Initial Reaction: Jets Take Care Of Business, Bring On The Pats

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It wasn’t the prettiest win but a 16 point margin of victory is nothing to complain about, especially this season.

This wasn’t Mark Sanchez’s night and it wasn’t the Jets overall “A’ game, especially on offense. However, it was a much needed big time performance by the Jets defense who produced 3 sacks, 2 interceptions, and a safety. It was also a reminder that you can talk about Braylon Edwards, Santonio Holmes, LaDainian Tomlinson, Sanchez, and Shonn Greene all you want but don’t forget about Brad Smith.

The Jets do everything wide receiver/kick returner/quarterback/running back had his finest game of the season with 200 all purpose yards and 2 electrifying touchdowns.

Beyond that, Darrelle Revis did what we all expected and shut down Terrell Owens who nearly sobbed in post game press conference. Enjoy playing meaningless football in December, yet again, T.O.

It was nice to see the Jets take care of business but it is time for the main event of the 2010 regular season. 9-2 Jets traveling to 9-2 Patriots for Monday Night Football. 11 days of hype and analysis for maybe the biggest regular season meeting ever between these two rivals. The winner will likely be taking home a #1 or #2 seed, along with all the perks that come with it. The loser will be scraping for a wild-card spot.

We already know everybody will be picking the Patriots and honestly I wouldn’t want it any other way. The Jets have the same record as the Patriots and have already beat them by 14 this season, yet they receive no respect as an elite team.

Bring ’em on.

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Jets vs. Bengals: 12 Pack Of Predictions

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A very special Thanksgiving edition of the 12 pack…

1. Enough is enough. The Jets are going to break through and finally intercept a couple of passes. I know I have said this in previous weeks, but c’mon now this is Carson Palmer we are talking about. It time for 2-3 interceptions in a single game by this secondary.

2. Inactive list – Jerricho Cotchery, Dwight Lowery, Marquice Cole, Damien Woody, Jeff Cumberland, Kellen Clemens, Marcus Dixon, Jamaal Westerman

3. Terrell Owens will have less than 35 yards receiving…and still run his mouth after the game.

4. The Jets will try to re-establish Shonn Greene’s confidence early and for the third week in a row he will finish with more carries than LaDainian Tomlinson. Greene will also score his second touchdown of the season.

5. Dustin Keller is way overdue for a touchdown. He hasn’t scored since week 4. This is the week he gets touchdown number six.

6. Mark Sanchez won’t throw for 300 yards but he will add another 2 touchdowns to his season total without producing any turnovers.

7. The Jets will spend plenty of time in their “Tiger” formation which gashed the Bengals last regular season. Brad Smith will have at least 45 total offensive yards and a big kick return.

8. Calvin Pace will record a multiple sack game and provide some hope for the Jets pass rush moving forward into December.

9. LaDainian Tomlinson will have at least 5 more receptions to add to his team leading total. Braylon Edwards will also have a big game, as Cincinnati has nobody to match-up on him since they will likely put Leon Hall on Santonio Holmes and Jonathan Joseph is hurt.

10. Chad Ochcocinco will unfortunately score a touchdown. Fortunately, it will likely be in garbage time since the Bengals spend most of their season in garbage time.

11. The Jets are getting a comfortable 30-14 win. That being said, considering the way this season is going they will probably go up 30-14, fall behind 31-30 with 8 seconds left and then complete a 90 touchdown to Patrick Turner or something like that to win.

12. Happy Thanksgiving to all the readers, followers, commenters, and anybody else who takes the time to stopt by the site, facebook page, or twitter account…you could be anywhere in the world, but you’re here with me…and I appreciate that.

Week 12 Picks (Lines From BetUS)

  • Lions (+8.5) vs. Patriots
  • Saints (-4.5) vs. Cowboys
  • Jets (-9) vs. Bengals
  • Vikings (+1) vs. Redskins
  • Bills (+8) vs. Steelers
  • Jags (+7) vs. Giants
  • Bucs (+7.5) vs. Ravens
  • Eagles (-4.5) vs. Bears
  • Falcons (-1) vs. Packers
  • Chiefs (-2.5) vs. Seahawks
  • Broncos (-4) vs. Rams
  • Chargers (+3) vs. Colts
  • I refuse to pick the MNF Game because it is so terrible the NFC West should never be featured in prime-time.

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Thanksgiving Antipasto: Assorted Thoughts On Jets

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Yes, it is a cheesy name for the article but c’mon now, who doesn’t love a good antipasto? You can bet I do and I will be shoveling it down my gullet tomorrow as I root for the Lions to upset the Patriots. Anyway, here are some assorted Jets thoughts for you before our usual 12 pack of predictions on Thanksgiving day tomorrow:

– You have to just laugh at Terrell Owens, who finds a way to insult other players around the league on a weekly basis. This week it was calling Darrelle Revis an “average” corner and saying Ben Roethlisberger was “soft” on his and Ochocinco’s weekly TV show. It is truly comical to watch a player on arguably the worst team in football (okay, fine that is Carolina but the Bengals are close) still run his mouth. In terms of Revis, we all saw how he embarrassed Owens last year and basically forced him to quit in both games. I expect nothing less tomorrow night.

– Are the Jets ever going to get an interception again? They are going on five games strong now without one. Considering they are playing Carson Palmer this week, I think this would be a good week to end the slump.

– We were all excited about the Santonio Holmes addition but I don’t think anybody could have anticipated just how good he has been. I love the way Braylon Edwards has played this year but if it comes down to choosing one in the off-season, it has to be Holmes who brings a dynamic to the Jets offense that has rarely existed in their franchise history. Hopefully, something can be worked out for both players but unless Edwards is willing to take a little less to stay in New York, it probably won’t.

– Why has the Jets defense been disappointing in 2010? Some ideas…

  • New additions Jason Taylor and Brodney Pool have been average and made a minimal amount of impact plays.
  • The already questionable defensive line depth took a major hit with season ending injuries to Kris Jenkins and Ropati Pitoitua.
  • Calvin Pace missed 4 games due to a foot injury and hasn’t looked himself since returning.
  • Eric Smith and Jim Leonhard have consistently been exposed as liabilities in pass coverage.
  • Rookie Kyle Wilson hasn’t been anywhere near the contributor to this point that everybody around the team expected.
  • Teams have poured over the film from last year and are no longer surprised by the Jets exotic blitz packages and that is on Rex Ryan to find a counter.

– It is awfully hard not to look ahead to the Monday night showdown in New England for first place, isn’t it?

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Jets vs. Bills Prediction

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 First a few updates:

1. This has turned out to be Darrelle Revis appreciation week from the local and national media, here is a good piece by Tim Graham of ESPN.com documenting how well #24 has played this year: http://espn.go.com/blog/afceast/post/_/id/7246/revis-rivets-receivers-like-none-other

Jets vs. Bills Prediction

Quick predictions on the game, which is only 5 hours from kickoff. I feel good about tonight. I don’t know why, I just do. Nobody is saying the Jets are going to steamroll an improved Buffalo team. However, I think it is a nice benefit to play inside in front of a neutral crowd. Expect to see the defense build off last week and continue to play well. Buffalo has a makeshift offensive line, yet still has been taking more shots down the field in their passing game, which should open up some opportunities for the Jets pass rush. Revis vs. Owens? I predict TO has 3 catches for 20 yards.

On offense, I think Sanchez will play well. This is a big test for him on national television, going against a team who embarrassed him last time they met. The Jets offense is going to run through Thomas Jones with a little Shonn Greene and Danny Woodhead sprinkled in, but I do think they will hit a few plays down the field in their passing attack. Braylon Edwards has been a beast in primetime the past two years and I think he gets his first 100 yard game as Jet tonight.

Final Prediction: Jets – 20 Buffalo – 17

Jets vs. Bills: Game Breakdown

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 First a few updates:

1. The official injury report for tomorrow lists Lito Sheppard, Donald Strickland, and Robert Turner out. Tight End Matthew Mulligan has been moved to the active roster to replace Justin Miller, who was released last week.

2. Darrelle Revis was named AFC Defense Player of the Week for his performance against Carolina. A well-deserved honor for the league’s best cornerback.

Jets vs. Bills Game Breakdown

Jets_vs_Bills_74cfOffense: The Jets ran for over 300 yards the last time they played Buffalo so it would be a safe assumption that Thomas Jones, Shonn Greene, and Danny Woodhead will be very active tomorrow night. Buffalo needs to prove they can stop the run before the Jets stop turning around and handing the ball to Jones. One quick thing for Brian Schottenheimer, can we stop with the toss play? I swear the Jets run toss two times every game and lose 5 yards on it both times. Jones and Greene are north and south runners, give them the ball up the middle. After watching game tape this should be the easiest game plan Schottenheimer ever put together: Hand the ball off early and often.

When the Jets do need to throw the football, I wouldn’t mind seeing them take a couple of shots down the field. The Jets were about as conservative as possible last week and eventually Buffalo is going to put enough people in the box, where the offense is going to need to put one up for Braylon Edwards. Dustin Keller has been doing a great job in the intermediate passing game the past few weeks but with how well the Jets run the football, they should be able to make the defense pay with big plays in the passing game. Jerricho Cotchery was quiet last game, so don’t be surprised to see the Jets try to get him involved early.

Defense: There is alot of talk about the emergence of the Bills down field passing attack led by Ryan Fitzpatrick. However, the Jets got an answer for the suddenly woken up Terrell Owens and that is Darrelle Revis. I am more concerned about Lee Evans matched up with Lito Sheppard. Evans hurt the Jets in their last meeting but Sheppard is coming off his best game of the season and appears to finally be getting healthy. I would still like to see the Jets role the coverage to help against Evans. Revis can handle Owens one on one.

Fred Jackson has been moved into the starting line-up for the Bills and is a dangerous back. The Jets defensive line has played surprisingly well in the absence of Kris Jenkins and needs to keep it up against Jackson and the Bills. Ryan Fitzpatrick is a mobile quarterback who escaped a few sacks against the Jets last time. They need to bring him down when they get a chance. I would like to see Bart Scott make a few big plays. David Harris and Calvin Pace have made their share in the past few weeks, so let’s see Scott get a few. Hopefully, Kerry Rhodes will use coming off the bench in a primetime game as motivation and put together another big game.

Special Teams: I think we will see Brad Smith as the primary kick returner from now on. Jerricho Cotchery has been good on punt returns but I still worry about him getting hurt back there. Buffalo is traditionally solid on special teams and has never been averse to trick plays.

Please don’t ever think every italian guy from North Jersey is  like this…I don’t even own hair gel…I swear.

Jets Playoff Pipe Dream: Week 13 Viewing Guide

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 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?!

Jets vs. Bills: Game Breakdown & Five Requests For Five Jets

First a few updates:

1. Jerricho Cotchery, Damien Woody, Brad Smith, and Shaun Ellis all sat out practice again today. Ellis and Woody are expected to start, Smith is questionable and I wouldn’t bet on Cotcherysuiting up this weekend. If both Smith and Cotchery are down, the Jets will only be carrying three receivers on Sunday: Braylon Edwards, David Clowney, and Wallace Wright. Danny Woodhead has been taking reps at receiver on the practice squad but I wouldn’t count on him playing receiver for the Jets anytime soon.

2. Obviously if the Jets are limited at receiver, there should be a greater opportunity for Dustin Keller to get involved in the passing game. Mark Sanchez admitted that he apologized to Keller after the Monday night game for not looking to him more. I am not crazy about that, Sanchez needs to go where the coverage dictates and shouldn’t be forcing himself to get the ball to anybody. Brian Schottenheimer needs to design some screens and quick passes to get Keller more involved, and allow him to run space.

3. ALCS and NLCS Predictions: Phillies in 6 over the Dodgers. Yanks in 6 over the Angels.

4. Don’t forget that new episode of TOJ TV is coming tomorrow.

5. From the mouth of Bart Scott…“(Monday night) was the one time we had this year to show the world what type of team we are, and now they believe we’re something else…. I can’t wait to hit somebody. I can’t wait to step out there and see somebody in another jersey, so I can take all this pain and all this embarrassment I’m feeling and inflict it on someone else.” Sounds good…but now actually make it happen.

Jets vs. Bills: Game Breakdown

Jets Offensive Game Plan: Buffalo isn’t a bad team defensively, but neither were the Dolphins and the Jets found a way to put 27 points up. The bad weather expected to come Friday and Saturday should be gone by Sunday at 4 PM, but it will be still be colder than Mark Sanchez is accustomed to. Regardless, the Jets have enough weapons even with an injured Jerricho Cotchery to run a balanced attack each week. Mark Sanchez is now heading into his 6th start and by all indications the training wheels are off on this offense. Expect the Bills to heavily concentrate their coverage on Braylon Edwards, who should still be targeted frequently when Sanchez needs a bail out because of his size. Also, Edwards gained Sanchez’s trust last week by going up in coverage and coming down with a few balls, which means he won’t hesitate to look down the field for him again in similar circumstances.

With all the attention on Edwards, David Clowney and Dustin Keller should be freed up in single coverage. I am sure Brian Schottenheimer is feeling a push to get Keller the ball and I wouldn’t be surprised to see a quick slant or screen thrown to him early in the game to get him involved. If Clowney is singled up consistently, it is foolish not to take a couple shots down the field to him. In the running game, the Jets did a good job getting Leon 10 carries last week but let’s see him get a few more touches on receptions out of the backfield. I got a feeling instead of seeing 12-15 carries for Thomas Jones this weekend and 3 for Shonn Greene, we will see something like 10-11 carries for Jones and 6-7 carries for Greene.

Jets Defensive Game Plan: The Bills have plenty of talent at the skill positions. Terrell Owens and Lee Evans are top flight receivers who can score on any given play. Marshawn Lynch and Fred Jackson are quality backs who have hurt the Jets in the past. Buffalo’s struggles have been based on their terrible offensive line play and the inconsistency of Trent Edwards. There is no excuse for the Jets not to get to the quarterback in this game. It isn’t all on Ryan to come up with blitz schemes, sometimes a player simply needs to beat his man and make a play. Four sacks is nowhere near enough for a defense with this type of talent through five games.

Lito Sheppard will be returning to the starting line-up at corner, which should help against Owens and Evans. Darrelle Revis is coming off a tough night against Miami and will certainly be looking to re-assert himself as one the league’s premier corners against two very good receivers. Like I have been saying all week, I still believe the Jets have a great defense. Four games of excellence is better proof than one game of incompetence. Buffalo only scored 3 points on a defense that features Eric Barton, Abram Elam, Hank Poteat, Kenyon Coleman, Jason Trusnik, CJ Mosley, and David Bowens last week. If the Jets minor league team can stop them last week, the real Jets better be able to stop them this week.

Five Requests For Five Jets

Leon Washington – You don’t have bigger fan or supporter of you receiving a new contract out there than  me, but I need a big play. You don’t have an offensive play longer than 19 yards this season or a touchdown, and haven’t ripped off a big kick return since week two. I am not saying you haven’t played well (4.1 yards per carry and 225 yards is respectable) but i need a big play.

Kerry Rhodes – You are one of the highest paid safeties in the league and one of the primary faces of this team. I need a sack or an interception or a forced fumble…just one of those three. Being third on the team in tackles and having 3 passes defensed is alright but below your pay grade. Start to be the playmaker you were in 2006-2007.

Braylon Edwards – Stay hungry and recognize what a golden opportunity you have in front of you. You went from irrelevancy in Cleveland, while trying to catch Derek Anderson ducks to playing in the world’s biggest media market and catching passes from Mark Sanchez. Keep playing to your potential and I can already see you and Sanchez on the cover of Sports Illustrated in their playoff preview edition.

Jerricho Cotchery – Sit out this week and get 100 percent healthy, it will do you and the team good in the long run.

Bart Scott – Play as angry as you are talking this week.

Kurt Snibbe of ESPN.com Page 2 came up with these updated NFL Logos for 16 teams, here is the link to the article http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=snibbe1/091006&sportCat=nfl

Jets…let’s get back to being this:

And Remember the Bills Are This…

If you are upset about last week’s loss…remember when things were this bad

Scouting the AFC East: Buffalo Bills

First a few updates:

1. In this week’s Sports Illustrated Tim Layden has a great feature on Rex Ryan and his rise to becoming a NFL head coach. I am hoping for the chance to interview Layden for the site, so keep a look out for that in the upcoming weeks.

2. Another day passed and even more rumors are circulating about the Jets not being interested in Plaxico Burress anymore. Most of the local media seems against the move, although as I said yesterday the veterans on the team seem to be in favor of it.

3. A late congratulations to the Los Angeles Lakers for winning the NBA Finals…I still wish we could have saw Kobe/LeBron, especially after all those hilarious puppet commercials but oh well. Hopefully, LeBron will now be finding his way to my Knicks in 2010, along with Chris Bosh.

4. According to ESPN’s statistic guru KC Joyner, the Jets have one of the best offensive lines in the NFL and a better unit than the team they share a stadium with, the New York Giants. I don’t know about Joyner’s stat system but I do know the Jets have a damn good offensive line and who cares if they are better than the Giants O’line?

Scouting the AFC East: Buffalo Bills

Along with the positional analysis articles, I am going to take a look at each of the AFC East teams in the next week and how the Jets stack up against them, starting today with the Buffalo Bills.

2008 Record: 7-9

2008 vs Jets: The Jets swept the Bills last year, beating them in Buffalo 26-17 and then winning in the Meadowlands on Shaun Ellis’ miracle fumble recovery, 31-27. Kris Jenkins absolutely dominated in the first game and Darrelle Revis shut down Lee Evans in both games last season (4 receptions 41 yards in week 9, and 4 receptions 22 yards in week 15). Trent Edwards threw two interceptions in the week 9 loss and was injured when the teams met in week 15. Marshawn Lynch gashed the Jets in week 15 for 127 yards. On the Jets side, Thomas Jones ran for 69 yards in week 9 and 78 yards in week 15. Leon Washington had 1 carry for 47 yards and a touchdown in week 15…cough, cough, get him the ball more. Jerricho Cotchery had 62 yards receiving in week 9 and had a touchdown in week 15.

2009 Additions: The biggest one was Terrell Owens, who will pair with Lee Evans to form one of the best receiving duos in the NFL. They also added running back Dominic Rhodes and lineman Seth McKinney. They had two first round selections, picking defensive end Aaron Maybin and center Eric Wood.

2009 Losses: They traded away pro-bowl lineman Jason Peters and released tight end Robert Royal. Marshawn Lynch is also suspended the first three games of the 2009 season.

Why the Jets Should be Worried: The Bills have a deep, talented receiving core. I already mentioned Owens and Evans but they also have Roscoe Parrish, Josh Reed and James Hardy…all quality players. If Trent Edwards can stay healthy, he will have plenty of weapons at his disposal. When Edwards has been on the field, he has been a pretty good player. Buffalo also has three very capable running backs in Marshawn Lynch, Fred Jackson and Dominic Rhodes. On defense, they have a good front four led by Aaron Schobel and Marcus Stroud and playmakers in the secondary with Terrence McGree, Leodis McKelvin and Donte Whitner.

Why the Jets can handle Buffalo: The Bills have a suspect offensive line and showed no ability to block Kris Jenkins or the rest of the Jets pass rushers last year, as they totaled 8 sacks in 2 games. Darrelle Revis has Lee Evans’ number and has played well against TO in the past, also Lito Sheppard has had success against Owens in previous match-ups. The Jets were able to run the ball relatively well against the Bills last year, especially in short yardage situations. They should be confident after sweeping them last year and going on the road and beating them.

Prediction: The Bills have a ton of talent at the skill positions but some questions at offensive line, linebacker and most importantly head coach. I don’t think TO is good enough at this stage of his career to individually bump the Bills past the 7-9 level they have been the past 3 years and have no faith in Dick Jauron leading them to playoffs. I think Buffalo is a 8-8 to 9-7 team at best this year. In terms of the Jets. you can never expect a sweep of a AFC East opponent but I am confident the Jets will definitely take at least 1 from the Bills.

2009 Games: Week 6 at New York Jets 4:15 Kickoff, Week 13 at Buffalo, 8:20 PM Kickoff (Thursday Night Football)

Where Do the Jets Fit in the AFC East?

First a few updates:

1. The Gang Green (www.theganggreen.com) has a great feature that tracks all of the Jets who are on twitter. Apparently Mark Sanchez spent the weekend in Seaside Heights…? C’mon Mark, you are going to be a rich man, at least get over to Belmar or something. David Clowney, Chansi Stuckey, Jay Feely, and Dustin Keller all also have active accounts. Keller just got back from Vegas…good for him, I’ll be there next week.

2. Can somebody on Cleveland please help out LeBron James and hit an open jump shot?

3. According to Rich Cimini, Thomas Jones will be coming to OTAs on Wednesday without a new deal or any plans for a new deal. It should be interesting to see what he says to the media, since it appears the Jets may have won this stare down.

Where Do the Jets Fit in the AFC East?

The Jets have had one of the more active and better overall off-seasons in the NFL. Yet, where do they fit in the always highly competitive AFC East? Last year they finished in third place with a 9-7 record, behind the Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots. The Jets split with both of them last season and swept the Buffalo Bills. When most analysts look at the AFC East for this upcoming season, they rank the Jets as the third or fourth best team, meaning they will be extreme longshots at making the playoffs.

New England is receiving the most pre-season hype in NFL history for a team that didn’t make the playoffs the previous year. They have somehow become the consensus number one team in all April/May power rankings (which, fortunately are never right) and are filling up magazines with talk of breaking every offensive record in the book.

I may hate Bill Bellicheck and New England but I am not naive, they are going to be a good football team this year, like they are every year. However, there are too many questions about the Patriots that are being ignored to just assume they are going to be a 12-14 win team in 2009.

Tom Brady is coming off major  knee surgery. I know the guy is a first ballot hall-of-famer but it takes time to adjust coming back from his type of injury. How can you assume he is going to instantly be back to his 2007 form? New England still has Randy Moss and Wes Welker, probably the best starting duo of receivers in the game but have some questions behind them. I’m not sold on Joey Galloway who looked completely washed up last year and Greg Lewis who has been a 15-20 catch a season guy for the past three years. Their four wide doesn’t scare me like it used to, with Donte Stallworth and Jabar Gaffney who excelled in the Pats system.

Laurence Maroney hasn’t  proven he can handle being a lead back yet and Fred Taylor certainly didn’t look like a #1 or #2 back last season. Their secondary is also very weak. Maybe I am nit-picking with them but I don’t see them cruising to a 13-3 season like every other NFL analyst in the world. I know Rex Ryan did a hell of a job against them in 2007, and I am hoping he can duplicate that effort twice this year.

The Buffalo Bills are receiving a ton of hype because of one player…T.O. Yes, they have a great group of receivers but what about the rest of the team? I’m not sold on Trent Edwards yet as a franchise quarterback, their defense has question marks, and Marshawn Lynch is already suspended for the first three games. Dick Jauron also can’t seem to get out of his own way as a head coach.

The 2008 Miami Dolphins were the 2006 New York Jets. Despite having an overall lack of talent, they used a creative offensive scheme led by an efficient Chad Pennington, an opportunistic defense, and a cupcake schedule to sneak into the playoffs. The 2009 Miami Dolphins are going to be the 2007 New York Jets, maybe not as bad as 4-12 but nowhere near as good as 11-5. Defenses are going to be all over Pennington and their pedestrian group of receivers, similar to the Ravens in the first round of the playoffs. Their secondary also has a ton of question marks and can you really count on Ricky Williams for two good seasons in a row at this stage of his career?

It may just sound like I am bashing all of the Jets rivals, so let my clarify my feelings on the AFC East. New England is the best team as of right now. They have the best coach, the best quarterback, the most dangerous offense and an experienced, solid overall defense. However, they are a very beatable team that isn’t going to run away with this thing as a 13/14 win team. The Jets, Bills, and Dolphins are all grouped together beneath New England. One of the those three will make a strong run at the division, while the other two will hover around .500. It really depends on who can win their division games. The Jets need to find a way to get 3 out of 4 from Miami/Buffalo and manage a split with New England to have a chance at both a division title and making the playoffs.

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).