When Quarterback Rankings Go Wrong: Jason Smith Of NFL.com

A recent ranking of NFL quarterbacks by Jason Smith of NFL.com has TOJ scratching his head

Jason Smith is a fantasy football writer for NFL.com. However, he recently ranked the top 32 quarterbacks in the league not based on their fantasy projections but just on where each quarterback in the NFL currently ranks heading into 2012 overall as a player. The list was a head scratcher to say the least, particularly with his classification of Mark Sanchez who continues to receive zero respect from any mainstream media analysts.

Sanchez is number 23 on this list. Behind Andrew Luck, Josh Freeman, Sam Bradford, Carson Palmer, Robert Griffin III, and Jake Locker. Let’s ignore the fact that Sanchez has more playoff wins (4) than all of these players combined (0) and then just compare stats.

In 2011, Sanchez threw for 3,747 yards, 26 touchdowns, and 18 interceptions with a 56.7 completion percentage. He also ran for 6 touchdowns, en route to leading his team to 8 wins. One other note, Sanchez has missed 1 start in 3 years of being a NFL starter.

Sam Bradford missed 6 starts last season. When he was on the field, he threw 6 touchdowns, 6 interceptions and had a 53.7 completion percentage. After a strong rookie year, he regressed. Sanchez has improved every single year since coming into the league.

Josh Freeman did have a higher completion percentage than Sanchez last year, at 62.8. He also threw for less yards at 3,592 and threw 22 interceptions to 16 touchdowns on a team that won 4 games. He regressed substantially in his third year, while Sanchez…at least statistically, did not.

Carson Palmer went 4-6 as a starter last year for Oakland, while throwing 13 touchdowns to 16 interceptions. He was also outplayed by Sanchez head to head in a playoff game in 2009, when the Jets beat Cincinnati in their building.

As a rookie, Jack Locker played meaningful snaps in three games. All three were losses. He threw a total of 66 passes last year. In Sanchez’s rookie year he won two road playoff games and started 15 regular season games.

Robert Griffin III and Andrew Luck haven’t played a NFL snap yet. They could be Akili Smith and Ryan Leaf for all we know.

Other crazy parts of this list include Matt Ryan being listed ahead of Jay Cutler and Tony Romo. Ryan Fitzpatrick being ranked higher than Alex Smith and Tim Tebow not being included while Colt McCoy and Chad Henne are.

New York Jets: Day One Free Agency Review

TOJ reviews the first day of free agency for the New York Jets

The New York Jets were cautious in the opening hours of free agency, not diving in with the normal frenzy we have seen the past couple of years. This is leading to some anxiety among fans, especially with the activity of other AFC East teams. However, I would encourage everybody to take a breath and wait to see where the chips falls, we aren’t even 24 hours into free agency yet. Let’s review what we are hearing about at each of the position of need for the Jets –

Quarterback – It certainly sounds like Chad Henne isn’t going to end up with the Jets. He has already visited with Jacksonville and has another visit lined up with Seattle, both teams who can offer him more money and a better shot at playing time than the Jets could. The fallback plan appears to be Drew Stanton of the Detroit Lions, who has 4 career starts and 187 career passes. He is expected to visit in the coming days. While Stanton is an upgrade over Mark Brunell’s corpse, I’m not sure he puts any type of real pressure on Mark Sanchez.

Running Back – Nothing of note, I would expect in a few days we will hear about Ronnie Brown taking a visit.

Wide Receiver – The Jets have “kicked the tires” on Laurent Robinson, the top free agent receiver left on the market now that Robert Meachem is in San Diego, Vincent Jackson is in Tampa Bay, Reggie Wayne went back to the Colts, and Pierre Garcon and Josh Morgan went to Washington. Jacksonville and Dallas are recruiting Robinson as well and he is expected to have a hefty price tag. Former Oakland Raiders WR Chaz Schilens is expected to come in for a visit. He played for new wide receivers coach Sanjay Lal. While Schilens could be a low cost, high reward player, he isn’t a sufficient answer opposite Santonio Holmes. Mario Manningham does remain on the market by the way.

Tight End – Nothing reported yet.

Offensive Line – Outside of the Jets signing an undrafted center from USC, Kris O’Dowd, we haven’t heard anything which is a little scary with Buffalo potentially closing in on Mario Williams. Highly sought after right tackle Eric Winston has already visited Miami and has other visits lined up with Kansas City and St. Louis.

Defensive Line – Nothing reported yet.

Linebacker – Outside of resigning Bryan Thomas, the team hasn’t done anything here yet. It is expected they will recruit Jarret Johnson and Jameel McClain but we haven’t heard about visits yet.

Safety – The Jets have reported interest in Reggie Nelson, LaRon Landry, and Brandon Merriweather. Nelson is the best option out of the three but he will cost the Jets. Signing Merriweather would be an exceptionally foolish move. He is a complete thug both on (check his fine history) and off the field (check his police history), who was awful in Chicago last year.

Around The League

  • I love how Tampa Bay is building around their young quarterback by giving him a big time receiver in Vincent Jackson and a big time lineman in Carl Nicks. What other team do we know that should give their young quarterback a receiver and offensive lineman? Hmmm
  • It is good to hear that Mario Williams is leaving Buffalo to meet other teams. The media was reporting this as a done deal last night but the longer it string along, the lower the odds he ends up in the AFC East. Buffalo already struck out on Robert Meachem.
  • As of now, I am guessing Peyton Manning ends up in Denver and Matt Flynn ends up in Miami.

NFL Free Agency Madness: Early Updates

NFL free agency has started fast and furious, particularly in the AFC East

As expected, NFL free agency is roaring out the gate, particularly in the AFC East where the New York Jets primary competitors are either making major moves or are on the cusp of making them. Mike Tannenbaum has been quiet so far. Let’s round up the early chatter. Make sure you are following Turn On The Jets on Twitter and Facebook.

– Miami and Chicago made the biggest splash right out of the gate with the Dolphins trading Brandon Marshall for two third round picks to the Bears, reuniting Marshall with Jay Cutler. Jets fans should be concerned that this move was a prerequisite to signing Peyton Manning who reportedly wanted no part of playing with Marshall. However, there is also the chance the Dolphins new coaching staff wanted a more reliable number one receiver, regardless of their QB. The move cleared over 5 million in cap space for the Dolphins.

– The Buffalo Bills are hosting visits with Mario Williams and Robert Meachem tonight. They are expected to make a monster offer to Williams, if he accepts, it should be a large kick in the rear end to the Jets to add a tackle immediately. Meachem is a speedy receiver who would provide a needed downfield threat for the Buffalo offense, while limiting the Jets options in free agency.

– New England is expected to pursue and eventually land Brandon Lloyd.

– The Jets have already inquired about Chad Henne but he is currently visiting Jacksonville, where he is expected to receive more money than the Jets are willing to offer. Early reports are making it sound like the Jets want Henne but the feeling isn’t mutual.

– In other free agency battles with Jacksonville, the Jets have expressed interest in Laurent Robinson but he is also meeting with the Jaguars. You would hope the Jets and Mark Sanchez’s reputation hasn’t fallen far enough that a receiver would pick Blaine Gabbert and the Jaguars over them.

– Two linebacker options off the market: Tavares Gooden to San Francisco and Curtis Lofton to Tampa Bay. Gooden was a former Raven who could have fit in the Jets defense well.

– Pierre Garcon has signed with the Redskins.

– Jason Campbell is expected to sign with the Chicago Bears.

– The Jets will be competing with the Indianapolis Colts for outside linebacker Jarret Johnson.

Stay with us people…@TurnOnTheJets

TOJ New York Jets Free Agency Primer 2.0

TOJ breaks down how the New York Jets could approach free agency as March 13th draws closer

As March 13th gets closer, New York Jets fans are starting to feel a rush of anxiety. They just watched their hyped team flame out at 8-8, while the New York Giants threw salt in the wound with yet another Super Bowl victory. Mike Tannenbaum is out in front of the media saying things like “Wayne Hunter is coming back as the starting right tackle” and the team won’t be taking an overly aggressive approach to free agency…take a breath everybody, let’s go over what we know as of right now –

We know Mike Tannenbaum gives no valuable information to the media. If a player is under contract, Tannenbaum expects him back in the same role next year. If a player is a free agent, the Jets will review their options and make the best decision for the franchise. This is all company line BS. Tannenbaum isn’t giving anything away. The Jets don’t have a ton of money to spend but with a few more maneuvers, will have enough to make a reasonable splash staring March 13th.

Quarterback – The Jets are going to do their due diligence on Peyton Manning, like nearly every team in the NFL will. If they feel like they have a real shot, they will go after him hard with no regard for Mark Sanchez’s feelings. I still say this has about a 5% chance of happening but the Jets will be at the top of the Manning rumor mill under he signs elsewhere. As expected, Chad Henne has also been linked to the Jets as a logical backup to Mark Sanchez. If I was gambling man, I’d put my money on Henne being in New York next year and Manning being in Arizona.

Running Back – No chatter here. It would serve the Jets well to add a low cost veteran but that seems like the type of move that won’t happen until closer to training camp. Joe McKnight is going to be talked up a ton this off-season as a big part of the Jets plans and Bilal Powell will also be hyped as somebody who will receive more of an opportunity.

Wide Receiver – A position of constant debate on Twitter among Jets fans. The impression that I am receiving is that the Jets won’t have enough money to spend on Pierre Garcon or Robert Meachem. If they spend it will be on the third tier of free agent wide receivers, like Early Doucet or Braylon Edwards. There was a Daily News report yesterday that the Jets had interest in bring #17 back if he was “healthy and the price was right” aka on a veteran minimum deal with some incentives attached. The Jets expressing interest in Edwards shows the type of money they are looking to spend at WR this off-season…not much.

Edwards has the potential to give a high return on investment. If you are going cheap at receiver, who would you expect more from than Edwards who has proven he can be productive with Mark Sanchez in New York? What I am saying if there is one receiver the Jets are getting for the veteran’s minimum this off-season that can produce 60 catches, 750 yards, and 6 touchdown, it is Edwards.

Tight End – I still believe if Anthony Fasano gets cut he ends up in New York. Don’t be surprised if the Jets spend more on him than they do on a wide receiver in free agency.

Offensive Line – I really hope Mike Tannenbaum hasn’t talked himself into a Wayne Hunter/Vladmir Ducasse battle for right tackle but I wouldn’t rule it out completely. At this point, I still expect some type of veteran to be brought in for insurance but the market isn’t full of quality options. Vernon Carey makes sense but might end up costing more than the Jets want to spend.

Defensive Line – I am confident Tannenbaum gets Sione Pouha locked down before free agency starts.

Linebacker – Jarrett Johnson is the first name that has been linked to the Jets with any kind of mainstream media report. It makes sense, as he is familiar with Rex’s system and could be a veteran stopgap to be paired with a first round pick at outside linebacker. Rex Ryan needs to drop the “I can get a pass rush from anybody” attitude and the Jets need to get a player who can get double digit sacks in a season. If there is an aggressive approach in the draft, pass rushing outside linebacker needs to be the position that is targeted.

Secondary – There is a crop of talented safeties out there and if the Jets are going to spend money at a position, than why not here? You are trying to beat a team that features Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez out for the your division, remember? Tyvon Branch, Reggie Nelson, LaRon Landry and Michael Griffin are all out there.

Black Spring – NFL Combine & All Star Clownery

Justin breaks down the NFL Combine and what we learned from the NBA All-Star Game

Tequila is not for the faint of heart. Neither is getting whipped with a belt about 20 times as a crowd of drunken lunatics scream for more. Both things happened in conjunction Friday night at the always classy Coyote Ugly, so my attempt to cover the start of the 2012 NFL Combine was simply reduced to me trying to put enough meat in my body that blinking felt like an Olympic exercise while I heard Mike Mayock and Bucky Brooks ramble on about Indy without Peyton, the beauty of the 3 cone drill, and the various difficulties of switching guards to tackles and back again.

Still, I carried on. The best thing about the combine is the back and forth that ex-players and analysts have about the combine being worthless, pointless, having nothing to do with football, yet glancing over the fact that the newest iteration of the hideous workout uniform combined with super HD cameras create an almost uncomfortable level of voyeurism as GM’s and coaches stare in the stands like they’re at some bizarro slaughterhouse or bull auction, scanning each player for body fat, wobbly knees, nose hair, tattoos, and for the Raiders – telekinetic ability. And when they’re done looking from afar, they bring them into a room with various astrological charts, gypsy psychics, polygraphs, Rorschach blots and Friendly’s style color ins.

That’s the process. So who WON the combine? RG3! The great hope for whatever god awful franchise he goes to. While Griffin can run, throw, run, run, and throw a deep ball pretty good, he played at BAYLOR. Baylor. You know what I know about Baylor? That Phil Taylor is from Baylor. And they play against some of the worst defenses in college football. Not the biggest challenge for a quarterback who is going against corner backs, linebackers, and defensive lineman that aren’t even being invited to the combine.

Before going further, I’ll admit I’ve developed an SEC bias when it comes to skill players. AJ Green, Julio Jones, Trent Richardson, Patrick Peterson, Morris Claiborne, Mark Ingram etc. etc. Why the bias? Because it’s been proven time and time again that the new conference of power is the SEC, and it’s not even close. The PAC 12 is great except for the fact that they have Washington, Utah, Arizona, Arizona State, and Oregon State. The Big 12 is full of “traditional” powers that have weakened substantially and the Big 10 is old power that may or may not see some sort of resurgence in the next 10 years. Go watch Michigan State vs. Alabama in their bowl game two years ago.

But does the combine even matter any more? The combine, like the NBA and NFL all star games, is slowly being taken over by player agents, as many agents for prospective first round picks advise their players not to even bother with running or throwing. There is no upside they say, except to satisfy a bunch of analysts that have absolutely no effect on that players draft status. Too much money to risk, too little incentive to perform.

So concerning the combine, what’s the counterargument against the pro day passing against the combine passing for quarterbacks specifically? Think about this. Is a quarterback prospect going to have his college players to throw to when he gets to training camp? Is said player going to tell his offensive coordinator “I’ve never really thrown back shoulder throws, so let’s just keep things simple and maybe I can work on that stuff in the next off season”? Having something that tailored to a players skill set is almost comical when you talk about a guy who is going to be a first round pick, so he sure as hell better be able to make every throw, even if it’s with a set of scrubs in a flag football game.

So the freakshow is over, and it’s time for the truly insane to come out with 4398 mock drafts, but before that, a brief note on the NBA All Star Game. I don’t care if it is a clown-show at heart, things got SERIOUS in the 4th quarter. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook made me weep tears of joy as they drained 3’s from the corner and dunked like they were in the Colosseum scene from Escape From LA. And to cap off my childlike joy Lebron James FAILED. Again. But I’ll say this, it’s the All Star Game, not the Finals. Oh, about that.

I’m still trying to come to terms with the perceived mental weakness of James coupled with the most athletic physique to ever play basketball. Maybe he will win 2 or 3 championships, but the Kobe and Jordan era is over for good, and no one will ever challenge them again, especially when the best players are on a team consisting of 3 of the top 10 players in the league that was artificially created to win a championship in the cheapest and most sacrilegious method in the history of sports. CHEATING THE SALARY CAP SYSTEM.

As I’ve said all along, Miami has no soul. So if they want to ever get to that mountain of the immortals, they better win 7, and they better start this year.

Give The Kid Some Money: A Look At The Purple People

Justin continues his look at where every NFL team currently stands, with a breakdown of the Minnesota Vikings

Justin Fritze will be breaking down where every team in the NFL currently stands for us here at TOJ, going from worst to first…continuing today with the Minnesota Vikings

Previous Articles

The NFL is the only sport that can say without pause that anyone can win on any day at any venue, home or away. Despite their inability to get anything going the entire season, there’s always some sliver of greatness in the bottom five of the league. There’s always rookies coming on (or about to come on in the next year’s draft), a strange storyline about a team that was on top and fell off (Vikings with Favre), or as with this year, it’s the anticipation of a rookie quarterback (Luck) and one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play the game having a pre-draft three way metaphysical battle of the psyches between past, present, and ownership.

Would Peyton help Luck? Would Peyton survive? Is Irsay trying to become the new face of the Colts? Is Luck doomed to suffer under the bloodshot eyes of Irsay?

Crawling upwards slightly from the bottom of the barrel you’ve got the Rams, who had the worst luck of any team in the NFL (11 cornerbacks RIP) and have undergone one of the most rapid declines since the Greatest Show On Turf, which can be summed up as a bad deal on the tail end of the #1 draft pick before they changed the rookie pay scale, an experiment with McDaniels that ended in complete and total failure, and the once vaunted Spags defense that really had no talent to begin with, and thus, no impact, even in the terrible NFC West.

With that, I turn attentions again to the Vikings. The Vikings I doomed for at least four years after their stunt with Favre (every year with aging quarterback means two years of failure afterwards), the smoke and mirrors Vikings, the crypt keepers, the old and the unfortunate. The Vikings to me are like a machine that never quite works right. They’re a cheap dirt bike. Half the price, less fun, and prone to throw a piston every few days. The past year has gone as such: Brett Favre nearly dies his second year at the helm, Percy Harvin has migraines that may or may not force him into early retirement, and Adrian Peterson, the greatest running back in the league, just tore an ACL and an MCL.

There’s not much I believe in when it comes to the Vikings. It’s a whirlpool of underachievement. Looking at the all important secondary, Antoine Winfield is too old to keep up with the freaks of the NFC North: Greg Jennings. Calvin Johnson. Earl Bennett? Ok that’s a stretch.

Do they want to grab Morris Claiborne and attempt to put a stop to the aerial assault of Detroit and Green Bay? He could give Harvin a spell on special teams. He also played with Patrick Peterson, who gave the Cardinals a few minutes on sports center as they went ahead and lost for what seemed like the 156th time in the past two years.

Turning to the guys in the middle, Chad Greenway is one of my favorite linebackers in the league simply for the fact that after he sacks somebody, I imagine him screaming something about the cost of the GreenWay, or something about traffic on the GreenWay, an offhand Beltway reference.

The Vikings aren’t going to trade down for a defensive lineman, so they might try and grab someone in free agency or a defensive end/outside linebacker like Whitney Mercilus in the 3rd. They’ll have Jared Allen back, and hopefully Kevin Williams survives the blade unlike Pat. Although Pat is 39 and Kevin is 31, so that move kind of made sense, especially when you look at the actual athletes on teams like the Giants or the 49ers and the general trend towards speed rushers instead of fatboys.

So why “give the kid some money”? Christian Ponder NEEDS some money. He needs some big time. Some Deion. He needs someone who can make him look good. He needs Justin Blackmon. If for no other reason than the fact that they need SOMETHING to take the pressure off Percy Harvin for the rest of his Vikings career. If Kyle Rudolph pans out as a Gronk prototype, the fact that Adrian Peterson can rip off a 94 yard run in the strong I formation should get him open on about 99% of play action bootlegs. Every linebacker bites agains the Adrian Peterson play action fake. There’s no choice when you’re dealing with that sort of vicious juggernaut with a head full of steam.

So what would Justin Blackmon mean? The second coming of Randy Moss? The Third coming of Randy Moss? Neither. Two legitimate receivers on the edge, a working man’s Gronkowski and the best running back in football. That’s what they’ll need if they want to compete in the NFC North.

So enters the Ponder detractors. Ponder doesn’t need elite talent, he needs to be a good quarterback, which he can do with a 2nd or 3rd round receiver and a bolstered offensive line. Regardless the play of Ponder, Matt Kalil will be Matt Kalil, whereas Justin Blackmon can’t be Justin Blackmon if he’s getting passes thrown at his ankles on 3rd down.

Never mind the fact that Steve Hutchinson seems to be on his way out and they may in fact start a kid from Slippery Rock. The Vikings, in essence, need to get more blue collar before they get big time.

Late round value at cornerback and defensive line could get this team into at least playoff contention. Hell an 8-8 season would be looked at as an accomplishment, and prevent Adrian Peterson from suffering the same fate as Larry Fitzgerald – a career whose potential never even came close to what it should be due to John Skelton, Matt Leinart, and Kevin Kolb’s greatest con of all time in getting $50 million for nothing. (If Larry plays his cards right this week however, and Peyton Manning ends donning the Kurt Warner 2.0 uniform, all will be forgotten.)

For pure excitement, I hope they get Blackmon and attempt to grab some lineman in free agency, because I’ve got no horse in the race, and flash is fun. Especially in Minnesota. Which may become LA.

Digesting The 2011-2012 NFL Season From A Jets Perspective

The hard digestion of the 2011-2012 NFL season from a New York Jets perspective

If you would have told most New York football fans prior to the season starting that there would be a parade marching through the city on February 7th, the majority would have had to concede that it would more likely be the Jets than the Giants walking down the Canyon of Heroes.

Giants fans might disagree with their 20/20 hindsight  but they were not an overly confident fanbase heading into the season, coming back off back to back seasons without making the playoffs and an off-season that was being questioned by most. On the other hand, the Jets were off back to back AFC Championship Game appearances and seemed to be ready to take the next step.

I have been quick to point out that the media has been exaggerating the Jets failures this past year. The talk around the team is like they went 2-14, not 8-8. Yet, let’s be honest with ourselves before the season started if somebody would have told you that –

1. The Patriots would sweep the Jets.

2. The Giants would beat the Jets propelled by a ridiculous 99 yard touchdown, that would launch their Super Bowl run.

3. The Jets would miss the playoffs thanks to losses to the Giants and the Dolphins.

4. Santonio Holmes would quit on the team in the final game.

5. Mark Sanchez would have an ugly regression to close the 2011 season.

5. The Giants and Patriots would have a rematch in the Super Bowl, with the Giants winning again.

You probably would have vomited a little in your mouth right?

It is okay to admit this past year sucked on many levels. I didn’t enjoy a second walking to work today through a sea of Justin Tuck and Brandon Jacobs jerseys, while thinking about how the hell the Jets could here.

So, the question really is what is this team going to do now?

To be clear that I am not one of these flip-flopping convenient fans, who come and go with the Jets depending on their success, I still firmly believe in Rex Ryan as a head coach. Many of his comments look stupid after this season but he has breathed life into a lifeless franchise and can coach a hell of a defense. The failures of this year will serve him well in the long run, as I believe he will be wise enough to learn from his previous mistakes and improve into a better coach. Getting punched in the mouth this past year could very well be the best thing that ever happened to him.

I will not act like I wouldn’t be excited for a healthy Peyton Manning to join this team because if it happens, I will be cautiously excited. That being said, I do not think he is going to play here and I do think Mark Sanchez is the long term answer at quarterback. I am aware that puts me in the minority but take a glance at Eli Manning and Drew Brees first three years in the NFL and tell me it is smart to throw in the towel on Sanchez at this point. I doubt he will ever be a Pro-Bowl quarterback but I don’t doubt that he can win alot of games in the NFL and with the right team can win a Super Bowl.

Mike Tannenbaum has had his ups and downs. He had a bad year last year but he has had enough good years in the past to have some kind of faith in him bouncing back. There is a need for speed on defense, coupled with upgrades at safety and linebacker. An improved right tackle and a split end are also necessities on offense. How the Jets address these needs will go a long way to determining whether they are 8-8 or 11-5 next year.

Heading into 2012, there won’t be any brash predictions for Super Bowls. There will be a knowledge that this a talented team that could cause damage if they get into the playoffs. We learned this past year, like many years before, that all you need to do is get into the tournament and anything can happen.

The King Keeps His Crown: How The Jets Can Learn From The Giants

TJ on what the New York Jets can learn from the New York Giants

As difficult as the winter months were for the Jets, enduring their own crash and locker room dramas, as the hated Patriots and “Big Brother” Giants just rolled along, Gang Green should ditch any small minded “G Men” envy, and get out the notepads instead. Rex Ryan said that he reviewed his own performance with a pen and paper this past week while vacationing in Hawaii. The Jets entire organization should do the same. Using a big part of this important break in the action, by studying how the Giants beat their AFC East rival three times in four years. Along the way to adding to more Vince Lombardi hardware to their own collection.

MAKE FINDING SPEED RUSHERS UP FRONT PRIORITY ONE

The way to defeat top five QB’s and fast break passing games in general, is NOT by drafting more cornerbacks to cover receivers as the Jets did by selecting Kyle Wilson two years back. It is by hurrying the decision making and release time of these signal callers by having speed up front. Alot of it.

Draft pass rushers on the outside. Sign them as free agents. Grow them in the basement of Florham Park. Do anything it takes. Just find them.

The Giants have now twice in the Super Bowl, and once in the regular season since 2008, slowed down the Pats passing attack by living close to Tom Brady. Doing it with tipped balls. Sacks. Pressures. Presence.

The names seem endless. Tuck. Osi. JPP. Kiwanuka. Strahan. Not one but an army of attackers who can line up anywhere and who together, allow the other seven to drop back and bolster coverage.

The concept of “rush three drop eight” helped the Jets beat the Colts and Pats in the playoffs last year, but doesn’t STRIKE THE FEAR OF GOD in these touchdown machines who line up under center. Monsters who have taken over the NFL lately. It is time for the Jets to put a scare into these guys. Like the Giants did and have for a number of years now.

As for the Giants latest run to the title, it wasn’t just the great Tom Brady who fell victim to the tsunami caused up front. Big Blue even forced perhaps the game’s best, Aaron Rodgers, to throw less and escape more, by running. This took it’s toll mentally on the Pack. The Giants got to Rodgers just enough that despite the Packers many drops during the NFC divisional round, the feel for Green Bay’s beloved QB in his own pocket went from comfort, to serious concern.

The Jets have to strive to obtain this type of potential defensively on the edge going forward. Period.

WE GET IT REX, BUT NOW BUILD THE RUSH FROM THE OUTSIDE

We spoke to Rex Ryan prior to the 2011 season and he told us that his dad Buddy taught him that defensive lines are built from the inside out. That size inside will flush QB’s outside where ends can clean up.

We don’t have the resume or pedigree to thumb our noses at theories created by the father of the 46 defense. We DO want to remind Rex and GM Mike Tannenbaum however, that it is not 1986 anymore either. QB’s play differently.

The athleticism has changed at the position.

We no longer live in an age of the “five step drop and plant the feet” quarterback. Most can throw on the run out of designed rollouts anyhow. It is forcing receiver routes that are free to roam after five yards to be cut off, that has to be the top priority for defensive units nowadays.

Become ultra fast up front. Crush and close pockets quickly. Make receivers stop and turn back to the ball.

SOLID QB PLAY, WITH A GREAT DEFENSE CAN DO THE TRICK

Second, is the dual need of quality QB play and the fear of owning threats downfield on offense. We all remember how Mark Sanchez struggled this season. Yet how many remember the struggles that elite Eli Manning had in HIS first three seasons? Eli has since calmed down and settled in to becoming one of the best. For Sanchez, the jury is still out, yet patience and understanding that it doesn’t happen out the gates for all QB’s on the Jets part, will be necessary.

No matter how IMPATIENT we as a society, and collection of fan bases who expect instant success, have become.

It took time for the younger Manning brother to become the player he is. Now it is the Jets turn. Any discussion by Jets brass regarding the recent notion of ditching Sanchez, should include a serious review of how and why Eli outgrew his own growing pains .

For the Jets to become a contender year in year out, the front four has to pressure the quarterback. In addition, Sanchez will have to be more than a game manager. The Niners Alex Smith became that type late in 2011 and can be the example for the future upside of Sanchez. A player who even if he never becomes a Canton bound type, has to deliver throws accurately and on time. Has to be able to do the little things well consistently.

Whether the club feels he can or cannot become that player at a high level, is how he must be how he is judged this offseason. Taking into account not just the 8-8 disaster but his prior body of work as well.

DONT BE SCARED OFF FROM OPENING IT UP BECAUSE OF 2011

The Jets 2012 receiving corps must still look to help Sanchez by providing the threat to stretch the field too. Even if they haven’t proven to be as productive as the current Giants crew of Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz, and Mario Manningham are. The new NFL calls for the ability to score points quickly at times.

To their credit, the Jets recognized this need heading into 2011 and actually tried to force feed a downfield attack early on. The added concept had little time to mesh new faces with old ones and as a whole, never got on the same page. They shouldn’t abandon this extension of the playbook entirely simply because it failed to work out this time around.

A return to the “Ground and Pound” under new offensive coordinator Tony Sparano without some semblance of the ability to open it up at all, will not work in a modern day NFL. One that allows receivers to get open and QB’s to often go untouched.The model of balance, efficiency, and mild potency, just has to be executed better. With mutual trust between the players. Which brings up chemistry.

A RETURN TO TOGETHERNESS

The Super Bowl champion Giants were “All In.” The 2009 and 2010 Jets were unified as well. A return to that mindset is essential for the Jets, in overcoming the adversity that a long grinding NFL season carries along with it. Choices made as to who to keep, release, and acquire can’t be graded solely by projected production and numbers, but with “team player” included as a category as well.

This task will be left up to Ryan and Tannenbaum, who must establish ground rules that include consequences for “conduct detrimental to the team.” Maybe the Jets guidelines will always be looser than they are for the Giants or Bill Belichick’s tight lipped troops, but there HAVE TO BE SOME.

PLAYERS MUST PITCH IN: MANGOLD AND REVIS?

Leadership from certain players will also play a big part in aiding Ryan’s attempt to get everyone on the same page. If Rex’s Jets truly choose to go without the ceremonial “captains” they will still need de facto ones.

Often times Justin Tuck speaks eloquently on behalf of his club’s vision often times. Manning does as well. Never throwing a teammate under the bus while doing so. Even if the Jets don’t copy the Giants “leadership council” template that Tom Coughlin has invented for his championship team, it is time for a few “go to” guys to make themselves more available vocally. In a bigger way than they have done in prior years.

Inside and outside of the locker room.

We see Nick Mangold and Darrelle Revis, two perennial All Pros, as guys who could become the daily quotable ones. Stars who can provide the public with the temperature taking on behalf of the rest of the team. After all, their play has warranted them the right to take on this important role in setting the big picture tone.

In this scenario, others could then fall in line behind them. Follow their lead. Echo their sentiments which to date, have never included any finger pointing. Do this for now. Until a rhythm is established for what it takes to have each others backs in good times and bad. New leaders can develop based off of this pair’s lead.

Mark Sanchez will have to become part of THAT group in the near future. His position on the field requires it. The “Sanchise” may need a few positive performances in order to regain confidence and a belief in him by his own teammates first. Before this added duty is asked of him.

At this point, Mangold and Revis should be the firestarters.

FORGET ABOUT WHO OWNS NEW YORK CITY

The keys are clear, yet only come after putting an end to the nonsense of caring about who owns the Big Apple. Who cares? There are no trophies awarded to the city’s best, only the league’s best.

Prioritizing a defensive gameplan that chases quarterbacks with the front four, with a QB who must do more than just manage a game, aided by receivers who are threats, on a team that sticks together, is where to start.

TRYING TO BE “KINGS OF NEW YORK” HURT JETS IN WEEK 16

Congratulating the Giants as classy Woody Johnson did on Sunday night was a solid initial step in moving away from a local rivalry that may sell tickets, but derails the vision in “sideshow” like ways. Respecting what good teams like the Giants do well while aiming to set in place solid footing in order to achieve one’s own high standard of consistency, is the path of least resistance. Allowing time for more focus on the important things. Such as clarity.

The idea of 59 pass attempts, the amount of tries the Jets had through the air against the pass rushing monsters on the Giants, was not borne out of a calm thought process. Self inflicted distractions that came from the Jets trying to win the “Battle for New York” played a lethal part in the Jets devastating 29-14 Christmas Eve day loss. A defeat that essentially ended Gang Green’s season, only to kickstart the Giants glory ride in the process.

RESPECT, RECOGNIZE, IDENTIFY, THEN YOU CAN IMPROVE

Recognizing the core principles that helped the Giants to beat New England and slow down the unstoppable Rodgers along the way in 2012, would provide a longer shelf life of a foundation, than goals of “winning the day” in the press can ever do.

The Jets are on the map now. It’s time to quit reminding people of that, and time to start battening down the hatches instead. The 2012 season is underway. Any “Peyton Manning” talk, as well as all other big personnel decisions that are to come, have to be diagnosed under the proper lens and microscope.

Great job Giants. Winning six straight games with your backs against the wall, by capitalizing on opponents mistakes, while getting the job done on long drives after trailing late in games.

Jets, it is now your turn, to assess and identify areas that hopefully only stunted the growth that took place over the first two years of the Ryan era. An exciting time for the men in Green and White,  that can be improved upon as long as what happened in 2011 is reviewed by the club with clear minds.

Not emotional ones.

TOJ Super Bowl’s Prediction – Be Worried Giants Fans

TOJ with his prediction for the Super Bowl

Considering my track record on predictions this year, I am glad this will be my final one for awhile.

The Super Bowl? I started the two weeks ago firmly behind the notion of rooting for the Giants. Now after two weeks of listening to them run their mouths and predict parades and victories, while getting in plenty of cheap shots at the Jets…it hasn’t been quite so easy.

Hey, I really get why people hate Rex Ryan and the Jets. I always have. It is annoying to hear so much chatter from a team, when it isn’t your own.

It seems to me that everybody loves the Giants this week and they are overconfident. In a rational world, they should come out and take one on the chin from the Patriots led by Brady and Belichick. But this season hasn’t been a rational one for Jets fans, as everything that could go wrong has went wrong starting with the beating they took in Philadelphia and culminating with Giants/Patriots Championship Game victories aided by lucky special teams plays.

I have come to accept that I won’t be happy with the result either way and as a mature adult, I am going to still run my mouth throughout the game to whichever team is losing or struggling at the particular time and then talk smack to whatever fan base loses.

My prediction? Considering how this season I went, I bet today is the greatest game ever played and the Giants win on a hail mary when four Patriots defenders run into each other and the ball shoots up in the air and magically lands in Henry Hynoski’s hands…or something like that.

Follow #BitterJetFan on Twitter all day. See you on the other side.

Justin’s Super Bowl Prediction – A Fate Worse Than Hell

Justin with his Super Bowl prediction

I’m gonna make this simple. I was born in Worcester, Massachusetts, eventually moving to Enfield, Connecticut and finally Long Island. To say I don’t have moral/geographic/psychological dilemmas regarding the HellBowl would be a lie. So why do I see the Patriots losing 28-21 and me being rather upset about it?

As a starting point, there’s nothing quite like the Giants defensive line in the league. They make EVERY defensive end in the league look fat and slow. They’re too fast for tackles and guards to try and keep up with without eventually getting caught for holding, and the Giants have finally found a balance between a two back running attack (with a fullback!), tight end passes off the play action to the “faster than you think” Jake Ballard, and the old school SMU style “run and shoot” passing between 3 or 4 receivers.

What sets the passing game apart is that unlike the way the Patriots use Wes Welker, Victor Cruz is occasionally seen catching a comeback route 25 yards down the field, about 10 yards too far for a prototypical slot guy. Then again, Kevin Gilbride’s offense, once derided by Buddy Ryan as the “chuck and duck”, gives receivers multiple options on every route they run, the results of which being Victor Cruz breaking the Giants receiving yards record, yet somehow missing the Pro Bowl.

He had a bigger impact than almost every receiver in the league, and probably won them at least 2 games singlehandedly. But why would I be upset about the Patriots losing? Because the Giants have slowly taken on the persona of the 2010 Jets right before they played the Patriots. The Jets won that game, but they got soft before the Steelers and were mentally worn out. Still, there’s some part of me that thinks that the Giants aren’t going to be able to keep up this oracle style of fearless prediction. It’s not that the Giants aren’t talented enough to do it, it’s the fact that I feel like Tom Brady has some very pissed off part of him that gets channeled into film study, practice, and more film study.

Brady’s going to know every single defensive scenario the Giants throw at him, and as I predicted very late last night, he’s going to try and wear that Nascar package down to the point where they’re too tired to keep going, and then drop one right up the middle to Woodhead for 10 yards on 3rd down, right after which he will hurry to the line and attempt to get something to Welker over the middle before handing off to Hernandez as Nate Solder becomes a blocking tight end.

He’ll do things like this until they try and substitute, and then beat whoever gets caught out of position, akin to both Jet games this year, when Brady decided to run it down the Jets throat while Rex Ryan has a slow meltdown on the sidelines, watching Brady play Jets football against his own defense that seemed to be falling apart at the seams as Brady firmly planted foot on throat.

Again, why would I be upset at a Giants Super Bowl victory? Because from here on out, the Giants will proclaim that the new MetLife stadium is theirs. Which it will be, and will be until the end of time. There’s no argument against it for at least 4 years. They demolished the Jets on the field they share, went ahead and blew out Aaron Rodgers and then happened to beat the REAL best defense in the league before defeating for the 2nd time, Tom Brady in the Super Bowl. There’s no argument against that. They couldn’t keep the Patriots out of the Superbowl because they are in the opposing conference, but they already beat the PERFECT Patriots team in the SuperBowl in front of the world, beat them on the road in the regular season, and could potentially DO IT AGAIN IN FRONT OF THE WORLD.

If the Jets ever thought they could “own the Patriots”, nothing short of sweeping them next year, and a defeat in the AFC Championship could even scratch the surface of what the Giants have already done.

That’s what Jet fans are going to have to live with for the rest of their lives. They had their chances and couldn’t get it done. Which is already going to create the inner dialogue about the “great” Rex Ryan defense, whose defensive front can’t even hold a candle to the Giants, the running game of the Jets, which the Giants walked all over, and the general modus operandi of the entire organization. Bringing in veterans, stars, rejects, draft busts, attempting to create some sort of flash and dash roster that’s supposed to steamroll the AFC.

Meanwhile, the Giants have been hitting on almost all of their draft picks, getting huge trade return value by dumping guys like Steve Smith, Kevin Boss and Rich Seubert while acquiring Antrel Rolle, the solidifying force of the secondary. That said, I still say the Patriots defense is going to get walked on by Eli Manning. They’re going to run away from Wilfork, Eli is going to keep everything calm and collected while throwing four touchdowns by the start of the 4th quarter. Then, they will run the ball and play action their way to a couple of punts as Brady goes to throw 2 game destroying interceptions as Rob Gronkowski hobbles towards the sideline.

So would I pick the Patriots with a healthy Gronkowski? Of course. Exact same score flipped. That’s the worth of Rob Gronkowski. One touchdown over the seam. But he’s got a high ankle sprain, and things are looking grim for someone who has to make cuts on post routes and attempt to run block against guys like Michael Boley and Mathias Kiwanuka.
There will be no winner tomorrow. Not for anyone with a Jets jersey somewhere in the closet.