New York Jets Fact Or False: Preseason Week 3 Edition

Chris Gross weekly Fact or False previews the Jets third pre-season game against the Carolina Panthers

For this week’s edition of New York Jets Fact Or False, we examine the most pressing issues facing Gang Green heading into their third preseason game against the Carolina Panthers.

Austin Howard will prove he is the answer at Right Tackle. False. While many people are getting caught up in today’s news that Austin Howard has replaced Wayne Hunter as the Jets starting RT, there is still no reason to believe that Howard is the savior. Will he play better than Hunter? Probably. But unfortunately for Wayne, the Jets could have likely put Tony Sparano himself in there, and he wouldn’t have looked much worse than Hunter did last week. Hunter’s contract should have never been guaranteed after his abysmal 2011 and now Mike Tannenbaum is in one of the worst positions he has ever been in as the Jets GM. Howard will get the start tomorrow by default, but the Jets will likely remain active in their hunt to bring in a tackle from the outside. Don’t expect Howard to be the long term solution here.

The Offense will score a touchdown. Fact. I mean, they have to…right? The Jets offense remains without a touchdown over two preseason games thus far. Although the game plans have been very vanilla as they are implementing a new system, it is now time to spice things up. The basics of this new offensive scheme should be more than engraved into every offensive players head at this point in the preseason, so it is time for Sparano to mix it up a bit. It is extremely difficult to take shots down the field when there is virtually no time to properly execute a 5 or 7 step drop, however, look for the Jets to take advantage of a very average defense. With the likely return of Jeremy Kerley this weekend, Sanchez gets back with a familiar target that he can rely on to help move the chains. Regardless of how poor they have looked, there is simply too much talent on this offense to go another game without crossing the goal line.

We will finally see some of the wildcat. False. For everyone waiting to see the marvelous Wildcat formation, it looks as if you will have to wait until, at the earliest, September 9th in the season opener against Buffalo. At Rex Ryan’s press conference today, the fourth year head coach stated that he did not expect to see any Wildcat during this preseason. Of course, this could be Rex throwing a smokescreen at fellow defensive mind Ron Rivera, however, Ryan is likely being honest here. There is no reason to unveil this formation and give the Bills a series of plays to watch on film and prepare for. Tebow enthusiasts, keep on waiting.

The Jets starting defense will have its best test against the run. Fact. While Cincinnati and the Giants certainly have established running offenses, neither of them quite compare to the four headed monster of DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart, Cam Newton, and Mike Tolbert. This will be a great test for the Jets as they will face a very unique combination of size, speed, agility, and athleticism, that they have yet to see this preseason. If they can hold the Panthers to less than 100 combined rushing yards through the first 2-3 quarters, it will be a very good sign of things to come for the defense this season.

The Jets will have ease running the football. False. This is certainly not to say that the Jets will not run the ball effectively in this game, because they very well just may. However, Carolina has a daunting young pair of linebackers in two time All-Pro Jon Beason, who returns after missing last season with a tear in his Achilles tendon, as well as rookie Luke Kuechly, the 9th overall selection in this year’s draft out of Boston College. This will be yet another great test for Greene, Tebow, and the rest of the running attack to get themselves on track and finally show some of that ground and pound that has been preached so frequently since the hiring of Sparano.

This is the best opportunity for Quinton Coples to prove his worth thus far. Fact. Coples faced an excellent offensive line last week against the Giants, but this week he has the opportunity to play against All-Pro Jordan Gross, along with Matt Kalil, and Bruce Campbell. With these three, Carolina has one of the most respected offensive lines in the league. If Coples can duplicate what he has been doing through the first two games against this unit, it will be an excellent sign of progress. A sack, a QB knockdown, or a tackle for loss will all be indications of further improvement and more good things to come.

New York Jets – Top Debates Heading Into The 2012 Season

The TOJ writers debate the top issues surrounding the New York Jets heading into the 2012 season

There are plenty of debated topics about the New York Jets heading into the 2012 NFL season. Judging from our interactions on Twitter and Facebook in the previous months, here are our top ones in no particular order and our opinions on them.

1) Shonn Greene’s Ceiling/Potential

Joe Caporoso – My support and faith in Greene as a true lead back has waned considerably over the past two seasons. While I do not think he is the bum people like Evan Silva make him out to be, it is impossible not to be frustrated with his inability to consistently break tackles or break a big run. He is going to get a ton of opportunities this season and I think he averages somewhere in the 4.1 – 4.4 yards per carry range with low touchdown numbers because of the presence of Tim Tebow. I see the ceiling on his rushing yardage total somewhere around 1,250 yards and think the Jets will take a long look on deciding whether to re-sign him in the off-season.

Chris GrossWhile Greene can be a solid starter in this league, I don’t see him ever becoming a huge star. He’s already 27 years old, and has really struggled to prove that he can carry the workload as a lead back for New York. Last season, Greene’s first full year as the starter, he ran for just over 1,000 yards and only 6 touchdowns. On a team built to run the football, you’d think the top back would post numbers better than these. Still, with Tony Sparano now at the helm as offensive coordinator, one would think that Greene is poised for a career year. Sparano worked his magic in Miami last season, as shown by Reggie Bush hitting the thousand yard mark for the first time in his career. I do think Greene is much better in a complementary role as he was with Thomas Jones during his rookie season when he posted a career best 5.0 YPC average. In the role that he is currently in, I see Greene topping out at about 1100 yards, 7 touchdowns, and averaging somewhere between 3.9-4.2 YPC.

Mike Donnelly – First of all, Evan Silva is an idiot and he’s proven it time and time again. Be sure to check back for my fantasy football coverage this year where I plan on proving that repeatedly. Anyway, I love Shonn Greene this year. When he was given the ball last year and allowed to get in a groove under the incompetent Brian Schottenheimer, he was really quite good. The offensive line problems were well documented early in the season, but when Greene hit his stride in the second half, he performed very well. He even caught 30 passes for over 200 yards, so he’s not a waste in the passing game either, as many would lead you to believe. This year, I expect him to rush for around 4.2-4.4 yards per carry, and total around 1,250-1,350 yards on the ground with 250-325 or so through the air, with 8-10 TD’s. Don’t forget, Shonn is playing for a contract this year, and that is a huge motivating factor. He will stay healthy, run hard, and silence the haters.

2) The Quarterbacks

Joe Caporoso –  I am as bullish on Sanchez as ever and believe he is the team’s option at quarterback. The Jets have done an awful job of supporting him but I do think he will do a substantially better job of protecting the football this year and his production will be a slightly improved version of his 2010 numbers. Tim Tebow is best suited as a weapon in the running game and will be the team’s de facto number two running back.

Chris Gross – As I said in my review of training camp, the biggest thing that stood out to me was the command displayed by Mark Sanchez. You get the sense that this is the year that he is finally ready and confident enough to declare this team his. He needs to continue that mindset and be the leader that the offense needs him to be, while being very protective of the football. He will be challenged due to a great lack of experience in his receiving corps, but expect him to lean heavily on Santonio Holmes and Dustin Keller. As for Tebow, the only way I see him advancing from his role as a RB/Wildcat QB is if the offensive line plays so poorly that Sparano and co. and forced to put the more elusive Tebow at the helm because of his ability to extend plays with his feet.

Mike Donnelly – I’m with Joe on this one. I’m a huge Sanchez supporter, and I expect him to perform well this year, despite the organization seemingly writing the book on how not to develop a young QB.  When Holmes and Kerley get back fully healthy, and Hill gets comfortable, the offense should end up being in the middle of the pack in the NFL. For all the hoopla talk about a QB controversy, Tebow is going to make a bigger impact running the ball in short yardage and goalline situations. I’m comfortable with our QB situation.

3) Needed Offensive Additions

Joe Caporoso –  The Jets should have added a veteran running back and wide receiver for depth purposes but it appears that window has passed. However, I think we are all in agreement that it is imperative for the Jets to add both a right tackle and a blocking tight end prior to the season starting. My reasoning on the Jets needing a veteran running back is because if Shonn Greene rolls an ankle, the Jets have the worst collection of running backs in the NFL. Bilal Powell had a good camp but has been mediocre in the pre-season and has done nothing in the NFL. Joe McKnight has potential but is made of glass. At wide receiver, it wouldn’t hurt considering the durability issues surrounding Holmes, Kerley and Schilens (if he makes the roster) this season.

Chris Gross – This is obvious. Right Tackle, Tight End, and some veteran help at WR should be the team’s top priority once teams begin to make the majority of their cuts. The Jets will likely try and look to the trade market for a Right Tackle because of how dried up the Free Agent class will likely be at the end of training camp. Blocking Tight End could be found from a foe, as New England has a surplus of Tight Ends and could possibly look to release someone like Daniel Fells. As for Wide Receiver, the Free Agent market is also very depleted, but looking to add a veteran would be nice insurance considering how Jeremy Kerley has been plagued by injuries so far. A veteran Running Back like Ryan Grant, a New Jersey native and Don Bosco Alum, would also give the backfield much more depth than it has right now. Outside of Greene and Tebow, there is not one proven runner on the entire roster.

Mike Donnelly – I was of the belief the Jets should let McKnight and Powell play rather than signing a veteran like Cedric Benson. I still believe that, even though they have been underwhelming so far this preseason because Cedric Benson stinks and if you use picks on these guys you have to let them play. I also didn’t have a major problem with the offseason moves at the WR position, but obviously I had a major, major, major problem with guaranteeing Wayne Hunter’s $2.5 million salary for this season and not giving him any competition at the RT spot. I addressed that in my Letter to Mike Tannenbaum, as well as the fact that if you combine all the tight ends on the roster they don’t equal up to one competent NFL blocker. RT and blocking TE were the two biggest whiffs this offseason.

4) Defensive Potential

Joe Caporoso – At a minimum the Jets are going to have a very good defense in 2012. Their run defense should be suffocating and their safety play should be much improved to compliment their elite corners. However, the only way for them to be a great or dominant defense this year is for the pass rush to show up. Aaron Maybin and Quinton Coples are the players on this team who are supposed to get after the quarterback and they need to do it consistently. Overall, the Jets defense is good enough to keep them competitively on a weekly basis even with a struggling offense.

Chris Gross – The Jets will very likely return to the elite level of defense that propelled them to two AFC Championship games in 2009 and 2010. The safety play is much improved, and considering the trio of corners on the Jets roster, the argument could certainly be made that they have the best secondary in all of football. The pass rush is going to play a major role in how far this defense can really go. Rookie Quinton Coples and veteran Aaron Maybin need to be the pass rushers that everyone is envisioning them to be, with one of them reaching double digit sacks. Tell me the last Super Bowl Champion team that did not have a player on their defense record double digit sacks. Along with the pass rush, underneath pass coverage will be a huge concern. Bart Scott and Calvin Pace are virtually non existent in that area, so look for increased reps from Rookie DeMario Davis and Safety Antonio Allen, who could be used in some packages to cover drags and unders.

Mike Donnelly The Jets defensive potential this year is off the charts. During Rex Ryan’s three seasons here, they’ve never finished worse than 5th overall in the league, and I expect them to contend for #1 this year. They’ve added Quinton Coples, Demario Davis, upgraded the safety spot immensely, and they’ll get a full year out of pass rusher Aaron Maybin. Throw in the continued development of Mo Wilkerson, Kenrick Ellis, and Kyle Wilson and this defense could easily be the best in the NFL. Oh yeah, they also have some guy named Revis that I hear is pretty good.

5) Expectations

Joe Caporoso – Not buying the Buffalo Bills hype train at all and still think the Jets are the second best team in the AFC East. Will that be good enough for a playoff spot? Right now, the Jets don’t look like a playoff team. That being said, considering how their schedule softens up after week 5, the talent on defense, and the hope that the offense has to eventually improve in some way they could very well grab 9 or 10 wins and sneak in. The Jets are going to play close football games on a weekly basis, they need to play clutch at the end of games like they did in 2010 if they are going to have a winning record.

Chris Gross – This is where it gets sticky. The defense has the potential to be among the best in the league, if not the best. However, the offense is a cause for serious concern. You can say that winning teams are built on defense and the ability to run the ball, but can the Jets run the ball? The way the league has evolved, the importance of the Quarterback position is at an all time high. For this team to be successful, Mark Sanchez needs to have a career year in terms of ball security. If he can limit his turnovers, and provide numbers that he has in the past, then this team will have a chance to get into the playoffs and make another run. If not, New York will be picking in the top twenty come Apirl’s draft.

Mike Donnelly – In my AFC East preview, I outlined my expectations for the team this year. I think they’re going to win 10 or 11 games, despite how bad the offense looks right now. Face it, the defense has the potential to be outrageously good, and that combined with an easy schedule is enough to get them plenty of wins. I believe the offense is going to get it together, and while they won’t be setting the world on fire, they are going to be a competent offense, and they’ll be one of the better teams in the AFC.

6) Rookies

Joe Caporoso – Quinton Coples has looked impressive rushing the passer, although you hate to hear veterans questioning his motor at practice. He is so immensely talented, it is hard to see him not registering at least 4-6 sacks as a rookie and gradually having his role increase as the season moves on. Stephen Hill will be a boom or bust player as a rookie, alternating big plays with drops and mental errors. Demario Davis will see more time as the season goes on but immediately be an impact player on special teams and on passing downs. Jordan White looks like he will make the roster, but will likely need a few injuries in front him to see substantial offensive reps. Beyond that, Antonio Allen has outplayed Josh Bush so far and could get into the mix for a defensive packages. It doesn’t appear that running back Terrance Ganaway will be much of a factor, as of right now at least.

Chris Gross – When it is all said and done, I expect DeMario Davis to have the greatest impact among all rookies this season. That is not a slight on any of the other players because I do think that Quinton Coples, Stephen Hill, Antonio Allen, and possibly Jordan White will all contribute nicely. However, with how balanced Davis is in terms of his ability to defend the run and pass, and as a special teams contributor, I expect him to have the greatest immediate impact. Over the long haul, the hope is for Coples to eventually become a cornerstone of this defense along with Davis, Mohammed Wilkerson, David Harris, and Darrelle Revis.

Mike Donnelly – I expect between 4 and 7 sacks from Coples this year, which will obviously lead some less than sane Jets fans to call him a bust, but his contributions will be more than just his sacks total. The guy is a force agains the run and he’s someone offensive coordinators have to plan and account for when he’s out there. He’s going to help open things up big time for those playing around him. Stephen Hill is another rookie whose contributions will go beyond the box score. He provides the deep threat the team sorely missed last year, and his presence on the field will open up the underneath routes, plus he’s an excellent run blocker. Demario Davis is going to be a special teams force, and will definitely help in sub packages with his coverage ability. The other rookie I’m very excited about is Antonio Allen, the 7th round steal who has looked tremendous so far this preseason. All in all, this rookie class has the potential to be very good.

7) Right Tackle Revisited 

Joe Caporoso – In the process of writing this article Wayne Hunter was benched for Austin Howard. This was a no-brainer after watching Hunter play against the Giants. However, let’s not celebrate Howard like the second coming of Orlando Pace. He did not win this job, Hunter lost it. The Jets had no choice but to bench Hunter and Howard was simply next on the depth chart. If the team was truly that high on Howard, they would have given him the job in the beginning of the summer, wouldn’t have traded for Jeff Otah and wouldn’t have worked out Marcus McNeil a few weeks back. Yes, I think Howard can be an upgrade from Hunter but who couldn’t? Look for the Jets to still add another player via trade or free agency.

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Exploring The Possibility Of MJD to NYJ

Chris Gross explores the potential pros and cons of the New York Jets trading for Maurice Jones-Drew

With a lengthy hold out seemingly poised to last well into the regular season, Jacksonville Jaguars star Running Back Maurice Jones-Drew has reportedly told the team that he is open to being traded if the two sides cannot come to an agreement on a new deal. Since then, many reports have surfaced linking the reigning rushing champion to the New York Jets. Some sources have reported that the Jets front office has contacted Jacksonville to inquire about the availability of Jones-Drew, while conflicting reports have stated that New York has no interesting in making a deal. Although signs currently point to the latter, with Jets General Manager Mike Tannenbaum, one can never quite say never.

In exploring a deal for Jones-Drew, there are numerous factors to take into account. First, why on earth would Jacksonville, under the new ownership of Shahid Khan, get rid of the face of the franchise, rather than pay him the money he commands? The answer is quite simple. With a completely new regime in place, the Jaguars seem ready to move forward in complete overhaul mode, meaning moving ahead with young players, leaving no room for high priced veterans who are going to cause a distraction to the new coaching staff and front office. With that in mind, Jacksonville would surely like to add some future draft picks to bring in their own, young players in the future, with the idea of building a playoff caliber team a few years from now.

What could also determine whether or not the Jaguars decide to retain, or move MJD, is the play of the man who has replaced Jones-Drew as the lead back in his absence, Rashad Jennings. Over the past two seasons in Jacksonville, Jennings has built a career rushing average of 5.4 yards per carry. Last season, he played in just 13 games while accumulating 459 rushing yards on just 84 carries, for a total of 5.5 YPC. The argument can certainly be made that Jennings is a beneficiary of Jones-Drew wearing down defenses for him to rip off big chunks of yardage, however Jennings has been quite impressive this preseason thus far without MJD carrying the load in front of him.

In his first two games this preseason, Jennings has carried the ball 23 times for a total of 118 yards, including 56 yards on the New York Giants starting defense, the same defense that held Jets starting Running Back Shonn Greene to just 36 yards on 11 carries. While Jennings may not be Jones-Drew, he has shown that he has the potential to be a very serviceable back in this league.

The next immediate question that comes to mind is whether or not this would be a good move for the Jets to make. First, let’s look at why Tannenbaum and co. would want to make such a trade:

Usually when players of Jones-Drew’s stature reportedly become available, the immediate concern for all teams interested is the cap space. According to nyjetscap.com, the Jets have just over $6 million left before going over this year’s salary cap. Jones-Drew is slated to make $4.45 million this season, and $4.95 million next season, so, for at least the immediate future, the move could work financially.

Talking strictly football, Jones-Drew could be a godsend for the Jets. For a team committed to establishing a “ground and pound” identity, they have proved to be anything but from what we have seen over the course of their two early preseason games. Not one back on the roster has stood out as someone who can carry the workload and be the lead back. Jones-Drew is a proven back who has consistently posted stats atop the league, rushing for over 1300 yards in each of the past three seasons, including an NFL leading 1606 yards in 2011. At 27, many believe MJD is nearing the point in his career when he will begin to wear down, but he has shown no signs of that up until this point, averaging his most yards per carry last season since his rookie year.

On the issue of age, Michael Turner signed with the Atlanta Falcons as a free agent prior to the 2008 season, at 26 years old, just a year younger than Jones-Drew’s current age. In his four seasons in Atlanta, Turner has run for at least 1300 yards, other than 2009 when he played in just 11 games due to injury. However, he has been able to rush for double-digit touchdowns in each of those seasons, including his shortened 2009. While there are concerns about the mileage of MJD, he is still likely a few seasons away from reaching his peak, before the inevitable descend of the NFL running back.

Additionally, bringing in MJD would actually help Shonn Greene–also 27 years old. Greene’s most productive season was when he was paired with Thomas Jones as a rookie in 2009. Jones was the Jets workhorse, as he would wear down defenses with his tough running style, similar to that of Jones-Drew, while Greene would spell him and take advantage of an exhausted defense, averaging a career best 5 YPC. Since then, Greene has struggled to take over as the lead back for New York. In 2010, he was beat out for the starting spot by LaDanian Tomlinson, who many thought was brought in to serve primarily in a back-up/third down role. Finally, in 2011, when Greene became the starter, he barely put fear in opposing defenses, running for just over 1,000 yards with 6 touchdowns. These are not exactly great numbers for a lead back on a team built to run the football.

While a change in coordinators was expected to help Greene, there has been no sign of that this preseason thus far. Jones-Drew and Greene could complement each other as well as Jones and Greene did back in 2009, and would be a step in the right direction in returning the Jets to the top of the league in rushing, assuming the Right Tackle situation is properly addressed. Still, Wayne Hunter’s run blocking isn’t nearly as bad as his pass pro, and many times, a back as dynamic as Jones-Drew can help mask, or at least band-aid, a weak link on the line like Hunter, while providing help in the pass game, as he is certainly one of the better pass blocking backs in the NFL.

MJD is also very effective as a receiver out of the backfield, an element that was virtually non-existent in the Jets offense in 2011. Over the span of his six-year career, Jones-Drew has compiled 279 receptions for 2,473 yards and 10 touchdowns. When was the last time the Jets offense successfully ran a screen that ripped off a big chunk of yards? Or better yet, when was the last time they effectively completed a pass to a back in any type of route out of the backfield?

Although the Right Tackle situation is surely a top priority for the Jets, that does not mean they can’t make moves that would greatly improve their roster in the mean time. Jones-Drew is a unique talent that would add a very interesting dynamic to an offense that lacks in that area.

When imagining Jones-Drew in the Green and White, strictly considering football reasons, there is very little, if anything, to dispel such an addition. However, anyone associated with this league knows how much of a role the business aspect plays in every decision, and when considering this, there is great reason as to why this trade would not work.

The price tag – MJD would not come cheap. Jacksonville would likely seek multiple draft picks in exchange for Jones-Drew, possibly a 2nd and 5th, which was what Marshall Faulk was traded for back in 1999 when the premium on Running Backs was much higher, or even two 3rd rounders, which was what Brandon Marshall was traded to Chicago for earlier this offseason. While the picks required to obtain Jones-Drew would probably not scare Mike Tannenbaum away, the eventual price to pay him likely will.

Although Jones-Drew would likely report to the Jets, if traded, prior to receiving a new deal, the Jets would be in a very difficult position come March, when they are going to be required to finally give Darrelle Revis his long overdue massive pay day. So, following this season, the Jets would be in a difficult spot. Do you pay Revis and ship out Jones-Drew, essentially making him a costly one-year rental? It would be very hard to imagine a scenario where the Jets spit in the face of Revis and awarded MJD with a contract before their most prized possession, as it would likely cause an immense outrage amongst the fan base. Tannenbaum and the front office couldn’t possibly be so short sighted.

The Holdout Factor – Even if the Jets hypothetically swing a deal for the coveted veteran out of UCLA, his performance almost surely will not be near where it has been in the past due to his lengthy holdout. When observing the history of star players who have held out recently, they never seem to hit their stride until much later than normal. In 2010, Darrelle Revis missed time due to injury following his holdout. Similarly, Tennessee Running Back Chris Johnson ran for career lows in both yards–1047–and touchdowns—4—after ending his holdout late last summer. Even if Jones-Drew were to be traded right now and reported to camp by Friday, he would me miles behind, both physically and mentally. He would likely not hit his stride until midseason, which would still leave the Jets in the same predicament they are in through a vigorous first half of the year.

As unlikely as a move for Jones-Drew may be, Mike Tannenbaum is notorious for pulling surprise trades. Under his management, the Jets have acquired Kris Jenkins, Brett Favre, Braylon Edwards, Antonio Cromartie, Santonio Holmes, and Tim Tebow via trade, just to name a few. Like any trade, though, there are positives and negatives of bringing in MJD. If available, it could simply come down to how desperate the Jets become offensively, something that is still very difficult to gauge.

New York Jets Offense: Where Will The Improvement Come From?

Where will the improvement on the New York Jets offense come from?

The New York Jets have hit rock bottom as an offensive unit. They can’t possibly play worse than they did against the Cincinnati Bengals and New York Giants. Their home pre-season game against Carolina needs to begin a road to improvement. Carolina has an average defense at best, so it will be good opportunity to build a little confidence and momentum heading into the regular season. The question is where will the improvement on this unit come from?

Trade Market – You never know what Mike Tannenbaum could come up with or what teams will be looking to move pieces as training camp comes to a close. From all indications the Jets aren’t in the market for a skill position addition but have to at least be exploring right tackle options. Teams around the league aren’t stupid. They know how desperate the Jets are for help at right tackle, so the question becomes is Mike Tannenbaum willing to overpay in compensation? From the way Hunter looked against the Giants, he has to be.

Free Agent Scrap Heap – Mike Tannenbaum has said the Jets will have “mini-draft” right around Labor Day after the last wave of roster cuts. That is all well and good but there is a reason teams cut players. The Jets will have to focus on teams with excessive depth in certain areas and hope to find something valuable. This is not where you want to be finding a starter for your offensive unit. However, there is no reason the Jets can’t find a competent blocking tight end prior to week one.

Getting Healthy – The biggest impact here will come at the wide receiver position. Santonio Holmes and Jeremy Kerley will make a difference when they return and the Jets passing game production will improve. The Jets desperately need both players to be healthy and productive throughout the entire season. Holmes is the unit’s top playmaker and Kerley showed a high amount of potential in the slot in 2011.

Making Internal Decisions – If the Jets aren’t going to add another right tackle from outside the team, it is time to hand the job over to Austin Howard. He is probably only capable of starting on one team in the NFL but unfortunately that team is the Jets. Simply put, he cannot be worse than Wayne Hunter. At running back, the Jets need to decide if Joe McKnight or Bilal Powell will be the third down back and commit to it. McKnight’s upside is substantially higher and the Jets need speed desperately, so he is the logical choice.

Tebow Factor – One player who can make the Jets running game dynamic is Tim Tebow, particularly lined up at quarterback in certain situations. We still have no idea exactly how he will be deployed in the Jets offense but even if he can pick up 45-55 yards a game, it will make a huge difference in an offense desperate for yards.

Force The Issue – Tony Sparano needs to get the ball in his playmakers hands in the right situation. Get Santonio Holmes in space where he can run after the catch. Throw deep post and go routes to Stephen Hill. Send Dustin Keller down the seam and if they are taking it away, line him up at receiver and throw him a screen to keep him involved. Make McKnight the third down back and thrown him a few screens.

Sanchez – Protect the football and take more shots down the field. Sometimes you need to throw the deep ball just to throw it. Stephen Hill is 1 on 1 but covered well? Throw it anyway. He is 6 foot 4 for a reason. Santonio Holmes is 1 on 1 but covered well? Give him a chance to make a play, he was a Super Bowl MVP for a reason. Throw an interception on a 50 yard bomb on 3rd and 10, instead of on a 2 yard crossing pattern on 3rd and 10.

New York Jets Fact Or False: Preseason Week 2 Edition

Chris Gross weekly Fact or False previews the New York Jets pre-season game against the New York Giants

Chris Gross is back with his weekly Fact or False, this week previewing the upcoming Jets/Giants pre-season game. Make sure to give Chris a follow on Twitter and for God’s sake get yourselves a TOJ shirt before we sell out to current Jets players –

For this week’s New York Jets Fact Or False, we preview the preseason edition of the Battle of New York. Although the Giants remain the victor in this rivalry until the next regular season match-up, Jets fans still have much to watch for in Battle of NY Lite.

A Jets win will help forget about 12/24/2011. False.

Unfortunately for Jets fans, even if Gang Green beats their cross town rival in blowout fashion, the image of Victor Cruz’s 99 yard touchdown catch on Christmas Eve will remain burned in their memories until the next regular season match-up between the two clubs. The Jets would certainly love to take the game, and at least have some sense of pride in the city, however the Giants and their fans will hold bragging rights until the Jets take Big Blue down in the regular season, or until they win a Superbowl, whicever comes first. Until then, the Giants remain the Kings of New York.

Victor Cruz will dominate. False.

Anyone familiar with either of these two teams knows that Victor Cruz has had his way with the Jets over the course of his young career. Cruz became well known to both Jets and Giants fans when he torched Gang Green for 6 receptions for 145 yards and 3 Touchdowns in their 2010 preseason match-up. Cruz seemed to hold onto that flame in last year’s Christmas Eve game when he hauled in 3 balls for 164 yards and a touchdown, including the infamous 99 yard touchdown reception that all but ended the Jets’ 2011 campaign. However, with Hakeem Nicks out, and Mario Manningham now playing in San Fransisco, Cruz will likely play as the team’s primary option at wide receiver, meaning he will be matched up on All-Pro Darrelle Revis. While this is an excellent opportunity for Cruz to even further showcase his skills and dominance of the Jets, chances of anyone getting off of Revis Island are extremely slim.

Revis has been clashing with Stephen Hill in practice throughout all of training camp. After the rookie had his way with the league’s best defensive back earlier this week, Revis had reportedly buckled down and blanketed Hill in the week’s later practices. Revis has been practicing against great speed throughout training camp, something Cruz has plenty of. However, this will be nothing new to what Revis has seen in practice thus far, and I would expect him to come out on a mission, considering Cruz’s past success against the Jets.

The Offensive Line will struggle to get Sanchez protection early. Fact.

Although the Jets Offensive Line has vowed to improve upon their abysmal performance in Cincinnati, there is still a very serious issue at Right Tackle. Although Austin Howard held his own, and has earned praise from the coaching staff, the Giants defensive front is among the best in all of football, if not the best. Last year, Defensive Ends Justin Tuck and Jason Pierre-Paul combined for 3 sacks and 4 quarterback hits on Sanchez, leading the team’s total of 5 sacks and 6 QB hits. Although part of the blame for these numbers can be placed on former Offensive Coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, who called for an idiotic 60 plus passing plays, the offensive line will have their work cut out for them. Expect Giants Defensive Coordinator Perry Fewell to attack the right side of the line with combinations of Tuck, Pierre-Paul, and Osi Umenyiora to get pressure on Sanchez. The task will be extremely tough for the guys up front come Saturday night.

The Jets will be able to run the ball effectively. Fact.

Although the Giants pass rush is a cause for concern, their run defense isn’t exactly stellar. The interior defensive line has been harped by early injuries, and the linebacking corps is average, at best. Last year, the Jets ran for 105 yards against them, on only 25 carries, for an average of 4.2 YPC. I would expect the Jets to try to pound the ball in the middle, while running a great number of draws in an attempt to take advantage of the Giants’ aggressive pass rush. For the first time, we could get an early glimpse of the Tebow package, as this makes great philosophical sense against a pass rush like the Giants’.

Eli Manning will throw for multiple touchdowns. False.

Other than the fact that he will hardly play past the first quarter, Manning actually struggled the last time he faced the Jets, contrary to popular belief. Other than the 99 yard touchdown pass to Victor Cruz, which was more of Cruz burning the defense after the catch, Manning completed only 8 passes for 126 yards and an interception against the Jets last season. Rex Ryan and Mike Pettine did a good job of keeping him in check by disguising coverages and mixing up blitz packages. Manning will also be going up against the most talented secondary he will likely face all season long. While he is among the NFL’s elite quarterbacks, taking these facts, plus limited playing time into account, it is very unlikely that Manning tosses even a single touchdown pass, let alone multiple.

Quinton Coples still has a lot to prove. Fact.

Although Coples looked fantastic in his preseason debut for the Jets (5 tackles, 2 TFLs, 1 Sack, 1 FF, 1 PD), he has taken a lot of heat recently. Following the Jets 17-6 loss in Cincinatti last Friday, Coples was still criticized as the majority of his statistics came against the Bengals’ second and third strings. Earlier this week, both Calvin Pace and Defensive Coordinator Mike Pettine questioned Coples’ practice habits, basically stating that they want to see the effort that he put into the game equate the effort that he practices with.

Coples has been under the microscope since the Jets selected him with the 16th overall pick in this years draft. Many have questioned the decision to pass on coveted OLB Melvin Ingram for Coples, leaving the rookie out of UNC with a lot to prove. Now, Coples needs to prove that he can make plays against the starters, while also continuing to prove that he has the proper mindset to improve day to day. Expect him to come out with a heavy chip on his shoulder yet again.

New York Jets: Observations From Cortland

Turn On The Jets staff writer Chris Gross spent the day in Cortland yesterday, here is what he observed about the New York Jets

Turn On The Jets sent staff writer Chris Gross up to Cortland yesterday to report from New York Jets camp. Here are his observations. Feel free to submit those miles for reimbursement from the TOJ headquarters office Chris – 

After visiting the New York Jets next-to-final practice in Cortland this past Tuesday, not only did I come away with several observations, but I also got a much better feel for the identity of both the team, and a number of particular players. When observing the team this closely in person, a few things stand out right from the start as strikingly evident. Others revealed themselves throughout the course of the practice, many of which I was surprised with, some of which I expected.

As physically talented as Stephen Hill appears on film, it really does him no justice until seeing him play in person. Hill is extremely gifted and it is obvious just in the way he moves, runs, or does anything athletic. In One on One Wide Receiver/Defensive Back drills, Hill beat Darrelle Revis deep for a Touchdown on each of his first two reps. Seemingly irked by this, Revis finished the remaining two reps of the drill by buckling down and being extremely physical with Hill, not allowing him to get deep, while breaking up each of the two underneath passes thrown at him. This matchup seems like it is developing into a very nice practice rivalry and should be extremely beneficial to both players.

Hill is getting experience each day against the best Cornerback in all of football, while Revis is getting reps against a big target with great speed who can stretch the field at any moment. Hill showed great poise and confidence, as he did not shy away from Revis once. He seems to realize the opportunity to improve by going up against the All-World Cornerback, and watching him, you really get the sense that he is eager to challenge himself with this matchup. While Hill likely respects the stature of Revis, he is certainly not intimidated by him. He has a long way to go, but Hill can be an absolute star in this league, sooner rather than later.

Offensive Line Coach Dave DeGuglielmo is a perfect fit for this team. I stood about five feet from the Offensive Line during individual drills and one thing evident about DeGuglielmo is that he holds everyone accountable, including Pro Bowlers like Nick Mangold and D’Brichashaw Ferguson. He coaches his group up on every rep whether it be in live action or running plays on air. He is constantly tentative to footwork, technique, and most importantly, execution.

Vlad Ducasse is as advertised. Ducasse is very physically gifted, and passes the eye test as an NFL Offensive Lineman for sure, however one of his main problems is his inability to play low. Even when simply hitting the sled, usually a time to exaggerate technique with no live competition on the other side of the ball, Ducasse would sprout right up. While running through drills in the chutes, Ducasse hit his head on the top more than once, and was reprimanded by DeGuglielmo for his lack of technique. To me, Ducasse’s consistent inability to play low shows laziness, and unless he fixes both of these issues quickly, he will likely remain on the sidelines on Sundays.

Robert T. Griffin has improved greatly since we evaluated his college game film following the draft. Griffin is one of the biggest guys on the field and seems to be extremely coachable, which is likely the reason for his early improvement. His technique is greater than what you’d expect of a sixth round rookie, and he really seems to focus on all the little things like stance, steps, footwork, etc. His potential can be very high due to his physical tools and coachability.

The Defensive Line and Secondary are the strengths of this team. This should really comes as no surprise to anyone, but as a unit, the Defensive Line seems to have the best cohesion out of any other group on the team. Combined with the immense talent across the board on the defensive front is a very strong work ethic. Karl Dunbar does an excellent job as both a teacher and motivator. During run read drills with the Offensive Line, Dunbar was heard belting out plenty of excitement for his guys, while stressing all of the little things, like DeGuglielmo. First round pick Quinton Coples and Aaron Maybin were moved all around in various fronts, and it should be very interesting to see how each of these guys are used this year, considering their immense talent and potential.

As for the secondary, this is probably the most talented unit on the team. It is really amazing to see the immense skill of Revis, Antonio Cromartie, and Kyle Wilson in person. The new safeties seem to mesh well with these guys, and they all communicate with each other while on the field. You can feel the veteran savvy of LaRon Landry and Yeremiah Bell patrolling the back half of the defense. They seem extremely comfortable out there.

The biggest thing I took away from practice on Tuesday was the impression made by Mark Sanchez. The 4th year pro out of Southern California looked terrific, not only in his throws, but in his heightened level of command, his improved demeanor, and his overall leadership ability. He shows a level of confidence that he has yet to express since coming into the league, and certainly seems to have a bit of a chip on his shoulder. While watching him, not only play, but communicate with his teammates, you can just feel his attitude, that this is his team, his offense, and things are going to be done his way. His chemistry with Tight End Dustin Keller is uncanny, and it shows on the field. To me, this has been a bit overlooked, but their relationship seems to go beyond any other relationship on the team. Their timing is flawless; seemingly sharing the same train of though on nearly every play. Because of this, Keller is poised for a breakout season.

Tim Tebow is physically gifted. Tebow is extremely big in person, particularly in his lower body. He was among the first players on the field prior to practice, as he was warming up with some of the receivers and tight ends. One thing I noticed about him, though, is that his long throwing motion is exaggerated. While his wind-up is certainly longer than that of the average NFL Quarterback, it is not nearly as bad as people make it out to be. His arm strength is very good, but in terms of accuracy, he is not on par with Mark Sanchez. Tebow will certainly contribute this season, mostly as a runner, but also as more of a passer than most people are expecting. However, after watching both of them in person, I would not expect Tebow to dethrone Sanchez as the starter at any point this season.

The Running Back situation is a serious cause for concern. While Shonn Greene got the most reps with the first unit, with Bilal Powell working in, and Joe McKnight getting in some situational work, none of these backs truly stand out. Not one of them demonstrates the tools or ability to be a feature back. While this group is certainly not terrible by any means, each of these players are average at best. A move to add a veteran like Ryan Grant needs to be made.

The Rest of the Rest:

Rookie WR Jordan White got extended reps with Santonio Holmes, and eventually Stephen Hill, being out of practice. With these reps, I thought White practiced very well. He had an amazing back shoulder catch on the sideline with Darrelle Revis on him during team drills, prompting a chest bump from Sanchez. Revis had great coverage on the play, but the ball was thrown perfectly, and White made a great play on it. White’s work ethic is very obvious and he seems to take pride in every drill that he does.

Josh Baker looked very good and he will likely be used in a number of various roles this season. He is certainly one of the more versatile weapons on the offense, and it will be interesting to see how Sparano utilizes that.

Rookie Linebacker DeMario Davis played in a lot of nickel and third down sub packages, and seemed to be grasping the defense a little at a time. His athleticism is fantastic, but mentally he still seems like he has a bit to get down.

Marcus Dowtin was very impressive in limited action. The undrafted rookie out of North Alabama saw reps at both Safety and Linebacker, and obtained a sack on Greg McElroy on a blitz right through the middle, where he came through untouched. He reminds me of a heavier version of James Ihedigbo, and if he makes the roster, he could be used as a situational player on third downs, either as a blitzer or in coverage.

No Huddle – New York Jets Pre-Season Recap

TJ Rosenthal goes No Huddle on the positives and negatives we saw from the New York Jets first pre-season game

TJ Rosenthal is back with his weekly No Huddle piece, this week focusing on the good, the bad…and the very ugly from the New York Jets pre-season opener. Make sure to give TJ a follow on Twitter and to check back later in the day for further coverage and analysis – 

Well one preseason game is now in the books and with it an opportunity to feel good in some way about the new offense right out of the gates.

Oh well.

It is time to move on towards a date with the world champs on Saturday but before we do, we huddle up and run some quick outs. Or shall we say, roll right screens to John Conner, regarding the past weekend –

1 – Coples the Game Changer?

Rookie Quinton Coples made plays. He stopped runs, tipped passes and got to the QB. A game full of production that topped the entire career of Vernon Gholston, the last pass rushing hope the Jets selected in the first round, in just one night.

The question is, can Coples get on the fast track now and become a real game changing force. A Jason Pierre Paul type of disrupter who can help cover up struggling offenses and any holes in the secondary that may arise during a game. If so, the Jets will have gained a much needed home run hitter. After all, Tim Tebow can’t line up on defense and rush the passer too.

2 – Offensive line, Stop Being Offensive

OC Tony Sparano says that the five sacks the Jets gave up Friday night were due to the lack of scheming for Cincy.

Really?

We did notice a few stunts or two but are you telling us that Mike Pettine doesn’t dial up a few criss crosses in Cortland during the week? Linemen have to communicate. Running backs have to chip in and chip. Football 101. Simple as that. If this doesn’t improve, the Jets record of 8-8 from 2011 won’t either.

3 – Tebow The Playmaker

Tim Tebow is not a pocket passer. Never will be. On a team with few proven touchdown makers however, he is a necessity right now.

We all saw what he did out there. In typical Tebow fashion he moved chains and created a threat to be accounted for. He wasn’t pretty, in dodging tacklers and rarely is. If the Jets can’t block though,  he’ll be needed more often to escape jailbreak pressure. His attributes are best suited for that type of desperation.

Don’t hate on him Jets nation. Be thankful that he provides the Jets with that choice.

4 – No Wildcat Marvin Lewis? Then Don’t Blitz Either

Now we already discussed the Jets struggles in protecting Mark Sanchez, Tebow and Greg McElroy. Apparently however, Marvin Lewis called Rex Ryan Friday morning and asked him not to run the Wildcat during the game. Fine, then why did Lewis send blitzers to get after any Jets signal callers?

If you’re asking a team to play vanilla then do the same.

5 – Safeties In The Same Zip Code As Tight Ends

How shocking was it to see Bengals tight ends covered? OK so nobody out there resembled Gronk and Hernandez but it is a start. We’ve moved from not being in the same time zone over the past few seasons, to being in the same zip code as tight ends.

It was a welcome sight.

Now if the Jets defense can build off of this, and actually take away the middle of the field option from opposing QBs once in a while, that would be the next step in the growth towards becoming the shut down unit Ryan and Co expect to be in 2012.

Initial Reaction – New York Jets Inconsistent Against Bengals

The New York Jets had an inconsistent performance, at best, in their pre-season opener against the Cincinnati Bengals

A handful of thoughts from the New York Jets pre-season opener against the Cincinnati Bengals, a 17-6 loss that was far from the prettiest football game you will ever see –

1. Mark Sanchez didn’t receive much help in the way of protection or his receivers getting separation. However, he protected the football, scrambled for a first down on a 3rd down and hooked up with Patrick Turner 3 times. Overall, the first offense was rather disappointing, particularly Shonn Greene who finished up with 11 yards on 5 carries. Tony Sparano’s new offense remains a work in progress but remember how vanilla they were tonight.

2. Tim Tebow was Tim Tebow. He had three very impressive scrambles and finished as the team’s leading rusher with 34 yards on 4 carries. Yet, he struggled to throw the football only finishing 4/8 for 27 yards with an ugly interception. I remain confident in my belief that Tebow will be the team’s second leading rusher and is more of their number two running back than their number two quarterback.

3. Quinton Coples was the star of the night. Few people were more critical of his selection than yours truly but the rookie impressed tonight with 4 tackles, a tackle for a loss, a sack, a forced fumble and a pass defensed. Yes, many of his big plays came against the Bengals second unit but Coples looked athletic and like he could be a factor against both the run and pass.

4. Bilal Powell played over Joe McKnight as both the third down back and number two running back but it was McKnight who stole the show at running back. Powell finished with 16 yards on 5 carries and 1 reception for 4 yards, along with a missed block that led to a sack. McKnight showed some good giddy-up with 32 yards on 7 carries and 3 receptions for 34 yards.

5. Overall the defense was very good against the run, surrendering only 2.8 yards per carry. Kenrick Ellis filled in admirably for Sione Pouha and David Harris racked up 4 tackles in limited action.

6. Defensive end Jay Richardson had a head turning performance with 4 tackles and a sack. Garret McIntyre also had a sack and was active. Rookie linebacker Demario Davis had 4 tackles and a tackle for a loss.

7. Aaron Maybin struggled against the run and wasn’t effective getting to the passer despite extended reps. Isahiah Trufant and Julian Posey were beat like a drum all night long at corner. Josh Bush also doesn’t look quite ready for any kind of first team reps yet.

8. The Jets backup offensive lineman were downright awful, nearly getting Greg McElroy killed in the 3rd and 4th quarter. Depth is a major concern with this unit.

9. Can we keep Bart Scott out of coverage? When you can’t keep up with BenJarvus Green-Ellis over the middle, you have a problem. Demario Davis needs to be in on passing downs.

10. Rookie Stephen Hill had an ugly drop on a 3rd down. However he did haul in two high Tebow passes. It would have been nice to see him stretch the field but I’m sure that will come in time.

11. I would hate to be in the special teams meetings tomorrow…

New York Jets Fact Or False: Preseason Week 1 Edition

Chris Gross weekly Fact or False previews the New York Jets opening pre-season game against the Cincinnati Bengals

For this week’s edition of New York Jets Fact Or False, we will begin a trend that will be prevalent all season long. Each week, F or F will be dedicated to the upcoming Jets game, as we will look at the most pressing issues facing Gang Green each week. For our initial take, let’s have a look at what to expect to see, as well as what to watch for, in tomorrow night’s game in Cincinnati.

AJ Green vs. Darrelle Revis will be the most intriguing matchup of the game. Fact.

AJ Green had a stellar rookie season last year, joining with Quarterback Andy Dalton to form the first ever rookie QB/WR tandem to make the Pro Bowl. Green hauled in 65 passes for 1,057 yards and 7 Touchdowns last season, while facing some excellent defenses along the way. However, this will be his first career matchup with Revis, and not to disrespect any other players, he has never quite faced a talent like this in his entire playing career. Revis is a completely different animal, but Green certainly has immense talent. Rest assured both of these players cannot wait to face each other, not only for the challenge, but for the opportunity to assert their dominance. Revis would undoubtedly like to strand yet another receiver on Revis Island, while Green would love to be one of the very few to get off. Although they will get limited reps against one another, expect each of those reps to provide the best matchup on the field tomorrow night.

Andy Dalton will outperform Mark Sanchez. False.

Although Dalton had a very solid rookie campaign last season, his numbers were average at best when facing defenses ranked in the top ten in the NFL. Against those opponents, Dalton completed 175 of 311 passes for 1,954 yards, 11 Touchdowns, and 10 interceptions with a completion percentage of 56.27 and a passer rating of 77.28. These numbers certainly are not terrible, especially for a rookie, but Dalton clearly struggled to protect the football. While he has already faced the stellar defenses of Baltimore and Pittsburgh twice each, he has yet to come up against a Cornerback tandem with the combined talent of Darrelle Revis, Antonio Cromartie, and Kyle Wilson. Factor in what should be improved Safety play, and Dalton could get overwhelmed quickly. He will certainly get his completions, however don’t expect him to outshine Sanchez. Sanchez is coming into this game with an extreme sense of confidence in relation to his knowledge of the new offensive system, and you’d have to think after what was probably the longest offseason of his playing career, he will be coming out with a heavy chip on his shoulder. Each of these players’ reps will be very limited, but look for Sanchez to play at a higher level than Dalton.

This will be a great test for the Ground and Pound. Fact.

Cincinnati ranked 7th in total defense last season, and for good reason. They have talent all over the board, especially in the front seven. They posses great size up front in players like Michael Johnson and Carlos Dunlap, as well as defensive leader Rey Maualuga who racked up 88 tackles, 3 forced fumbles, and an interception in just 13 games last season. This is a very tough, hard nosed defense, with great experience against offenses that can effectively run the ball, as they play Pittsburgh and Baltimore twice each season. Any team that has to face Ray Rice twice in the same year is no stranger to power football, so this will be a very good, early test for the Jets’ projected return to the “Ground and Pound” philosophy. Friday night should be an excellent gauge of how far along this new system is, as well as where improvements need to be made. It will be very interesting to see how the heavily scrutinized Shonn Greene, the rising Bilal Powell, and the polarizing Tim Tebow contribute.

Mark Sanchez has the most to prove in this game. False.

While Sanchez may have the most to prove over the course of the entire season, this game will have little effect on how he is judged as the Quarterback of this team. He will see very limited reps, plus there are a countless number of players with much more to prove tomorrow night.

Patrick Turner is certainly one of those guys, as he is constantly overlooked despite having quietly developed what seems to be a nice chemistry with Sanchez. Jordan White was extremely productive in college and should have ample opportunity to prove his worth with all of the injuries at Wide Receiver. LaRon Landry certainly would love to show that he is healthy and capable of playing at the level that made him the sixth overall pick in the 2007 NFL Draft. Quinton Coples would love to put all the question marks surrounding him to bed, and although that will not be possible in just one game, he can certainly take a step in the right direction.

Austin Howard will get plenty of reps with Wayne Hunter being sidelined, and he needs to prove to the organization that they do not need to add depth at the tackle position from the outside. As the season progresses, veterans like Bart Scott, Tim Tebow, Jeremy Kerley, and Santonio Holmes will all be highly motivated to put recent criticism behind them, but that will not happen in the first game of the preseason, especially for Holmes and Kerley who will not be participating in the contest. Tebow and Scott could certainly play well, but they will not be considered to have proven anything until the regular season.

The Jets Defense Will Impress Early. Fact.

Many observers forget how good this defense actually is. Rex Ryan and Defensive Coordinator Mike Pettine produced a top 5 defense last season, despite finishing 8-8 and missing the playoffs for the first time with the Jets. New York has done what it could to address the areas of need at Safety and in the pass rush, so each of those areas should be improved in comparison to last season. More importantly though, the Jets defense seems to have gotten their edge back. Reports out of camp already reveal that Bart Scott is back to his “Madbacker” form. Antonio Cromartie, although many times painfully outspoken, certainly will be coming into this game a bit enraged due to all the recent criticism directed toward him in the past week. LaRon Landry seems ready to run through a brick wall if he doesn’t hit someone in a different colored jersey soon, and Aaron Maybin and Ricky Sapp have been turning heads all camp.

From what we have seen in training camp so far, this defense has regained its speed, its motor, and most importantly, its swagger. Expect the starting unit to come out looking to make a statement early, especially considering the fact that they realize they will only have a few series to do so.

Rex Ryan is the most intriguing coach in this game. False.

Rex undoubtedly loves to be in the spotlight, and the media generally loves to focus on him. However, this game is not so much about Ryan as it is about the newcomers. It is going to be very interesting to see the first live action of Tony Sparano’s new system. There is plenty to look for including an established running game, command of the offense by Sanchez, and whether or not the offensive line has improved yet.

Moving over to the defensive side of the ball, it will be extremely intriguing to see the work of new defensive line Coach Karl Dunbar. Dunbar certainly has a surplus of depth and talent up front, so it will be interesting to see if he is in the early stages of maximizing that. New York’s pass rush has been built primarily on scheme since the appointment of Rex Ryan as head coach, so if they can generate a rush without having to blitz as much, it will be a very positive sign for Dunbar and his unit. Wide Receiver’s coach Sanjay Lal is another newcomer to the staff, and considering all the injuries at the position so far, the wide receiver play could say a lot about his coaching ability. If the younger, less experienced players come out strong, it could tell us something very good about Lal.

JETS FOOTBALL IS BACK TOMORROW, GET YOUR NEW SHIRT TO KICK OFF THE NEW SEASON

New York Jets: Stop Apologizing and Justifying

TJ Rosenthal on the New York Jets not concerning themselves with outside perception of their team

TJ Rosenthal checks in with another strong take about the current state of the New York Jets. Make sure to follow TJ on Twitter. Jets/Bengals is only two days away…watch the game in style. Check back later this afternoon for TOJ’s weekly beat writer rankings.  

They brawl with each other, when they aren’t busy saying whatever they feel like, whenever they they feel like it. They have a backup QB who plays smashmouth positions, yet feel the need to state every day that the guy ahead of him is the “clear cut” starter. Rookies are all over the field over veterans with experience as many wonder if youth can overcome the lack of years. All of this and more, being visible to the naked eye due to unbridled summer access again, this time thanks to ESPN. With it all though, whether or not one agrees with the club’s media policy or personnel choices, the Jets have to realize that they owe nobody an apology for any of this. Gang Green is responsible for just one thing. Being ready to rumble INSIDE of the ring when the bell rings. Starting Friday night against the Bengals.

Let’s go through some items that the Jets have no reason to explain at this time:

Knock It Off Boomer, You Had Your Chance

Former Jet QB, Boomer Esiason told the world boldly on Monday that Tim Tebow should be cut, because he can’t throw. Well the last time we checked the record book, Esiason’s rocket arm still read “2-10” as starter during his 1995 season with Gang Green. A 15-27 tenure overall in New York. A year in which by the way, he got KO’d for the season in Buffalo. He may not have the perfect mechanics, but a ten count AND presiding over a loser from behind center? Hey, that’s at least two things the arm challenged Tebow hasn’t come across yet either.

Tebow wins.

Tebow as a baller will be at his best as a runner who can throw. Whose roles will develop and become cemented more as his success from certain positions becomes apparent.

The Jets don’t have to explain how he will be used. What they ought to do instead, is realize that a more consistent arm should move soon to QB2. Whether it be the kids in camp or a cheap vet brought in. To do so would not be acknowledging a mistake in seeing Tebow as the number two. It would be strengthening a potential weakness.

If used right, this FOOTBALL PLAYER can help. The Jets need to stop feeling as though they need to send out a memo as to how and when it will all take place. Even if Hannah Storm and Ron Jaworski and Sal Paolantonio need to know now.

Woody Johnson says he’s surprised by the coverage surrounding Tebow but would be better off saying that he expected it. It shouldn’t matter either way since deep down Johnson has to feel that the kid will make plays. That’s why he was brought here first and foremost anyway, even if yes, he sells more merch than Lady Ga Ga.

Cro With An Ill Timed Thought, Not Exactly Breaking News

Antonio Cromartie said something ridiculous last week. Yes, and the sun rose and set each day all across the world as well. The Jets have an open door policy with players who tell you what they feel all the time. Often times the emotional words become headlines. If the Jets don’t like it, they can change the policy. That, or expect more nonsense.

On a trivial scale of an analogy of course, the Jets media approach is kind of like the 2nd amendment controversy. If the gun laws don’t change, the tragedies will continue. If the Jets want to stop the extra curricular chatter they have to close the doors and batten down the hatches. Changing their own amendment that was created once Eric Mangini was voted out office. Otherwise, let it ride.

Sanchez is the Starter? We Know That.

Mark Sanchez is more polished, more in command, more able to do more things with his arm consistently. He is the starter. The Jets have said it enough so as to let the outside world know that there is no QB controversy here. Enough already.

We understand the need for Rex and Co. to have gotten out in front of this story from the podium. Now it’s time put it to bed and start focusing on Sanchez running the offense well, and growing the young weapons he has to throw to. While considering the addition of a few vets for him along the way.

We are bordering now on too much noise about who the “clear cut” starter is, and not, in Jets nation, taking enough time to consider what a corps minus Santonio Holmes would really look like. If the rib scare wasn’t enough to strike fear in Jets brass, we’re not sure what it will take.

Are Hill, Kerely, Schilens and Turner enough?

Sanchez is the starter. We get it. Now keep an eye on things and make sure that he has what he needs on the outside so he doesn’t struggle. Forcing more post game quotes that support 6, as the Tebowmaniacs get louder.

Camp Fights Are As Old As Camps Themselves.

Teams fight. Brothers throw punches at the dinner table. People battling for jobs are desperate warriors with nothing to lose. These truths are as old as the bible.

Ryan has spent time this week trying to discipline his brawlers and hey, that’s a good thing. There is a fine line between “physical” and “illogical.” Sexy Rexy does not however, have to send players on extra laps primarily to show a nation of cable voyeurs that he is in control. He must do so only to draw the line between smart and tough, and what is dumb.

The 2012 Jets are a work in progress on many fronts. From the rookies being asked to contribute, to Tony Sparano’s new blend of the ground and pound with a wise aerial attack, to a new commitment towards being a shutdown defense again.

Stop apologizing. Stop justifying. Just come out of that tunnel and begin to head down the road that has been drawn up on paper. One that reads, “run hard, play physical, make the opponents go three and out, no turnovers.” Simple. Less sexy than the headline grabbers the Jets hand the media every day, but the formula for success that Ryan believes will get the Jets back on track.

Stay focused. Never mind what those outside of the bubble think or say.