Throwback Thursday: A Trip Down Jets-Titans Memory Lane

Chris Celletti goes Throwback Thursday and takes a look at past games between the New York Jets and Tennessee Titans.

Usually at Throwback Thursday, we pick one game from the Jets’ past against the week’s upcoming opponent and reminisce about how awful it was. Myriad games exist from Jets history that warrant a negative look back (even a lot of the wins!), and the act of harping on these fits perfectly with the self-loathing respect in which Jets fans generally operate. For a week, we’ll take a mini-break from that, perhaps because things seem pretty good in JetLand these days. It’s worth remembering some of the good times in franchise history too. Right?

But don’t fret! This week isn’t going to pull an entire 180. The Jets and Titans have played each other six times prior to this Sunday’s game. Of course, this isn’t going back to 1960 when the Jets were the Titans and the Titans were the Oilers and in Houston, but then they were the Tennessee Oilers for those two years, because it all just gets too confusing. Let’s just stick with the very-recent New York Jets vs. Tennessee Titans history.

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Throwback Thursday – Jets at Titans, December 23, 2007

This week’s “Throwback Thursday” looks at Jets vs. Titans back in 2007, when Chad Pennington led the Jets into Tennessee for a loss

Throwback Thursday is a feature at Turn On The Jets, where we take a stroll down Jets Memory Lane and reminisce about great Jets games in the past against their upcoming opponent. (Word to not take seriously in that last sentence: “great”)

When I scoured the all-time box scores in the Jets-Titans/Oilers history, I realized that the Jets have only lost once to the Titans since they moved from Houston. Before that, the Oilers absolutely OWNED the Jets, delivering them crushing losses late in seasons and in the playoffs. I have faint memories of this season-ending debacle in 1994, where the playoff hopes of the 8-7 Jets were dashed in a 24-0 loss by backup QB Cody Carlson. In a must-win, the Jets got beat by a guy who sounds like a lax bro. So Jets.

But since they became the Tennessee Titans, it’s been almost all Jets. Remember in 2008, when Brett Favre led the 7-3 Jets into Nashville and beat the undefeated Titans, enrapturing the city in Subway Super Bowl talk? Then in 2009 the surprising 2-0 Jets, behind rookie head coach and rookie QB Mark Sanchez, beat the Titans 24-17 to improve to 3-0 as Jets fans streamed out of Giants Stadium and took to the streets proclaiming “FINALLY, WE HAVE A FRANCHISE QUARTERBACK!!!” Gee how perfectly that all worked out.

However, since we like to revel in self-pity here as Jets fans and on Throwback Thursday, I of course am going to focus on the one loss in Jets’ history against the Tennessee Titans. That came on December 23, 2007. Before we get to it, let’s set the scene…

Billboard No. 1 Song in the U.S.: “No One” by Alicia Keys. How appropriate! That is, if you watched the 12/12/12 Sandy Relief concert last night, where Alicia Keys killed a slowed-down version of this song, the weird “Put your cellphones in the aiiiiiir!” bit notwithstanding. And how about our beloved ass-fumbling QB making making an appearance in Adam Sandler’s “Hallelujah, Sandy Screw Ya” song? Vintage Sandler, by the way. If the recent epic failures of “Jack and Jill” and “That’s My Boy”, coupled with last night’s hilarious song isn’t proof that Sandler should stop making movies and go back to making comedy music albums, I don’t know what is. 

No. 1 Movie in the U.S.: “National Treasure: Book of Secrets”. Is there a bigger injustice in the world than the fact that the current “Oscar for Best Actor” count is Nicolas Cage: 1, Leonardo Di Caprio: 0?  Tell me if you can think of one, because I can’t.

Jets Record Before: 3-11

Titans Record Before: 8-5

The 2007 Jets were absolutely horrific. Injuries, instability at the quarterback position and iffy skill position players put the Jets behind the eight ball from the get-go (sound familiar?!). Chad Pennington and Kellen Clemens both started eight games apiece. Despite being injured and playing on a flawed team, Pennington actually put up decent numbers. He threw for an average of 196 yards a game, completing 68% of his passes with 10 TDs and 9 INTs. Can someone please explain to me how 2007-Chad Pennington, with his right arm being held together by paper clips and twine, could throw for the same amount of yards per game than a healthy Mark Sanchez? This should be grounds for Tony Sparano’s firing in and of itself. Wait, you’re telling me that in 2008, Pennington revived his career and led the Dolphins to an 11-5 record and a division title under Sparano?! Nothing in my life makes sense anymore.

So in Week 16, Pennington led the Jets into his home state of Tennessee, hoping to hand the playoff-seeking Titans a death blow. Much like I would expect this Monday’s game to be, this one was a defensive struggle (a.k.a: lower than C-SPAN on the Excitement Meter). The first five drives of the game ended with punts. On the Jets’ third possession, Pennington was intercepted by Reynaldo Hill, giving the Titans good field position on the Jets’ 40. They converted it into the game’s first score, a four yard run by Chris Brown (the middling NFL running back, not the Worst Man in America pop star).

After a boring first quarter, Brown’s touchdown seemed to open the game up, if only for a few moments. The Jets responded with what was probably their best drive of the 2007 season. They took over on their own 23, picked up a first down and got to their own 41, setting up a 2nd-and-7. Pennington connected with Jerricho Cotchery for a 48-yard pickup, getting the Jets in scoring position. Two plays later, Pennington and Cotchery hooked up again, this time a 9-yarder for the game-tying touchdown.

Except Mike Nugent’s extra point was BLOCKED. The Titans remained up, 7-6, and Cotchery’s touchdown catch would be the Jets’ last points of the day.

Gang Green seemed poised to take the lead on their next possession, but Pennington was picked off in the end zone by Keith Bulluck. After THE NUGE missed a 51-yarder late in the second quarter, the Jets only had FOUR total possessions in the second half. Those went like this: Punt, Punt, Punt, and on their final drive, Pennington was sacked on fourth down, giving the Titans the ball and the ability to run the clock out. Somewhere along the way, Tennessee picked up a field goal so the final score read Titans 10, Jets 6.

Pennington actually had a pretty good day despite the two bad picks, finishing with 264 yards on 26-of-32 passing. 154 of those yards went to Cotchery. For some perspective, Stephen Hill has 163 yards in the last five games he’s played. But once he learns how to catch, watch out everybody.

This time around, the Jets are the ones clinging to their playoff lives and the Titans are the ones playing spoiler. If Monday’s game plays out just like the 2007 barnburner did but the Jets end up on top, Rex Ryan will be one happy man. As will all of Jets Nation.

NFL Week 2 Review

1. With the amount of praise being lavished on the New England Patriots the first two weeks of the season, you would think they already have the Super Bowl wrapped up. I am not going to question how impressive their offense has been because it looks like a machine. Yet, if you watched their game against San Diego, you know how many opportunities the Chargers had to win that football game. If Mike Tolbert had his head on straight, they could have very well stolen that game and it isn’t like they ran the pathetic Miami Dolphins off the field the week before either. New England has the best offense in the league. Their defense is average. They are a beatable football team and we know the New York Jets know that better than anybody.

2. Kansas City Chiefs Todd Haley might soon be working for a Canadian online pharmacy with how unpopular he is becoming and how awful his team is performing. The Chiefs are a lifeless bunch who has been humiliated the past two weeks. How is it possible that this team won the AFC West last year? With superstar running back Jamaal Charles now out for the season and an upcoming game with San Diego, it is hard to see an improvement on the horizon.

3. Unbelievable how the Tennessee Titans could go from losing to the Jacksonville Jaguars to beating the Baltimore Ravens the following week. It was pretty apparent the Ravens were still hungover from their stomping of Pittsburgh the week before. However, the Titans could be a sneaky contender in the AFC South, considering how wide open that division is. Kenny Britt is playing as well as any wide receiver in the NFL right now. Matt Hasselbeck has the ability to win big games at quarterback and overall their defense is solid. They do still need to find a way to get Chris Johnson going however.

4. Drew Brees. Matt Ryan. Josh Freeman. Cam Newton. The NFC South is going to be fun to watch for a long, long time. It is truly remarkable how quickly Newton has become such a dynamic NFL player. Freeman is a younger Ben Roethlisberger, who is incredibly clutch. Brees is Brees. Ryan is coming off an impressive comeback win and is one of the league’s best young quarterbacks.

5. Week 3 games to look forward to –

  • New York Giants at Philadelphia Eagles – Always an entertaining rivalry, let’s hope Mike Vick finds his way back to the field so we can see this game at full strength.
  • New England at Buffalo – Let’s see how much of a contender Buffalo really is.
  • Green Bay at Chicago – A rematch of the NFC Championship Game.

Jets Playoff Pipe Dream: Week 13 Viewing Guide

sanchez 

 First a few updates:

1. I missed a day yesterday because of some school commitments (aka staying up all night writing a paper and then sleeping all day), but here is a comprehensive update section to make up for the empty column space yesterday.

2. I have to say I really enjoyed watching the Patriots be completely out-classed and humiliated on Monday night by New Orleans. I love how all the NFL experts assume the Pats are an elite team in the NFL, even though they don’t have a single impressive win all season, and predicted New England to beat the Saints. The bottom line is that the Patriots will more than likely win the AFC East because of the Jets/Dolphins mediocrity, but don’t mistake them for being one of the best teams in the league because they aren’t.

3. It truly was a great week 12 for Jets fans. Obviously, we finally won a game and beyond the Pats being beatdown on national television, the mighty Miami Dolphins and their franchise quarterback lost by 17…yes 17 points in Buffalo, thanks to 3 INT’s from Chad Henne. Miami fans loved piling it on the Jets when the Bills beat them a few weeks back in OT and now they lost by 17 and fell below .500. Also, even though it didn’t help the Jets playoff hopes, I certainly didn’t mind the Giants getting the crap kicked out of them on Thanksgiving.

4. The whole Joe Girardi coming in to practice to teach Mark Sanchez how to slide was a pretty good idea by Rex Ryan…when I thought about it,  you never really have seen Sanchez slide yet this season and it is obviously an important thing for a quarterback to learn.

Bills Jets Football5. It is a shame that it took a two interception performance to receive the proper amounts of national respect for Darrelle Revis and yet he still isn’t getting it from everybody. I love how the consistently Jets-bashing Mike Florio still refers to Revis as one of the best “young corners” in football…how about one of the best corners, if not the best corner in football, period. You can drop the “young”. Also, he tries to hype up the TO/Revis battle tomorrow night and cautions that Revis could be in trouble because he had the audacity to say Randy Moss is faster than Owens, which is going to fire TO up. Obviously Florio didn’t watch what Revis did to Owens the last time these two teams met and also forgets that it doesn’t matter who you throw at Revis…he is going to shut them down. Andre Johnson? Check. Randy Moss? Double Check. Marques Colston? Check. Steve Smith? Check. Terrell Owens? About to be a double check.

6. Injury stuff – Donald Strickland and Dwight Lowery won’t play tomorrow. Mark Sanchez is going to start with a brace on his knee. Everybody else should be a go.

Jets Playoff Pipe Dream: Week 13 Viewing Guide

The NFL is a funny thing sometimes. After the Jets lost to New England, the season was properly proclaimed over by everybody (including me) and yet here I am this week reading article after article about how the Jets are still alive if they can just take it one game at a time. What happened? Well all it took was a Jets win, a Ravens loss, a Dolphins loss, a Jaguars loss, and a Texans loss to turn the AFC wild card race into a complete wide-open mess. Here is what we are looking at right now in that race:

  1. Denver (7-4)
  2. Jacksonville (6-5)
  3. Pittsburgh (6-5)
  4. Baltimore (6-5)
  5. Miami (5-6)
  6. Jets (5-6)
  7. Houston (5-6)
  8. Tennessee (5-6)

There you have it, 8 mediocre teams battling for 2 spots. The good news is that even after watching the Jets Thursday night, there is plenty to be excited about on Sunday in terms of rooting interest. Here is a run-down:

bluejayNew York Jets (5-6) at Toronto Blue Jays (4-7): I will have the full game breakdown later in the day but obviously the Jets have to take care of business tomorrow night or much of this becomes irrelevant. The Blue Jays have been playing better lately led by Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback who actually has decided to use his wide receivers, unlike Trent Edwards.

New England Patriots (7-4) at Miami Dolphins (5-6): This is one of the those games that you could be happy either way with the result. If the Dolphins win, the Jets would only be one game out of first place (pending a Thursday victory). Yet, I would still find it hard to believe that New England would have a complete meltdown in the final four games, especially since the Jets need to finish with a better record than them because they don’t have the tie-breaker. I think it is better to root for the Patriots to bury Miami at 5-7, since we also lack a tie breaker with the Dolphins and we overall have a better chance of catching a wild-card team than the Pats. I don’t want Miami hanging around the wild-card race with their sweep of us.

Oakland Raiders (3-8) at Pittsburgh Steelers (6-5): I mean, hey the Chiefs beat the Steelers a couple of weeks ago. Why wouldn’t you have faith in Bruce Gradkowski and company heading into Heinz Field against a pissed-off Pittsburgh team? This game could get ugly real quick but you can always root for a miracle.

Denver Broncos (7-4) at Kansas City Chiefs (3-8): Here is a slightly more realistic upset watch. Kansas City has won 2 of their 3 past three and they are usually tough at home. Beyond that, I am not sold that Denver is all the way back yet. I think they just ran into a crappy, poorly prepared Giants team on Thursday night.

Tennessee Titans (5-6) at Indianapolis Colts (11-0): Even though a Titans win keeps them very much alive in the playoff race, I am still pulling for them against the Colts. We have the tie breaker with Tennessee anyway and beyond that if this Jets playoff pipe dream has a chance they are going to need a win against Indy in week 16 and the only way that is happening if the Colts are resting starters because they aren’t playing for anything. The only way they are playing for something is if they are going for an undefeated season. If there is one team who has a shot to end this perfect season, it is the Titans who are playing as well as anybody in the NFL right now, with Chris Johnson and Vince Young running around on that turf.

Houston Texans (5-6) at Jacksonville Jaguars (6-5): You have to be rooting for the Texans here, because if the Jets win they will have the same record as both teams. Beyond that, the Jets don’t have a tie-breaker with Jacksonville but do have one against the Texans. I just hope this game doesn’t come down to a Kris Brown field goal.

Baltimore Ravens (6-5) at Green Bay Packers (7-4): Let’s go Packers. I feel good about Green Bay winning this game at home against an inconsistent Ravens team.

They Can’t Play This Bad Again Right? Right?!

What are Reasonable Expectations for the Jets?

First a few updates:

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

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

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

What are Reasonable Expectations for the Jets?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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