Jets Playoff Pipe Dream: Week 15 Viewing Guide

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First a few updates:

1. Mark Sanchez and Kellen Clemens split reps today at practice. Rex Ryan said Sanchez looked good today in practice but he will wait to see how he responds tomorrow morning before making a decision on who his starter is going to be. I would still be surprised if Kellen Clemens was under center again this weekend. Everybody who reported from practice today said Sanchez looked fine and was moving around with no problems.

2. Robert Turner is the only person who missed practice today with an injury. Dwight Lowery should be able to return to the line-up after missing the previous few weeks with an ankle injury.

3. I purchased NFL Rewind yesterday…quality product. Now all I need is a hotel with a good wireless connection in Italy, unless of course the Jets lose to Atlanta this weekend, then my laptop isn’t making the trip.

Jets Playoff Pipe Dream: Week 15 Viewing Guide

Three weeks to go in the regular season and the Jets still remain very much alive in the both the AFC Wild Card and AFC East race. They received some help last weekend since two of the teams in front of them (Denver and Jacksonville) both lost. However, Baltimore, Miami, and New England all took care of business… keeping the Jets playoff odds as fairly improbable. Here are the current standings and what games you need to be keeping an eye on in week 15. Dust off your Titans and Bills jersey…

  1. Indianapolis (13-0)
  2. San Diego (10-3)
  3. Cincinnati (9-4)
  4. New England (8-5)
  5. Denver (8-5)
  6. Miami (7-6)
  7. Jacksonville (7-6)
  8. Baltimore (7-6)
  9. NY Jets (7-6)
  10. Pittsburgh (6-7)
  11. Tennessee (6-7)
  12. Houston (6-7)

Indianapolis Colts (13-0) At Jacksonville Jaguars (7-6) – Very interesting game tomorrow night for Jets fans to keep their eyes on. Obviously, everyone is interested in seeing how long the Colts will play their starters especially Jets fans since we are playing in Indy next weekend. The best case scenario would be that the Colts play their starters for only a quarter but still find a way to beat Jacksonville or that they decide to play their starters the full game, beat Jacksonville and then rest their starters next week. I expect to see Peyton Manning and company for about a quarter, allowing Jacksonville to escape with a win…meaning we have to hope Jacksonville’s loss comes in one of their following two games.

New England Patriots (8-5) At Buffalo Bills (5-8) – Let’s go Buffalo…I have to say I got a good feeling about this game. I think New England is going to have a real tough time getting a victory in freezing Buffalo with an iffy running game and a questionable defense. The Bills should have confidence against the Pats since they should have beat them in week one and this game will basically be their Super Bowl since they have a chance to hurt the Patriots playoff chances. This would be a huge break for the Jets, if Buffalo could come through for them.

Miami Dolphins (7-6) At Tennessee Titans (6-7) – An elimination game for these two teams…I don’t know if Vince Young is going to suit up this weekend but obviously it would be a big boost if he did. Regardless, the Titans could still beat Miami with Kerry Collins behind center. Tennessee isn’t an easy place to play and the Dolphins have been inconsistent this season. Chris Johnson is motivated to break that single season rushing record and could be in line for a huge game. This would be another huge break for the Jets, if Tennessee could come through for them.

Houston Texans (6-7) At St. Louis Rams (1-12) – Why does this game matter? Jets fans want to see the Texans keep rolling and get back to .500 so they are confident/still have something to play for in their final two games against Miami and New England. Jets fans are going to be huge Texans fans in week 16 and week 17 so you might as well start rooting for them now.

PhotobucketAtlanta Falcons (6-7) At New York Jets (7-6) – The Jets have to take care of their own business for any of this to matter. I am going to be in the stadium on Sunday at 1 PM, constantly checking that scoreboard for the Titans/Dolphins and Bills/Patriots score and hoping that the Jets could keep their winning streak going. This is going to be a tough game for the Jets but I have faith in that defense and running game.

Chicago Bears (5-8) At Baltimore Ravens (7-6) – The Ravens have a relatively easy final three games and it is hard to imagine a crappy Bears team heading into Baltimore and getting a victory. Hopefully, Jay Cutler can remember how much money he is being paid, Matt Forte can remember the kind of player he was last year, and the Bears defense decides to wake up.

Cincinnati Bengals (9-4) At San Diego Chargers (10-3) – I will be rooting for the Bengals to catch a beating and start heading into a tailspin in the final weeks of the season. Maybe…just maybe, the 9-6 Bengals will be facing the 9-6 Jets in week 17, giving us a chance to beat them and hop over them in the standings…which would obviously involve Baltimore winning out and taking the AFC North title.

Oakland Raiders (4-9) At Denver Broncos (8-5) – You know that you aren’t a good quarterback when you are replaced by both Bruce Gradkowski and Charlie Frye…sorry JaMarcus Russell.  Denver has traditionally been choke artists in December but it would be an all-time choke job to lose to Charlie Frye in their own building.

Green Bay Packers (9-4) At Pittsburgh Steelers (6-7) – Jets fans are also going to become huge Pittsburgh fans the final two weeks of the season, since they are playing Baltimore and Miami. So it would be smart to root for the Steelers to begin playing better this week by beating a strong NFC team.

Playoffs?…We Gon’ Make it

Jets vs. Bucs: Game Breakdown

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First a few updates:

1. Kerry Rhodes got into a shouting match with secondary coach Dennis Thurman today because of his frustration about rotating with Eric Smith. Rhodes had an attitude with reporters after practice and made it sound like he isn’t thrilled with Rex Ryan or the prospect of playing in New York again next year. My opinion? See you later Kerry, we’ll be fine without you. The guy is lucky enough to be making a start this weekend because he certainly didn’t earn his position back last week. It is time for him to shut up and perform.

2. Larry Izzo has been placed on injured reserve with a neck injury. Rex Ryan said he expected Donald Strickland to be able to play this weekened but isn’t as confident in Dwight Lowery suiting up.

3. Kellen Clemens sounded confident talking to the media yesterday. This is a big game for Clemens career. He is auditioning for a job next season with another team because I expect the Jets to move Erik Ainge into the backup role next year. Another thing on the quarterbacks, I think it is insane to think Rex Ryan is punishing Mark Sanchez for not sliding. Ryan is simply being cautious with his franchise quarterback against a 1-11 team.

4. Anybody else enjoying all the drama going on in New England the past couple of days?

Jets vs. Bucs: Game Breakdown

PhotobucketOffense: Run, Run, Run. I would expect to see plenty of the Jets heavy set, where they bring in an extra lineman as a tight end and only split out one receiver. Tampa Bay knows the Jets are going to be running and I don’t think the Jets are going to care. You can bank on Thomas Jones getting 22-25 carries and Shonn Greene getting 10-15 carries. Also, expect to see the Jets continue with the misdirection plays to Tony Richardson or Brad Smith, which they used against Buffalo. I wouldn’t be surprised to see some Wildcat snaps with Smith either. Eventually, the Jets are going to have to take a shot down the field. Hopefully, Kellen Clemens can take advantage of some single coverage and an overstacked box by hitting Braylon Edwards, Dustin Keller, or Jerricho Cotchery for a big play. Remember that Clemens has no chemistry with Edwards, so he may look to Cotchery or Keller more.

Defense: Expect the Jets to come after Josh Freeman early and often. I don’t know if the Jets will lock Darrelle Revis on to Antonio Bryant, considering he is their top big play threat. Kellen Winslow could also be a match-up problem. Eric Smith and Kerry Rhodes will likely both take turns covering him. The reality is that the Jets defense should keep up their dominant streak against a Tampa offense that lacks big play capability and is susceptible to turnovers. This should be a healthy stat-padding game, but then again this is the Jets we are talking about. I wouldn’t be shocked to see Freeman go off and Cadillac Williams run for 175 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Special Teams: Bucs return man Clifton Smith is out for the season. Brad Smith should continue as the Jets kick returner. He has been okay. I still would like to see Jerricho Cotchery off punt returns but it looks like he will keep the job for now.

In Honor of AI Returning to Philly…Practice?

Jets vs. Bucs First Look

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First a few updates:

1. The Jets moved up to #19 in ESPN’s Power Rankings today. They are behind Atlanta, which I don’t agree with. The Falcons looked simply awful at home last week and are decimated with injuries. Pittsburgh is also ahead of them despite losing to Oakland at home (the Jets beat Oakland 38-0 by the way).

2. It is looking like Eric Smith will start his third straight game this week. According to the beat reporters, he ran with the starters in Monday’s walk through. I don’t see any reason why Kerry Rhodes should have his job back after a somewhat weak performance against Buffalo.

3. Backup offensive lineman and extra tight end in short yardage sets Robert Turner is going to be out this week and probably the following week. Corners Donald Strickland and Dwight Lowery are improving with their respective injuries but I wouldn’t bank on either of them playing on Sunday. I would rather see them at 100 percent against Indy then rush back this weekend against the Bucs weak receivers.

4. Green Bay helped the Jets playoff cause last night by beating the Ravens 27-17. Make sure you check back tomorrow for “Jets Playoff Pipe Dream: Week 14 Viewing Guide,” where I will discuss all the playoff scenarios and who Jets fans should be rooting for this week.

Jets vs. Bucs First Look

PhotobucketTampa Bay’s Key Players: On offense Josh Freeman has breathed some life into Tampa. However, he is coming off his worst game of the season. Freeman threw five interceptions last week in a loss to Carolina. On the season he has 7 touchdowns and 10 interceptions and is completing 54 percent of his passes. He is mobile in the pocket and has already racked up 134 yards rushing in a limited number of starts. Cadillac Williams is the Bucs leading rusher with 572 yards, with Derrick Ward chipping 304 yards. Neither of backs has an overly impressive yards per carry (4.0 for Williams and 3.6 for Ward). Tight End Kellen Winslow is putting together a strong season with 58 receptions for 633 yards, with 5 touchdowns. Maybe the Jets should put Darrelle Revis on him, since the top receivers for Tampa both have 27 catches. Yet, Antonio Bryant is averaging an impressive 17.6 yards per catch. Also watch out for ex-Jet fullback BJ Askew, who has 3 total  offensive yards this season.

On defense, the Bucs are very young and they struggle to stop the run (Run, TJ, Run). However, they do have some talented pass rushers. Stylez White has 5.5 sacks and Jimmy Wilkerson has 6 on the season. Barrett Ruud is a solid linebacker and leads the team in tackles. Aqib Talib is beat often at corner but does make some big plays. He currently has 5 interceptions and 11 passes defensed. Ronde Barber is still playing but doesn’t have an interception yet this season, despite having 2 sacks.

Typical Jets: How typical would it be for the Jets to go on the road and lose to the 1-11 Bucs? They got everybody excited about some type of crazy playoff run in December. They are getting help at every turn, with Oakland winning in Pittsburgh, the Dolphins losing to Buffalo and then coming back and beating New England, the Ravens losing on Monday night, the Texans melting down and on and on. Of course all these wacky playoff scenarios go to the wayside if the Jets can’t beat one of the leagues worst teams. Can we avoid the obvious loss this week and keep the pipe dream alive for another week?

Pre-Season Week One: Jets vs. Rams Preview

First a few updates:

1. Vick to the Eagles? Wow, I didn’t see that one coming. What an interesting move, that could be discussed for hours upon hours. I don’t know what type of shape Vick is in right now, but I would imagine by the time he is reinstated (probably somewhere between week 4-6), he will at least be the running threat he always was. Defensive coordinators will now have to prepare for a wildcat type formation or a package of plays that features Vick’s unique skill set. You can say what you want about Vick as a person but the guy is one hell of a football player, and I am sure Andy Reid’s staff will find a way to get the most out of him on the field.

2. Tom Brady returned tonight and of course threw two touchdowns to….Chris Baker. Yes, that Chris Baker who the Jets wouldn’t resign and are now stuck with Wayne Hunter and Jack Simmons battling it out for the #2 tight end job. I can already see Baker having 9 catches for 139 yards with 2 TD’s week two at the Meadowlands.

3. Did anybody see those “The Lighter Side of Training Camp” commericials featuring Thomas Jones, Nick Mangold, Leon Washington, Dustin Keller, and Jerricho Cotchery? The one with Mangold trying to sell TJ’s car is hysterical. If you havent’ seen them, I suggest going over to www.thejetsblog.com and checking them out.

Pre-Season Week One: Jets vs. Rams Preview

The Headline: The Jets are a little banged up on both sides of the ball, but especially on offense along their prized line. Alan Faneca, Nick Mangold, and Damien Woody will all sit out with injuries, thrusting Wayne Hunter, Rob Turner, and Stanley Daniels into the starting lineup. This will be a good chance for the Jets backups to gain some extra work and experience, and attempt to calm the organization’s concern about their offensive line depth. Unfortunately, because of the injuries both Kellen Clemens and Mark Sanchez will play less to decrease the risk of injury. I’d expect 2-3 series from both of them before it becomes the Erik AInge show.

You Have to Be Excited to See: Mark Sanchez…obviously. The rookie should get some work with the first team offense and if he can move the ball effectively, will go a long way towards locking down the starting quarterback position. Shonn Greene…the third round pick should receive the bulk of the carries on the night and will be looking to prove the Jets have a three-headed monster at running back. Vernon Gholston…he has been playing better in practice, but how nice would it be to see the guy finally get a sack? Isn’t that what we drafted him for?

Position Battles: David Clowney vs. Brad Smith vs. Wallace Wright vs. Britt Davis for reps behind Jerricho Cotchery and Chansi Stuckey. Let’s see if Clowney can match last season’s monster pre-season and if the undrafted rookie Davis can bounce back from a rough outing at the Green and White Scrimmage. Jack Simmons vs. Kareem Brown for the #2 tight end spot. Simmons has been active in camp but needs to be more consistent catching the football. Sione Pouha vs. Howard Green for reps behind Kris Jenkins at defensive tackle. Jenkins isn’t playing and Pouha will start but Green has had a strong camp and received plenty of praise from Rex Ryan.

What You Have to Hope For: No injuries. 7-9, 78 yards and a TD for Mark Sanchez. A sack and a forced fumble by Vernon Gholston. A highlight reel 70 yard touchdown run by Leon Washington that finally pushes Tannebaum over the edge to give him a new contract. A big day from the one the Jets receivers not named Cotchery or Stuckey.

Talking to the Opponent: Will Horton from http://Ramsherd.com and I exchanged e-mails about tomorrow’s game, here is a transcript of our conversation –

Will: This will be the first time that Marc Bulger plays without the red jersey, and will be free to take hits. How well does the new offensive line protect him, and how confident will he be in his throws? He’s looked good in practice, but he’s also been untouched. From the Jets’ perspective, who’s bringing the pass rush? 
 
Joe: The Jets top two sack guys from last season were Shaun Ellis and Calvin Pace. Unfortunately, both are facing early season suspensions, with Pace missing 4 games and Ellis missing 1. Vernon Gholston will be stepping in for Pace and should see a ton of action against the Rams to get him ready for the first 4 weeks of the regular season. Also, keep an eye on under the radar linebackers, Marques Murrell and Jamaal Westerman who both have had very strong training camps.

Will: Will Spagnuolo be able to remake this Rams defensive front into a Giants-style penetrating attack? We got pushed sideways and backwards all last season, perhaps no game more so than against the Jets. (That video you posted is nightmarish for us!) With Mangold, Faneca and Woody out, are the Jets’ backups stout enough to hold the fort?

Joe:It is hard to evaluate their top backups because none of them have had extensive playing time. Regardless, Robert Turner and Wayne Hunter did contribute last season as extra tight ends in short yardage situations and are veterans of the Jets offense. Stanley Daniels, who will start for Alan Faneca is probably the biggest question mark of the three. Rex Ryan has already went on record stating he believes Wayne Hunter is a starting caliber tackle and Rob Turner is a versatile player with good size.

Will: If the Rams get to the red zone, can we score? How was the Jets’ red zone defense last season? How does it project this season?   
 
Joe:
The Jets red zone defense was pretty good last season and should project to be even better this year because of the depth they added at all three levels. Darrelle Revis and Lito Sheppard can man up on receivers and let the Jets stack the box. Kris Jenkins leads the charge on the D-Line and frees up space for the Jets exceptional pair of inside linebackers, Bart Scott and David Harris.

Jets Positional Analysis: Offensive Line

First a few updates:

1. Following the release of Bubba Franks, the Jets have signed the immortal Richard Owens to play tight end. He wasn’t in football last season but in the four seasons prior to that he racked up 17 catches for 141 yards and 1 touchdown…yippeee. Where is Doug Jolley when you need him?

2. I updated the depth chart for the first time in a month, no major changes but worth a glance if you are interested in seeing everybody the Jets currently have at every position.

Jets Positional Analysis: Offensive Line

Over the next 6 weeks, I am going to go through all of the Jets positions and assess each player, continuing today with the offensive line:

1. Nick Mangold #74, Starting Center, Last Season: Started 16 Games, Selected to Pro-Bowl

History: A first round pick of the Jets in 2006, Mangold has been a great all-around lineman since the moment he put on green and white. After being an alternate in the pro-bowl his first two seasons, he was selected last year and it was well deserved. He is mobile and does a good job in both pass protection and run blocking, and should be an anchor on the Jets line for the next decade.

Chance of Making Roster: 100%

Best Case Scenario for 2009: Mangold stays healthy and develops into a leader on the offense. He begins a long stretch of seasons as an all-pro center.

Worst Case Scenario for 2009: It is hard to see Mangold regressing at this point of his career, so the only worst case I think of is him getting hurt.

Prediction: I have my fingers crossed for another healthy 16 games of pro-bowl caliber play from Mangold and if he is healthy than you should expect an all-pro appearance.

2. D’Brickashaw Ferguson #60, Starting Left Tackle, Last Season: Started 16 Games, Pro-Bowl Alternate

History: The fourth overall pick in the 2006 draft, Ferguson has been a good but not great player. He has improved each year but still isn’t an elite tackle in the NFL. Regardless, he has never missed a game in his first three seasons and is excellent in pass protection.

Chance of Making Roster: 100%

Best Case Scenario for 2009: D’Brick takes his game to the next level and makes his first pro-bowl appearance. He improves his run blocking and his allowed sack total drops from the previous season.

Worst Case Scenario for 2009: He struggles as he did during the 2007 season, regressing from last season’s success or is injured.

Prediction: D’Brick will remain a very good starter for the Jets and if a few things break a certain way, he might end up in Hawaii at the end of the year.

3. Alan Faneca #66, Starting Left Guard, Last Season: Started 16 Games, Selected to Pro-Bowl

History: The Jets signed Faneca to a massive contract last season, despite his somewhat advanced age. He responded witha very good season, where he provided strong veteran leadership to both Mangold and Ferguson. He made the pro-bowl because of his reputation.

Chance of Making Roster: 100%

Best Case Scenario for 2009: Faneca matches his play from last year, showing no signs of decline due to age.

Worst Case Scenario for 2009: He begins to break down in only the second year of his five year contract.

Prediction: Faneca is a pro’s pro and will be a solid piece of the Jets offensive line for another year.

4. Brandon Moore #65, Starting Right Guard, Last Season: Started 16 Games

History: He has started 73 consecutive games for the Jets at right guard, getting better with age. He is extremely underrated and arguably out-played Alan Faneca last season. The Jets were almost stupid enough to let him get away this year but fortunately brought him back.

Chance of Making Roster: 100%

Best Case Scenario for 2009: He keeps doing what he has been doing the past few years, and maybe receives a little more recognition now that he signed a new contract.

Worst Case Scenario for 2009: An injury ends his consecutive starts streak.

Prediction: After the past few years, how can I not predict Moore to start 16 games and be a very good guard for the Jets?

5. Damien Woody #67, Starting Right Tackle, Last Season: Started 16 Games

History: The Jets biggest question mark on offensive line heading into last season and most questionable signing, Woody responded with a strong season. He is especially valuable because of his ability to also play guard and center.

Chance of Making Roster: 100%

Best Case Scenario for 2009: Woody does exactly what he did last year, making Mike Tannenbaum look smart for giving him that big contract last year.

Worst Case Scenario for 2009: Woody struggles at tackle, making Mike Tannenbaum look stupid for giving him that big contract last year.

Prediction: The guy I am most worried about on the Jets offensive line. I think (more like hope) Woody does duplicate his play from last year.

6. Robert Turner #75, Backup Guard/Tackle, Last Season: Active For 16 Games

History: Turner has been a Jets backup lineman the past two years. He saw action in 2007 at guard and last season as an extra tight end in short yardage packages. He would be the first one off the bench if Faneca or Moore got hurt this season.

Chance of Making Roster: 90%

Best Case Scenario for 2009: He contributes again in short yardage packages and is able to answer the bell if he is called to play because of injury.

Worst Case Scenario for 2009: He struggles in training camp and is cut, leaving the Jets even thinner at the backup OL spot.

Prediction: Turner is a pretty good athlete and does have experience, I see him remaining the Jets top backup this year and seeing the field in short yardage sets.

7. Wayne Hunter #78, Backup Tackle, Last Season: Active for 16 Games

History: He has been with the Jets the past two years after playing with Seattle and Jacksonville. He was an extra tight end in some short yardage packages last year (look at the big fella out in space last year against the BIlls). As of now, he is the first tackle off the bench in case of injury.

Chance of Making Roster: 80%

Best Case Scenario for 2009: He steps in, if needed and hopefully he isn’t needed.

Worst Case Scenario for 2009: He loses his roster spot to one of the younger lineman.

Prediction: I don’t see why he wouldn’t remain on the active roster, unless somebody really sticks out in pre-season or bombs out.

8. Matt Slauson #68, Backup Guard/Tackle, 6th Round Pick in 2009 NFL Draft

History: The Jets took him in the 6th round this year. Offensive line coach Bill Callahan is familiar with him from his days at Nebraska. The Jets like his versatility, since he has starting experience at tackle and guard. He played guard last season for the Cornhuskers.

Chance of Making Roster: 80%

Best Case Scenario for 2009: He learns the next couple of seasons behind the veterans and eventually becomes a starter.

Worst Case Scenario for 2009: He gets cut.

Prediction: I think he will be on the 53 man roster and bounce between being active and inactive.

The Rest of the Guys:

9. Stanley Daniels #64 – Backup tackle who has bounced around the Jets practice squad/training camp the past couple of years.

10. Tavita Thompson #62 – UDFA Tackle from Oregon State.

11. Ryan McKee #69 – UDFA Tackle from Southern Mississippi.

12. Michael Kracalick #76 – Big (6’8, 335 Lbs) tackle who has been in the NFL for 4 seasons.

13. Michael Parenton #56 – UDFA Center from Tulane.

14. Nevin McCaskill –  A tackle, Jets just signed him a few days ago

Overall Position Analysis: The Jets have one of the best front fives in football but some question marks behind them. Mangold and Ferguson should keep improving, Moore is as steady as they come, and hopefully Faneca and Woody won’t start breaking down yet. Hopefully, Slauson turns into a good prospect/eventual starter for this team.

New Jets Player Highlight: Rookie running back Shonn Greene has a day against Wisconsin, going for 217 yards and 4 TD’s. His second touchdown run at the 1:55 mark is extra pretty. Thomas Jones, Leon Washington, and now this guy? I like it.

What Is A Successful Jets Season?

First a few updates:

1. The Jets released tight end Bubba Franks yesterday, moving them from being very thin at the position to being ridiculously thin. Behind second year player Dustin Keller, the Jets have a converted defensive end, a long snapper and two undrafted free agents. It might be time to consider a move before training camp starts, Mike Tannebaum, because the Jets are kidding themselves if they think Kareem Brown can start off the year as their number two tight end.

2. Kerry Rhodes was on ESPN Radio today and made a few interesting comments. He discussed the relief of having Jim Leonhard starting alongside of him because of the freedom it will grant him in the secondary. It was also clear from the interview that he was frustrated with the way Eric Mangini used him last season.

What Is A Successful Jets Season?

Over the past few days I have been reading numerous previews about the Jets in 2009 and listening to different football analysts talk about the team and have noticed a growing pessimism about them this upcoming year. The general consensus seems to be that the Jets and their fans have too high of expectations for 2009, and that there are many reasons to believe the team will struggle this season. The organization and the fans need to reconsider what a successful 2009 season equates to.

Reading these previews and thinking about the upcoming year forces you to question, what do you consider to be a successful Jets season in 2009? Personally, I always think a playoff appearance equals a successful season, but should I be satisfied with less?

There are plenty of reasonable and convincing arguments against the Jets being a playoff team in 2009. They have a rookie head coach. The last two defensive coordinators from Baltimore who became head coaches struggled in the top position. They are likely starting a rookie quarterback. Their schedule is difficult, especially in the first four games. They lack depth on both sides of the ball and are due for a rash of injuries after having a healthy 2009 season. Their offense has major question marks at tight end and receiver. Their defense will be without their best outside linebacker for the first four games. I hear you critics…and you got some valid arguments.

Here is a hypothetical: the Jets go 7-9 this year. Mark Sanchez wins the starting quarterback job, progresses nicely during the season and shows signs of being the guy the Jets drafted him to be. The defense starts out a little slow but adapts to the new system as the year moves on and they finish very strong. You get what you expect out of your pro-bowl running backs and your inexperienced receiving core. The season ends and the Jets spend the off-season acquiring a big time target for Sanchez and improving their overall depth, not that bad, right? Can you be satisfied with that for next year? Honestly, I can’t say I would because naturally I want to watch a team with winning record compete in the playoffs but in reality that wouldn’t be a terrible season.

The above scenario could very easily happen in 2009, as could even worse scenarios that involve major injuries, Mark Sanchez/Rex Ryan looking like a bust, and a 4-12 record. However, it also isn’t crazy to argue/believe the Jets can be a 9-7 to 11-5 team competing for wild-card spot and maybe even a division title.

The rookie head coach/rookie quarterback problem can be overcome (see Atlanta/Baltimore last year). I also remember the Jets making the playoffs with a rookie head coach in both 2001 (Herman Edwards) and 2006 (Eric Mangini). The Jets didn’t receive incredible quarterback play in either of those seasons but still managed to win ten games. Sanchez will make his mistakes but if he can be average/slightly above average, the Jets will be in every game because of their running game and talent level on defense.

I don’t buy the concerns about the Jets schedule. Their first four games aren’t the easiest in the world but there is no reason they can’t be 2-2. Houston is a team that everybody says is jumping to the next level every single season, yet they always go 7-9 or 8-8. The Pats are the Pats. The Jets whipped the Titans last year in Tennessee and now get them at home and the Saints haven’t made the playoffs the past two years. After those four games the Jets have Miami, Buffalo, Oakland, Miami and then a bye. Am I really insane to think the Jets can be 5-3 heading into that bye? The second half of the schedule isn’t a cakewalk but includes winnable games at home against Jacksonville, Cincinnati, and on the road against Tampa Bay and Toronto aka Buffalo. Carolina, New England, Atlanta, and Indy are tough second half games but if the Jets are a playoff caliber team, they will be able to pull an upset or two.

The Jets depth is a major issue on offense, period. If an offensive lineman gets hurt for an extended period of time, they could be in serious trouble although Wayne Hunter and Robert Turner have some game experience the past two years (as extra tight ends), there would be still be large drop off. They have one NFL caliber tight end on their roster right now and the receivers are a question mark. However, I do remember in 2006 when the same questions were asked about their receiving core and a little known player stepped up and turned into a capable NFL starter (Jerricho Cotchery) and the other one was a solid number one (Laveranues Coles). Why can’t Chansi Stuckey or David Clowney imitate Cotchery from 2006 this season and why can’t Cotchery imitate Coles, a player who he arguably played better than the last two years?

On defense, I think the Jets have pretty good depth. Their top three backup corners (Dwight Lowery, Donald Strickland, Drew Coleman) and backup safety (Eric Smith) all have starting or extended experience as NFL players. At linebacker, Larry Izzo is a seasoned NFL veteran, Jason Trusnick and Marques Murrell have flashed potential and when Calvin Pace returns in week 5, Vernon Gholston can bump back into being a pass rush specialist. They are definitely a little thin at defensive end but Howard Green and Sione Pouha are experienced backups at defensive tackle in the NFL.

Like just about every NFL team, the Jets can end up anywhere in the standings in 2009. We will learn alot about Rex Ryan and his new defense, along with Mark Sanchez right out of the gate on the road in Houston and home against division favorite/rival New England in week two.

Even if it isn’t fair, I can’t say I’d be happy with a 7-9 team, unless maybe they swept New England and Miami…nah maybe not even then. I want to see them at match last season’s win total and playing meaningful games in December.

New Jets Player Highlight of the Day: Bart Scott demolishes Ben Rothlisberger. Swaggalicious.

2009 New York Jets: 10 Predictions

First a few updates:

1. For the past couple of weeks we have had the ability to post videos on the site through WordPress, however I wasn’t sure really how to incorporate the available videos into articles. Yet, starting today I am going to attempt to run a highlight or highlights of each of the new members of the Jets in the 2009 season, starting today with cornerback Lito Sheppard. I have some admitted concerns about Lito this season but watching this highlight from 2006 makes me feel a little better:

2. Feel Good Jets Moment of the Day – November 12th 2006 – The 4-4 Jets traveled to New England with a 7 game losing streak to the Patriots, but on this muddy day they would finally get the best of Bill Bellicheck and Tom Brady. Led by Kevan Barlow (17 carries, 75 yards, 1 TD), Jerricho Cotchery (6 catches, 70 yards, 1 TD), and a stingy defensive effort the Jets upset New England 17-14.

2009 New York Jets: 10 Predictions

1. Dustin Keller will lead the team in touchdown receptions and be second on the team in both receptions and receiving yards, behind Jerricho Cotchery. His blocking will improve slightly but the Jets will struggle in short yardage situations more than they did in 2008 because of the absence of a good blocking tight end.

2. Chansi Stuckey will start every game opposite Jerricho Cotchery at receiver and catch 50-60 passes. However, his yards per catch will be low and he will have a difficult time getting into the end-zone. David Clowney will develop into the #3 receiver, while Brad Smith remains a gadget player/#4 receiver.

3. Thomas Jones will have less carries, yards, receptions, and touchdowns than he did in 2008. On the other hand, Leon Washington will have more carries, yards, receptions, and touchdowns than he did in 2008. Shonn Greene (seen to the right running over a poor Jets fields and grounds worker) will start out slow but develop into a valuable 4th quarter weapon by the end of the season.

4. Mark Sanchez will start every game at quarterback and put up very comparable numbers to Joe Flacco last season (2971 yards, 14 TD’s, 12 INT’s). He will be named the starter heading into the 3rd pre-season game.

5. The Jets won’t have a player with double-digit sacks again. Vernon Gholston will contribute more than he did his rookie season (not hard to say) and finish with 5.5 sacks. Calvin Pace will record 6 sacks in 12 games. Bryan Thomas will have a good all around season but only finish with 6.5 sacks. Marques Murrell will contribute off the bench throughout the year and record the first few sacks of his NFL career.

6. Kerry Rhodes will make his first pro-bowl in 2009 and be joined in the secondary by teammate Darrelle Revis, who will continue to improve. Jim Leonhard will be a consistent starter opposite Rhodes, but Eric Smith will find his way on to the field in a few sets. Lito Sheppard/Dwight Lowery/Donald Strickland will be an upgrade over Ty Law/Dwight Lowery/Drew Coleman.

7. Bart Scott won’t be an all-pro caliber player in 2009 but will bring leadership and swagger to the Jets defense. His presence will also help the growth of David Harris at inside linebacker.

8. At least one Jets offensive lineman will miss a few games with an injury, putting pressure on Robert Turner or Wayne Hunter to step up for a couple of weeks. Turner will also receive reps throughout the season as a blocking tight end, when the Jets realize Bubba Franks is washed up.

9. TJ Conley will be the Jets punter in 2009. Sorry Reggie Hodges.

10. Rex Ryan and Channing Crowder will brawl before the Jets/Dolphins week 5 Monday Night game. The scene will resemble The Godfather when Sonny (Ryan) beats Carlo (Crowder) down in the street.

Ten Reasons the Jets Won't Make the Playoffs

First a few updates:

1. The Jets signed their sixth round draft pick Matt Slauson to a contract, although the terms were undisclosed. They also released cornerback Tyron Brackenridge.

2. According to Drew Rosenhaus and his Twitter account, Thomas Jones will be attending Jets OTA’s beginning next Wednesday. There has apparently been progress in their discussions, but we’ll see what the situation is when Jones arrives in Florham Park next week. Ideally, Jones and Leon Washington will have a week of practice under their belts before mandatory practice starts on June 9th.

3. David Clowney has a site over at: www.davidclowney87.com which provides some interesting updates about the Jets OTA’s and the ongoing receiver battle. Jay Feely’s twitter account complimented the Jets offense for their past practice on Monday and said Chansi Stuckey was the player of the day…we’ll take any update we can get until media availability on Thursday.

4. An NBA Minute – Kobe and Carmelo are going to be fun to watch this Western Conference Finals. You forget how good of a scorer ‘Melo can be, but he was awesome last night. Kobe simply carried the Lakers to a win, his supporting cast isn’t as good as advertised. I still like Denver in 7.

Ten Reasons the Jets Won’t Make the Playoffs

I did recently proclaim the Jets would be a playoff team next season but let’s play devil’s advocate for a little while and look at reasons why they may not make the playoffs in 2009. I will of course follow this article tomorrow, with ten reasons why they will make the playoffs next year:

1. Too Young at Key Spots – An inexperienced quarterback and a first year head coach can’t be expected to navigate the Jets through the AFC East in to a playoff spot. Rex Ryan sounds great but we don’t know anything about his in game management skills yet or how our quarterback will respond in close games.

2. Not Enough Weapons – Jerricho Cotchery is a very good number two receiver, not a number one. Behind him, they have a group of inexperienced players who have never been full time starters. They are thin at tight end, and are one injury away from starting Bubba Franks or a converted defensive lineman, in Kareem Brown.

3. Lack of Depth on Offensive Line – If the Jets have one injury to any of their five starters, a highly inexpierienced player will be asked to step into a full time role. Can they maintain a strong rushing attack with Wayne Hunter or Robert Turner up front?

4. Contract Issues – Thomas Jones and Leon Washington are both currently unhappy with their contracts. Will this affect their play or serve as a distraction to the rest of the team? The Jets may struggle if rookie Shonn Greene is asked to handle too many carries.

5. Lack of Depth on Defensive Line – Marques Douglas and Mike DeVito are career backups who will be splitting reps at a starting defensive end spot. There isn’t much behind them at the end position or much behind Kris Jenkins at the nose tackle spot.

6. Difficult Division – The Patriots were 11-5 last year without Tom Brady behind center and he now appears to be fully healthy. Buffalo added Terrell Owens to an already dangerous offense and Miami has Bill Parcells running the show, which means they always have a shot. It is going to take at least 10 wins to even threaten for a wild card spot this year.

7. Tough Schedule – The Jets have to face the NFC and AFC South, both of which were very strong divisions last year. The Colts, Titans, Falcons, and Panthers were all playoff teams and the Bucs, Saints, and Texans were all .500 or better.

8. Chemistry Issues – The Jets will be adjusting to two new starters in the secondary, Lito Sheppard and Jim Leonhard. Sheppard has injury concerns and is coming off his worst season ever and Leonhard has never started for an entire season.

9. B-Schott – Offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer is coming off a very average year, where he struggled to find any consistency with his play calling and was often too conservative. Will he able to create enough points with an inexperienced quarterback and receiving core?

10. Punter? – Yes, I am reaching for reasons here all the way down at number ten but the Jets currently don’t have a punter on their roster with any NFL experience. We saw last year on San Diego how much of a difference a good punter could make.

What are Reasonable Expectations for the Jets?

First a few updates:

1. The TOJ Hall of Fame and TOJ Hall of Shame are now fully up and running. Take the time to check out the pages, which are linked across the top of the web-site.

2. For some reason, NFL Films is running a replay of the Jets/Bills regular season game in Buffalo from this past season. A few observations after re-watching the game today: Drew Coleman is awful, Kris Jenkins is unstoppable when he is at his best, Brian Schottenheimer is way too conservative, Calvin Pace doesn’t get enough for credit for how good he is, Jerricho Cotchery has great hands but has a tough time getting separation, Dustin Keller needs to increase his football IQ, and Thomas Jones is quicker than he gets credit for.

3. Pacman Jones to the Jets? I don’t buy this rumor for a second. The Jets have no need for him, as they have good depth at corner and obviously don’t need a guy like that in the locker room.

What are Reasonable Expectations for the Jets?

The Jets were a 9 win team last season who just missed making the playoffs. After this off-season, I believe it is fair to expect them to be a 10+ win team and strongly contend not just for a playoff spot but also for a deep run into January. It may sound like a bold statement, but let me argue why that isn’t necessarily the case.

I look at their defense and see a unit that was very good last season. They have improved at inside linebacker by upgrading from Eric Barton to Bart Scott. Vernon Gholston has nowhere to go but up from last year, and if Rex Ryan can get anything out of him this year, the Jets will be upgraded at outside linebacker also. The Jets other returning outside linebackers, Calvin Pace and Bryan Thomas are both former 4-3 defensive ends, which means they have strong pass rushing skills. Rex Ryan’s new defensive scheme is more conducive to their talents, than Eric Mangini’s defense which often asked them to drop into pass coverage. 

In the secondary, the Jets have upgraded at both cornerback and safety. Lito Sheppard is a better starter than Dwight Lowery, and Donald Strickland will provide a veteran nickel-back who will also push Lowery to become better. Basically, last year’s #2 corner (Lowery) is now bumped down to being their #4 corner. Abram Elam wasn’t an awful starter at safety last year but Jim Leonhard’s skill set is a better fit for the defense, and he provides better pass coverage skills along with a similar presence inside the box against the run. 

They are thinner on the defensive line this season. However, Kris Jenkins has recently went on record to say that Rex Ryan’s defense won’t be as physically demanding on his body. If Jenkins can remain fully healthy all season, the Jets will be getting a major improvement at defensive tackle over the last 5 games of the regular season compared to 2008. There is pressure on Marques Douglas and Mike DeVito to match Kenyon Coleman’s production on defense, although the only production he really had was against the run. He only managed 0.5 sacks last year, so it shouldn’t be hard for the two of them to match his pass rushing skills. 

On offense, the Jets improved their depth at running back and added another short yardage/goal-line threat by drafting Shonn Greene. They are returning their entire starting offensive line, and added more depth by drafting Matt Slauson in the 6th round. Their top two backups from last year (Robert Turner and Wayne Hunter) are also returning with more experience under their belt. At quarterback, Mark Sanchez/Kellen Clemens can’t play any worse than Brett Favre did in the last 5 games of the regular season last year. When the Jets were winning last season, Favre was managing the game in a similar way that the Jets quarterback will be asked to this year. Look at Favre’s numbers in the Jets key wins last year:

Week 1 vs Miami: 15/22, 194 yards, 2 TD’s.

Week 6 vs. Cincinnati: 25/33, 189 yards, 1 TD, 2 INT’s

Week 8 vs. Kansas City: 28/40, 290 yards, 2 TD’s, 3 INT’s

Week 9 vs. Buffalo: 19/28, 201 yards, 0 TD, 1 INT

Week 10 vs. St. Louis: 14/19, 167 yards, 1 TD

Week 12 vs. Tennessee: 25/32, 224 yards, 2 TD’s, 1 INT

Week 15 vs. Buffalo: 17/30, 207 yards, 1 TD, 2 INT’s

The point is outside of two Jets wins (Arizona and New England) Favre never really put up great numbers when the Jets won games. I think Mark Sanchez or Kellen Clemens can handle going 15/21 for 190 yards and that they are going to throw less interceptions. If whomever the Jets quarterback is next year can throw 12 INT’s instead of 22, it is going to make a big difference in a positive way for the team. 

The Jets are weaker at tight end and wide receiver than they were in 2008. They haven’t replaced Chris Baker (a strong blocker and 21 catches) or Laveranues Coles (70 catches, 850 yards, 7 TD’s). However, at tight end Dustin Keller should be improved in his second year and at wide receiver, a guy like David Clowney (pictured to the left) could turn into a big time playmaker now that he is being given an opportunity. Regardless, the Jets still need to add depth at both positions. 

 

The 2009 schedule isn’t a friendly one but it certainly is manageable. Outside of their division, 6 of their 10 games are against teams who didn’t make the playoffs last year. Within the division, New England is always tough, the Bills added TO but beyond that had a weak overall off-season and have major questions at the offensive line and running back. The Dolphins are going to struggle this year. They were the 2006 Jets last year, and are going to be the 2007 Jets this year. I love Chad Pennington but teams are going to be all over their gimmick based offense and their lack of talent on that side of the ball will hurt them this year. 

Right now I’d say the Jets are a 10 win team and if they add another tight end and receiver, they could be a 11-12 win team. Right out of the gate we will find out where they stand since in their first 6 games they play all three divisional opponents and 2 other quality teams (Tennessee and New Orleans).