Jets vs. Texans: A Closer Look

The “Jets” fell short 20-16 but the preseason is never about winning. The primary goals are to avoid major injuries to key players, establishing some rhythm among starting units, while hopefully developing a few diamonds in the rough to add to the mix. So how did the Jets really fare in those categories last night? Let’s take a look –

MAJOR INJURIES:  The offensive line suffered a depth setback when backup center Rob Turner broke his leg. The Jets must add players to this unit. Damien Woody anyone? Joe McKnight may have suffered a concussion. LB Bart Scott rolled his ankle and left after the first play. The brightside? No season enders hit any starters.

RYTHYM: Mark Sanchez looked sharp in establishing a connection with both Santonio Holmes and Derrick Mason. The starters saw extremely limited time on both sides of the ball. RB Shonn Greene ran hard and found space in the second level during his attempts. The defense was not really tested. Texan stars Andre Johnson and Arian Foster sat out the game. Kyle Wilson in his second year, was in better position to play the ball than we remember him being all of last year.

DIAMONDS IN THE ROUGH: WR Jeremy Kerley has had a notable camp. The rookie WR was heavily involved throughout last night, showing good hands, quick feet, and an elusive ability in traffic. LB Josh Mauga replaced Scott and was around the ball constantly, with a sack and INT capping his efforts.

TE Jeff Cumberland displayed physical skill in the passing game, with consistent receptions and running after the catch. This furthering the excitement of Jets fans who envision a tight end heavy passing game due to the arrival of former Colts guru Tom Moore on the coaching staff.

RB Bilal Powell replaced McKnight and impressed us with his footwork and ability to wait patiently for his blockers before attacking the line of scrimmage.

Backup QB Greg McElroy rebounded from a sluggish start in his three quarters of action.The former Alabama product sped up his release time and displayed sharpness on short to mid range routes as the game progressed. He also fell victim to two deep ball drops, including one that could’ve won the game for the Jets late in the fourth.

Are You Ready For Some Football? – Jets vs. Texans Preview

The New York Jets kick off their pre-season schedule tonight on the road against the Houston Texans. A few key starters won’t be suiting up including Nick Mangold, Brandon Moore, and Plaxico Burress. Backup quarterback Mark Brunell also won’t be playing because of a left finger injury. Beyond that, the starters are expected to play for about a quarter.

On offense, Rob Turner and Vladimir Ducasse will both get extended work in replacing Mangold and Moore. Obviously there is some concern with having two backups protecting your quarterback, especially with somebody like Mario Williams on the opposing defense. Yet, Turner has a decent amount of experience from the past couple of years and Ducasse needs an opportunity to grow, so he can hopefully reach the potential the Jets saw in him when they selected him in the second round.

Derrick Mason will start in place of Burress. Yet, most eyes will likely be on rookie Jeremy Kerely who raised a ton of eyebrows at camp with his playmaking ability. He will work in the slot as the number three receiver with the first unit and should also see plenty of work with the number twos. Don’t be surprised to see Mark Sanchez rely on Dustin Keller and Santonio Holmes early in the game, as he gets into a rhythm. I wouldn’t expect to see much of LaDainian Tomlinson or even Shonn Greene tonight, as Joe McKnight and Bilal Powell should get the lion’s share of the work in the backfield.

Without Brunell playing, rookie Greg McElroy will play the majority of the game at quarterback. The Jets are hoping he can develop into their long term backup, so it will be interesting to see how handles himself in extended action tonight.

On defense, I will be keeping an eye on Kyle Wilson to see if  he shows any progress from his difficult rookie season. He should see action both in the nickel package with the first unit and then on the outside with the number twos.The Jets are counting on him to replace Drew Coleman this year and provide depth to Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie. Rookie first round pick Muhammad WIlkerson will also be getting the start and has impressed thus far in camp. Hopefully he can improve the push the Jets get out of their front line. Third round pick Kenrick Ellis will also see a good amount of action at nose tackle tonight.

Undrafted free agent Nick Bellore has been one of the biggest stories in camp and will get the chance to see a heavy amount of reps on both defense at linebacker and on special teams. Another linebacker to watch is Jamaal Westerman who Rex Ryan has hyped up this camp as being an individual who could provide an improvement to the Jets inconsistent pass rush.

On special teams, Jeremy Kerley will be the primary kick and punt returner, while Joe McKnight and Kyle Wilson should also both get opportunities.

Overall, it would be nice to see the first team offense move the ball with some consistency. Under Ryan, the offense has generally lagged a little behind the defense at this time of the year so with Sanchez now entering his third year, hopefully that will begin to change. On defense, an improved pass rush led by Wilkerson and Westerman would be the most encouraging thing to see.

Off to Italy: Jets vs. Colts/Week 16 Predictions

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First off, Merry Christmas everybody. I am about to head off to the airport for 7 nights back in the old homeland where my forefathers likely rooted for the worst soccer team in the country and passed that tradition down to me as a Jets fan when my family came to America. If you never see this blog updated again, it is likely I pulled a Michael Corleone found my Apollonia and will be settling down as a simple grape farmer in the hills of Italy, with no concerns about rookie quarterbacks, graduate school, playoff scenarios, or student loans. However, in the more likely case I will return a week from today to write about Jets/Colts which I will be viewing on DVD and the upcoming Jets/Bengals game.

I don’t expect to be coming home for a meaningful week 17 game but I can keep up some bizarre hope the next 7 days. I will be rocking my brand new white Titans Darrelle Revis jersey as a final show of support on the plane today. What do I think will happen in week 16 while I am paddling down the canals of Venice?

1. I think the Jets will put a good fight but ultimately fall short to the Colts 27-17. I expect most of the Colts key players to play the bulk of the game and that should be enough for them to get a victory. The defense will play well but in the end Peyton Manning will be too much and Mark Sanchez won’t make enough plays for the Jets to get a victory.

2. I think the Miami Dolphins will beat the Houston Texans fairly easily and set themselves up to be playing for a playoff spot in week 17…yuck.

3. I think the Titans will knock off the Chargers tonight to keep their slim playoff hopes alive.

4. I think the Steelers will win a close one over the Ravens, muddling the AFC playoff picture even further.

5. I think New England will beat Jacksonville and wrap up the AFC East.

6. I think the Bengals will beat Kansas City and wrap up the AFC North.

7. I think Dallas will hold off Washington and the Giants will beat Carolina keeping the NFC race interesting for another week.

And with that…I’m off to Italy.

Jets vs. Texans: Prediction, TOJ TV Episode I

First a few updates:

1. Click on the video below to see the first episode of TOJ TV, with my Jets/Texans Prediction.

2. Also, Texans receiver Kevin Walter will be a game time decision with a hamstring injury. David Anderson or Andre Davis would fill in for him.

This Week’s Song: The Game f/ Li’l Wayne – RED Magic

AFC Power Rankings: Where Do the Jets Fit?

First a few updates:

1. It’s officially training camp week, with the Jets opening up this Friday in Cortland, New York. Later in the day, I will be posting an extended, comprehensive (two big time adjectives there) training camp preview. Also, I will finish up my positional analysis this week, with a look at the team’s linebackers and special teams. You can look back through the archives for my breakdown of all the other positions on the roster.

2. I will be appearing on a podcast on our site tomorrow around 11:30 to discuss the Jets, the link is http://ownersedge.fanball.com/fantasy_buffet.php

3. By the end of the week, I plan on making additions to both the TOJ Hall of Fame and TOJ Hall of Shame…thrilling stuff for everybody, I know. Also, I am stuck with the 5th pick in upcoming fantasy football draft and I am open to suggestions on who I should pick…Brees, Fitzgerald, Jones-Drew, Westbrook, Brad Smith, Wallace Wright?

AFC Power Rankings: Where Do the Jets Fit?

I don’t like to rank teams from 1-16, but instead separate them into different levels. With training camps starting up this week, here is how I see the AFC breaking down:

The Favorites

Pittsburgh Steelers – The defending champions are returning all of their major parts and should be right back at the top of the AFC North. Their defense should be one of the league’s best and if they can get something out of Rashad Mendenhall and Limas Sweed this year, their offense could be even more dynamic.

New England Patriots – They have the best coach in the NFL, a good defense, and potentially the best offense in football if Tom Brady is back at 100 percent. If the Jets want to win the AFC East, the road goes through New England (sorry Dolphins fans).

Indianapolis Colts – They were playing as well as anyone in football last year before getting bounced in the wild-card round to the Chargers. Even without Tony Dungy, they still have a quality defense and tons of weapons on offense, including first round pick Donald Brown, who should flourish in their system.

San Diego Chargers – They have as much talent as anyone in football, but can they put it together? Fortunately for them, the AFC West is a weak division and they shouldn’t have any trouble repeating as champs.

The Contenders

Baltimore Ravens – A great defense, a young quarterback who is only going to get better, and a dominant running game should equal another double-digit win total for the Ravens.

Tennessee Titans – I think they will take a big step down from last year’s win total. They sure didn’t feel like a 13-3 team last year, but maybe that’s just because I watched the Jets embarrass them in their home building. They got a shot for revenge in the Meadowlands in week 3, though.

Question Marks

Miami Dolphins – They have 6-10 written all over them this season and I’m not saying that as a biased Jets fan. The Wildcat won’t fool anybody this year and Chad Pennington has never put together two healthy, productive seasons in a row. Yet, they have a good defense and running game which will keep them competitive.

Buffalo Bills – There is a ton of talent at the skill positions but can Trent Edwards stay healthy and take his game to the next level? Can Dick Jauron get out of his own way?

New York Jets – I expect a great defense and a great running game but there is still question marks at quarterback, receiver, tight end, and depth on both lines.

Houston Texans – Every year everybody picks them to make a big jump but it never seems to happen. If Matt Schaub can stay healthy, their offense will be scary good with Steve Slaton and Andre Johnson making plays but they still have question marks on defense, as usual. The Texans will be a good test for the Jets in week one.

Bigger Question Marks

Denver Broncos – You don’t improve from 8-8 by going from Jay Cutler to Kyle Orton at quarterback.

Jacksonville Jaguars – Torry Holt will help them on offense, but unless David Garrard goes back to his 2007 form, the Jaguars aren’t going to be any better than they were last season.

The Basement Dwellers

Oakland Raiders – There is obviously talent on offense and some pieces on defense, but hasn’t that been the case on Oakland for the past few years? I’m sure they will go 5-11 but still find a way to beat the Jets.

Kansas City Chiefs – Matt Cassell isn’t going to look so good without Randy Moss, Wes Welker, and one of the best offensive lines in football.

Cincinnatti Bengals – If Carson Palmer can play a full 16 games, they could improve a few games from last season but that would only put them in the 6-7 win range.

Cleveland Browns – Have fun Eric Mangini, but hey they said the same thing about your Jets in 2006 and look what happened.

Jets Highlight of the Day: After spending another weekend of arguing with my friend’s about Leon Washington’s talent level, I decided to throw up some of his highlights, Give 29 a new contract: