Early thoughts on the New York Jets week 3 match-up against the Miami Dolphins
Before we get into early thoughts on the New York Jets week 3 match-up with the Miami Dolphins, we want to offer a congratulations to Mike O’Connor who won our New York Jets mini-helmet giveaway from Gameday Goods. Get your Jets Gear at Gameday Goods and remember to enter in promo code “TurnOnTheJets” at checkout to save 10% on all purchases.
1. This is an absolute must win for the Jets. An overstatement? Not with the best two teams in the NFL traveling to MetLife the following two weeks and a trip to New England only 4 weeks away. You cannot lose a division game to a rookie quarterback who has a number one receiver named Brian Hartline, period.
2. Reggie Bush is the only player capable on the Miami offense of giving the Jets defense a major problem. They struggle with speedy backs who are threats catching the football. Bush has been rejuvenated to his USC self since coming to the Dolphins and the Jets focus must be on building an early lead and keeping him contained. Unless Bush has a monster day, which is he capable of, this game shouldn’t be very close.
3. In case you haven’t noticed, I’ve had just about enough of Shonn Greene as this team’s primary ball carrier. Simply put, I do not think he is good enough to merit 20-25 carries per game. Yes, I think he has value in the 4th quarter when defenses are worn down but his complete inability to break tackles, make people miss and contribute in the passing game means he must see less playing time. I am for more playing time for Tim Tebow because of Greene’s shortcomings, not Mark Sanchez’s. Bilal Powell played well last week and Joe McKnight looked good on his only carry. It is time for 14 carries for Greene, 10 for Powell, 8 for Tebow and 5 McKnight. Spread it around. Greene doesn’t merit that many touches.
4. Miami is solid in the front seven but borderline awful in the secondary. The Jets need to test them down the field with Santonio Holmes (let’s hope his head is on straight), Stephen Hill and Jeremy Kerley. I wouldn’t sleep on a bomb to Clyde Gates either. He saw a good amount of playing time this past week and Sanchez has a history of completing long passes to irrelevant receivers against the Dolphins.
6. It is sounding like Darrelle Revis could be a game time decision. Obviously you want him 100% healthy for San Francisco and Houston and Miami lacks any major threats in the passing game but simply put, this defense is nowhere near the same without him.
Breaking down the offensive game film from Jets/Steelers
Turn On The Jets broke down the offensive game film from the New York Jets week two loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. A big thank you to everybody who sent in their questions on Twitter on what they specifically wanted to see broken down from the film. Make sure to check back tomorrow when Chris Gross will go through the defensive game tape –
Let’s start with something positive, since the bulk of this article is going to be a negative review of Santonio Holmes, Shonn Greene, Mark Sanchez, and Jeff Cumberland. The New York Jets opening drive on offense was a thing of beauty. Mark Sanchez was accurate and aggressive, hitting Jeremy Kerley on a 45 yard completion on a well-designed play by Tony Sparano and a beautiful, shifty route from Kerley. The touchdown to Santonio Holmes took advantage of the Jets being so run heavy in their three tight end look that Sanchez’s well-executed play action held up both linebackers and brought the free safety towards the line to stop the run. This opened a huge window to Holmes for an easy touchdown. Great tendency breaking play-call by Tony Sparano.
Unfortunately after a strong start from Holmes, he grew impatient with Pittsburgh’s aggressive, physical coverage. He showed no ability to respond to it and terrible releases and overall route-running technique. On a key third down early in the game, Sanchez was keying on him to run a whip route (similar to an out, but when you run a slant, plant your inside foot and work back to the outside), however as Sanchez rolled right, Holmes slammed into a linebacker and falls over instead of releasing to the outside. With Holmes on the ground, Sanchez ended up taking a huge shot from Lawrence Timmons after throwing it away.
Later in the game, Holmes and Sanchez again struggled to connect on a third down. Last week on a nearly identical play, we praised Sanchez for being patient and hitting Jeff Cumberland on a 3rd and 9 instead of hitting Dustin Keller in the flat. However, here on 3rd and 16 and considering the Jets field position and complete lack of offensive productivity (this play took place midway through the 3rd quarter), he should have taken Kerley in the flat. Why? It either sets up a long field goal attempt, gives you a chance to go for it on 4th and roughly 6 or maybe Kerley makes a guy miss and gets a first down.
Regardless, Sanchez decides to wait for Holmes to reach the first down marker. Unfortunately, Holmes rounds off the top of his route. Instead of driving off Ike Taylor by threatening him deep, he rounds it off too early and doesn’t make a sharp cut back to the quarterback. This doesn’t move Taylor at all who squatted on the route and easily knocked the ball down.
Later in the game, Sanchez went to Holmes on a 2nd and 10 on a hitch route. Again, instead of driving his defender off, Holmes just slams into him and looks to push off. This disrupts the timing and it is why when he turned around, he wasn’t prepared to catch the ball which he dropped.
What I have seen through two games of Santonio Holmes this season is lazy route running, poor communication with his quarterback and endless complaining to the official to bail out his poor play. I have defended Holmes time and time again on this site, however so far this season he looks like a player who received a big contract and stopped working on the little things that make wide receivers great. When you watch players like Hakeem Nicks or Victor Cruz in the early game and then watch Holmes, the dropoff is enormous. Here is Holmes staring down an official after he dropped yet another pass (and there was no pass interference) while childishly trapping Ike Taylor’s feet between his legs. Taylor flipped out screaming at Holmes after this play for how long he held him there.
Moving on to Shonn Greene and the problems in the Jets running game. Here we see a well-blocked play and instead of Greene hitting the hole at full speed, he comes to a complete stop behind the of scrimmage and squats extremely low to the point of stumbling…again. This went for 3 yards and easily could have been a 7-9 yard again.
Later in the game, Greene had a monster hole on a well designed play by Tony Sparano. The Jets came out in a wishbone look and gave Greene a delayed draw. He literally goes untouched for 8 yards through the Pittsburgh defense, as you can see from both angles here. He has one person to beat, safety Ryan Mundy who steps up to fill. This is where it is a running back’s job to make the safety miss and score a touchdown.
What does Greene do? He squats as low as he can, starts stumbling and basically gives himself a concussion by getting smacked by Mundy for exactly a 9 yard gain. So basically Greene didn’t receive any contact until 8 yards down the field and finished with a 9 yard gain…not good enough.
There was a clear contrast between Bilal Powell and Greene in this game. Simply put, Powell looked quicker, more explosive and showed more of an ability to make people miss. On this play, Lawrence Timmons shoots through the gap unblocked and has a clear shot at Powell. If this is Greene, it is without question a 3 yard loss. However, Powell was fast enough to beat him through the hole and turn this into a 5 yard gain.
Later in the game, Powell should have had a 34 yard touchdown run. This play was well blocked up front and Powell made a great cutback. All it took was Jeff Cumberland sealing his man and he would have been off to the races. Unfortunately, Cumberland whiffed and the run only went for 10 yards. This is what happens when you have limited depth at tight end and don’t have a player who can block at the position.
Cumberland also showed no awareness on a hot route in the second quarter. If he read the defense properly, the Jets easily convert a 3rd down and don’t have to settle for a field goal.
A few other observations –
Austin Howard and the pass protection held up relatively well in this game. He did allow one sack but could have received more help from Shonn Greene on a chip block. Greene struggled in pass protection throughout this entire game.
Tony Sparano called a terrific first half. The Jets should have had an easy touchdown to Santonio Holmes in the end-zone to take a 14-6 lead. They rolled Sanchez out, got the coverage they wanted, Santonio Holmes ran a beautiful double move but Sanchez threw it high and behind him instead of out in front. Rob detailed this play here yesterday and it was a killer miss by Sanchez.
The deep ball to Stephen was another clever play call and a beautiful throw from Sanchez. Ultimately, it was just played very well by Ryan Clark. It is hard to put blame on anybody on this play. Hill probably could have ran a crisper route and he did struggle to get off press coverage all day…leading to Sanchez not looking his way very often.
Sparano got a little too conservative in the second half but his receivers weren’t helping the cause by getting pushed around so easily.
The 12 yard run by Joe McKnight was very impressive. There was nothing there and he broke a tackle, made two guys miss and showed good acceleration. It is time for more McKnight, Powell and yes Tebow running the ball. Shonn Greene doesn’t merit more than 15 carries per game at this point.
The New York Jets laid an egg in Pittsburgh to drop their record to 1-1
It was going to be a tall order for the New York Jets in Pittsburgh, against a desperate 0-1 team particularly without Darrelle Revis, Dustin Keller and Bryan Thomas in the line-up. However, there are no excuses for how the Jets lost today. Dropped passes. Muffed punts. Porous tackling. Questionable coaching decisions. The game was there for the taking and the Jets put forth a sloppy, borderline embarrassing effort.
On offense the Jets got off a fast start but eventually fizzled thanks to a lack of a running game and dropped passes. Shonn Greene had 11 carries for 23 yards and again made nobody miss and broke no tackles. On the eye test Bilal Powell looked better when carrying the football and yes, the Jets should have turned to Tim Tebow more frequently as a rushing option. Greene isn’t good enough not be a supported by another option or two. Santonio Holmes spent the entire game whining to the officials and dropping catchable passes. Stephen Hill wasn’t involved in the offense at all and the Jets badly missed Dustin Keller, as Jeff Cumberland looked clueless at times. Mark Sanchez missed a few opportunities down the field and couldn’t get the offense in rhythm after the first quarter.
On defense, the tackling was awful. Rex Ryan consistently dialed up the proper blitz call but watch LaRon Landry and David Harris whiff on sacks. Landry also picked up a pair of personal fouls. It was frustrating to watch the Jets inability to bring Ben Roethlisberger down. Quinton Coples barely played. Aaron Maybin was invisible. Where is the pass rush going to come from? Antonio Cromartie looked lost on Mike Wallace’s touchdown and Kyle Wilson didn’t impress in extended duty.
Look, the Jets weren’t going 16-0. There are worse places to lose than on the road in Pittsburgh…like at home to Arizona for example. The entire AFC East is 1-1 and the Jets are 1-o in their division. They need to handle business in Miami next week before facing a pair of brutally tough games at home against San Francisco and Houston. In order to do that, they must find a running game and have their playmakers actually make plays.
Turn On The Jets breaks down the game tape from Jets/Bills, answering your questions and giving other observations
Every week in this column we will break down the offensive game tape, both offering our observations and answering your questions submitted on Twitter. Tomorrow, our resident defensive lineman, Chris Gross, will provide a film breakdown of the other side of the ball. Thank you to everybody who sent in this week’s questions, which were aggregated into the following as many were on the same topic –
1. How effective was Mark Sanchez at going through his progressions and making the proper reads?
The short answer is very effective and this question led me to spend most of my time breaking down the Jets passing game, which was without question the biggest surprise of the week. Tony Sparano and Mark Sanchez both did a terrific job with a game plan that was built to feature Stephen Hill, Jeremy Kerley and Jeff Cumberland while using Santonio Holmes and Dustin Keller primarily as decoys.
The first two pass plays were designed for Stephen Hill who was open on both and caught the second one on a crucial early third down. The third play was for Cumberland who was also wide open and moved the chains on a 13 yard gain. After that completion, Sanchez alternated making poor decisions/throws with terrific ones before settling down and playing a great overall game.
First, came the interception which occurred because Buffalo quickly took away his first and second read. Simply put, he should have ran out of bounds for a 3 yard gain or threw it away, as he did later in the game when the Jets tried a similar play that was defended well. He then followed up with a beautiful strike to Jeremy Kerley on a third down, where he was the first read and beat his guy immediately. Sanchez then missed a cover 2 hole shot to Holmes that could have been a touchdown, although Holmes could have got a cleaner release to help him out. Sanchez was then bailed out when he went to Hill on a 3rd and 5 and he drew pass interference, when he should have went to Holmes on a deeper out behind Hill.
Keep this play in mind because Sanchez learned from his mistake later in the game. The following pass was the Jeremy Kerley touchdown which was a well designed play by Sparano. It was meant to look like a wide receiver screen to Santonio Holmes. As Holmes works back to the ball, Kerley appears to be going to block the corner causing a slight hesitation from the man who is covering him, he then jets to the back of the end-zone and Sanchez delivered a perfectly thrown pass.
Sanchez was pretty locked in for the rest of the game from this point. He hit Holmes in a tight window to convert a third down, the Stephen Hill touchdown on his double move was an easy read and a good throw. Throughout the rest of the game, he made only three throws that weren’t on point. First he slightly overthrew Jeremy Kerley on a quick out, which was caught but forced him to extend and stumble, ending up short of the first down. Second, he just missed Holmes on a quick post, although you could argue Holmes should have made the catch. Finally, he again missed the hole shot to Holmes at the end of the half which was nearly a touchdown. This is a tough throw and they nearly executed it but missed by about an inch.
One particular play later in the game that was encouraging from Sanchez was a 3rd and 9, when instead of throwing it immediately to an open Dustin Keller in the flat (a play he absolutely would have made last year), he was patient and waited for his primary option, Jeff Cumberland (who is on the 20 yard line in this screen shot), to run his 9 yard hook route before delivering a spot on pass to convert a third down.
Finally, remember the Kerley touchdown? Tony Sparano smartly came back to the wide receiver screen to Holmes, knowing that the defense would be hesitant to jump it after getting beat earlier in the game. This was executed to perfection, thanks to a great block from Dustin Keller and went for a 17 yard gain.
A few final observations on passing game – It was striking just how often Hill, Kerley or Cumberland were the first read on passing plays. It showed immense confidence in three unproven players and all three answered the bell. The plan worked well because Buffalo was keying on Holmes and Keller, which helped get the three of them consistently open. Ironically enough it appeared the receiver Sanchez had the least chemistry with was Holmes. They just missed on three completions that all could have been big gains (two of which should have been touchdowns). If they get rolling on the same page, the Jets passing offense could be that much more effective.
2. Austin Howard/Mario Williams
Howard’s game was as good as advertised. He spend the majority of the dropbacks singled up on Mario Williams and consistently stonewalled his pass rush. Williams continually tried to bull rush him and use his power but could not get through, which gave Sanchez time to go through all the progressions outlined above. Howard showed surprising quickness and the times WIlliams looked to adjust to more of a speed rush he looked a step slow. His complaints about illegal hands to the face certainly didn’t show on the film as there were not blatant penalties missed by the officials on Howard.
3. Shonn Greene
Shonn Greene did finish with 94 yards, unfortunately it took him 27 carries to get there. Yes, there were times Greene ran very well in-between the tackles and he pushed the pile. However, the Jets need another option when running to the edge. This play below serves as a perfect example of why Greene needs a complimentary speed back with him. This play only went for 6 yards and look how well it is blocked up. Greene, again inexplicably stumbles when he receives the handoff, a recurring problem for him.
After the stumble, he gets temporarily held up behind the line here yet still there is space for a run that should net more than 6 yards. However, he simply doesn’t have enough burst to hit the seam. This is why the Jets may need to consider giving more outside handoffs to both Bilal Powell and Joe McKnight.
Check back tomorrow for Chris Gross’ film breakdown of the defense, primarily focusing on the defensive line.
TJ Rosenthal on the masterful game plan put together by Tony Sparano in his debut as offensive coordinator for the New York Jets
Twelve Jets touched the ball on Sunday against the Bills. Twelve. Seven of them in the first quarter. What a sight for sore eyes for Jet fans who have more often than not, felt as though they were able call the “check down for pedestrian yardage” plays that would happen frequently over the past few seasons.
New Offensive Coordiantor Tony Sparano must have kept cotton in his ears all summer as he drew up plans for an offense that not only spread the field, but avoided predictability.
Right tackle Austin Howard’s ability to shore up the pass protection was a major factor in Mark Sanchez’s ability to stay firmly planted in the pocket in the opener. The quarterbacks accuracy and decisiveness were his contributions though, Both of which make one wonder if the game has finally slowed down a bit for the fourth year starter.
Sparano showed alot of confidence in rookie Stephen Hill, who was called out for the dropsies against Carolina. Was unafraid to draw up plays for Jeremy Kerley, a player that Rex Ryan challenged to “step up” in training camp.
Remember Jeff Cumberland? We do. He was our hope last year for a second tight end in the passing game before his season ending injury early on. Wish granted, thanks to Sparano.
Santonio Holmes is a weapon. That’s why it was imperative to get him the ball and other chances downfield. To put pressure on the Bills.
Most importantly, Sparano showed the utmost most confidence in Sanchez. A player who has had handcuffs on him for almost his entire tenure as a Jet. In using 6 wisely, within a balanced system, it was easy to notice how his own confidence and leadership grew as the game developed.
So many were ready to see the Jets as a modern day Ground and Pound failure, with the nuisance of Tebow mixed in. Not so fast.
There will be those who will remind Gang Green that Buffalo is not Pittsburgh, the Jets next opponent. Those glass half empty folks might want to be honest however, regarding how they saw the Bills prior to kickoff. Chan Gailey’s crew has been painted as a team on the rise. Many publications predicted them to finish second in the AFC East. The addiition of Mario Williams, and the growth of second year lineman Marcell Dareus being two of the main reasons why. Sparano kept those two off balance and out of the equation all day, while remaining bold in allowing Sanchez to throw downfield.
The Wildcat yielded just 20 yards, but the insertion of Tim Tebow was done without a hiccup. The yardage was never negative, kept the offense on time, and the clock moving. The formation also gave four different players carries, keeping it hard to predict as well. Without one ball thrown out of it. Yet.
Sanchez was right after the game when he noted that the win was something to be excited over but nothing to gloat about. True, there was a ton of negative press regarding the “Circus” act Jets heading into week one, but the Jets were wise in using the doubt many had about them as motivation. Even wiser in keeping their mouths shut as much as these Jets could, afterwards.
The most exciting to take out of the 48-28 win was Sparano and the offense. If they can remain a bunch that keeps the opponent’s defense guessing, while their own talented defense continues to cement it’s own schemes, then maybe the Jets can truly write their own story about 2012. Avoiding the one that had been written for them by too many experts, ready to give up on a team that hadn’t played a real game yet, until the one in Met Life on Sunday.
Chris Gross weekly Fact or False previews the Jets third pre-season game against the Carolina Panthers
For this week’s edition of New York Jets Fact Or False, we examine the most pressing issues facing Gang Green heading into their third preseason game against the Carolina Panthers.
Austin Howard will prove he is the answer at Right Tackle.False. While many people are getting caught up in today’s news that Austin Howard has replaced Wayne Hunter as the Jets starting RT, there is still no reason to believe that Howard is the savior. Will he play better than Hunter? Probably. But unfortunately for Wayne, the Jets could have likely put Tony Sparano himself in there, and he wouldn’t have looked much worse than Hunter did last week. Hunter’s contract should have never been guaranteed after his abysmal 2011 and now Mike Tannenbaum is in one of the worst positions he has ever been in as the Jets GM. Howard will get the start tomorrow by default, but the Jets will likely remain active in their hunt to bring in a tackle from the outside. Don’t expect Howard to be the long term solution here.
The Offense will score a touchdown.Fact.I mean, they have to…right? The Jets offense remains without a touchdown over two preseason games thus far. Although the game plans have been very vanilla as they are implementing a new system, it is now time to spice things up. The basics of this new offensive scheme should be more than engraved into every offensive players head at this point in the preseason, so it is time for Sparano to mix it up a bit. It is extremely difficult to take shots down the field when there is virtually no time to properly execute a 5 or 7 step drop, however, look for the Jets to take advantage of a very average defense. With the likely return of Jeremy Kerley this weekend, Sanchez gets back with a familiar target that he can rely on to help move the chains. Regardless of how poor they have looked, there is simply too much talent on this offense to go another game without crossing the goal line.
We will finally see some of the wildcat.False. For everyone waiting to see the marvelous Wildcat formation, it looks as if you will have to wait until, at the earliest, September 9th in the season opener against Buffalo. At Rex Ryan’s press conference today, the fourth year head coach stated that he did not expect to see any Wildcat during this preseason. Of course, this could be Rex throwing a smokescreen at fellow defensive mind Ron Rivera, however, Ryan is likely being honest here. There is no reason to unveil this formation and give the Bills a series of plays to watch on film and prepare for. Tebow enthusiasts, keep on waiting.
The Jets starting defense will have its best test against the run.Fact. While Cincinnati and the Giants certainly have established running offenses, neither of them quite compare to the four headed monster of DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart, Cam Newton, and Mike Tolbert. This will be a great test for the Jets as they will face a very unique combination of size, speed, agility, and athleticism, that they have yet to see this preseason. If they can hold the Panthers to less than 100 combined rushing yards through the first 2-3 quarters, it will be a very good sign of things to come for the defense this season.
The Jets will have ease running the football.False. This is certainly not to say that the Jets will not run the ball effectively in this game, because they very well just may. However, Carolina has a daunting young pair of linebackers in two time All-Pro Jon Beason, who returns after missing last season with a tear in his Achilles tendon, as well as rookie Luke Kuechly, the 9th overall selection in this year’s draft out of Boston College. This will be yet another great test for Greene, Tebow, and the rest of the running attack to get themselves on track and finally show some of that ground and pound that has been preached so frequently since the hiring of Sparano.
This is the best opportunity for Quinton Coples to prove his worth thus far.Fact. Coples faced an excellent offensive line last week against the Giants, but this week he has the opportunity to play against All-Pro Jordan Gross, along with Matt Kalil, and Bruce Campbell. With these three, Carolina has one of the most respected offensive lines in the league. If Coples can duplicate what he has been doing through the first two games against this unit, it will be an excellent sign of progress. A sack, a QB knockdown, or a tackle for loss will all be indications of further improvement and more good things to come.
The TOJ writers debate the top issues surrounding the New York Jets heading into the 2012 season
There are plenty of debated topics about the New York Jets heading into the 2012 NFL season. Judging from our interactions on Twitter and Facebook in the previous months, here are our top ones in no particular order and our opinions on them.
1) Shonn Greene’s Ceiling/Potential
Joe Caporoso – My support and faith in Greene as a true lead back has waned considerably over the past two seasons. While I do not think he is the bum people like Evan Silva make him out to be, it is impossible not to be frustrated with his inability to consistently break tackles or break a big run. He is going to get a ton of opportunities this season and I think he averages somewhere in the 4.1 – 4.4 yards per carry range with low touchdown numbers because of the presence of Tim Tebow. I see the ceiling on his rushing yardage total somewhere around 1,250 yards and think the Jets will take a long look on deciding whether to re-sign him in the off-season.
Chris Gross – While Greene can be a solid starter in this league, I don’t see him ever becoming a huge star. He’s already 27 years old, and has really struggled to prove that he can carry the workload as a lead back for New York. Last season, Greene’s first full year as the starter, he ran for just over 1,000 yards and only 6 touchdowns. On a team built to run the football, you’d think the top back would post numbers better than these. Still, with Tony Sparano now at the helm as offensive coordinator, one would think that Greene is poised for a career year. Sparano worked his magic in Miami last season, as shown by Reggie Bush hitting the thousand yard mark for the first time in his career. I do think Greene is much better in a complementary role as he was with Thomas Jones during his rookie season when he posted a career best 5.0 YPC average. In the role that he is currently in, I see Greene topping out at about 1100 yards, 7 touchdowns, and averaging somewhere between 3.9-4.2 YPC.
Mike Donnelly – First of all, Evan Silva is an idiot and he’s proven it time and time again. Be sure to check back for my fantasy football coverage this year where I plan on proving that repeatedly. Anyway, I love Shonn Greene this year. When he was given the ball last year and allowed to get in a groove under the incompetent Brian Schottenheimer, he was really quite good. The offensive line problems were well documented early in the season, but when Greene hit his stride in the second half, he performed very well. He even caught 30 passes for over 200 yards, so he’s not a waste in the passing game either, as many would lead you to believe. This year, I expect him to rush for around 4.2-4.4 yards per carry, and total around 1,250-1,350 yards on the ground with 250-325 or so through the air, with 8-10 TD’s. Don’t forget, Shonn is playing for a contract this year, and that is a huge motivating factor. He will stay healthy, run hard, and silence the haters.
2) The Quarterbacks
Joe Caporoso – I am as bullish on Sanchez as ever and believe he is the team’s option at quarterback. The Jets have done an awful job of supporting him but I do think he will do a substantially better job of protecting the football this year and his production will be a slightly improved version of his 2010 numbers. Tim Tebow is best suited as a weapon in the running game and will be the team’s de facto number two running back.
Chris Gross – As I said in my review of training camp, the biggest thing that stood out to me was the command displayed by Mark Sanchez. You get the sense that this is the year that he is finally ready and confident enough to declare this team his. He needs to continue that mindset and be the leader that the offense needs him to be, while being very protective of the football. He will be challenged due to a great lack of experience in his receiving corps, but expect him to lean heavily on Santonio Holmes and Dustin Keller. As for Tebow, the only way I see him advancing from his role as a RB/Wildcat QB is if the offensive line plays so poorly that Sparano and co. and forced to put the more elusive Tebow at the helm because of his ability to extend plays with his feet.
Mike Donnelly – I’m with Joe on this one. I’m a huge Sanchez supporter, and I expect him to perform well this year, despite the organization seemingly writing the book on how not to develop a young QB. When Holmes and Kerley get back fully healthy, and Hill gets comfortable, the offense should end up being in the middle of the pack in the NFL. For all the hoopla talk about a QB controversy, Tebow is going to make a bigger impact running the ball in short yardage and goalline situations. I’m comfortable with our QB situation.
3) Needed Offensive Additions
Joe Caporoso – The Jets should have added a veteran running back and wide receiver for depth purposes but it appears that window has passed. However, I think we are all in agreement that it is imperative for the Jets to add both a right tackle and a blocking tight end prior to the season starting. My reasoning on the Jets needing a veteran running back is because if Shonn Greene rolls an ankle, the Jets have the worst collection of running backs in the NFL. Bilal Powell had a good camp but has been mediocre in the pre-season and has done nothing in the NFL. Joe McKnight has potential but is made of glass. At wide receiver, it wouldn’t hurt considering the durability issues surrounding Holmes, Kerley and Schilens (if he makes the roster) this season.
Chris Gross – This is obvious. Right Tackle, Tight End, and some veteran help at WR should be the team’s top priority once teams begin to make the majority of their cuts. The Jets will likely try and look to the trade market for a Right Tackle because of how dried up the Free Agent class will likely be at the end of training camp. Blocking Tight End could be found from a foe, as New England has a surplus of Tight Ends and could possibly look to release someone like Daniel Fells. As for Wide Receiver, the Free Agent market is also very depleted, but looking to add a veteran would be nice insurance considering how Jeremy Kerley has been plagued by injuries so far. A veteran Running Back like Ryan Grant, a New Jersey native and Don Bosco Alum, would also give the backfield much more depth than it has right now. Outside of Greene and Tebow, there is not one proven runner on the entire roster.
Mike Donnelly – I was of the belief the Jets should let McKnight and Powell play rather than signing a veteran like Cedric Benson. I still believe that, even though they have been underwhelming so far this preseason because Cedric Benson stinks and if you use picks on these guys you have to let them play. I also didn’t have a major problem with the offseason moves at the WR position, but obviously I had a major, major, major problem with guaranteeing Wayne Hunter’s $2.5 million salary for this season and not giving him any competition at the RT spot. I addressed that in my Letter to Mike Tannenbaum, as well as the fact that if you combine all the tight ends on the roster they don’t equal up to one competent NFL blocker. RT and blocking TE were the two biggest whiffs this offseason.
4) Defensive Potential
Joe Caporoso – At a minimum the Jets are going to have a very good defense in 2012. Their run defense should be suffocating and their safety play should be much improved to compliment their elite corners. However, the only way for them to be a great or dominant defense this year is for the pass rush to show up. Aaron Maybin and Quinton Coples are the players on this team who are supposed to get after the quarterback and they need to do it consistently. Overall, the Jets defense is good enough to keep them competitively on a weekly basis even with a struggling offense.
Chris Gross – The Jets will very likely return to the elite level of defense that propelled them to two AFC Championship games in 2009 and 2010. The safety play is much improved, and considering the trio of corners on the Jets roster, the argument could certainly be made that they have the best secondary in all of football. The pass rush is going to play a major role in how far this defense can really go. Rookie Quinton Coples and veteran Aaron Maybin need to be the pass rushers that everyone is envisioning them to be, with one of them reaching double digit sacks. Tell me the last Super Bowl Champion team that did not have a player on their defense record double digit sacks. Along with the pass rush, underneath pass coverage will be a huge concern. Bart Scott and Calvin Pace are virtually non existent in that area, so look for increased reps from Rookie DeMario Davis and Safety Antonio Allen, who could be used in some packages to cover drags and unders.
Mike Donnelly – The Jets defensive potential this year is off the charts. During Rex Ryan’s three seasons here, they’ve never finished worse than 5th overall in the league, and I expect them to contend for #1 this year. They’ve added Quinton Coples, Demario Davis, upgraded the safety spot immensely, and they’ll get a full year out of pass rusher Aaron Maybin. Throw in the continued development of Mo Wilkerson, Kenrick Ellis, and Kyle Wilson and this defense could easily be the best in the NFL. Oh yeah, they also have some guy named Revis that I hear is pretty good.
Joe Caporoso – Not buying the Buffalo Bills hype train at all and still think the Jets are the second best team in the AFC East. Will that be good enough for a playoff spot? Right now, the Jets don’t look like a playoff team. That being said, considering how their schedule softens up after week 5, the talent on defense, and the hope that the offense has to eventually improve in some way they could very well grab 9 or 10 wins and sneak in. The Jets are going to play close football games on a weekly basis, they need to play clutch at the end of games like they did in 2010 if they are going to have a winning record.
Chris Gross – This is where it gets sticky. The defense has the potential to be among the best in the league, if not the best. However, the offense is a cause for serious concern. You can say that winning teams are built on defense and the ability to run the ball, but can the Jets run the ball? The way the league has evolved, the importance of the Quarterback position is at an all time high. For this team to be successful, Mark Sanchez needs to have a career year in terms of ball security. If he can limit his turnovers, and provide numbers that he has in the past, then this team will have a chance to get into the playoffs and make another run. If not, New York will be picking in the top twenty come Apirl’s draft.
Mike Donnelly – In my AFC East preview, I outlined my expectations for the team this year. I think they’re going to win 10 or 11 games, despite how bad the offense looks right now. Face it, the defense has the potential to be outrageously good, and that combined with an easy schedule is enough to get them plenty of wins. I believe the offense is going to get it together, and while they won’t be setting the world on fire, they are going to be a competent offense, and they’ll be one of the better teams in the AFC.
Joe Caporoso – Quinton Coples has looked impressive rushing the passer, although you hate to hear veterans questioning his motor at practice. He is so immensely talented, it is hard to see him not registering at least 4-6 sacks as a rookie and gradually having his role increase as the season moves on. Stephen Hill will be a boom or bust player as a rookie, alternating big plays with drops and mental errors. Demario Davis will see more time as the season goes on but immediately be an impact player on special teams and on passing downs. Jordan White looks like he will make the roster, but will likely need a few injuries in front him to see substantial offensive reps. Beyond that, Antonio Allen has outplayed Josh Bush so far and could get into the mix for a defensive packages. It doesn’t appear that running back Terrance Ganaway will be much of a factor, as of right now at least.
Chris Gross – When it is all said and done, I expect DeMario Davis to have the greatest impact among all rookies this season. That is not a slight on any of the other players because I do think that Quinton Coples, Stephen Hill, Antonio Allen, and possibly Jordan White will all contribute nicely. However, with how balanced Davis is in terms of his ability to defend the run and pass, and as a special teams contributor, I expect him to have the greatest immediate impact. Over the long haul, the hope is for Coples to eventually become a cornerstone of this defense along with Davis, Mohammed Wilkerson, David Harris, and Darrelle Revis.
Mike Donnelly – I expect between 4 and 7 sacks from Coples this year, which will obviously lead some less than sane Jets fans to call him a bust, but his contributions will be more than just his sacks total. The guy is a force agains the run and he’s someone offensive coordinators have to plan and account for when he’s out there. He’s going to help open things up big time for those playing around him. Stephen Hill is another rookie whose contributions will go beyond the box score. He provides the deep threat the team sorely missed last year, and his presence on the field will open up the underneath routes, plus he’s an excellent run blocker. Demario Davis is going to be a special teams force, and will definitely help in sub packages with his coverage ability. The other rookie I’m very excited about is Antonio Allen, the 7th round steal who has looked tremendous so far this preseason. All in all, this rookie class has the potential to be very good.
7) Right Tackle Revisited
Joe Caporoso – In the process of writing this article Wayne Hunter was benched for Austin Howard. This was a no-brainer after watching Hunter play against the Giants. However, let’s not celebrate Howard like the second coming of Orlando Pace. He did not win this job, Hunter lost it. The Jets had no choice but to bench Hunter and Howard was simply next on the depth chart. If the team was truly that high on Howard, they would have given him the job in the beginning of the summer, wouldn’t have traded for Jeff Otah and wouldn’t have worked out Marcus McNeil a few weeks back. Yes, I think Howard can be an upgrade from Hunter but who couldn’t? Look for the Jets to still add another player via trade or free agency.
Chris Gross explores the potential pros and cons of the New York Jets trading for Maurice Jones-Drew
With a lengthy hold out seemingly poised to last well into the regular season, Jacksonville Jaguars star Running Back Maurice Jones-Drew has reportedly told the team that he is open to being traded if the two sides cannot come to an agreement on a new deal. Since then, many reports have surfaced linking the reigning rushing champion to the New York Jets. Some sources have reported that the Jets front office has contacted Jacksonville to inquire about the availability of Jones-Drew, while conflicting reports have stated that New York has no interesting in making a deal. Although signs currently point to the latter, with Jets General Manager Mike Tannenbaum, one can never quite say never.
In exploring a deal for Jones-Drew, there are numerous factors to take into account. First, why on earth would Jacksonville, under the new ownership of Shahid Khan, get rid of the face of the franchise, rather than pay him the money he commands? The answer is quite simple. With a completely new regime in place, the Jaguars seem ready to move forward in complete overhaul mode, meaning moving ahead with young players, leaving no room for high priced veterans who are going to cause a distraction to the new coaching staff and front office. With that in mind, Jacksonville would surely like to add some future draft picks to bring in their own, young players in the future, with the idea of building a playoff caliber team a few years from now.
What could also determine whether or not the Jaguars decide to retain, or move MJD, is the play of the man who has replaced Jones-Drew as the lead back in his absence, Rashad Jennings. Over the past two seasons in Jacksonville, Jennings has built a career rushing average of 5.4 yards per carry. Last season, he played in just 13 games while accumulating 459 rushing yards on just 84 carries, for a total of 5.5 YPC. The argument can certainly be made that Jennings is a beneficiary of Jones-Drew wearing down defenses for him to rip off big chunks of yardage, however Jennings has been quite impressive this preseason thus far without MJD carrying the load in front of him.
In his first two games this preseason, Jennings has carried the ball 23 times for a total of 118 yards, including 56 yards on the New York Giants starting defense, the same defense that held Jets starting Running Back Shonn Greene to just 36 yards on 11 carries. While Jennings may not be Jones-Drew, he has shown that he has the potential to be a very serviceable back in this league.
The next immediate question that comes to mind is whether or not this would be a good move for the Jets to make. First, let’s look at why Tannenbaum and co. would want to make such a trade:
Usually when players of Jones-Drew’s stature reportedly become available, the immediate concern for all teams interested is the cap space. According to nyjetscap.com, the Jets have just over $6 million left before going over this year’s salary cap. Jones-Drew is slated to make $4.45 million this season, and $4.95 million next season, so, for at least the immediate future, the move could work financially.
Talking strictly football, Jones-Drew could be a godsend for the Jets. For a team committed to establishing a “ground and pound” identity, they have proved to be anything but from what we have seen over the course of their two early preseason games. Not one back on the roster has stood out as someone who can carry the workload and be the lead back. Jones-Drew is a proven back who has consistently posted stats atop the league, rushing for over 1300 yards in each of the past three seasons, including an NFL leading 1606 yards in 2011. At 27, many believe MJD is nearing the point in his career when he will begin to wear down, but he has shown no signs of that up until this point, averaging his most yards per carry last season since his rookie year.
On the issue of age, Michael Turner signed with the Atlanta Falcons as a free agent prior to the 2008 season, at 26 years old, just a year younger than Jones-Drew’s current age. In his four seasons in Atlanta, Turner has run for at least 1300 yards, other than 2009 when he played in just 11 games due to injury. However, he has been able to rush for double-digit touchdowns in each of those seasons, including his shortened 2009. While there are concerns about the mileage of MJD, he is still likely a few seasons away from reaching his peak, before the inevitable descend of the NFL running back.
Additionally, bringing in MJD would actually help Shonn Greene–also 27 years old. Greene’s most productive season was when he was paired with Thomas Jones as a rookie in 2009. Jones was the Jets workhorse, as he would wear down defenses with his tough running style, similar to that of Jones-Drew, while Greene would spell him and take advantage of an exhausted defense, averaging a career best 5 YPC. Since then, Greene has struggled to take over as the lead back for New York. In 2010, he was beat out for the starting spot by LaDanian Tomlinson, who many thought was brought in to serve primarily in a back-up/third down role. Finally, in 2011, when Greene became the starter, he barely put fear in opposing defenses, running for just over 1,000 yards with 6 touchdowns. These are not exactly great numbers for a lead back on a team built to run the football.
While a change in coordinators was expected to help Greene, there has been no sign of that this preseason thus far. Jones-Drew and Greene could complement each other as well as Jones and Greene did back in 2009, and would be a step in the right direction in returning the Jets to the top of the league in rushing, assuming the Right Tackle situation is properly addressed. Still, Wayne Hunter’s run blocking isn’t nearly as bad as his pass pro, and many times, a back as dynamic as Jones-Drew can help mask, or at least band-aid, a weak link on the line like Hunter, while providing help in the pass game, as he is certainly one of the better pass blocking backs in the NFL.
MJD is also very effective as a receiver out of the backfield, an element that was virtually non-existent in the Jets offense in 2011. Over the span of his six-year career, Jones-Drew has compiled 279 receptions for 2,473 yards and 10 touchdowns. When was the last time the Jets offense successfully ran a screen that ripped off a big chunk of yards? Or better yet, when was the last time they effectively completed a pass to a back in any type of route out of the backfield?
Although the Right Tackle situation is surely a top priority for the Jets, that does not mean they can’t make moves that would greatly improve their roster in the mean time. Jones-Drew is a unique talent that would add a very interesting dynamic to an offense that lacks in that area.
When imagining Jones-Drew in the Green and White, strictly considering football reasons, there is very little, if anything, to dispel such an addition. However, anyone associated with this league knows how much of a role the business aspect plays in every decision, and when considering this, there is great reason as to why this trade would not work.
The price tag – MJD would not come cheap. Jacksonville would likely seek multiple draft picks in exchange for Jones-Drew, possibly a 2nd and 5th, which was what Marshall Faulk was traded for back in 1999 when the premium on Running Backs was much higher, or even two 3rd rounders, which was what Brandon Marshall was traded to Chicago for earlier this offseason. While the picks required to obtain Jones-Drew would probably not scare Mike Tannenbaum away, the eventual price to pay him likely will.
Although Jones-Drew would likely report to the Jets, if traded, prior to receiving a new deal, the Jets would be in a very difficult position come March, when they are going to be required to finally give Darrelle Revis his long overdue massive pay day. So, following this season, the Jets would be in a difficult spot. Do you pay Revis and ship out Jones-Drew, essentially making him a costly one-year rental? It would be very hard to imagine a scenario where the Jets spit in the face of Revis and awarded MJD with a contract before their most prized possession, as it would likely cause an immense outrage amongst the fan base. Tannenbaum and the front office couldn’t possibly be so short sighted.
The Holdout Factor – Even if the Jets hypothetically swing a deal for the coveted veteran out of UCLA, his performance almost surely will not be near where it has been in the past due to his lengthy holdout. When observing the history of star players who have held out recently, they never seem to hit their stride until much later than normal. In 2010, Darrelle Revis missed time due to injury following his holdout. Similarly, Tennessee Running Back Chris Johnson ran for career lows in both yards–1047–and touchdowns—4—after ending his holdout late last summer. Even if Jones-Drew were to be traded right now and reported to camp by Friday, he would me miles behind, both physically and mentally. He would likely not hit his stride until midseason, which would still leave the Jets in the same predicament they are in through a vigorous first half of the year.
As unlikely as a move for Jones-Drew may be, Mike Tannenbaum is notorious for pulling surprise trades. Under his management, the Jets have acquired Kris Jenkins, Brett Favre, Braylon Edwards, Antonio Cromartie, Santonio Holmes, and Tim Tebow via trade, just to name a few. Like any trade, though, there are positives and negatives of bringing in MJD. If available, it could simply come down to how desperate the Jets become offensively, something that is still very difficult to gauge.
Where will the improvement on the New York Jets offense come from?
The New York Jets have hit rock bottom as an offensive unit. They can’t possibly play worse than they did against the Cincinnati Bengals and New York Giants. Their home pre-season game against Carolina needs to begin a road to improvement. Carolina has an average defense at best, so it will be good opportunity to build a little confidence and momentum heading into the regular season. The question is where will the improvement on this unit come from?
Trade Market – You never know what Mike Tannenbaum could come up with or what teams will be looking to move pieces as training camp comes to a close. From all indications the Jets aren’t in the market for a skill position addition but have to at least be exploring right tackle options. Teams around the league aren’t stupid. They know how desperate the Jets are for help at right tackle, so the question becomes is Mike Tannenbaum willing to overpay in compensation? From the way Hunter looked against the Giants, he has to be.
Free Agent Scrap Heap – Mike Tannenbaum has said the Jets will have “mini-draft” right around Labor Day after the last wave of roster cuts. That is all well and good but there is a reason teams cut players. The Jets will have to focus on teams with excessive depth in certain areas and hope to find something valuable. This is not where you want to be finding a starter for your offensive unit. However, there is no reason the Jets can’t find a competent blocking tight end prior to week one.
Getting Healthy – The biggest impact here will come at the wide receiver position. Santonio Holmes and Jeremy Kerley will make a difference when they return and the Jets passing game production will improve. The Jets desperately need both players to be healthy and productive throughout the entire season. Holmes is the unit’s top playmaker and Kerley showed a high amount of potential in the slot in 2011.
Making Internal Decisions – If the Jets aren’t going to add another right tackle from outside the team, it is time to hand the job over to Austin Howard. He is probably only capable of starting on one team in the NFL but unfortunately that team is the Jets. Simply put, he cannot be worse than Wayne Hunter. At running back, the Jets need to decide if Joe McKnight or Bilal Powell will be the third down back and commit to it. McKnight’s upside is substantially higher and the Jets need speed desperately, so he is the logical choice.
Tebow Factor – One player who can make the Jets running game dynamic is Tim Tebow, particularly lined up at quarterback in certain situations. We still have no idea exactly how he will be deployed in the Jets offense but even if he can pick up 45-55 yards a game, it will make a huge difference in an offense desperate for yards.
Force The Issue – Tony Sparano needs to get the ball in his playmakers hands in the right situation. Get Santonio Holmes in space where he can run after the catch. Throw deep post and go routes to Stephen Hill. Send Dustin Keller down the seam and if they are taking it away, line him up at receiver and throw him a screen to keep him involved. Make McKnight the third down back and thrown him a few screens.
Sanchez – Protect the football and take more shots down the field. Sometimes you need to throw the deep ball just to throw it. Stephen Hill is 1 on 1 but covered well? Throw it anyway. He is 6 foot 4 for a reason. Santonio Holmes is 1 on 1 but covered well? Give him a chance to make a play, he was a Super Bowl MVP for a reason. Throw an interception on a 50 yard bomb on 3rd and 10, instead of on a 2 yard crossing pattern on 3rd and 10.
The New York Jets still have a long way to go on the offensive side of the football
There is no need for overreactions to week 1 of the NFL pre-season. There is no also no need to stick your head in the sand and act like the New York Jets offense doesn’t have a hell of a long way to go. When you review the depth chart, when you see them consistently handled in practice by the defense (yes, a very good defense) and then look completely listless in their pre-season opener, it is a valid cause for concern.
There is talent on the offensive side of the football for the Jets. There is hope in a new offensive coordinator whose vision is better aligned with the team’s talent and Rex Ryan’s philosophy but we need to start seeing some kind of production.
Tony Sparano’s comment about the Jets “pushing around” the Bengals was glorified coach-speak. The Jets didn’t push anybody around Friday night. Shonn “the bell-cow” Greene had 11 yards on 5 carries. Mark Sanchez was sacked twice in eight dropbacks and the longest plays of the nights came from a checkdown to Joe McKnight and a scramble by Tim Tebow. It was ugly, little league caliber football.
Yes, the game plan was vanilla but so is everybody’s in the pre-season so let’s stop with the excuses. This unit just isn’t very good right now and has a little less than a month to get their act together.
Where will it come from? The hopes for help at the wide receiver or running back position from outside the team are lowering with each passing day. Improvement will have to come from within.
When it comes to the passing game, the receiver situation is only going to get better. Stephen Hill will improve with the monster share of reps he is receiving in practice and throughout pre-season. He did have a drop on Friday but also pulled in two other nice catches in traffic. In the next couple of weeks Santonio Holmes and Jeremy Kerley will return to the line-up. Holmes is the team’s top playmaker and somebody who can take a 5 yard slant route 50 yards for a touchdown. Kerley, despite a disappointing off-season showed immense potential in the slot last season and will be a third down weapon.
Improved play at wide receiver will help Mark Sanchez get rid of the ball quicker because his receivers will actually be able to get separation. The Jets protection remains shaky at best. They seriously need to consider adding a true blocking tight end because Jeff Cumberland looked comically bad trying to block on Friday. You can’t support inconsistent play at right tackle if you don’t have a blocking tight end to help out.
Tony Sparano will have to get creative to buy Sanchez time in many situations, whether that is rolling him out, increasing his number of 3-step drops and bringing in an extra tackle to play blocking tight end.
In the running game, Tim Tebow is a unique and dynamic weapon to have at their disposal. The “Wildcat” or whatever you want to call it will hopefully provide a needed X-Factor to an offense lacking overall proven big play capability. If Tebow can give the Jets 35-50 yards rushing on a weekly basis it will be a needed supplement to Shonn Greene.
Joe McKnight had an impressive showing Friday night but neither him or Bilal Powell are anywhere near proven. Hopefully one of them can become a factor on outside runs and as a receiver out of the backfield. The Jets desperately need a back who can break a big run because for Greene a big run is 7 yards.
If you are anticipating a high amount games in the 20s and 30s this year you will be sorely disappointed. This Jets offense is not going to light up the scoreboard. With their defense, they may not need to on many weeks but they still need to find ways to produce big plays and touchdowns. Will it be Tebow and McKnight rejuvenating the running game? Will it be Hill and a healthy Santonio Holmes producing more than it expected? Hopefully, it will be some combination of both.