Turn On The Jets Week 11 Roundtable – Jets vs. Rams Predictions

The TOJ staff gives their predictions for Rams vs. Jets

Joe Caporoso – 12 Pack 

Chris Gross –  Jets 23-Rams 17: Can New York turn a week of internal turmoil into enough motivation to grab a road victory in a must win situation? At what point does this team develop a chip on their shoulders for all the doubters and perceived negativity they are subject to, week in and week out? If I am Rex Ryan, my pregame speech is similar to Lou Brown’s in Major League:

“I’m not much for giving inspirational addresses, but I’d just like to point out that every newspaper in the country has picked us to finish last. The local press seems to think that we’d save everyone the time and trouble if we just went out and shot ourselves. Me, I’m for wasting sportswriters’ time. So I figured we ought to hang around for a while and see if we can give ’em all a nice big sh*tburger to eat!”

Will the Jets channel their inner “Wild Thing Rick Vaughn” and go on a fairytale run into the postseason? Probably not. But, at the very least, they can salvage some respect heading into 2013, starting with a great effort in St. Louis on Sunday, amid a week of drama, finger pointing, conspiracy, anonymous sources, and a poor display of interview ability from their owner, general manager, and head coach.

New York needs to come out swinging, not taking their foot off the gas pedal for 60 straight minutes, in all 3 phases of the game. The Jets once stout Special Teams play has become a liability in recent weeks, subjecting their defense to an even greater responsibility to carry this team, something that they are clearly ill-equipped to handle at this point. Offensively, New York needs to do a couple of things.

First, the run must be established. San Fransisco rushed for a team total of 183 yards in last week’s tie with the Rams. Do the Jets have Frank Gore ability in their RB stable? Absolutely not. However, there is no reason that Shonn Greene shouldn’t be given the ball 20 times, with newcomer Kahlil Bell contributing with a minimum of 10-12 carries. Offensive Coordinator Tony Sparano must get creative with this run game, meaning some possible end-arounds, jet sweeps, and shuffle passes to Jeremy Kerley. Let Kerley play a Percy Harvin type role this week, as he is one of the Jets very few consistent offensive players. Kerley must touch the ball at least 10-15 times through a variety of carries and receptions. There is no time left to keep thinking within the box. New York is at, what seems to be, a breaking point in the Rex Ryan era. Nothing can be held back at this point. (Disclaimer: I refuse to comment on Tebow’s role in these predictions until the Jets prove to have any type of coherent plan on how to use him).

Second, the Jets need to get Mark Sanchez out of the pocket more often than not this week. Prior to the season, our very own Editor-In-Chief Joe Caporoso highlighted the most effective ways to put Sanchez in a position to succeed. Among them was getting Sanchez out of the pocket on designed roll outs and play action passes. St. Louis had a team total of 5 sacks last week against San Francisco’s Colin Kaepernick and Alex Smith, two players known for their mobility. St. Louis did an excellent job of containing them, as their fierce pass rush racked up the sacks. If the Jets can get Sanchez on the move, they should be able to effectively move the chains on medium down (3-7 yards) situations. If he is forced to sit in the pocket, however, things could get very ugly for this offense.

Defensively, New York needs to attack throughout the entire game. Last week, San Francisco was able to register only 2 sacks on Sam Bradford, resulting in a 275 yard, 2 Touchdown performance from the former #1 overall pick. The Jets don’t have anything close to the pass rushing talent of the 49ers, so Rex Ryan and Co. will have to be extremely creative with their blitz and pressure packages once again. If New York can effectively pressure Bradford, and get some big hits on him, they will be in an excellent position on the defensive side of the ball.

Aside from getting to the Quarterback, New York needs to do two things. First, Stephen Jackson needs to be shut down at all costs. The Jets actually did an effective job of shutting down Marshawn Lynch last week, despite the back’s 4th quarter surge that was a result of a defense that had been worn down both physically, and mentally at that point. Jackson accumulated 101 yards last week against San Francisco, but was only able to muster up a 3.5 YPC average. New York needs to key him on 1st downs and short yardage situations, as limiting him to 75-85 rushing yards will be essential to victory.

Finally, the Jets need to put Antonio Cromartie on Danny Amendola in any man coverage scheme. Ellis Lankster and Kyle Wilson’s documented struggles in man coverage are very real, something Amendola and the Rams are well aware of. Ryan needs to challenge the remainder of St. Louis’s receiving corps to beat his secondary by shutting Amendola down. The only way to do that this week is by putting Cromartie on him for the majority of the contest.

If New York can do each of these things on both sides of the ball, while not having any special teams meltdowns, this game shouldn’t even be close. However, this is a Jets team that has seemingly made more mental errors all season than most of us can remember. There will be breakdowns in all facets of the game, but I think New York will finally respond to them this week. Expect a hard fought, back against the wall, fight for survival from the Jets, resulting in a game won through a total team effort. There won’t be any single player on the offense or defense that is going to put up a monster stat line, but through a cohesive, aggressive game plan, and proper execution of the little things, the Jets will ultimately top the Rams in St. Louis by 6.

Mike Donnelly – Jets 20-13 

Rob Celletti –  When it comes to sports, and the teams I root for, I try to be an optimist. If I’m watching a hockey game (remember hockey?) and the Rangers go down by three goals early, I usually think to myself, “if they gave up three that quickly, they can score three of their own just as quickly.” Needless to say, things don’t usually work out that way. Especially when it comes to the New York Jets.

Is it possible that the Jets find a way to eke out a win on Sunday and at least give themselves half a chance at meaningful December football in a weak AFC?  Well yeah, ANYTHING is possible. It’s also possible that the Mayans were right, and that Earth will get sucked into a black hole in 35 days, rendering all of this discussion moot. The Rams win Sunday, 17-10.  It will be, as usual, an excruciating three hours for Jets fans. Last time things were this bad going into Thanksgiving, Kellen Clemens was playing quarterback.

Chris Celletti – For some reason, and I really can’t explain this, or justify it with football reasons, but I think the Jets are going to win this game. Maybe it’s because I’m all giddy about the Knicks (they were 6-0 at the time of my filing of this), or maybe it’s because the Rams aren’t any good . They employ Brian Schottenheimer. And Wayne Hunter. And Matthew Mulligan. Although I have no faith in the Jets’ offense (or defense or special teams or PR department or the Kraft Tee Kids at Metlife, for that matter), I do think this will be a tight, low scoring, close game that is there for the taking. Can Mark Sanchez engineer like two scoring drives? If so, pop a defensive score or a special teams one and BANG, there’s your fourth win of the season. Jets 15 (why not?), Rams 10

New York Jets vs. St. Louis Rams – Q&A with Rams Herd

A Q&A previewing Jets vs. Rams with Will Horton, owner of RamsHerd.com

One of the first games I circled on the New York Jets schedule when it was released was the upcoming game against the St. Louis Rams. Why? Because I knew we could break the game down with our good friend Will Horton of Rams Herd, without question the top Rams site out there. Will and I worked together back in the day at the Fanball Network when TOJ was just a little baby. When Fanball shut down TOJ would have died with it if it wasn’t for Will’s guidance in migrating the site to our own domain. Since then, he has consistently provided help to me in keeping the site running fluidly. So if you like TOJ, make sure to thank Will because it wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for him. Anyway on to the game – 

RH – The New York Jets seem to be bottoming out under Rex Ryan, after going to the AFC Championship game twice in his first two seasons. Are you ready to  blow this team up at this point, or do you still have hope for a turnaround the season?

TOJ – There won’t be any kind of major turnaround happening this season. From a talent standpoint, this team has the worst group of skill position players in the NFL and I’m not saying that as a hyperbole. On defense they lack a pass rush and remain too slow at the linebacker position. Realistically, they need about 4-5 new starters on both sides of the ball in 2013 so I suppose I do advocate blowing it up.

RH – The Jets hardly lack for lightning rods, and you have two of them at quarterback in Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow. How do you handle the two of them for the remainder of the season, and does Greg McElroy enter into the picture?

TOJ – Mark Sanchez is going to start the remainder of the season. The decision to bring in Tim Tebow was pushed on to the coaching staff by Owner Woody Johnson. They very clearly had no desire for him and no plan on how to use him. Tebow will remain a poorly used gimmick. McElroy isn’t a factor at all. There have been desperation calls for him from some Jets fans but he is a 7th round pick with zero experience. Rex will lose the locker room if he hands the job to him with two quarterbacks on his roster who have won playoff games.

In 2013, Sanchez will be back because of how his contract is structured. Tebow will be traded or cut. And the Jets will likely bring in a veteran to compete for the starting job with Sanchez in camp. Maybe a Matt Moore type player.

RH – Obviously, age and injuries have caught up with this team in a big way. How different is this season if you still have Darrelle Revis and Santonio Holmes in the starting lineup?

TOJ – Not that different. GM Mike Tannenbaum will use that as an excuse to keep his job this off-season but this team had major problems even with those guys on the field. They are thoroughly mediocre at right tackle, guard, running back, quarterback, wide receiver and linebacker…and that has nothing to do with Holmes or Revis.

RH – The Rams rebuilt their team with a sizeable number of Jets castoffs, starting with offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer. Meanwhile, the Jets continue to struggle on offense under Tony Sparano. Would you take Schottenheimer back at this point?

TOJ – No. Sparano’s incompetence doesn’t cover for Schottenheimer’s incompetence and stubbornness when he was here. I don’t blame Schottenheimer’s struggles on Sanchez either because his offense was poor under Chad Pennington, Kellen Clemens, and Brett Favre as well.

RH – Despite the cloud of negative press surrounding the team, the Jets have shown an ability to step up and play good football from time to time (vs Bills, Pats, Colts, and first matchup with Miami). What are their keys to playing well, and can they find success against the Rams?

TOJ – The Jets play well when their defense is stopping the run and forcing turnovers, and their offense is running the ball well opening up a downfield play action passing game…all things they are very inconsistent at. I think they will play well on defense against the Rams, creating a close, low-scoring game. Ultimately I just don’t have enough faith in their offense to pull a win out though. I’d take the Rams in 16-10, 17-13 type game.

TOJ – Jeff Fisher seems to immediately have changed the culture in St. Louis. Can you talk about the tangible differences in the type of the team the Rams have this year as compared to the previous couple of years?

RH – There are a lot of ways to answer to this question. This just feels like a radically different team this season than the one before, even though most of the primary playmakers – Sam Bradford, Steven Jackson, Chris Long & James Laurinaitis –  remain the same. The major differences are in experience, in the roster, and in the attitude.

The Rams won Jeff Fisher over this offseason by giving him complete say over the organization. In Miami, he would have had to work with Jeff Ireland. Here, he hired his own GM, and assembled a very experienced coaching staff. Then, he went very young with his roster. This is a complete 180 from last year’s Rams, which had coaches learning on the job and a roster of veteran role-players half-assing it through the season.

Two key additions that Fisher brought with him from his Titans days are Cortland Finnegan and defensive assistant Dave McGinnis. Both of these guys fully embrace Fisher’s old-school football mentality that the physical battle has to be won before you can accomplish anything else. After beating up on Robert Griffin III and the Redskins (and being called “dirty” in the process), McGinnis sounded off: “I’ve been in this league 27 years and have never been on a dirty defense. I’ve been on some damn tough ones. Never been on a dirty one.”

TOJ – How would you evaluate the performance of former Jets on the roster, most notably Brian Schottenheimer and Wayne Hunter?

RH – I won’t say Brian Schottenheimer has been a revelation as offensive coordinator, but his offense is like a breath of fresh air compared to the Josh McDaniels days. McDaniels’ intricate pass routes work fine when you have protection like Tom Brady does, and you can hang out in the pocket for days. When you don’t have that, your quarterback gets ground to a fine paste.

What makes Schottenheimer’s offense really click, and turned Wayne Hunter into a surprisingly useful player along the way, has been the work of offensive line coach Paul Boudreau. Fisher lured Boudreau from Atlanta, where he built a near-impenetrable wall around Matt Ryan, and he has been a perfect fit here. The OL coach doesn’t require top-shelf talent, which is good because the Rams don’t have it. The mere fact that Hunter washed ashore in the final week of preseason and was starting by week 2 tells you all you need to know about the talent level here.

Two more ex-Jets have been valuable contributors as well. Robert Turner has been invaluable as a fill-in center, covering Les Snead’s ass for spending big bucks on a constantly-injured Scott Wells. And Matthew Mulligan is good for 30 or so snaps of quality blocking at tight end.

TOJ – What is the opinion of most Rams fans on Sam Bradford? Is there a strong confidence that he is the long term guy at quarterback? Do you hear complaints about not keeping that #2 pick and just taking RG-3?

RH – Sam Bradford is getting increased scrutiny in season three, for sure. He is far from a rookie now, and guys like Cam Newton, Andrew Luck, RG3 and even a little shrimp like Russell Wilson have been stepping into the limelight.

It’s a good thing, then, that Bradford is finally showing signs of being that franchise guy. He regressed badly last year in his pocket presence, and never established a deep-threat. This year, behind Boudreau’s line, he looks much more confident. And with Chris Givens reeling off 50-yard plays on a weekly basis and Danny Amendola dramatically expanding his game from being just a short-crossing-route guy, Bradford’s game is taking off in a hurry.

That said, he needs to get more consistent from week to week and start reeling off more multi-score games like last week’s. Even though Fisher loves to run the ball, you have to be able to win games in the air in today’s NFL.

TOJ – How far away is this team from competing with San Francisco and Seattle for a division title? What are the areas they need to improve in before reaching that level?

RH – Well, so far the Rams are 2-0-1 against their division after playing tooth-and-nail against a very good 49ers team in their own house. I think they are well positioned to hang in with each of their division opponents. Their biggest area of improvement has to come on the road, where they’ve yet to win a game this season, and against the upper-tier teams of other divisions. The 49ers and Seahawks have made hay outside the division this year, with 8 wins in 11 matchups. The Rams have won just one of six outside the West.

TOJ – Finally, what is your prediction for Sunday? And are most Rams fans very confident in winning this game?

RH – A lot of Rams fans will find it pretty easy to focus on all the stories of disarray surrounding the Jets, and have this game circled as a win on the schedule. I certainly have a lot more confidence in Bradford than I do in any of the Jets’ QBs, but it is a team game and there have been holes in our game over the last several weeks. Also, I’m interested to see what Rex Ryan has in store for his old offensive coordinator and vice versa, after spending so many years practicing against each other.

The difference in this one could be the fans. The Rams have been playing inspired football at home all season (I am not counting the London game as a “home” game, no matter what the NFL schedule says). Big hits from our defense and big plays from the offense should keep the fans energy high, and help push the Rams over the top.

New York Jets Week 11 – Early Thoughts On Jets/Rams

Early thoughts on the New York Jets week 11 match-up against the St. Louis Rams

A collection of early thoughts on the New York Jets week 11 match-up against the St. Louis Rams – 

1. The New York Jets face another physical NFC West opponent on the road and are rightly again underdogs. Personally, I’d be comfortable with this line at 4 points for the Rams considering how both teams looked last week. As a Jets fan looking for silver lining, you can only hope the Rams suffer an emotional let down after playing five full quarters against the San Francisco 49ers and ending in a tie last week.

2. St. Louis is physical on defense but middle of the pack in the major categories (15th in total defense, 13th against the pass and 18th against the run). However they are tied for 6th in the NFL in sacks with 26. Robert Quinn leads the way with 8.5 and Chris Long has 5. They will be handful for the Jets mediocre offensive line and passing game. At this point the Jets will have a tough time moving the football on anybody but I think you will see a run heavy approach on offense. If Bilal Powell and Joe McKnight don’t play that leaves recently signed Kahlil Bell to shoulder the load with the ever plodding Shonn Greene.

3. When the Jets do throw the ball, it will again be on Jeremy Kerley to do damage in the slot and on Dustin Keller to get his act together after a brutal showing last week. If Kerley plays less than 80% of the snaps again, Tony Sparano needs to be physically removed from the sideline. He is the only receiver on the roster currently capable of getting open.

4. Defensively the Jets have played much better in recent weeks. They should be able to slow down a less than potent St. Louis Rams offense. Danny Amendola is their biggest weapon in the passing game. It will be interesting to see if Rex Ryan shadows him with Antonio Cromartie, who he usually saves for bigger receivers who play on the outside. If he matches him up with Chris Givens (the Rams second best option in the passing game), he will need to bracket Amendola in the slot. Kyle Wilson and Ellis Lankster are hot garbage in man coverage and can’t be trusted on an island with a playmaker like Amendola.

5. The Rams running game lacks explosiveness when Steven Jackson is running the ball, as he is putting up very Shonn Greene-esque numbers so far. However, Daryl Richardson packs a punch off the bench and could give the Jets problems.

6. Rex Ryan would be wise to blitz Sam Bradford behind the Rams suspect line early and often. Bradford has been playing better as of late but Ryan’s defenses have a way of rattling younger quarterbacks and forcing turnovers. The Jets have no chance in this game unless they create or directly set up points with turnovers. Don’t play passive against this offensive line, go get Bradford.

7. As a Jets fan I fully expect this game to end with Kellen Clemens completing a game winning tackle eligible pass to Wayne Hunter while Brian Schottenheimer and Matthew Mulligan whoop it up on the sideline.

St. Louis Rams: A Case Study

Justin continues his breakdown of the current state of every NFL team, continuing today with the St. Louis Rams

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

Previous Articles

There is a strange three headed beast. It begins with the mustache of Jeff Fisher, surrounded by his increasingly “party first” mullet. It wears black sunglasses, even at night, and it is very predictable in it’s forward motion.

We all know Jeff Fisher was a defensive minded coach, so him picking up a sadistic defensive coordinator has made his rebirth in St. Louis a pretty predictable style of football. Turnovers, quarterback sacks, run the ball, short passing. Kill the clock. Antithesis of the Greatest Show On Turf.

One simple problem. There are no Pro Bowlers at defensive line or linebacker (although Fred Long made the 2008 All Pro team), helped out by a defensive back roster including the 37 year old Al Harris and the 31 year old Quintin Mikell. Add to this the fact that 11 cornerbacks were on IR at some point last season. How the hell do you explain that?

Now, the third head of that beast, Brian “the slant” Schottenheimer, is coming to town off a relatively soul crushing end to his tenure with the Jets. This makes sense to get picked up by Fisher. Why? Because as soon as Brian starts screwing up, Jeff is gonna take over the play calling and remind him, in that gravelly baritone “you have no f*cking clue what you’re doing Brian, and I still owe this kid Bradford $32 million, so if you’ll kindly stick to ruining one quarterbacks career I’m gonna take this thing over from here on out”. Then he will win coach of the year on route to the playoffs.

If the offensive experiment works then Schottenheimer will get his shot at a head coaching opportunity next year, when of course five of the 2012 season’s coaches have been fired. (Making bets on someone’s livelihood is cruel and mean, but this is football, and football is full of clowns.)
But how would it work? Well there’s Steven Jackson, who can bail Bradford out of most 3rd and short situations, a potential monster if they draft Matt Kalil at offensive tackle, or if they decide to go receiver (Kendall Wright?) in the second round, they’ll have at least three guys who can run and catch, with serious upside (Pettis 23, Salas 24, Kendricks 23), even if they completely fail on the draft pick.

THE MAD SLANTER

This is where the offense vs. defense argument comes into play. If Williams gets his way, they will take Morris Claiborne in the first round, disregarding the fact that all logical persons see Kalil as a can’t miss pick who for the next 10 years will appear in multiple Pro Bowls. But the Rams need to make a play to grab every young defensive free agent they can, because they’re going to play the 49ers twice, Arizona twice, and a Seahawks team that may in fact yield a legitimate starting roster for the first time in 5 years. Stealing guys like Cliff Avril and Anthony Spencer could help out with line depth, but they need something else. Terrell Thomas?

So how does Schottenheimer step in from all this obsessus defensus and put his foot down? He loads up the NFL.com page of the Rams, and points to the following statistics: Points (32nd) Yards (31st) Passing Yards (30th) Rush Yards (23rd). BOOM. Win one for Schotty. There are 32 teams in the NFL.

This team, with a decent draft (can’t screw it up from the 2 spot THAT bad) and a few free agent pickups, can actually COMPETE for the NFC West next year. Anyone can compete in the NFC West. If Gregg Williams carries a few tricks over from the Saints, there’s not any elite quarterbacks in their division that are going to put up numbers.

There is one thing to remember: The Rams play some playoff teams next year, and Gregg Williams, regardless of his skills, is now on the wrong side of 5,400 yards passing.