barometer for either of those things in my opinion. The offense is going to come out very vanilla, work on a few basic things, and then get the starters the hell out of there before any more injuries can occur.

What we will get a good look at tomorrow night, however, is the second string on both sides of the ball. Players like Bilal Powell, Joe McKnight, Patrick Turner, Jordan White, Kenrick Ellis, and Ricky Sapp are guys I’m especially excited to see get extended playing time. I’d love to see a guy like Turner or White really step up and grab the bull by the horns and show that the Jets aren’t so thin at WR as everyone things. I’d love to see Bilal Powell justify the hype this preseason and show the Jets don’t need to go out and sign a veteran like Cedric Benson. And I’d really love to see Ricky Sapp continue his strong play this preseason and give the Jets a dynamic edge rusher to team up with Aaron Maybin. The thing I’d like to see the most though is everyone stay healthy, so let’s keep our fingers crossed and hope that is the case Friday night around 10pm when the game ends.

New York Jets: What Does Mark Sanchez Need To Do In Pre-Season?

What constitues a productive pre-season for New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez?

Let me preface this article by saying there is no quarterback controversy for the New York Jets. This isn’t an article meant to argue what Mark Sanchez needs to do to hold off Tim Tebow from being the starting quarterback because barring injury, Sanchez will be under center week 1 versus Buffalo. This is an article looking at what constitues a productive pre-season for Sanchez as the Jets starting quarterback working in a non-Brian Schottenheimer NFL offense for the first time in his career.

Sanchez is in the difficult situation of working with a makeshift group of receivers while he tries to master this new offense. One of the many mistakes the Jets have made while attempting to develop their young quarterback has been constantly changing his top three wide receivers. Here is who he had the past three years prior to week 1 –

2009 – Jerricho Cotchery, Chansi Stuckey, Brad Smith

2010 – Braylon Edwards, Jerricho Cotchery, Brad Smith (Santonio Holmes was suspended until week 4)

2011 – Santonio Holmes, Plaxico Burress, Derrick Mason (aka grumpy old men)

This year the presumed top three receivers are Santonio Holmes, Stephen Hill and Jeremy Kerley. Unfortunately, Holmes and Kerley are hurt and out for tomorrow night. Kerley also no longer has a stranglehold on the number three position because of a poor off-season. Sanchez will be playing his first pre-season game with a top three of Hill (a rookie), Patrick Turner (8 career receptions), and Chaz Schilens (72 receptions through 4 years).

Look for Sanchez to frequently target tight end Dustin Keller, the pass catcher he has the best chemistry with. Backup tight end/H-Back Josh Baker should also be a big part of the offense while the receivers get their legs under them.

The most important thing always for Sanchez is protecting the football. With the type of style the Jets are playing this year, he must cut down on interceptions and fumbles. If he can get through this pre-season with no turnovers or maybe only one, it would be a success.

However, Sanchez also must press down the field. Tony Sparano will give him his opportunities. Sanchez needs to develop a fast chemistry with Hill and Schilens, both of whom are vertical threats. Despite frequently being criticized for his arm strength, Sanchez has shown good deep ball accuracy throughout his career. It would be nice to see him convert on a few 20+ yard passing plays, which the Jets barely had any of last season.

Finally, the Jets right tackle situation remains a question mark. Austin Howard will start for Wayne Hunter tomorrow night. Whether it is Hunter or Howard, Sanchez is going to see pressure at times and needs to demonstrate pocket awareness. No more keeping the ball at his waist and having it stripped away, no more panicked checkdowns thrown high to his running back that are intercepted.

The Jets won’t be airing it out in any of their pre-season games but that doesn’t mean Sanchez can’t make a strong impression about his improvement this off-season.

New York Jets Fact Or False: Preseason Week 1 Edition

Chris Gross weekly Fact or False previews the New York Jets opening pre-season game against the Cincinnati Bengals

For this week’s edition of New York Jets Fact Or False, we will begin a trend that will be prevalent all season long. Each week, F or F will be dedicated to the upcoming Jets game, as we will look at the most pressing issues facing Gang Green each week. For our initial take, let’s have a look at what to expect to see, as well as what to watch for, in tomorrow night’s game in Cincinnati.

AJ Green vs. Darrelle Revis will be the most intriguing matchup of the game. Fact.

AJ Green had a stellar rookie season last year, joining with Quarterback Andy Dalton to form the first ever rookie QB/WR tandem to make the Pro Bowl. Green hauled in 65 passes for 1,057 yards and 7 Touchdowns last season, while facing some excellent defenses along the way. However, this will be his first career matchup with Revis, and not to disrespect any other players, he has never quite faced a talent like this in his entire playing career. Revis is a completely different animal, but Green certainly has immense talent. Rest assured both of these players cannot wait to face each other, not only for the challenge, but for the opportunity to assert their dominance. Revis would undoubtedly like to strand yet another receiver on Revis Island, while Green would love to be one of the very few to get off. Although they will get limited reps against one another, expect each of those reps to provide the best matchup on the field tomorrow night.

Andy Dalton will outperform Mark Sanchez. False.

Although Dalton had a very solid rookie campaign last season, his numbers were average at best when facing defenses ranked in the top ten in the NFL. Against those opponents, Dalton completed 175 of 311 passes for 1,954 yards, 11 Touchdowns, and 10 interceptions with a completion percentage of 56.27 and a passer rating of 77.28. These numbers certainly are not terrible, especially for a rookie, but Dalton clearly struggled to protect the football. While he has already faced the stellar defenses of Baltimore and Pittsburgh twice each, he has yet to come up against a Cornerback tandem with the combined talent of Darrelle Revis, Antonio Cromartie, and Kyle Wilson. Factor in what should be improved Safety play, and Dalton could get overwhelmed quickly. He will certainly get his completions, however don’t expect him to outshine Sanchez. Sanchez is coming into this game with an extreme sense of confidence in relation to his knowledge of the new offensive system, and you’d have to think after what was probably the longest offseason of his playing career, he will be coming out with a heavy chip on his shoulder. Each of these players’ reps will be very limited, but look for Sanchez to play at a higher level than Dalton.

This will be a great test for the Ground and Pound. Fact.

Cincinnati ranked 7th in total defense last season, and for good reason. They have talent all over the board, especially in the front seven. They posses great size up front in players like Michael Johnson and Carlos Dunlap, as well as defensive leader Rey Maualuga who racked up 88 tackles, 3 forced fumbles, and an interception in just 13 games last season. This is a very tough, hard nosed defense, with great experience against offenses that can effectively run the ball, as they play Pittsburgh and Baltimore twice each season. Any team that has to face Ray Rice twice in the same year is no stranger to power football, so this will be a very good, early test for the Jets’ projected return to the “Ground and Pound” philosophy. Friday night should be an excellent gauge of how far along this new system is, as well as where improvements need to be made. It will be very interesting to see how the heavily scrutinized Shonn Greene, the rising Bilal Powell, and the polarizing Tim Tebow contribute.

Mark Sanchez has the most to prove in this game. False.

While Sanchez may have the most to prove over the course of the entire season, this game will have little effect on how he is judged as the Quarterback of this team. He will see very limited reps, plus there are a countless number of players with much more to prove tomorrow night.

Patrick Turner is certainly one of those guys, as he is constantly overlooked despite having quietly developed what seems to be a nice chemistry with Sanchez. Jordan White was extremely productive in college and should have ample opportunity to prove his worth with all of the injuries at Wide Receiver. LaRon Landry certainly would love to show that he is healthy and capable of playing at the level that made him the sixth overall pick in the 2007 NFL Draft. Quinton Coples would love to put all the question marks surrounding him to bed, and although that will not be possible in just one game, he can certainly take a step in the right direction.

Austin Howard will get plenty of reps with Wayne Hunter being sidelined, and he needs to prove to the organization that they do not need to add depth at the tackle position from the outside. As the season progresses, veterans like Bart Scott, Tim Tebow, Jeremy Kerley, and Santonio Holmes will all be highly motivated to put recent criticism behind them, but that will not happen in the first game of the preseason, especially for Holmes and Kerley who will not be participating in the contest. Tebow and Scott could certainly play well, but they will not be considered to have proven anything until the regular season.

The Jets Defense Will Impress Early. Fact.

Many observers forget how good this defense actually is. Rex Ryan and Defensive Coordinator Mike Pettine produced a top 5 defense last season, despite finishing 8-8 and missing the playoffs for the first time with the Jets. New York has done what it could to address the areas of need at Safety and in the pass rush, so each of those areas should be improved in comparison to last season. More importantly though, the Jets defense seems to have gotten their edge back. Reports out of camp already reveal that Bart Scott is back to his “Madbacker” form. Antonio Cromartie, although many times painfully outspoken, certainly will be coming into this game a bit enraged due to all the recent criticism directed toward him in the past week. LaRon Landry seems ready to run through a brick wall if he doesn’t hit someone in a different colored jersey soon, and Aaron Maybin and Ricky Sapp have been turning heads all camp.

From what we have seen in training camp so far, this defense has regained its speed, its motor, and most importantly, its swagger. Expect the starting unit to come out looking to make a statement early, especially considering the fact that they realize they will only have a few series to do so.

Rex Ryan is the most intriguing coach in this game. False.

Rex undoubtedly loves to be in the spotlight, and the media generally loves to focus on him. However, this game is not so much about Ryan as it is about the newcomers. It is going to be very interesting to see the first live action of Tony Sparano’s new system. There is plenty to look for including an established running game, command of the offense by Sanchez, and whether or not the offensive line has improved yet.

Moving over to the defensive side of the ball, it will be extremely intriguing to see the work of new defensive line Coach Karl Dunbar. Dunbar certainly has a surplus of depth and talent up front, so it will be interesting to see if he is in the early stages of maximizing that. New York’s pass rush has been built primarily on scheme since the appointment of Rex Ryan as head coach, so if they can generate a rush without having to blitz as much, it will be a very positive sign for Dunbar and his unit. Wide Receiver’s coach Sanjay Lal is another newcomer to the staff, and considering all the injuries at the position so far, the wide receiver play could say a lot about his coaching ability. If the younger, less experienced players come out strong, it could tell us something very good about Lal.

JETS FOOTBALL IS BACK TOMORROW, GET YOUR NEW SHIRT TO KICK OFF THE NEW SEASON