Week One: The Beginning For Some…The End For Others

College football got off to one of the greatest starts in the past ten years. LSU shutdown the triple option Oregon offense. Boise State shut down the team with the ugliest uniforms I’ve ever seen (Georgia), that is until I saw Maryland’s uniforms. So how does the NFL counter? Two previous Superbowl champions in the season opener. checkmate.

Parody. The Saints had a powerhouse defense when they won the Superbowl. The Packers had a powerhouse defense when they won the Superbowl. The common thread? Turnovers. Turnovers win championships.

So who’s going to win? Handlebar mustache Rogers and the Packers by 7. The Saints can’t stop the Packers passing game, save for heroic performances from Malcolm Jenkins and Roman Harper. And when the Packers get into their “let’s go 30 yards” 5 wide set? Someone’s going to get beat in man coverage. Greg Jennings and Jermichael Finley will have a field day in that formation.

What’s the weakness of the Packers defense? Mark Ingram. He will run up the middle and plow through the linebacking core of Green Bay with anger and brute strength. What about Michelle Beadle’s boy Clay Matthews? As soon as Drew Brees sees Clay Matthews get into his edge rush, Brees will check down to a draw play and there you go, a completely useless Matthews. Good luck AJ Hawk.

A rookie running back? yes. Mark Ingram is different than most running backs. Most NFL running backs look for a hole and tiptoe through it. Mark Ingram makes his holes and people hang on. Go look at the game film from last year against the SEC.

As a brief side-note, everyone raves about speed guys like Chris Johnson dominating the NFL. How many playoff games has he played in again and had a significant impact? How many top 5 defenses does he put up big numbers against? 34 yards against the Steelers last year. I rest my case.

Enough about the man with the long hair, back to teams that will make the playoffs. The Saints will be looking to prove a point at Lambeau. They will want to strike fear into the Packer faithful. they want to send a few messages:

We will beat your corners by going over the middle
We will hit your quarterback. repeatedly
We will keep your quarterback off the field by running the ball

Gregg Williams has been waiting a very long time to unleash the dogs of hell. Do not take that for granted. a few strip sacks and this game will swing into the Saints favor.
There’s a strange method I’ve been using to get a better glimpse at teams I watch in the NFL. I did this for the preseason, and i will probably use it in the regular season as well. I look at the current roster of a team and write down the age, college, round taken, and number of Pro Bowls a player has for each team. I also write down the relevant information of the 2011 rookies (age, college, round taken)

Example:

Charles Woodson – 34 years old/Michigan/1st rd/7 Pro Bowls

It helps to get an overall view of a team as per how many first round draft picks they keep, the production of guys like Tramon williams, who was undrafted yet made it to a Pro Bowl, or Donald Driver who was a 7th round pick that made 4 Pro Bowls. Is the Pro Bowl a real litmus test? Yes and No.

One thing you notice about the Packers is that they took a tight end in the 5th round and another in the 7th. They also took a wide receiver in the second round. If i were to make predictions, it would be that Randall Cobb is slated to take over Donald Driver’s spot next year.

Two tight ends may in fact mean that the packers plan to run a little more with two tight end sets, or are simply looking to get some pressure off their receivers.

So what do the Saints look to do with their draft? Run the ball and get after the quarterback. Shaun rogers will show Cameron Jordan how to hit in the NFL. The front 4 of New Orleans will look to wipe the smirk off Aaron Rodgers face. They made Brett Favre hurt so good. The secondary is the strength of the Saints, so look for them to run alot of nickel and dime packages, disguising a few 3 down coverages in an attempt to get Rodgers out of sync. Monday Night Football on a Thursday. Welcome to Interzone.

Jets vs. Colts – 12 Pack of Wild-Card Predictions

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Is there anything better than a weekend of playoff football when your team is involved? The correct answer is absolutely not, so here is hoping that everybody beat the snow home and is ready for a great two days of football, without carrying on anymore here is a very special edition of the 12 pack for Jets/Colts, along with the rest of my weekend picks —

1. Mark Sanchez is going to throw for over 250 yards and a pair of touchdowns against an over-matched Colts secondary. More importantly, he will protect the football and won’t have a single turnover.

2. Peyton Manning is going to throw for over 300 yards and a pair of touchdowns against the Jets secondary. He will find the match-ups that he wants because he always does. However, Manning will throw an interception Saturday night to Antonio Cromartie.

3. Shonn Greene will have at least 18 carries and at least 90 yards to lead the Jets ground attack. LaDanian Tomlinson will have 10-12 carries and 3-5 receptions. Joe McKnight won’t be involved in the offensive game-plan.

4. The Colts won’t have a running back who finishes with more than 50 yards on the ground. However, they will make big contributions catching the football out of the backfield.

5. Jacob Tamme is going to have a big day against the Jets secondary, with at least 65 receiving yards and a touchdown.

6. Santonio Holmes and Braylon Edwards will both have at least 70 yards receiving. One of them will get into the end-zone on a big play of 30 yards or longer.

7. Reggie Wayne will have less than 50 yards receiving and won’t score a touchdown against Darrelle Revis. Pierre Garcon will beat Antonio Cromartie for one big play but beyond that will be relatively quiet.

8. Brad Smith is going to have one big kick return and break one big run on offense.

9. Robert Mathis will have a pair of sacks against Damien Woody as he struggles to return from his surgery.

10. Despite having a less reliable kicker, the Jets will outplay the Colts on special teams which will go a long to determining the outcome of this game.

11. The Jets will coach this game extremely aggressively, meaning they won’t hesitate to go for 4th and 1’s and potentially try a few trick plays. However, Rex Ryan being too aggressive on defense will burn them a few times for big plays.

12. The Jets are going win a close one that comes down to the final few minutes, 27-24.

NFL Wild-Card Weekend Picks

Jets (+3) vs. Indy

Saints (-11) vs. Seahawks – I don’t want to hear about the long trip, the crowd noise, or the injuries to their running backs, the Saints are a much, much better team than the 7-9 Seahawks who don’t belong anywhere near the playoffs.

Ravens (-4) vs. Chiefs – Kansas City will struggle to move the football and will have a difficult time stopping Ray Rice. The Ravens are simply a more experienced team, who is better prepared to win this type of game.

Packers (+3) vs. Eagles – I have been all about the Mike Vick show all year but I think he will struggle with Green Bay’s blitzing and the Packers offense will run up a bunch of points on an inconsistent Philadelphia defense.

Super Bowl Friday Thoughts/NFL Playoffs 2010 Recap

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First a few updates:

1. Rich Cimini wrote an article today discussing Chad Pennington returning to the Jets next season as a backup. He discussed it with Pennington, who admitted it would be tough but said it was a move he would definitely consider. I am all for Pennington coming back. First off, I can get some use out of his jersey that I still own in the pre-season and when he is playing mop-up duty against the Dolphins and Bills next years. Did I just say mop-up duty against teams the Jets went 1-3 against last year? Yes, I did. There isn’t going to be anymore 5 interception games or fluke Ted Ginn Jr touchdowns. Second, Pennington is an upgrade over Kellen Clemens.

2. When Leon Washington was talking about playing next season with the Jets, he discussed going back to returning kicks. Personally, I’d rather just leave Brad Smith back there and let Leon worry about offense. One thing the Jets offense missed in a big way last season was a screen game and running backs catching the ball out of the backfield in general (8 receptions for Thomas Jones or 0 for Shonn Greene during the regular season).

3. Follow Turn On The Jets on facebook…everybody is doing it…well, 183 people now are. (I told you I was putting this up with every post).

4. The Game Highlights section has been somewhat ripped apart by videos being taken down on youtube. I will be revamping that into something different next week.

Super Bowl Friday Thoughts

First off…let’s look back at the 2010 Playoffs. Personally, my two favorite weekends of the year are wild-card weekend and divisional weekend. I consider them holidays. Unfortunately, outside of our Jets most of the games were letdowns. Jets/Bengals got things started off right with an exciting 24-14 game, in which I got to watch a bunch of bitter Giants sulk in their recently purchased Chad Ochocino Johnson jerseys. I was expecting a great Saturday night game between Dallas and Philly but my Super Bowl pick decided to get completely blown out. Clearly, Andy Reid made zero adjustments from the two previous losses his team had to the Cowboys. Beyond that, nobody ever wants to see Cowboys fans happy…Maganellis.

Outside of anything Jets related, there was nothing I enjoyed more this NFL season than the first quarter of the Ravens/Patriots wild-card game. Nothing beats watching Bill Belichick be completely out-coached and standing there gawking on the side-line while Tom Brady throws interception after interception and keeps fumbling…great stuff. After the Belichick/Brady meltdown this year in a home playoff game, can we say the Pats dynasty is on the way out? I think you can, their defense isn’t good. They don’t have a running back. Wes Welker might not be back for the start of the next season and Randy Moss is a slouch. The Packers/Cardinals game was obviously very exciting, although it was pathetic how bad both defenses were. It was also frustrating to watch “Fake Defensive Player of the Year” Charles Woodson and the rest of his secondary get torched for 51 points, 379 passing yards, and 5 passing touchdowns. One last time, it was a complete joke that Darrelle Revis didn’t win that award this year.

PhotobucketDivisional weekend? Saints vs. Cardinals was a complete beatdown. On top of that, I had to watch Reggie Bush have a monster game, after ripping him all off-season and saying Leon Washington was better. One thing you have to say about Bush, is that there is a reason everybody was so “shocked” to see him play so well and run so hard…because he hasn’t been doing it his entire of NFL career. You shouldn’t decide to run hard one day, you should be doing it every game, especially when you are the #2 pick in the draft. Colts/Ravens was a disappointing game because I was obviously routing for the Ravens since I wanted a home AFC Championship Game.

On Sunday, it was nice to see Dallas remember they can’t win a big game and get blown out by the Vikings. To top it off, we got to see Keith Brooking and his stupid pre-game chant (we gonna hit them in nose, we gonna hit them in face….give me a break) leave a river of tears on the field. Of course, the late game on Sunday was just terrific and turned out to be the best overall game of the weekend. You can’t beat the defensive beatdown the Jets put on the Chargers in the second half and Shonn Greene rumbling through the Chargers secondary.

Everything about Championship Sunday was great right up until Peyton Manning got the ball back down 17-6. Fortunately, I got a little joy later that night watching Brett Favre choke away the NFC Championship Game…which brings us to Colts/Saints.

1. I think this game goes one of two ways: 1) We have an all-time game, an absolute shootout where the team with the ball last wins…something like 45-42 or 2) the Colts fall behind a little early, Manning reacts and then the Colts roll in the second half to a double-digit victory.

2. The only way the Saints are winning this game is if they find a way to out-score Manning because they aren’t stopping him.

3. My predictions:

  • Super Bowl MVP – Peyton Manning (A real stretch, I know)
  • First touchdown – Pierre Thomas
  • Final Score: Colts – 41 Saints – 30

Another Jets Highlight Tape

Final Thoughts On Divisional Weekend

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1. Shaun Ellis is going to play with a cast on his hand this weekend, that will hopefully allow him a little more grip with his fingers. Whether the Jets win or lose, he will get surgery after the AFC Championship game since the recovery time is only a week, he would have enough time to get ready for the Super Bowl. Beyond that, the Jets are 100 percent healthy heading into this week’s game. Rex Ryan didn’t say anything else too notable at his press conference today. He took a little extra time to single out praise for Jim Leonhard, who obviously came up huge yesterday.

2. Cowboys/Vikings – Big let down performance from Dallas. Was that really the best effort they could put forward? It was almost like the whole goal of their season was to get over their December woes and finally win one playoff game, then they forgot the season isn’t over when you finally accomplish those things. I also think Keith Brooking should get a tissue. It was a bush league move by the Vikings to throw for that last touchdown but you can’t show your emotion by running over and saying something to the sideline when your losing by 31 points. I really can’t stand Brett Favre but if the Jets win, I will be rooting like crazy for Minnesota because I want to take him down in the Super Bowl.

3. Cardinals/Saints – Big let down in this game and I am an idiot for picking Arizona. I forgot how good New Orleans could be, since I haven’t seen them win in a month. Yes, Reggie Bush also made me eat my words since he had a ridiculous touchdown run and a punt return for a touchdown to go with it. It is hard not to like the Saints this weekend, especially in that building, in front of those fans.

4. Ravens/Colts – A dull game that was over when Ed Reed’s two interceptions were negated, one by his own fumble and one by a penalty. Many people are pointing to this game saying the Colts will beat the Jets because they just beat a team who is just like them in Baltimore. However, I saw potential in this game. Indy only scored 20 points against a Ravens defense that isn’t as good as the Jets and is completely one dimensional on offense. Manning is Manning and their defense was impressive but the Jets have more weapons on offense than the Ravens and Sanchez has been better than the Flacco the past two weeks. The Colts are the best team in football, which is fine. You should have to beat the best team in football for a shot at the Super Bowl.

5. Norv Turner and Wade Phillips just got contract extensions today. Enjoy another few years without a Super Bowl, Dallas and San Diego.

6. It was nice to enjoy the Jets win yesterday and today but now it is time to shift the focus to Indy. Yesterday was a memorable win for the Jets franchise, since they haven’t won two playoff games in a season since 1982. However, I am not satisfied and I don’t believe this team or fanbase is either. I do believe this Jets team is good enough to win the Super Bowl .You don’t get a chance to play in the AFC Championship every year, so you have to take advantage when you are there. The Jets are the ugly stepchild of this Championship weekend. You have three teams with big name quarterbacks, big time passing games, and big time regular season records and then you have the Jets with their rookie quarterback, power rushing game, big time defense, and 9-7 regular season record. They have crashed the party and rightly believe they can keep shocking the world this Sunday.

They were joking around on the NFL Network today saying that the football Gods are smiling down on the Jets because they play the old-fashioned way. They win with defense and running and are the last link to old days of the NFL left in this 2009 season. With all those missed field goals and all the help they got in December, it does sort of seem like Lombardi, Halas, and company are looking down and smiling on the Green and White.

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.