Turn On The Jets 12 Pack, Week 8 – Jets vs. Dolphins

12 predictions from Turn On The Jets for the New York Jets vs. Miami Dolphins week 8 match-up

The Turn On The Jets 12 pack is back and sporting a perfect 7-0 record at picking the outcome of New York Jets games this season. We had another big week of coverage here with our ongoing mission to civilize coverage of this football team. A big thanks to Chris Gross, Mike Donnelly, TJ Rosenthal, Rob Celletti and Chris Celletti for doing their thing as always. Here is a recap of the previous week –

On to the predictions –

1. The Jets are going to hold Reggie Bush under 80 yards total rushing. This might seem like a stretch considering how Bush was gashing them back in week 3 before leaving with an injury. However, he hasn’t been the same player since that hit LaRon Landry put on him. Also back in week 3, an injured Sione Pouha hurt the Jets defense by getting pushed all over the field. Mike DeVito isn’t a great nose tackle but him at 100 percent is better than the 50% it looked like Pouha was playing at in week 3. Demario Davis will also be replacing Bart Scott at inside linebacker, bringing more speed to the position.

2. Shonn Greene isn’t going to crack 60 yards rushing. Miami’s front seven is too stout and he has never found success against the Dolphins. Look for something like 15 carries and 50 yards from Greene. However, I do think he scores his 6th touchdown of the year.

3. Joe McKnight and Jonathan Grimes will combine for at least 8 carries. Credit McKnight for playing through the pain of his high ankle injury. He seems to have really grown up this season and is showing a new level of toughness.

4. Tim Tebow will have a minimal impact on the game again. He won’t crack 35 total offensive yards and will finish the first half of the year without a touchdown.

5. Brian Hartline will have less than 50 yards receiving and will not score a touchdown. Look for Antonio Cromartie to spend most of the day on him. Keep an eye on Jabar Gaffney in the slot, he is a savvy receiver who could hurt the Jets if he sees extended reps.

6. Mark Sanchez is going to outperform Ryan Tannehill in every major statistical category.

7. Nick Folk will continue his perfect season, knocking through two more field goals. Could the Jets have a kicker and punter (Mayday Malone?) in the Pro-Bowl this year?

8. Jermey Kerley will have another 75 yards receiving. Dustin Keller will catch his 2nd touchdown of the season. Stephen Hill will bounce back from last week’s drop to put together a solid all-around game.

9. The Jets haven’t ran a true trick play on offense since week 1 when they broke out a flea flicker. We will see another trick play this week that goes for a big gain.

10. Anthony Fasano will have a solid day against the Jets defense…he always seems to.

11. Dan Carpenter is going to shank another kick. Rex Ryan and Tony Sparano’s fist pumps are in his head.

12. The Jets are going to play their most complete football game of the season. I like the way this team has been trending since the Houston game, slowing improving every week particularly on offense. This is the week it comes together against a pretty good Miami team. The defense is going to be keyed up to slow down Reggie Bush and I think they answer the bell. Originally, I was going to pick a tight one but I think the Jets pull away in the second half and win 27-14.

Turn On The Jets NFL Week 8 Best Bets

Chris Celletti with his weekly NFL Best Bets. Who should you be putting your money on this Sunday?

Week 7 Record: 1-2 

Season Record: 8-12-1

In honor of Hurricane Sandy, Snowicane, The Frankenstorm – whatever you want to call that crazy thing we’re supposed to get early next week that’s supposed to turn New York City on its ear, I’m going to flip things around this week and start my piece off with my Bonus Non-Football Bet of The Week. I’m 3-4 on the season with these, but the game I’m going to pick this week is one that’s closer to my heart than any other pick I’ve ever made on this site – next Thursday’s season opener for the New York Knicks against the Brooklyn Nets, Round 1 of the New York-Brooklyn turf war. Now it’s way too early for the line for this game to have come out, but this pick is much more symbolic anyway. I’m taking the Knicks outright, whatever the moneyline is.

I guess its natural that the Nets are being overrated heading into this season. The shiny new arena, all the Jay-Z crap, a new name and all will do that for you. But let’s get one thing patently straight here – the Nets ARE being overrated heading into this season. Many people are picking them as a 50+ win team, saying they’re so much clearly better than the Knicks, and that they’re closer to the Boston Celtics than anyone else in the Atlantic Division. I’m here to tell you that that’s false, and that if the Nets were still the New Jersey Nets, playing in Newark, with those old uniforms, but had the EXACT SAME ROSTER – nobody would have them as a 50-win squad.

As a Knicks fan, I’ve watched enough bad defensive basketball to know how truly important defense is in the NBA. For years, the Knicks were an embarrassment on defense – last year that changed with the addition of Tyson Chandler. And all anyone who hates the Knicks wants to point out is how bad their stars – Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire are on defense. They’re not wrong in that criticism at all. So then why is everyone totally ignoring that the Nets have, without question, the worst defensive frontcourt in the NBA? Scour every roster and I dare you to find a starting center-power forward combination that would struggle to defend a potato and a desk chair on a pick and roll more than Brook Lopez and Kris Humphries.

The Nets are a good team, don’t get me wrong. They have a lot of talent and have a good coach in Avery Johnson. They’ll make the playoffs. But can we stop with waxing on and on about how great they’re going to be? This has reached insane levels – when the media is writing “ANDRAY BLATCHE REDEMPTION” stories, you know we’re on Mars with this whole thing. If the Knicks signed Andray Blatche, I can only imagine the crap they’d be getting. And if the Nets don’t win this year, I really don’t see how they’re going to improve from here on out. Like the Knicks, they’re pretty strapped with who they have. They signed Lopez and Williams to max deals and they traded for Joe Johnson and his crazy contract. Unless Lopez improves as a defender and rebounder in the coming years, I don’t see how they possibly get anywhere close to Miami.

And oh yeah, while I’m at it, how about we call Deron Williams what he is – an insanely talented top NBA player who has never won anything and bickered and pouted and drove a Hall of Fame coach to QUIT. Do people remember this? When Williams drove Jerry Sloan so mad that he quit in the middle of the season? Why is this ignored, but all people want to mention about Carmelo Anthony is that he was selfish and un-coachable and forced his way out of Denver? Why is Deron Williams allowed to have essentially done the same thing and gotten away with it? Okay, I’m done with the questions.

As for the game, I’m not going to go into crazy specifics as to why I think the Knicks will win. It’s one out of 82 games, they could lose by 40 for all I know. But if I’m New York (as long as Tyson Chandler is healthy), I run pick and rolls with Ray Felton/Jason Kidd and Chandler/Amare Stoudemire all night. Chandler is a marginal offensive player at best, but he should put up 40 points on 20 dunks.

Oh yeah, this is a Jets site – let’s get to my picks for this week.

Jets -2 vs. Dolphins 

The Jets absolutely have to win this game. They’re at home against a rookie quarterback – a situation they’ve done well in under Rex Ryan. New York’s defense has been a lot better as of late, so I don’t think the Dolphins will quite gash the Jets on the ground the way they did in Week 3. Also, the Jets are in a pretty good rhythm in the passing game (BUT HERP DERP SANCHEZ SUCKS YOU MORON LOLZ), and Miami’s pass defense isn’t very good. You’ll get my official prediction a bit later, but the Jets cover. Oh yeah they do.

Bears -7.5 vs. Panthers

I really like the way the Bears are playing right now; they’re a balanced offensive team, Brandon Marshall is quite possibly the best receiver in the league right now, and their defense is all-world. Even Jay Cutler can’t screw this thing up…yet. The Panthers on the other hand are a total mess. Teams have either figured out Cam Newton or he’s just not very good. It will take time to find that out for sure – like with all quarterbacks ahem ahem – but right now Carolina is one of the worst teams in the league. At home and on a roll right now, I like the Bears pretty big.

Saints +6 at Broncos

We know how bad the Saints’ defense is, but they’re still averaging almost 30 points a game. I just feel like anytime you give an offense like this an additional six points, you take it. This is likely going to be a wild, high scoring game. I don’t love the Saints outdoors, but I’m still going to take these six points and hope for the best.

 

Turn On the Jets Fantasy Preview – Keeper League & Week 8 Edition

Mike Donnelly with his weekly Fantasy Football preview. Who should you start and sit, with a special focus on keeper leagues this week

Way back at the start of the 2012 fantasy football season in my 8 Easy Steps to Achieve the Perfect Fantasy League column, I strongly recommended that you get yourself involved in a keeper league with a group of your close friends that you know you’ll stay in touch with for at least the next few years. If you’ve never tried it, you should give it a shot, because it adds a whole new wrinkle to your fantasy season and even helps you keep fantasy in mind during the “dark period”, aka baseball season.

June becomes a whole lot more fun. Did one of your players just get traded or sign with a new team? I drafted him in the 6th round, is it worth it to keep him? Did that increase or decrease his value? Should you still keep him? Do you have a backup running back who is now shooting up the depth chart because the starter just got sent to prison for beating up a cop for the third time? All major things to keep an eye on for keeper consideration. Just as importantly, it forces you to keep trying during the current season, even as your once promising lineup is spiraling out of control toward a 2-11 finish due to injury, poor performance, or both (Damn you, Maurice Jones-Drew and your brittle bones!). In a standard league, at this point in the year if you’re 1-6 and totally out of it, you’re likely to throw in the towel, not pay attention to your lineup, and it becomes less and less fun for the other teams to even insult you.

Well, in a keeper league, that problem is solved. Since you’re going to be able to keep 2 or 3 players (or however many your league decides) heading into next year based on their previous year’s draft value, you can bolster your 2013 lineup while you take it on the chin in 2012. For example, in my keeper league, one team is totally out of it and traded Ryan Mathews and Antonio Brown (two players he had no intention of keeping in 2013) for Trent Richardson. Had it been a standard 1-year league, this trade would have caused death threats in a competitive league. However, since it is a keeper league and Trent could be a superstar, it was a fairly reasonable trade. I still hated it, but I digress. Anyway, today I’m going to throw out a few players you should be looking to target in a trade to build around for next year.

(Keep in mind I’m not going to suggest you keep Ray Rice. That’s obvious. This will be guys drafted in the mid-rounds this year who will provide great value for next year. I’m also going on the premise the keeper rules are you lose a pick in the 2013 draft based on where the player was picked in 2012. So if you took Alfred Morris in the 8th round and keep him next year, he’s put down as your 8th round pick.)

RB – Alfred Morris (drafted between rounds 6 and 8) – Heading into the season, there was great mystery surrounding who would be the Redskins starting running back, but Morris appeared to be the front runner. I personally have a strict “don’t take any Mike Shanahan RB’s” rule because of how he shuffles them in and out, but Morris locked down the role and looks like a stud. Playing with that RG3 fella certainly doesn’t hurt things either. Next year he will likely be picked somewhere in the #25-30 overall range, and that makes him a no-brainer keeper based on his 2012 draft position.

QB – Robert Griffin III & Andrew Luck (rounds 6-10)– This goes without saying, but if you’re the lucky guy who drafted RG3 in a standard league between rounds 6 and 10, well congratulations. If you did that in a keeper league, you can probably go ahead and start thinking about where to put your 2013 championship trophy. Andrew Luck hasn’t had quite the same success this year, but he’s been pretty damn good. And as the Colts surround him with better talent heading into next year he’s only going to get better. These guys are both going to be great.

RB – Stevan Ridley (rounds 5-9) – Ridley’s draft position was all over the board heading into 2012. He got a grip on the starting job late in the preseason and there was some uncertainty there in New England. Well, there’s much less uncertainty now. Ridley is on pace to easily surpass 1,200 yards rushing and score about 10 touchdowns. He averages a shade under 20 carries per game for one of the best offenses in the NFL and he’s only 23 years old. Guys like that don’t grow on trees. If the Ridley owner in your league is looking to upgrade for this year, this is a very solid guy to build around for 2013 with that round value.

WR – Percy Harvin (rounds 3-5) – Readers of this column know Harvin was a guy I was extremely high on heading into 2012 and he’s actually surpassed my expectations. In PPR leagues, he is an absolute stud with 53 catches through just 7 games. Oh, and he also tacks on rushing yards, which is a major bonus. He’s a top 5 receiver going forward, especially as Ponder progresses. If he was drafted any later than the 3rd round in your league, there is major keeper value there for you to try and target.

WR – Kendall Wright (round 10 or later) – Kendall Wright was a solid sleeper heading into the season, and he’s had a very solid rookie year. He’s currently 16th in the NFL in passing targets, and as Jake Locker improves, so will Kendall Wright. If you’re out of it and can trade a guy like Torrey Smith for Wright and get that late round value for 2013, it’s something you should definitely look into.

QB – Peyton Manning (round 5-7) – It’s hard to believe now, but Peyton Manning wasn’t even drafted as a QB1 in a lot of leagues heading into this season due to concerns about his injury. Well, so much for all that. Peyton has been an absolute stud and if the owner in your league has 2 QB’s and could use help at another position, Peyton is an excellent guy to target so you have a top 5 QB for next year. Suddenly, your crappy franchise is looking up!

RB – Rashard Mendenhall (round 9 or later) – Someone in your league likely drafted Mendenhall late hoping he’d contribute by this point in the season. Well, that hasn’t quite happened, and there’s a good chance that team could use some RB help since it hasn’t. Menenhall may not help this year, but since you’re already out of it, might as well swing a trade for him and wait for him to return to full strength in 2013. This is how you have to think when you’re 1-6 and need to rebuild.

Other Late Round Players to Consider Trying to Nab

WR – Stephen Hill

WR – Jeremy Kerley

WR – Josh Gibson

WR – Randall Cobb

RB – David Wilson

RB – Kendall Hunter

RB – Alex Green

QB – Ryan Tannehill

RB – Jonathan Stewart

RB – Daryl Richardson

WEEK 8 RECOMMENDED SITS

QB- Matt Stafford vs. Sea – Seattle has a tough defense, and did you SEE Stafford play on Monday? Ugh. At least he’s playing at home.

QB- Josh Freeman @ Minn – Throwing for 420 yards against the Saints is equivalent to about 215 yards against an average defense. The Vikings are better than average, and Thursday night games have not been kind to QB’s.

RB- Frank Gore @ Ari – Gore is banged up, the Cards have a tough D, it’s a rivalry game, and Arizona is home. Temper your expectations for Mr. Gore. 

RB- Steven Jackson vs NE – The Pats D is an embarrassment, but Steven Jackson is basically useless at this point for your fantasy team. Plus I feel like I’m forgetting something… oh right, SCHOTTY!

RB- Felix Jones vs. NYG – Whether he plays or not, I’d keep him on your bench against the Giants defense looking for week 1 revenge.

WR- Denarius Moore @ KC – The combination of Carson Palmer and Brandon Flowers should really limit Moore this week.

WR- Steve Smith @ Chi – Charles Tillman and the Bears D are playing out of their minds lately. Oh, and Cam Newton stinks.. can’t forget that part.

WR- Mike Williams @ Minn – Williams has been on a nice run lately, but that will come to a halt tonight in Minnesota.

TE- Jermichael Finley vs. Jax – This game could get out of hand early.. oh, and Jermichael Finley sucks. If you own him, you already know that though.

Thursday Night Picks

  • Joe – Vikings (-6.5)
  • Mike D – Vikings (-6.5)
  • Chris G – Vikings (-6.5)
  • Rob – Bucs (+6.5)
  • Chris C – Vikings (-6.5)

New York Jets Defense Missing A Closer

TJ Rosenthal on the New York Jets defense lacking a closer

In a post game speech Sunday night, Bill Belichick called Pats LB Rob Ninkovich a”Jet Killer” after his game ending strip of Jets QB Mark Sanchez. Ninkovich’s pick six last year, in a key matchup also for first place, blew a 10 point game wide open. A play that sent the Jets who at the time were 5-3, reeling. The Jets can desperately use their own game changing pass rusher among the front seven over these next nine games.

Imagine the storylines that would be taking place had the Jets held onto the slim 3 point lead they owned with 1:30 left in Foxboro. Mark Sanchez would be hailed as the emerging leader of a young new offense. Rex Ryan would be the gutsy coach who never flinched as key injuries mounted. Trusting in his draft picks and defense instead. Shonn Greene and Dustin Keller would be written about as valuable cogs once again, and Jeremy Kerley a rising star. Tim Tebow would not be on this week’s radar for anyone except for Tebowmaniacs.

Leave it to a blown lead and a devastating loss to erase any hopes of those angles becoming headlines, or in the case of Tebow, a non story just yet. You are what your record says you are and at 3-4, few will find it suitable to note individual success stories amidst the moral victories that have piled up since the Jets almost shocked then undefeated Houston on Monday night back in week 5.

The Jets didn’t pressure Tom Brady on the final drive in regulation out of fear of sending a secondary member in, risking a big play weapon for the Patriots left open for a big gain in the process. After all, Ryan couldn’t rely on a base defense flushing Brady out of the pocket. Therefore the Jets HC chose to win the game with one big play through a strength in numbers back in pass coverage.

Ryan’s choice to “drop eight” was because no one Jet has emerged in the front seven as a player who can help close out games before they head the wrong way.

Up front, first round pick Quinton Coples is not quite there as a reliable force yet. Mo Wilkerson has made plays but is not eating up QBs week in week out in his second year either. NT Kenrick Ellis was developing into a pile pusher but has been sidelined with a recent knee sprain. Mike Devito and Sione Pouha lead the charge of veteran run stoppers, but can’t be expected to effect obvious passing downs.

The linebackers? Aaron Maybin was perhaps the club’s best hope of a trustworthy sack specialist heading into 2012, but too many third and short yardage situations have limited his time on the field. When he has been out there as a passing down only player, his inability to develop anything aside from his patented speed rush has left him as one who has become too easy to block.

Calvin Pace and Bart Scott have slowed, and David Harris is too valuable as a tackler to send in. Rookie Demario Davis is getting more time now (60 plus snaps Sunday to Bart Scott’s 9) but has yet to earn the tag of “certified blitz weapon.”

The Jets have a much better secondary than New England. A more reliable defense all around in fact, despite having given up on average, one more point a game on the season (Jets 24.3 ppg Patriots 23.3 ppg). They lack a game changer who can disrupt pass plays behind the line of scrimmage though.

The Jets offense is beginning to settle in both on the ground and through the air thanks to the resurfacing of Greene and return of Keller from the hamstring injury. Mark Sanchez’s TD to interception ratio with Keller (6TD 2 int, 104.6 QB rating) is vastly better than his numbers without the Jets valuable tight end (3TD 5int 55.0 QB rating) are.

In fact, in the past three games the Jets as a team have scored 88 points. This 29 point average is a major step up from the 18 points they averaged per game before the Santonio Holmes injury.

All of this means that if any one area needs an immediate upgrade it is not in the scoring department. It is defensivley, namely the pass rushing with the game on the line. The NFL nowadays is clearly a quarterback driven league. The Jets and Ryan have to somehow find a way to develop one of their defenders up front into a guy who can help thwart these gunslingers during crunch time.

Should they be able to, the Jets, whose playmakers on offense are starting to show signs of collective production, may be able to turn gut wrenching losses such as the one last Sunday, into wins. A change that may be the difference between a playoff berth or a second straight year without one. In a season where the tepid AFC is still so very much for the taking.

New York Jets Week 8 – Early Thoughts On Jets/Dolphins

Early thoughts on the New York Jets week 8 match-up against the Miami Dolphins

A collection of early thoughts on the New York Jets critical week 8 match-up against the Miami Dolphins –

1. This game is without question a must win and has the potential to be a turning point in the Jets season in either a positive or negative way. They can’t afford to drop to 2-2 in the division, 3-4 in the AFC, take a season split with Miami, and have to sit on the loss for two weeks before heading cross country to Seattle, a game the Jets will appropriately be underdogs in. A victory keeps them within one game of New England, guarantees a tie-breaker with Miami (who will be a wild-card contender) and puts their conference record over .500. You can’t lose this game at home to a rookie quarterback.

2. Nobody is saying Ryan Tannehill hasn’t played well for a rookie or that the Miami Dolphins aren’t a talented team. Yet many people are getting carried away with their lofty praise. Let’s keep in mind Tannehill was 16/36 with a INT returned for a touchdown in the team’s previous meeting which was about a month ago. The Dolphins have beat Oakland and St. Louis at home along with a Bengals team on the road, who couldn’t even beat the Cleveland Browns. Overall, Miami is 1-2 on the road, averaging 16 points per game and Tannehill only has 1 TD pass between the three games.

3. The Jets are going to have their hands full with Miami’s running game. They were gashed back in week 3 and that was with Reggie “Don’t Call Me Hot Sauce” Bush missing the entire second half. It is doubtful that Sione Pou’ha and Kenrick Ellis are going to play making the challenge even more difficult. If the Jets can slow down Bush, it will put that much more pressure on Tannehill and likely force him into a handful of mistakes.

4. On offense, the Dolphins are stout in the front seven. The Jets can’t be stubborn and try to force the running game if it isn’t there. This Dolphins secondary can be exploited. Jeremy Kerley is rolling right now and hurt the Dolphins with two big plays in the previous meeting. Dustin Keller is back after missing week 3 and Stephen Hill looks to be 100 percent healthy. Tony Sparano and Mark Sanchez can’t be shy about throwing down the field.

5. Look for Antonio Cromartie to cover Brian Hartline for most of the game. If Cromartie keeps playing the way he has been, I’m not sure who else in the Dolphins passing game is going to hurt the Jets.

Turn On The Jets Offensive Film Breakdown – Jets vs. Pats

Turn On The Jets breaks down the offensive game film from Jets vs. Patriots

Turn On The Jets is back with another offensive film breakdown. Make sure to check back later in the day for Chris Gross’ breakdown of the defensive game tape. Today the primary focus is going to be on the passing game, which the Jets found a good amount of success with against New England. We will be looking at both “Good Sanchez” and “Bad Sanchez” and why Jeremy Kerley, Dustin Keller and Stephen Hill were so successful at getting open. 

The first two passing plays of the game were a perfect demonstration of Mark Sanchez’s inconsistency at quarterback. Tony Sparano called for a skinny post from the slot to Jeremy Kerley, which was executed to perfection. A good route from Kerley and a pinpoint throw from Sanchez in-between two defenders for a 20+ yard gain. The next play, Sparano goes right back to the well with the same play except to the opposite side with Stephen Hill in the slot. Encouragingly, Hill runs a very good route and gets himself wide open. Unfortunately, Sanchez overthrows him after just hitting a much harder throw to a much smaller target the play before. Frustrating to say the least.

The presence of Dustin Keller in the line-up made an enormous difference to the Jets passing offense. New England was forced to pay extra attention to Kerley on the outside, leaving Keller with one on one match-ups over the middle. Sanchez is extremely comfortable with Keller, particularly over the middle of the field. These are two separate 10+ yard completions, where Keller runs an option route, breaks the proper way and Sanchez correctly leads him away from the linebacker allowing him to turn up field. Expect to see a ton more of this throughout the year.

Sanchez only threw 12 incompletions throughout this game out of 38 attempts. At least five of those incompletions could be credited as drops. On the whole he was very accurate. However, Sanchez had his share of poor decisions as well. The interception was an indefensible mistake. He had two open receivers underneath, who he ignored and then floated an ugly, under-thrown pass to Stephen Hill. Later in the first half he tried to force this pass to Jeremy Kerley who is double covered and technically triple covered if you count the referee. He was lucky this didn’t turn into his second interception.

An appropriately criticized play-call was Tony Sparano’s decision to throw a slant to Chaz Schilens on 3rd and 1 near the red-zone. Regardless, the play was executed to perfection up until the ball went right through Schilens’ hands. This was a good route, a very good throw and a bad drop. Part of the reason you don’t make this call is because the Jets lack a big receiver who is reliable enough to make this play every single time.

Sanchez and Jeremy Kerley put on a clinic on how to operate the smash/fan combination in this game. Basically the Jets consistently had their outside receiver release on a short stop or in route and would send Kerley on a deep corner from the slot. The Jets completed this four times throughout the game, including this 19 yard gain where Sanchez drops a beautiful pass in all the way across the field.

We further see Sanchez’s arm strength on this touchdown pass to Dustin Keller. Look at how small that window is. Sanchez threw an absolute bullet in-between three defenders. There aren’t many people in the league capable of making this throw and I got news for you, Tim Tebow isn’t one of them.

A major point of contention towards the end of this game was Mark Sanchez taking a third down sack before the Jets go-ahead field goal. Anybody who criticized Sanchez in this situation is clueless (looking at you SNY). The Jets rolled Sanchez out and had Jeremy Kerley wide open at the 5 yard line. Sanchez cocks his arm back to fire it in to him but Kerley slips on his break so Sanchez pulls the ball back down. When he does pull the ball back down, he is immediately wrapped up. He then smartly takes the sack because if he threw the ball away, it would save New England a time-out. Yes, he added 10 yards to the field goal attempt but the Jets were so deep into field goal territory it didn’t matter at that point.

A few other player observations –

Jeremy Kerley – He is developing at such an impressive rate. Kerley runs precise routes and shows tremendous hands/toughness at consistently catching the ball in traffic. Honestly, he looks like a younger, quicker version of Santonio Holmes. Mike Tannenbaum got a steal in the fifth round.

Stephen Hill – His route running is really improving on a weekly basis. Outside of his drop, he easily played his best game as a pro. He made tough catches in traffic and did a nice job working back to the football on his routes. There is still going to be mistakes from time to time but Hill is going to be a very good NFL receiver, it is only a matter of time.

Shonn Greene – A solid effort from Greene, who picked up tough yards and somehow returned after taking an enormous shot from Brandon Spikes. Greene also deserves credit for being active in the passing game, where he made a positive impact and made a few difficult catches.

Joe McKnight – Ran very well, especially considering he played basically on one leg. When he is 100 percent healthy, it is hard to see him not being a much larger part of the offense.

OL – This was an ugly game for Matt Slauson and Brandon Moore. Shockingly, it might not be a bad idea to start giving Ducasse even more of Slauson’s reps. There is no discernible drop off between the two and Ducasse has a higher upside. D’Brickashaw Ferguson and Nick Mangold both played terrific, Pro-Bowl caliber games. Austin Howard was “meh” but the Jets generally do a good job of giving him help.

Turn On the Jets Stock Watch: Patriots Edition

Mike Donnelly with his weekly Stock Watch. Buying and selling after Jets/Patriots

After the Jets crushing loss to the Patriots on Sunday, all Jets fans seemed to fit squarely into one of two categories: Either you were happy with the way the team played, showing fight, never quitting, and going toe-to-toe with the Patriots in Foxboro, OR you pulled the “there are no moral victories!” card, bashed Mark Sanchez for his costly fumble, and said a loss is a loss is a loss, no matter what. I don’t think things have to be quite so black and white, and the appropriate way to feel about this Jets team right now is somewhere in the middle.

The game was right there for the taking, and there is no question the Jets should have pulled it out if not for a curious lack off aggressiveness when it came time to step on the Patriots throat and put them away. The offense played for 3 instead of 7 and then the defense unsurprisingly was unable to hold Tom Brady when it mattered most. We all know what happened by now. It was about as painful of a regular season loss as I’ve seen from the Jets in years. HOWEVER, there is plenty to be happy about with this team and the way they played. Let’s take a look.

BUY: Mark Sanchez & Dustin Keller – It’s amazing how much better the offense looks when Dustin Keller is on the field, isn’t it? He clearly has the most rapport with Mark Sanchez out of anyone on the roster and it really shows. In fact, in the 3 games Dustin has been on the field this year, here are Mark Sanchez’s passing numbers:

58-86, 67.4%, 676 yards, 6 touchdowns, 2 interceptions

Those are excellent numbers no matter how you slice it, and it really speaks volumes. Mark Sanchez is not perfect by any stretch, but the kid is a GOOD quarterback. For the majority of the season his top targets were Jeff Cumberland and Chaz Schilens. Think about that. Nobody can thrive when put in that position, but now that Jeremy Kerley is emerging, Stephen Hill is coming along, and Dustin Keller is getting healthy, Mark is playing some of his best ball. Unfortunately, there are fans out there who won’t give #6 any form of credit no matter what he does, and that is a disgrace. (I even tweeted about this during the game.) The bottom line is this: Mark Sanchez played an excellent game on Sunday, making great throws to Keller and Kerley all over the field and all anybody wants to bring up is the fumble and the admittedly horrible interception in the end zone. Other than that, he was pretty much flawless, and when he left the field with just over a minute to play in the 4th quarter, his team had the lead. Everyone wants to pile on and trash him when he makes a bad play, but lets give him credit when it’s due.

SELL: The playcalling – We’ve been over this ad nauseam since Sunday so I won’t beat a dead Sparano, but that sequence of plays when the Jets had the ball at the Pats 4, 3rd & 1 and a half or so, you’ve got to have Tebow in the game to plow forward. The slant to Chaz Schilens is a terrible play call anywhere on the field and that situation was no different. Just had to mention this. Again.

BUY: Shonn Greene & Joe McKnight – Shonn Greene is another guy Jets fans love to hate, but his performance on Sunday was really great to see. He ran for the tough yards all day against a stout Patriots run defense, and contributed 6 big catches to move the chains and give the Patriots something else to think about on defense. And let’s be real, Shonn Greene is A MAN. There’s no other way to really describe him. After seeing him bounce back up after that crushing show from Brandon Spikes, then return to the game because the team needed him, well it was pretty awesome.

Same goes for Joe McKnight, who had his typically tremendous day in the kick return game and managed to grind out 7 carries for solid yardage after Greene’s injury, despite hobbling around on one leg and looking like he was in a great amount of pain all game. When Bilal Powell returns from injury, the Jets will have a pretty solid little trio of backs, especially when you throw Lex Hilliard into the mix. They’re not the most talented group around, but they can definitely get the job done.

SELL: Matt Slauson & Brandon Moore – Yes, our guards are now officially bad. Matt Slauson was beat several times during the course of the game and actually had me calling to see more Vlad Ducasse. Yes, that Vlad Ducasse. Brandon Moore’s struggles are tough to watch, because he’s been such an underrated and key player of this team for so long. Last year, his run blocking slipped noticeably, but was still excellent protecting the quarterback. This year, not so much. He’s still serviceable, but we are likely seeing the last few games of Moore’s very good career. Look for an overhaul at the position in the offseason as both starters are likely to be replaced.

Fortunately, Nick Mangold is as good as ever and D’Brickashaw Ferguson is looking more like the 2010 version than 2011. If Chandler Jones had been playing, I’m sure Brick would have had a much worse game, though. Oh wait, Jones did play? And he did nothing? Weird..

BUY: Mo Wilkerson & Quinton Coples – Chandler Jones may not have made a peep all game, but Quinton Coples sure did. Coples was routinely getting pressure in the Pats backfield, and should have recorded his 3rd sack of the season, but David Harris cleaned it up and got the credit. Chris will cover this more in his defensive breakdown, but there is little doubt Coples is going to be an excellent player for the Jets. As for Wilkerson, he’s really starting to come into his own as the dominant force on the defensive line we all expected this season. He was double-teamed nearly the entire game and still managed to almost single-handily disrupt the Pats run game as well as get up into Tom Brady’s face. Throw in Kenrick Ellis, and the Jets defensive line is looking like a major strength for the next few years.

BUY: Demario Davis & Antonio Allen – It was great seeing Demario Davis play so much this week and to make such an impact. When he knifed his way through the line and made a stuff in the backfield, I could hardly believe my eyes. It had been so long, I forgot a linebacker was allowed to do something like that. Davis is far from perfect, but he’s super athletic, fast, and he can lay the wood. The same goes for Allen, who played a lot in the Jets “big nickel” defense, to slow down the Pats tight ends while keeping an eye on the run game. For most of the game, it worked very well. New “hybrid” defenders like Davis and Allen, along with perhaps Marcus Dowtin, are the new breed of defenders in the NFL and will be key for the Jets going forward defending teams like the Patriots. More Davis and Allen, less Bart Scott, Bryan Thomas, and Eric Smith is a great thing.

Sanchez Breakdown: Head Check

Rob Celletti provides his weekly breakdown of Mark Sanchez’s performance

Stat Line: 28/41, 328 yards, 1 touchdown, 1 interception – 90.3 QB Rating, 68.3 completion percentage

Season Stats: 116/218, 1,453 yards, 9 touchdowns, 7 interceptions – 74.6 QB Rating, 53.2 completion percentage

I’m starting to develop a love/hate relationship with this column. Don’t get me wrong, I love writing about the Jets, I love participating in the Great Ongoing Quarterback Debate, and in general, it’s been a fun exercise. But yesterday’s game – and the sport in general – is about so many more things than the play of Mark Sanchez. Anyone who places the blame for yesterday’s loss solely on the quarterback needs to have his or her head examined.

The truth is this: if Mark Sanchez plays the way he did yesterday for the rest of the season, the Jets are probably going to win at least 6 of their remaining 9 games and make the playoffs. Does this absolve him of the interception? No. But 25 quarterbacks have competed thus far in Week 7 of the NFL season, and 15 of them threw at least one interception (Joe Flacco and Eli Manning threw two apiece! Gasp!). Interceptions are part of the game, and by the way, Sanchez’s did not lead directly to points against the Jets. Was the game-ending fumble really his fault? Or do Jets fans need to suck it up and credit Rob Ninkovich for blowing through the Jets’ line and making a game-sealing play? Where was this play by a Jet linebacker moments earlier, when they had a chance to seal the game themselves? But I digress. You know how this goes…

The Best: Sanchez engineered one of the drives of his career to get the Jets within a field goal in the 4th quarter. A drive that started on the 8 yard line was set back by a false start penalty, so in reality, Sanchez drove the Jets 96 yards in 14 plays in just under 7 minutes. The 7 route he completed to Jeremy Kerley on 3rd and 3 from the 32 is just another example of an elite-level NFL throw that Sanchez executed perfectly. Even when plays broke down, Sanchez made the right decision, such as his check down to Lex Hilliard three plays after the Kerley first down to keep the chains moving. Basically, Sanchez did everything that a good NFL quarterback needs to do in a key spot. He was calm, accurate, and most importantly, he finished the drive, and did so with a flourish, throwing an absolute dart into a tight window for the Dustin Keller touchdown. The comeback was on.

The Worst: While I fall on the side of the debate that generally comes to Sanchez’s defense, I feel as though I’ve been pretty fair in my criticism of his shortcomings. He still has at least two or three head-scratching moments every game, which is difficult to explain for a fourth year quarterback. But some quarterbacks never shake these moments from their games (see Romo, Tony; Cutler, Jay) and fans will need to learn to live with them. The interception was bad for several reasons: 1) the ball was thrown way too late after Sanchez had pump-faked to the other side of the field; 2) it was severely under-thrown; 3) Sanchez had at least two other places he could have gone with the ball to pick up positive yardage. Not only did he miss a touchdown, he gave away possession cheaply.

The Jets were also unable to finish drives. Again, there is more than enough blame to go around (conservative play-calling, Stephen Hill‘s drop, etc.), but Sanchez was a damn good red zone quarterback last year, and the Jets only scored two touchdowns yesterday in their four trips inside New England’s 20. There were certainly points left on the field by Sanchez and the offense yesterday, which is immensely frustrating.

Here’s the undeniable truth: Mark Sanchez handed the Jets a 26-23 lead with 1:37 remaining in this game. I understand that he has his critics, and the debate has become a little bit like politics; no matter what is said or what happens, people have chosen which side of the fence they‘re on and have dug in to staunchly defend that position. Still, the people who blame yesterday’s loss solely on Sanchez are being unrealistic and unfair. If you’re going to bash Sanchez for his mistakes, you have that right, but credit him when he deserves it – and his second half performance yesterday deserves a ton of credit. If you want him replaced, then I’d like to ask: by whom?

Yesterday’s performance was good enough for the Jets to win. Unfortunately, the narrative surrounding this team and this quarterback has a lot of people believing otherwise.

New York Jets – Ten Truths After New England Loss

Ten truths about the New York Jets through their first seven games

Yesterday’s game was arguably the most frustrating regular season loss since Rex Ryan has taken over as the New York Jets head coach. It has led to heated debates among New York Jets fans and writers about how to assess the blame for the squandering of such a golden opportunity. Despite correctly picking the winner in every Jets game so far this season and thus having their record be exactly what I expected right now, it still feels like time to search for some truths on this team after 7 games. 

1 – Mark Sanchez is ridiculously inconsistent – Sanchez played a terrific second half of football yesterday, probably as good as we’ve ever seen him play. We saw a similarly effective quarterback against Buffalo, late in the game against Miami and in spurts in other games. However, Sanchez has also played some of the worst football of his career this season and made a handful of inexcusably bad decisions and throws. He needs support around him to consistently pull out victories. You can win with an inconsistent quarterback but you better avoid too many mistakes in other areas of the game.

2 – Mark Sanchez is the starting quarterback for the rest of the season – Even if you don’t think Sanchez is the long term guy for this team, which is a valid feeling at this point, he is without question their best option for the rest of this season. If he plays like he did yesterday the rest of the year, the Jets are winning 9-10 games and making the playoffs. You could give Tim Tebow 100 opportunities and he couldn’t complete the touchdown that Sanchez did to Dustin Keller yesterday, along with any of the deep seven routes to Jeremy Kerley. Sanchez is the best option at quarterback on this roster. There was never a real quarterback controversy on this team and there isn’t now.

3 – Rex Ryan and Tony Sparano wanted no part of Tim Tebow this off-season – There was no football motivation behind this trade as the Jets came into the season with no plan on how to use him and still haven’t really figured it out. Tebow has value in short yardage and as a change of pace runner out of the Wildcat but the Jets can’t even get him on the field for 3rd and 1s instead of throwing slants to Chaz Schilens.

4 – We have a Tony Sparano problem – As soon as the Jets broke the huddle and went into a shotgun 4 wide formation on 3rd and 1 against New England yesterday, everybody in their right mind knew a poor play call was coming. The Jets had been extremely effective in third and short with Shonn Greene and should have simply handed him the ball. Beyond that, going empty and letting Tim Tebow run up the middle isn’t going to be stopped in that situation, period. You don’t throw a backside slant there unless you have an elite receiver who has good size. The Jets don’t have that player on their roster right now. Chaz Schilens certainly isn’t it. Just an awful, inexcusable play-call and it hasn’t been the first time that has happened this year. Sparano has struggled with his red-zone play-calling and getting a feel for when to be aggressive and when not to be. There are 7 games in the books now and I know there has been moving parts on offense because of injuries, but it is time to recognize what you have and take advantage of it.

5 – Jeremy Kerley is a very good wide receiver – The Jets are going to try like hell to trade Santonio Holmes this off-season but will have a tough time finding any takers because of how much guaranteed money he is owed. Kerley looks like a younger, faster version of Holmes without the baggage. There is a very real chance he could put together a 1,000 yard season this year which would give him the same amount in his career that Holmes has. Kerley’s rapid maturation has been the best story on the offensive side of the football so far for the Jets. We criticize Mike Tannenbaum all the time and will continue to do so when it is justified but it looks like the Kerley pick was a steal.

6 – The coaching staff/front office is wisely embracing a youth movement and starting to recognize some of their mistakes – Quinton Coples and Demario Davis are slowly turning into full time players. Antonio Allen and Marcus Dowtin have been brought on the active roster. Marcus Dixon was cut. Bart Scott is seeing less playing time. John Conner was cut and replaced by a much more effective Lex Hilliard. Joe McKnight is starting to play more on offense. They ignored pressure to sign a veteran big name receiver. These are baby steps but they are all steps in the right direction.

7 – When you rely on young players, mistakes are going to happen – Stephen Hill can’t drop that pass yesterday. It was a brutal mistake at the worst possible moment. Regardless, Hill has flashed enough potential this season to know that he is the opening day starting split end next season. He is going to play major reps the rest of the year and learn on the job, which is going to cost the Jets at times. You will see the same thing with Davis, Coples and Allen on defense. However, in the long term the positives will outweigh the negatives.

8 – The Jets are painfully shorthanded at outside linebacker – When you run as much 3-4 as the Jets do, you need outside linebackers who can rush the passers. The Jets have zero who can. Calvin Pace, Bryan Thomas and Aaron Maybin have a combined 2 sacks between them through 7 games. Pace has value as a run stopper but that’s it. Maybin isn’t good enough to make any impact at all most weeks. Bryan Thomas is finished. Rex Ryan must find a way to manufacture a pass rush by utilizing his secondary more on blitzes.

9 – Antonio Cromartie is an All-Pro and is leading a very good secondary minus Darrelle Revis – Cromartie has played the best football of his career since Darrelle Revis went down with a season ending injury. Simply put, he has embraced and thrived in the role of being Rex’s new lockdown corner. LaRon Landry has been a very good addition and helped improve the safety play from last year. Even Kyle Wilson has been better in previous weeks. The secondary has rallied after the Revis’ injury and remains very good.

10 – The Jets are going to be in the division and playoff hunt – Anybody who classifies the Jets as an awful team or a bottom feeder isn’t paying attention. This is a team who will remain around .500 for the next few weeks and will have an opportunity to make a run late for a division title or a wild-cart spot. New England isn’t running away with anything this year (look at their schedule) and certainly nobody is pulling away in the AFC wild-card race.

Gut Punch – New York Jets Lose Heartbreaker To Patriots

The New York Jets lost a heartbreaker to their hated rivals in New England

The New York Jets lost a brutally painful game today to New England, in one that will be intensely debated about and vented over the next few days. Let’s try to go over a few key points of contention –

– Mark Sanchez finished 28/41 for 328 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Throughout the game he made impressive throws into tight windows and pushed the ball down the field, completing a large collection of passes over 20 yards. He also put the team on his back for a key 92 yard drive that got them back within 3 in the 4th quarter. Regardless, he threw an awful interception in the first half and fumbled the ball away in overtime. There will be intense criticism for those plays with a general ignorance of the 70% completion percentage and all the positive he accomplished, that is the nature of the business. However, you are kidding yourself if you think Tim Tebow should get anywhere near the starting quarterback job on this team. You are also kidding yourself if you think this loss falls 100% on Sanchez’s lap.

– The coaching left something to be desired today, to say the least. Tony Sparano calling a slant route to Chaz Schilens on a 3rd and 1 near the goal-line was just negligent considering how the Jets were running the ball in short yardage. They were content to settle for a field goal after recovering a fumble deep in Patriots territory after a kickoff return, when they could have attacked the end-zone.  Rex Ryan’s defense was also not aggressive enough on the final drive of regulation or the first drive in overtime. They repeatedly kept rushing 3 or 4, instead of mixing a blitz in. If they needed to switch personnel (which they did), they should sacrificed a timeout for it in overtime.

– You can’t allow a kick return for a touchdown to be that easy .You can’t repeatedly go offsides. You can’t get personal fouls on punts that keeps the ball in New England’s hands. You can’t drop passes. These are mistakes that happen when you go young because of injuries and other necessities but they must be avoided to beat a team like New England.

– The Jets can’t afford their traditional post-Patriots game hangover. Next week’s game against Miami is of critical importance. They cannot afford to lose a home division game to them considering how tight the division and conference is going to be.

– Yes, the division remains wide open. The Jets are a flawed team. So is New England. They aren’t a 12 win team. They might not be a 10 win team. The Jets let one get away, which is what made this loss so painful but the Patriots aren’t running away in the division race.

– Jeremy Kerley is developing into a legitimate number one receiver. Dustin Keller was terrific today. Joe McKnight deserves a ton of credit for gutting through his ankle injury and putting together a productive game. Demario Davis showed flashes of why so many Jets fans were excited about him this summer.

– Get the venting out now Jets fans, you need to. It was an emotional roller coaster today. The Jets blew a golden opportunity but must now quickly regroup to keep pace in the jumbled AFC East.