Rex And Jets Must Turn Page To Prepare For Second Half Run

Rex and the Jets must move past last week’s disappointment to prepare for a second half run

Rex Ryan was out of line. Plain and simple. A head coach, right or wrong shouldn’t be taking on paid customers. Ones who pay to get close and pop off shouldn’t expect flowers in return either. Where Rex could apply the new team mantra in a more useful way though, is in talking to himself and the team. This regarding the notion of giving the AFC East away after nine games. Since when were playoff berths handed out before the Turkey and stuffing go around the table?

OK, fine. The Patriots have swept the Jets in 2011, and during the last contest between the two. Gang Green even lacked big game poise throughout. That still doesn’t mean that that other team is invincible the rest of the way. Not like they once were. No way.

Especially in this strange NFL season. Where the 49ers are matching the Montana 49ers for wins with Alex Smith. Where the Seahawks and Jaguars knocked off the big bad Ravens. Where the AFC East leading Texans, that’s right, the Texans will now have to go the distance with that other USC QB, Matt Leinart

The Jets stopped themselves for two and a half quarters, when they weren’t adding time on the clock for future hall of famer Tom Brady to work two minute drills. They truly executed poorly. Even with that, the offense was set to get the ball back down just 13-9 in the third, before Joe McKnight fumbled.

In prior years, the score by then would have been 23-9, or worse given the efficiency that Tom Brady and co. have exemplified in the past.. Well it wasn’t 23-9 this time. The teams are not THAT far apart. Even it means that a road game in Foxboro in the postseason will be the only way for the Jets to prove that to themselves. Again.

The Jets failed to expose a battered New England secondary on Sunday night. Failed to finally grab hold of the AFC East driver’s seat. Failed to seize the moment. That moment is over now. The players should take Rex’s new bumper sticker catch phrase and stick it on the wall of their own lockers. Move on from the disappointment of not stepping up in the rematch. Learn from it yes, but don’t talk about it anymore.

Concentrate on what lies ahead instead, which is an opportunity to hold serve as far as playoff possibilities go. Refocus and consider what opportunities ARE available.  Before taking on a Denver club that lost running backs last Sunday and had it’s quarterback throw less passes in a game than some local Pop Warner QB’s do. Before needing help from OTHER teams down the stretch.

The Jets entire organization has to turn the page right this minute, regarding their never ending obsession with New England. Or in using the words of Ryan, “STFU” and play football. There is plenty of it left. Seven games in fact. Practically half a season. Beating the Patriots is a sure sign of one’s worth, but it doesn’t award an AFC team the automatic path to the Super Bowl either. Just ask the 2010 Jets that.

As for Mark Sanchez and the never ending debate about his talents, the media can run him out of town too now if they’d like. They might first however, want to keep in mind that many who now applaud the new elite QB Eli Manning, once had him dangling off of a cliff in Chicago years back. Where talk of a benching hit the airwaves from the Fox broadcasters booth in Soldier Field. This prior to a second half comeback, led by Manning that lifted the Giants to a big road win. This on their way to a playoff berth and eventual Super Bowl title.

Sanchez has to date, not shown that he is an elite QB by any stretch. Even with the addition of Plaxico Burress and a familiarity with everyone else in that WR corps. We’re not Sanchez apologists. We see that too. So do most Jets fans.

That doesn’t mean that he can’t lead teams to wins in December and January. Again. For the third straight season. For those who have already forgotten what the last two winters looked like when number 6 took the Jets on the road to send Rivers, Manning, and Mr 14-2 Brady, home.

Nobody in Jets nation is happy with 5-4 and two losses to the first place team in the books. Especially to the hated Pats of all clubs. There’s no crying in football though. No waving white flags either.

The Jets must put it behind them, forget the Pats for now, toughen up, and go get a win. It won’t be easy. The thin Denver altitude always makes things tough on visitors. Especially on short rest. Against ANOTHER QB who like Sanchez, possesses one redeeming stat. The propensity to win, no matter how ugly it can sometimes look.

The Jets have to count their blessings, and not wallow in any disappointment. Four losses and still in the running? Consider yourselves lucky fellas. As for November obituaries, hey, we’ve all been wrong about teams and players before. Ask St Louis Cardinal baseball beat folks about what THEY were writing about last August. Not the World Series we bet.

Yes, Rex inappropriately told some fan to STFU, but that message can apply to more than one drunk idiot who happened to have a great seat to a big primetime game.

For the Jets, it’s time to get ready for Denver. Thursday night is not a trap game now. It’s another crucial one.

New York Jets: The Danger In Denver

Can the New York Jets avoid having a major let-down in Denver?

I firmly believe the New York Jets are substantially better than their next five opponents. However, we all know that doesn’t mean anything if they don’t play to their potential and that on any given day, any given NFL team could lose to another. Of their next five games, the most dangerous one is coming up the day after tomorrow.

Thursday night’s game has all the ingredients of let-down for the Jets.

  • Hangover from an embarrassing loss to the New England Patriots.
  • A ridiculously short turnaround, thanks to a horrible job of scheduling by the league’s office which has the Jets going from a Sunday night game to a Thursday night game where they have to fly cross country.
  • A bizarre and unique offense to prepare for, which couldn’t be any further from the offense they played last.
  • Playing on the road in a hostile environment against a team who recently clawed back into their divisional race, led by a quarterback who is defying logic by his ability to win football games.

All that being said, if the Jets want to puff out their chest as a serious contender and have any form of pride after the effort they put in front of a national audience only a few days ago, they will respond with a serious beating for the Denver Broncos.

This is as one dimensional as an offense could get. If Rex Ryan and his front seven can’t slow down this offense, there needs to be serious questions about the personnel up front and at linebacker. If Denver scores more than 14 points, than the Jets defense has seriously let them down. On the other side, the Jets offense needs to recognize this and put up the necessary points to win. Denver has an average defense, there is no excuse to have zero first half points and let the Broncos hang around.

The Broncos completed 2 passes last week, 2! If the Jets get up 10-0, what are they going to do? The offense needs to put the pressure on Denver right away to step outside their comfort zone which is when Rex’s defense can really take advantage of such a limited offense.

I can see Thursday going two ways, the Jets are either winning by double digits or losing in an ugly, low-scoring game that is going to sicken all of us beyond belief. Do they want to start building momentum towards the playoffs with a winning streak they should go on? Or, do they want to have to scrap for a 9-7/10-6 record and pray for a few tie-breakers to fall their way?

Let’s hope they show some pride and don’t embarrass themselves for the second time in four days on national television.

6 Pack Of Suggestions For The New York Jets

6 suggestions for improving the New York Jets down the stretch

An emergency 6 pack of suggestions for improving the New York Jets who remain in the thick of the AFC wild-card race.

1. No More Mulligan – Matthew Mulligan should not be playing 20 snaps a game in a NFL offense. He shouldn’t be playing 5 snaps a game in a NFL offense. If you decide your number two tight end is going to be such a big part of your offense, you have to make a better investment at the position. How about giving recently signed Shawn Nelson a chance?

2. More and More Pool – When he gets back to being healthy, it is time to take large chunks of playing time away from Eric Smith and give it to Brodney Pool, than in the off-season the Jets must draft or sign an athletic safety with some height. Time to react to New England having two monsters at tight end.

3. Pick A Punt Returner – First you had Jeremy Kerley deep, then you had Jim Leonhard, then you switched to Joe McKnight back deep who proceeded to muff a punt. I love McKnight as a kick returner but he has looked shaky returning punts. It is a completely different skill set. Stick with Kerley and use Leonhard and his sure hands as the primary backup.

4. More McKnight & Kerley On Offense – The Jets are limited in the number of players they have who could create big plays. Shonn Greene and LaDainian Tomlinson aren’t ripping off big runs or turning screens into huge plays, McKnight needs more touches period, particularly in space. Jeremy Kerley is similar in this regard and deserves a bigger role on offense, especially stretching the seam.

5. Throw The Damn Football Down The Field – The Jets must add more of a vertical element to their passing game. You need to throw the football deep to loosen up a defense. It is the only way to create big plays, whether it is connecting on the pass or drawing an interference penalty. This offense makes it too hard on themselves by having to put together such long drives. They desperately need big plays. Mark Sanchez throws a good deep ball…let him air it out a few times a game. Whether you want to admit it or not the Jets are missing Braylon Edwards in this aspect of their offense but Santonio Holmes has the ability to get open deep.

6. Be Yourself – Don’t lose the confidence and swagger because of one loss. This team plays better when they have an attitude and are running their mouths a little bit.

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.

It Is Now Or Never For Jets Fans: Suggestions For MetLife Stadium

Chris Celletti with a call to action for Jets fans this Sunday and a few suggestions for the MetLife Stadium game-day production crew

I’ve been going to Jets games since the days of Boomer Esiason. I’ve seen some great moments for sure – plenty of bad ones, and now I’ve gotten to experience two different stadiums. MetLife Stadium has many faults. When it was being designed and then built, Jets fans were sold on the idea that this would be OUR stadium – not just a shared one with the Giants – even though we were sharing this one with them too. How would that be accomplished? By green lights, and green signs, and just a bunch of other green things. When I first walked into the place, the color that overrode everything was gray. It’s a huge hunk of steel and concrete. I suppose it is better than the Giants’ red that the seats in the old building had, but walking into MetLife stadium doesn’t exactly invoke an overwhelming amount of Jet pride.

Jets fans have always seemed a bit whiny when it came to not having their own stadium. I say this because there is no reason that on eight Sundays a year (and hopefully more, but who are we kidding?) Jets fans can’t lose their collective minds and go be completely off the wall in support of their team, regardless of the name of the stadium or the color of the seats. I watch enough NFL football on TV to know what a truly great home crowd is. Every other NFL stadium seems totally packed by kickoff; in most buildings the entire place is standing and cheering on the team’s first defensive possession. From being at every Jets home game this season, I can tell you that that’s not nearly the case at MetLife Stadium.

The place is generally about 60% full at kickoff. When I walk into the stadium from the parking lot, usually about a half hour from kickoff, I notice hoards of people still lounging in their bucket seats, knocking back Coors Lights and flipping burgers, priorities clear. Why you’d pay whatever you pay for a Jets ticket and waltz in 25 minutes late because you just had to have another sliver of Sal’s awesome skirt steak, well, I’m not sure. I hope Sunday night is different.

You have all day to tailgate. Get to your seat by 8 o’clock. Go nuts for the team when it is announced. Stand up, get loud, make it as tough as you can for Tom Brady. If the Jets go down by 7, or 10, don’t wallow. Rex Ryan and Bart Scott have both said the crowd could make a difference this week. They’re not crazy.

As for MetLife Stadium? Well, they cant change the colors. Whatever. But there are some things that can be changed.

-First off, don’t attack our senses at every chance. I don’t need to hear “Ridin’ Dirty” blasting in my ears after every Shonn Greene 10 yard run (thank God, in that sense, that he’s had a rough year). My brother, Rob Celletti, has made the very valid point that the blasting of music does absolutely nothing to get people pumped up. Instead, it has the reverse effect. All it does is drone on and drown out any crowd noise.

-Replace your PA announcer, please. I usually don’t begrudge people who do their jobs since, but I know I could do a better job. I swear I could. Almost anyone could.

-You’ve gotta be kidding with “Down With The Sickness” by Disturbed before kickoff. To every New York sports team who isn’t sure what song to play when their team comes out, here are four words: Empire State of Mind.

-Give me more classic highlights during TV timeouts! This was one of the best parts of the old Giants Stadium. So what if we’re losing to the Dolphins 3-0? Show me Ken O’Brien hitting Wesley Walker for an 86-yard bomb in 1988, and all will be fine.

So there’s that. The gameday stadium production will be the same, but one can dream. Either way, now is the time for Jets fans to step up their game and make MetLife Stadium a fortress. The team has given you plenty to cheer about the past two and a half seasons.

Now go cheer.

TOJ Roundtable Week 10 – Jets/Patriots Predictions

The TOJ writers submit their picks for the Jets/Patriots week 10 showdown

Joe Caporoso: 12 Pack

Rob Celletti: January has come early, it seems, as the Jets host the Patriots in what is rightly being called the most important game played in MetLife Stadium since it opened. I expect Jets fans to answer the call and show up big, getting the Jets off to a good start, but to think they’ll roll to a double-digit victory on that energy seems a little foolish.  These Jets/Patriots clashes always turn into close games, and as much as the Patriots are not the force they have been for most of the previous decade, they will come out desperate.

Both teams will need to absorb punches from the other side, and this will turn into a classic seesaw affair. The Jets defense will play well, but Brady is Brady, and he’s angry, so he’s going to will his team to a few scores. However, I expect the Jets to again thrive with a balanced offensive attack of their own against a defense that simply does not have the talent to keep up with Greene, Holmes, Keller, Burress and yes, Mark Sanchez.

A late touchdown from Sanchez to Keller (he’s gonna score again at some point this year, right?) puts the Jets ahead 27-24, a lead the Jets won’t relinquish as they move to 6-3 on the year and grab a stranglehold on the AFC East.

TJ Rosenthal: The Jets win if: They continue to exemplify balance on offense, maybe adding some better finishes to early drives. They win if Darrelle Revis shuts down Welker. The TE twins can hurt the Jets but they don’t have to destroy them. We don’t see BenJarvus Green-Ellis, even if he is the Pats focal point, ripping off 136 yards again. The Jets are tackling better now. Surrounding the ball better. Faster too. Limit yards after catch, and get the entire offense involved. That’s the formula.

The Jet lose if: Sanchez continues to make early mistakes that give the Patriots defense just enough of an engine boost to remain under 24 points given up on the day.. They lose if Welker roams free and there is poor tackling up by the Jets defensive line up  front on running plays.

Chris Celletti: Right now, the Jets are a better football team than the Patriots. But New England has lost two in a row and are going to come in pissed off. You don’t want to be facing a pissed off Tom Brady. However, the Jets defense is playing as well as it ever has under Rex Ryan, and the Patriots’ defense is laughable. It really is. I expect both teams to put up points, but I think the Jets will used a balanced attack to keep Brady off the field just enough. If the Jets win the turnover battle, they win. I expect just that to happen: Jets 27, Patriots 23.

Justin Fritze: I think it’s going to come down to the Jets being able to run twice for every pass they throw. Lots of underneath stuff, a few down the sideline. I think the Jets will take this one 28-27. Jumpy Tom Brady, one interception, and about 250 passing yards by Brady. Two field goals for New England. A few glasses of red wine or three shots of Cuervo will make this game much easier to watch for all parties involved.

Jets vs. Patriots: A Deeper Look At Two Rivals, Part 2

Part 2 of our roundtable series discussing Jets/Pats featuring TOJ, The Jet Report, Pats Propaganda, Green Lantern, and NBC’s Bruce Beck

In part I of “A Deeper Look” we broke down the main characters such as Rex, Belichick, Sanchez and Brady. As we continue today with the second installment of our three part roundtable series breaking down the Jets/Pats showdown, we look at other members of the backfield, as well as how these teams fared during free agency.

Once again we are joined by TJ Rosenthal from The Jet Report, Mike Dussault from Pats Propaganda, WFAN’s Jeff Capellini and NBC’s Bruce Beck:

Q. Darrelle Revis: Explain how his play effects the entire Jets defense and teams that try to attack it.

Capellini: Besides basically shutting off half the secondary on passing downs, Revis is also a very good tackler. He’s very good against the run. He forces opponents to overload one side of the field, which causes congestion and a better chance of tipped balls and interceptions. Cromartie, Wilson and the linebackers have already shown great prowess at ball-hawking. If you narrow a team’s options throwing the football and cut off the real estate they have to play with, turnovers happen with greater frequency. Last week Ryan Fitzpatrick was picked off twice in the center of the field by linebackers, this while Stevie Johnson was one-on-one on the outside. That right there is the Revis factor in a nutshell.

Caporoso: He is the league’s only true lock down corner and his skill set gives Rex Ryan the ability to be so comfortable in man coverage. Some teams choose to avoid Revis entirely but this season teams seem to be taking more chances on him, which is leading to a monster year for him in terms of creating big plays (see Dallas and Miami game).

Q. Neither club seems to be on their way to leading the league in rushing. The Jets struggled early on defensively and the Pats have had their problems there seemingly all year. Can a team in the modern day NFL win a Super bowl without a solid running game? Without a shutdown defense?

Caporoso: I think the answer has to be yes, just from looking at Green Bay last year. I wouldn’t say they had a solid running game or a shutdown defense yet their passing offense was so ridiculous and their defense created enough turnovers that it compensated for it. Every team has a different formula for winning based on their coach and personnel. For the Jets to win a Super Bowl, they need a solid running game and a shutdown defense.  

Dussault: The Patriots seem to think you don’t need an elite running back, though they drafted two of them in the third round this year. Benjarvus Green-Ellis is the perfect Patriots runningback. He runs hard, doesn’t lose yards, doesn’t fumble, and as an undrafted free agent he doesn’t cost much. That said he’s not going to make plays by himself. Danny Woodhead has lacked the explosive plays this year, but I believe Kevin Faulk should be the big factor against the Jets this weekend assuming he’s healthy. They’ll need his pass protection smarts to pick up the complex Jets blitzes. I’d expect to see him out there more than any other back.

As for a shutdown defense I’m not sure one exists. You need an offense that can finish and a defense that can make the stops in the key moments. Usually these are veteran defenses like Jets and not young defenses like the Pats. But you’re not going to ever fully shutdown the top offenses in the game, you just have to stop them when it counts most.

Capellini: The Colts and Pats from some years back had ample enough running games and defenses to win it all and they did. Even last season the Packers, for all their airing it out with Aaron Rodgers, still had a scoring defense and got big efforts from the likes of James Starks when it mattered. I think you can live without the running back to an extent if you have a good committee, but without the defense you are not going to win a championship. If the Patriots are not worried about this right now they have their heads in the sand.The Jets are more complete on both sides of the ball and just recently have started to show it. The onus will be on all 53 to keep up this consistency or they, too, will be watching come January.

Q. What player on your club has been the biggest pleaseant surprise so far in 2011? Biggest disappointment?

Dussault: The Patriots biggest pleasant surprise has to probably be Kyle Arrington with his league leading 5 interceptions. His emergence really made Leigh Bodden expendable and he’s able to play both outside and in the slot. He may be undersized but he’s tough, though he’ll give up his share of completions. Brandon Spikes is another player who is emerging as arguably the Pats best linebacker. For all the love Jerod Mayo gets it’s really Spikes who is becoming the heart of the defense. Too bad it looks like he’ll be out on Sunday with a sprained MCL.

Biggest disappointment has to be Devin McCourty after a breakout rookie year.He’s looked better the last couple weeks though, now he just needs to start making plays on the ball.

Caporoso: Joe McKnight has gone from being from the team goat to a terrific all-around playmaker. So he is the biggest surprise. The biggest disappointment? I will go with Derrick Mason, considering the way his entire situation went down and the early turmoil it created on the team.

The Jet Report: We’re with Joe on this one. McKnight has made huge plays and made people forget about Brad Smith who was a huge part of this team. Especially when considering how many roles Smith played, how often the Jets, who have had red zone issues in the Sanchez era pre Plax, needed big plays from him. McKnight has done the same, maybe even in a more explosive way. Disappointment? The offensive line has taken a while to get into gear. That has hurt the run game. Mangold is back now so all things seem to be settling down up front.

Capellini: Believe it or not, Plaxico Burress has begun to provide a stability on offense. He’s nearly at game speed now and you can see it in his route running and concentration. I think he more than any other player this side of Sanchez will tell the tale for the Jets on offense going forward. Defensively, I love what Sione Pouha is becoming. I think if the Jets can get him and unsung Mike DeVito going together going forward you will be talking about a serious two-headed run-stuffing monster.

Q. Where do both clubs need to improve the most?

Caporoso: For the Jets, it is Mark Sanchez and the passing attack. If they continue to improve, the Jets are going to be a very difficult team to beat. For New England, it is the defense and in particular the secondary who needs to improve substantially. 

Dussault: For the Pats it has to be communication in the secondary. We’ve seen when this defense is all on the same page they’ve been very effective at shutting down some very good offenses. This is characteristic of a young defense. If they continue to improve and show more consistency the Patriots will be a better team than they were in 2010. They’ve been especially better recently on 3rd down and in the red area which is encouraging. They just need to do it game in and game out.

Capellini: The Patriots’ secondary is a mess. Besides bringing in new guys, which is always a crapshoot, it’s on master Belichick to scheme things the way he has in the past. So far, he hasn’t. The Jets still need a pass rusher. I’m not breaking news here. They totally shut down the high-flying Bills last week without getting a single sack. Now imagine what they could be if they could get to the quarterback more?

The Jet Report: The Pats come into the is game 32nd in the NFL on defense against the pass AND run. That has to get better. They don’t have to become the Steel Curtain, but they have to exit THAT territory. The Jets are getting into a groove defensively, have their special teams set up now with McKnight and Kerley and have figured out a balance on offense. They have to stop shooting themselves in the foot in the first half. Those stunted drives that end in turnovers not only hurt on the scoreboard, they impair the team emotionally. It takes them through halftime until they regain their flow again. Finish early drives guys.

Q. Let’s go back in time for a minute. Free agency resembled the “Wild West” this past August. Has the production level put forth by free agent pick ups so far warranted the decisons to release others who once held their positions? (you answer this based on FA’s  Pats picked up and let go)

Caporoso: For the Jets it appears at this point, it was the right decision to part ways with Braylon Edwards and Brad Smith considering the production of Plaxico Burress and Joe McKnight. I can’t argue with Shaun Ellis leaving either since he hasn’t done much in New England combined with the fact that Muhammad Wilkerson has held down his previous role well. I would have liked to keep Jerricho Cotchery to mentor Jeremy Kerley, especially considering how Derrick Mason worked out. I think in retrospect New England would look elsewhere for their deep threat at receiver instead of Chad Ochocinco and would have focused more on improving the secondary.

Dussault: Brian Waters has been a great acquisition filling a big hole at right guard though the Pats offensive line has been less than stellar as of late. Chad Ochocinco has been under a lot of criticism but against the Giants he truly looked like he was starting to get it, Brady just had trouble delivering the ball to him when he was open. His ability to beat press man coverage is why he was brought in and they will really need something out of him against the Jets.

Capellini: If you consider the Pats’ two biggest pickups are now basically not involved, then I would say New England didn’t do the greatest of jobs this past offseason. Haynesworth ended up being the problem many people thought he would be and OchoCinco, as stated earlier, has been a major disappointment. Burress justifies letting Braylon Edwards walk. McKnight justifies letting Brad Smith walk, at least as far as special teams go.

The Jet Report: Haynesworth and Ochocinco were just trimmings. Albert is gone but Ocho still could help out if he and Brady get on the same page down the stretch. The Jet choices were all solid. We would have liked to see a bit of shopping for a backup QB though. The problem was that Sanchez loves Brunell as a mentor so that wasn’t going to happen. We also wonder what would have transpired that first week of free agency had Asomugha not been such a focal point for the Jets.

Q. Albert Haynesworth was released on Tuesday. Derrick Mason was traded weeks back. Did you expect alot more from them? Why did both veteran players fail to become part of the equation in Foxboro and Florham Park.

Caporoso: I thought Haynesworth had potential to be a contributor but shame on me for forgetting how lazy and what a lost cause he was. I also did think Mason could succeed here but shame on me again, for forgetting his history of creating issues in a locker room. I just think neither player bought into the system and locker room of an already tight, successful team.

Dussault: Haynesworth is who the critics thought he was. He looked dominant at times and other times he looked like the worst defensive lineman on the team.  It’s disappointing because he clearly has the talent to dominate if he wanted to.Schematically he wasn’t a perfect fit for what the Pats do, but he could’ve made a real impact as an interior sub-rusher. The Pats brought him along carefully and gently but it was all for naught, and it looks like his career is probably over now.

Capellini: Temperament goes a long way in this league. I wish Mason had just kept his mouth shut and worked on helping the Jets, but you knew what you were getting when you signed him. He’s a great talent, has been for years, but he’s also a powder keg. To basically get kicked off the Jets, who never shut up, shows you just how much he didn’t fit in. Haynesworth, like I said above, became a problem because he, too, couldn’t keep his mouth shut, not to mention the fact that he just didn’t perform all that well. But like the Jets, the Pats knew what they were getting themselves into. It shows that even in a football factory, where there’s a clear right way and wrong way to do things, even the mighty Pats can make a bad personnel decision on an older player.

Q. What makes this Patriots Jets rivalry so special?

Caporoso: The players and coaches going back and forth between the two franchises. The recent success of both teams. The number of large games, including two playoff meetings in recent years. Rex Ryan’s attitude compared to Bill Belichick’s.

Dussault: Of course you have the history of being divisional rivals for so long, but what makes it truly special now is the stark contrast in approaches. In just about everything they’re complete opposites yet both styles have proven effective. There’s a great balance to the rivalry and they’ve split the games since Rex Ryan joined the Jets. There also a balance to the Jets having a veteran defense and an offense around a young quarterback, while the Pats have a veteran offense with a young defense. Just about every element of the rivalry has balance and that makes it a lot of fun. Rex brings a lot to it all by himself, I can’t think of another coach I’d rather have coaching my team’s rival. He makes it a lot of fun because you want to beat him so badly. I’m sure Belichick does the same for Jets fans in his own way.

Capellini: It’s really not about New York and Boston. It’s a matter of combustible personalities and fan bases colliding. It’s about one perennial doormat finally getting its act in gear and challenging the status quo. It’s about the rightful throne holders not liking the new kids on the block because they know one day their reign of terror could end, mostly because the usual also-rans now have a plan. It’s also about the lesser team being tired of hearing about and watching the great gods from up north continue to destroy and conquer. The Jets envy what the Pats are as much as the Pats fear what the Jets are becoming. It’s a symphony on the field two or three times a year.

The Jet Report: The history. The storyline. The characters involved. From the AFL’s onset up until the 1990’s, these teams were division rivals but never eternal enemies. Once Bill Parcells left New England to become the Jets head coach, and Bill Belichick left the Jets to return to New England, the entire battle went from trench warfare to Civil War style. With both sides fully armed, heading full steam towards each other. Add New England’s magnificent run with Brady, followed by Eric Mangini ditching Bill, getting locked out in Foxboro, then calling out his boss with “Spygate,” and you have the need for NATO intervention. All of this mind you, BEFORE REX RYAN showed up in Florham Park. It’s been nothing but great drama, great strategy, and classic games for a long time between these two. Both of whom have now earned a mutual respect for each other in the process. As hard as that may be for some of the players involved to admit.

Beck: The atmosphere will be electric. Jets-Pats — the best rivalry around, outside of Yankees-Red Sox. Sunday Night Football on NBC. As Mills Lane used to say, “let’s get it on.”

Look for Part III of “Jets vs Patriots: A Deeper Look at Two Rivals” Saturday

Jets vs. Patriots: 12 Pack Of Predictions

12 predictions for the Jets/Patriots Sunday night showdown for first place in the AFC East

What else can I say? 12 Pack. Jets vs. Pats. It doesn’t get any better.

1. Tom Brady is getting sacked at least three times and will turn the football over at least once. He also won’t crack 300 yards through the air.

2. The other quarterback? Mark Sanchez will put together a performance very similar to the one he had in the playoffs last year.

3. Shonn Greene will be the leading rusher in this game. He will also score another touchdown.

4. Rob Gronkowski will have a big game against the Jets secondary after not doing in much in their first meeting.

5. Santonio Holmes and Plaxico Burress will combine for 150 yards receiving and a pair of touchdowns.

6. Joe McKnight is going to outplay Danny Woodhead.

7. Chad Ochocinco…will have at least 1 reception. How is that for a bold prediction?

8. Wes Welker will have 75 yards receiving and a touchdown.

9. Dustin Keller will have less receiving yards than both Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez.

10. Calvin Pace and Bart Scott will both record sacks. Scott will see a substantial bump in playing time after not playing much in the week 5 meeting.

11. Jeremy Kerley will have at least 40 yards receiving.

12. If you haven’t been able to tell, I am pretty confident in the Jets this week. Actually as confident as I have ever been for a Jets/Pats game. The Jets will win 31-21 and began their march to a AFC East title.

Jets vs. Patriots, Round Two: Game Breakdown

TOJ breaks down what the New York Jets need to do to seize control of the AFC East this Sunday night

Offense: There have been calls from some in the media to let Mark Sanchez loose against a weak New England secondary. While I agree to an extent, the Jets still need to give Shonn Greene his 20 carries and have LaDainian Tomlinson/Joe McKnight chip in another 10. You don’t ignore your running game, you use it to set up your down field play action passing attack. A run first offense doesn’t mean Mark Sanchez can’t take his shots and can’t be aggressive.

I don’t think Santonio Holmes, Plaxico Burress, and Dustin Keller should have a tough time getting open when the Jets do decide to air out. If they can make the most of their opportunities, there is no reason this offense can’t put up a 30 spot this Sunday night. The key is going to be for Mark Sanchez to avoid any costly turnovers or red-zone mistakes. They won’t get away with them like they did last week against Buffalo.

Defense: Attack. The Jets need to come after Tom Brady and get him rattled in the pocket from the opening whistle. I expect to see an aggressive scheme from Rex Ryan, which will use more man coverage and won’t be anywhere near as defensive back heavy as their week 5 approach. The defense has been doing a better job of setting the edge lately and if they keep it up, BenJarvus Green-Ellis won’t have anywhere near the impact he did in the last meeting.

This unit’s confidence should be at an all-time high for this season after their performance last week and watching game tape of New England from the previous two weeks. If they can force Tom Brady into a turnover or two, like they have in the past, New England is going to have a very tough time winning on the road.

Special Teams: This unit has been simply terrific all season. Joe McKnight is a Pro Bowl returner. He has had a toe injury this week and if he can’t go, look for Antonio Cromartie back on kick returns. Nick Folk is having a career year and TJ Conley does appear to be rounding into form at punter. In what should be a tight game, the Jets special teams could make a huge difference.