New York Jets Exam Part 2

TOJ, Jeff Capellini and TJ Rosenthal debate out 10 more crucial questions about the 2011 New York Jets

CLICK HERE FOR PART ONE

11. How serious of a contender are the Jets for the AFC East title?

JEFF: Very serious, but only if the next two games don’t end up being disasters. From a Jets standpoint, we’ll know if they have a legit shot by Nov. 14.

JOE: I agree with Jeff, very serious especially if they knock New England off at home in a couple of weeks. New England is a very good team this year, but also very beatable. I would not be surprised if Pittsburgh or the Giants knocked them off in the coming weeks.

TJ: They have to come out of the New England game one game back or better. Being two back with seven games left would mean that the Pats would have to lose to three OTHER teams while the Jets go 6-1 or 7-0. Not likely. The next two games will determine whether the Jets are chasing byes and home playoff games in December, or hunting down extended January road trips again.

12. How do you see Mark Sanchez finishing out this season?

JEFF: Back in the preseason T.J. and I said you’d be nuts not to sign on the dotted line for roughly 3,500 yards, 20 TDs and 12 INTs from Sanchez. Well, he’s on pace to better all three. If you are looking for Sanchez to turn into Philip Rivers, it’s not going to happen, this season. The Jets’ brain trust rightly did a course correction, as I wrote recently. Mark is totally capable of throwing for 300 yards every time out, but the Jets shouldn’t be asking him to, not with the talent at running back and the apparent righting of the ship by the offensive line. Sanchez is a fine quarterback and by the end of the season you’ll see through his statistics that he’s making strides. There’s no regression. Plus, we already know he can win in the playoffs. Just leave him be.

JOE: I think Sanchez will finish with his best statistical season yet, while still having his occasional inconsistencies. More importantly, I do think he will remain reliable in a big spot and I don’t think he will be the reason the Jets can’t reach the Super Bowl this year, if they don’t happen to.

TJ: If the Jets are about to make a serious run at this thing, then we see Sanchez as he was against the Chargers and sometimes even better, numbers wise. In total control. Finding the right receivers in the proper areas of the field, able to shake off mistakes emotionally.

If the Jets fail to kick things into another gear, and end up as a 9-7 or 8-8 type of team, we see certain days where he is forced out of his comfort zone of managing and directing. This will lead to some helmetless mopey photos of him seated on empty sideline benches in the NY Post on Monday mornings.

Sanchez has the ability to lead the Jets all the way but it will take more than him to do it. He’s not bringing a Vince Lombardi trophy back to Florham Park all by himself.

13. How will the Jets handle the outside linebacker position the rest of the season with no Bryan Thomas? Will it be more Josh Mauga or Jamaal Westerman? Somebody else?

JEFF: Use both Mauga and Westerman. The Jets will need both to perform as one because they do different things. Westerman has stepped up a bit of late in the pass rushing department and Mauga is fairly decent at stopping the run. More importantly, both seem to understand and embrace their roles and know their responsibilities. Again, game situations will dictate who is on the field, but I think they are getting there, sort of like the entire defense has as the weeks have raced by.

JOE: I think it will be a combination of Mauga, Westerman, and Eric Smith coming down into the box while Brodney Pool steps in at free safety. There is no perfect solution to replacing Bryan Thomas, who was a valuable piece of the defense and the Jets will struggle occasionally to set the edge but overall they have enough to overcome his injury.

TJ: Maybin. For Aaron Maybin to REALLY do monster damage he has to play more. For him to play more, he has to be able to stop the run. Maybin should be given the chance to, with Mauga and Westerman sprinkled in. The combo of all three allows the Jets to stay fresh energy wise which becomes a positive as long as these guys can wrap ball carriers up when they attack the Jets defense on the edge. An area of the field that the Jets have gotten burned in over the first seven games.

14. Can Santonio Holmes maintain a peaceful existence in New York despite not being likely to rack up big stats this year?

JEFF: Santonio scares me because I have no idea what he is. Yes, he makes huge plays. Yes, he wants to win. But I do question his leadership and I do worry because he’s one strike away off the field from sitting out for a long time and he tends to be a little wacky on social networking sites with his supposedly cryptic tweets. As much as the Jets’ young players need to continue to grow up, so does Holmes, Super Bowl ring and MVP or not.

JOE: As long as the team is winning, I doubt see any more issues flaring up. Long term, Holmes need to act like a leader on this team even when the team is struggling. He is definitely worth keeping an eye on.

TJ: We’re not so sure. He SAYS it’s about the team but his body language sometimes leads one to believe otherwise. Winning will help. If the Jets for whatever reason start to lose alot of games, AND Holmes is not getting the ball? THAT could be a lethal combo.

We have the feeling that Holmes is about to break out though. This first half felt like it was more about keeping Sanchez safe and when throwing, getting Burress comfortable. Finding the right patterns and freedom on the field for Dustin Keller as well. Sancehz will keep looking for Holmes and as the line continues to gel, the time to go downfield will become more available. Holmes is THE downfield target for Sanchez.

15. Who are your six AFC Playoff teams?

JEFF: Patriots, Steelers, Chargers, Texans (division champs); Ravens, Jets (wild card)

JOE: Patriots, Steelers, Chiefs, Texans, Ravens, Jets…had to throw at least one curveball with Kansas City.

TJ: Pats, Steelers, Chargers, Ravens, Texans and Jets (who we’re not counting out for a division title until after Nov 13).

16. If the Jets do not make the playoffs, should Schottenheimer be booted?

JEFF: Yes, and depending on how the defense does from here on out, maybe Pettine should join him. Sooner or later the Jets need to realize how the 21st century offense in the NFL works. You bring in a serious offensive coordinator and allow Rex to bring him a hand-picked defensive coordinator so Ryan can spend more time focusing on defense and less time worrying about putting points on the board. I trust Rex implicitly, but I especially trust his defensive mind.

JOE: Unless they win a Super Bowl, I have hard time seeing them not making a change at offensive coordinator. Sometimes it is just time for a new voice and new approach.

TJ: That depends on whether not making the playoffs was the result of the offense. We’ll assume, barring injuries to the defense, that should the Jets not get in, the offense will have been the main culprit. After three years and expectations high, the scapegoat WILL be Schotty. Whether it entirely his fault or not.

17. Do the Jets miss Braylon Edwards, Jerricho Cotchery and Brad Smith?

JEFF: No. Burress is shutting up everyone and will continue to do so. Kerley is adapting to the slot nicely and should get better as the season progresses. I hate the “Wildcat” anyway and the Jets have not missed it. Special teams — i.e. kick returning has been just fine with McKnight, Kerley and, if need be, Cromartie.

JOE: If you would have asked me this before the New England game, I probably would have said yes. However, it appears there is still hope for Plaxico on the Jets and Jeremy Kerley looks like a long term answer as a number three receiver. Brad Smith has been replaced effectively by Joe McKnight.

TJ: Maybe in the run game outside where Edwards was as good as any big receiver in sealing off the edge. Aside from that, no. Burress provides a red zone threat that simply wasn’t there before his arrival. Cotch was clutch and a great Jet, but Kerley, who may develop over the second half without Derrick Mason around, has great hands too. With more speed as well. Smith’s loss was a big concern but not as much, after Joe McKnight took that kickoff in Baltimore and ran it down i-95 heading towards Washington DC.

18. Should Darrelle Revis win Defensive Player of the Year?

JEFF: If he keeps this up and doesn’t, I’ll know for sure there’s a conspiracy against the Jets. Even if they are hated by nearly everyone not a diehard, there’s no denying the fact that Revis is the premier defensive player in the NFL right now.

JOE: Yes…simple as that.

TJ: We can’t tell you who is more valuable to their team in other places but we CAN tell you that Revis accounts for 7-10 points, at least, every week. He shuts down a top receiver who on other Sundays, put’s up points for HIS team. Revis has in half of the games already, scored himself, or set up scoring chances for the offense. The Jets average 24.6 a game and allow 21.6 point to opponents. Factor in the difference that Revis singlehandedly makes every week and then look around and see who else can offer that kind of edge elsewhere. We’re not saying that nobody else on any other team can, but the bar is beyond high. Revis is making All Pro receivers look like depth chart guys.

19. Name your Jets Pro Bowlers.

JEFF: Revis, Mangold, Harris, maybe Nick Folk, and, believe it or not, Sanchez if his TD-to-INT ratio is as good at the end of the season as it is now.

JOE: Revis, Mangold, Joe McKnight as a returner and maybe D’Brickashaw Ferguson.

TJ: Revis, maybe Harris, maybe Joe McKnight. Pencil in Mangold from now until the 2016 election year provided that his health allows him to perform at a level he is used to performing at. Three penalties last week must have been a result of Mangold not being 100 percent due to the high ankle sprian that he’s been playing through.

20. Name the Jets who deserve credit for doing the dirty work

JEFF: Mike DeVito, Calvin Pace, both are having really good seasons and you really can’t judge their worth unless you don’t see them out there, due to injury.

JOE: Matt Slauson is steadily improving each week and Calvin Pace has been strong against the run, despite not getting after the quarterback as much as you’d like to see.

TJ: Mike Westhoff is the first name that comes to mind. How do you lose Leon Washington and Brad Smith yet somehow continue to give the Jets an edge EVERY week in the return game?  Who calmed Nick Folk down? Who made Joe Knight a weapon?  We love your lunchpail guys especially the poor man’s Joe Klecko, Mike Devito. We are thrilled to see Wayne Hunter settle in and play like he did last January. Westhoff though is our favorite unheralded Jet. He puts his crew in position to win key battles every Sunday. Especially when big plays are needed. McKnight’s punt block against Dallas for example. Or his ordering of Cromartie as the one to take that kick back in Indy last year that helped rescue the Jets in the Wildcard round. We appreciate every second of the hard work that he does in order to help ease the burden for a team that has gone to the AFC title game without a dominant pass rusher and 300 yards per game passer, two years straight.

CLICK HERE FOR PART ONE

A New York Jets Exam Part 1

TOJ, Green Lantern, and The Jet Report debate out 20 key questions facing the New York Jets the rest of the season

Get comfortable in your seat, print out a copy and take it on the train, or get ready for an extended lunch break. Jeff Capellini from CBS New York, TJ Rosenthal from The Jet Report, along with myself have taken the time to answer 20 crucial about the New York Jets on their bye week. Enjoy, disagree, argue…let’s get after it —

CHECK BACK FOR PART TWO ON SUNDAY

1. What does THIS Jets team have (or not have) that will allow it to move beyond the AFC Championship game.

JEFF: Personnel-wise, the Jets have enough to get to the Super Bowl. They also have the great intangible called belief. What they don’t have yet is a cohesiveness. And when you get to conference title games you have to be a united front on the field and in the locker room to beat the upper echelon teams, especially in their buildings. If the Jets make the playoffs, they are not going to zip through, only to face a wild card team that went on a miraculous run, in the championship game. It just doesn’t work that way. Odds are, they could go to New England, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, you name it. They have to learn how to take that last step and it’s not something you can teach. It’s a matter of experience, execution and coaching. It’s that simple. You’d think if they are truly back and get this thing revved up they’ll be one of the most difficult outs in the entire postseason. But, again, simply making it yet again is not enough. There are no gimmes in the playoffs. Sooner or later they have to truly come together, and I mean for more than 30 minutes at a clip.

JOE: I don’t think talent is an issue here and the experience is clearly in place for the Jets to make a Super Bowl run. The difference is going to be how stingy will the defense be in January and if Mark Sanchez can put together a few big time performances at the right time. It is very likely the Jets could end up in the wild-card again, which means road victories over some combination of New England, Baltimore, and Pittsburgh need to occur for the Jets to finally make it to that elusive Super Bowl.

TJ: For many on this Jets team, there is the collective experience of having battled on the road through two straight AFC playoff runs now. That’s alot of adversity to fight through together. As for new pieces, Plaxico Burress could be a difference maker in the red zone as he was last week. The Jets were red zone failures over the past two seasons. What they also may have added, should they choose to use it, is more speed on offense thanks to Joe McKnight and Jeremy Kerley. On the defensive side, if Aaron Maybin continues to settle in, others like Calvin Pace may benefit. In that scenario you could argue that by December the Jets will have the pass rush that was not at their disposal either during the ’09 and ’10 seasons.

2. Looking back, are there any August roster changes you’d like to have back? Or attacked differently?

JEFF: I might not have let Shaun Ellis walk, but he got a king’s ransom from the Patriots, one that the Jets would have been laughed at for matching or exceeding. However, they are still, reportedly, well below the cap and the defensive line, while improving at a snail’s pace weekly, is still not a strength. I kind of think having Ellis around would have been a good thing for the Kenrick Ellises and Muhammad Wilkersons of the world. Plus, who knows? Maybe Shaun could’ve still made some impact plays at opportune moments. The bottom line is, his return would not have HURT the Jets.

JOE: Plaxico’s recent three touchdown game and the emergence of Jeremy Kerley has calmed me down about Braylon Edawrds and Jerricho Cotchery walking. I do think the Jets are moving around the receivers surrounding Mark Sanchez too much but hopefully he can continue to adjust. Obviously, it would have been nice to see Mike Tannenbaum add a veteran lineman when Robert Turner suffered his pre-season injury.

TJ: We are still uncomfortable with the notion that if Mark Sanchez has ANY sort of issues that could sideline him during a game or even for a week or two, that Mark Brunell, with all due respect to an outstanding 19 year NFL career, is next in line. We would have liked to see a better option handled over in the Summer even though the Jets would tell you that 7th rounder Greg McElroy was on pace to landing a backup role. We wanted a Sage Rosenfels type. An 8-10 year vet who could sling it if needed.

The chase for Nnamdi Asomugha was extensive and may have cost the Jets Brad Smith but the biggest move we’d take back is cutting Aaron Maybin in the first place. Could Maybin have made a difference out in Oakland, where the early season avalanche began? We’ll never know.

3. Whats the biggest fear or danger zone for this team, player or unit, as we enter the second half?

JEFF: If the Jets’ defense continues to be what it was in the second half of the Chargers game, I’m not worried at all. However, even if it is that unit, it’s still not a shutdown unit. The Jets will still allow the occasional running back to have the big game. Tight ends and second and third receivers will still post gaudy numbers. We’ve all heard of “bend-but-don’t-break” defenses. I think that’s what the Jets are, but on a more accelerated level. They are somewhere between bend but don’t break and shutdown. The hope is they will continue to make strides toward the latter, especially over the next two weeks.

JOE: The fear is the defense allowing teams to run the football on them. There is no Ground and Pound, if you allow another running back to rack up 150 yards. It is messes with the approach of the entire team and forces the offense to play too aggressively.

TJ: The biggest fear we have is cohesiveness on the field. The Jets are, barring a major change, seeing the extent of what Mark Sanchez can give the team consistently. That is leadership, hot streaks, and the ability to come from behind. If the Jets run game keeps growing, and the defense begins to cement while adding players like Maybin into the equation, then the load  that Sanchez wlll be asked to carry can remain reasonable. If parts break down too often though, the team will have to ride the arm, and decision making of Sanchez. Two traits that are best served when keeping his stranglehold on games within reason.

4. After the spreading the ball around and featuring big pieces like Burress, Greene and Keller last Sunday, is it safe to say that Schotty and the offense have a solid handle on their approach now?

JEFF: I’m confident this offensive line is very close to being what it was last season. I think it has gotten over its adjustment period, which was caused mostly by injuries and these new and somewhat absurd CBA rules on padded practices. Shonn Greene IS a No. 1 running back. He moves the sticks. Mark Sanchez is a better quarterback than he was last season. Plaxico Burress is still a premier red zone target. The Jets just have to do a better job of complimenting Greene with LaDainian Tomlinson out of the backfield and as a receiver, must not forget about Dustin Keller, which they have been prone to do, and must get the ball in Santonio Holmes’ hands. He cannot be catching 2-3 balls a game. He’s their quickest way to the red zone. Brian Schotteheimer must find new and inventive ways to get the ball in No. 10’s hands. He changes games.

JOE: I don’t think it is safe to say that after one game but they are definitely moving in the right direction. Santonio Holmes and Dustin Keller should be the top targets in the passing game, with Burress being the primary threat in the red-zone. Kerley is a third down weapon. The running game should feature Shonn Greene getting around 20 carries each week, while LaDainian Tomlinson chips in 7-10 touches as a runner and receiver. Joe McKnight needs a few packages where he can catch and run the ball in space and will gradually become more involved as the season goes on.

TJ: They better. If last week was a fluke rather than the template moving forward, then the Jets will be spotty on offense in the second half and be forced to win games solely through the work of the special teams and the defense. A strategy that has a limit to it’s effectiveness without a killer pass rusher. Last Sunday, the Jets got everyone involved which kept everyone mentally in the game. This stretched the field enough to create room for Shonn Greene to run. The only way that the Jets offense can be counted on to uphold their 24.6 points per game average is to keep doing more of the same.

5. What can we expect of Wilkerson and Ellis? How high is the ceiling of Aaron Maybin as a pass rusher this year and beyond?

JEFF: I think 3-4 years from now the Jets will have serious pieces with Kenrick and Muhammad, but for now you just have to hope they continue to show the flashes they’ve shown and live with the disappearing acts. Jets are a scheme-based defense anyway, and they generate their pressure off the blitz. Maybin has been a pleasant surprise, but he’s nowhere near a polished player. He gets to the QB for sure, but he’s mostly a straight-line or speed rusher. The guy needs to learn some moves because sooner or later wise tackles will just push him outside rather than engage him at the point of attack.

JOE: Wilkerson and Ellis look like they can be building blocks on the defensive line for years to come. In Rex’s system they won’t be flashy players but will be key components in stopping the run and pushing the pocket. Aaron Maybin really only has a couple of things going for him, his speed and motor. However, in Rex’s system he may have found a perfect home. I do believe he can be a double digit sack this year and beyond.

TJ: Wilkerson and Ellis will have their moments. The best case scenario has them making impacts in a few games, or on a few game changing plays. Their time as terrorizing beasts upfront is off in the not so distant future. Maybin’s time may be now. Maybin is fast, his pursuit can wreak havoc when plays are extended. All three have a bright future at this point, but Maybin can be a difference maker for this team. He may HAVE TO continue his pass rushing growth if the Jets hope to reach Indy.

6. If the “bad” Cromartie rears his head too often, are you comfortable throwing Kyle Wilson at the corner yet?

JEFF: I think anyone waiting for Kyle to become a shutdown corner at this level may be waiting a while. However, that doesn’t mean he can’t be a responsible and useful part of this defense. He’s improved over last season. His reads have been much better, but for the time being I think you just have to live with Antonio being Antonio because he has more upside as a “big play player” than Wilson has. And on a defense that features just one true star, the Jets need all the big- and game-changing plays they can get. Take the good with the bad with Cro and keep Kyle zoned rather than out wide, where there is less margin for error.

JOE: You know what you are getting with Antonio Cromartie, which is inconsistency. I don’t think the quick hook is the right answer as the Jets need his size and speed on the outside. Beyond that, Kyle Wilson is starting to thrive in the nickel role which is a crucial one in the Jets defense. I wouldn’t mess with that anytime soon.

TJ: No. However, we are a heck of alot more comfortable with him now that he is playing the ball and his head is turned around, than we would have been had he been forced into a starting corner role last season. Wilson’s growth in roles  such as a nickel cover guy, a blitzing weapon, and a spy, along with Maybin’s blindside speed, give the Jets added elements to last year’s defense. The second year CB’s confidence is certainly growing. That bodes well should he be forced to spell Cromartie or provide health insurance for EITHER cornerback position. As scary as that is to say, considering what a thought like that means.

7. Will Joe McKnight’s role increase?

JEFF: It almost has to, but it’s hard to say it will because even Tomlinson disappears for long stretches of games. And that’s not because LaDainian is no longer a viable talent. Schottenheimer has yet to find a balance with his RB personnel.  We know Greene should be a 20-plus carry back. We know Tomlinson should be a 5-7-carry back and more of a pass-catching threat. Where does that leave McKnight, a guy with tons of talent and more maturity? It’s hard to say. If in the average game the Jets runs 60-65 plays from scrimmage and want a 50-50 run pass balance, you are looking at 30-33 touches for RBs. Well, if Greene is getting 20-25 and Tomlinson 5-7, that’s 25-32 right there. I think McKnight could be the true change-of-pace back the Jets need, while Tomlinson at this point should be in sets where he’s split out wide or used as the primary back, but only inside the opponent’s 5-yard line.

JOE: I do think it will, but the Jets still need to figure out exactly where to fit him in this year. In the long term, he is a perfect change of pace back for Shonn Greene. For this year, with LaDainian Tomlinson still in the mix it remains hard to get him many touches. Yet, the Jets must get him going in the screen game and use his receiving skills by splitting him out.

TJ: We hope so. Making McKnight a player who is part of 5-7 plays, even as a play action decoy, gives the Jets the threat of big play speed that they haven’t had under Ryan since Leon Washington was around. Speed kills. McKnight has already proven that this year on special teams. It’s not easy to find guys who cause oppoments comcern simply by lining up. Number 25 would have to be treated by defense with respect should he be sent out into the flat for a pitch outside or for a fake that could allow Sanchez to roll out in the other direction with less defenders on his heels.

8. Assess the safeties so far. Some argue that it’s time we see more of the athletic Brodney Pool.

JEFF: It probably is time to see more of Pool. He’s sound in most aspects. But, truth be told, Eric Smith, Pool and Jim Leonhard are undersized and do not cover very well. I think finding a do-it-all safety is one of the hardest things an NFL front office has to deal with on a yearly basis. Ronnie Lott doesn’t grow on trees. So, unless the Jets go out and get lucky on the open market, I think you have to rotate Pool and Smith and play off their strengths depending on the situation. I’d trust Pool more on the opposing side of the 50 due to his speed, but I’d be fine with Smith when the field gets shorter.

JOE: On paper that does make sense, but Pool hasn’t been very good when on the field this year. The Jets will have a patch-work situation at that position for the rest of the year. A playmaking safety isn’t easy to find but the Jets need to try, especially in the early rounds of next year’s draft.

TJ: Why is there so much “miscommunication” going on back there as I believe Leonhard claimed there was last week when rookie LB Josh Mauga was frantically running for his life to cover Antonio Gates in the end zone. Plays like that are happening too often and they shouldn’t, given the experience that Jim Leonhard and Eric Smith have during their time in New York together.

Covering tight ends has been a nightmare again for the Jets who may want to leave that up to corner guys like Wilson, and Donald Strickland instead of Smith. Does Brodney Pool get what defensive coordinator Mike Pettine and Rex Ryan want? If so, get him in on more plays. He hits hard. so even if he’s late to the ball, someone is gonna get dialed up, perhaps leading to some turnovers.

9. Are the Patriots better than the Jets? If so, in what ways and how much better?

JEFF: At the end of the day I see this matchup as a wash. It all depends on when on the calendar they meet. Earlier in the season is better for the Patriots because the Jets’ D is so complex it takes quite a while for the players to get comfortable in their roles. Later in the season is better from a defensive standpoint. Offensively, the Jets should always be able to move the ball and put up points on the New England defense because it’s simply not that good. The Pats have more “stars” on offense; the Jets are much more sound defensively. I just think the Pats know how to put teams away, while the Jets, due in part to their offensive philosophy, always seem to find themselves still being forced to move the ball on offense in the fourth quarter instead of just letting the defense preserve victories. It’s not by design and that’s the main reason the Jets hover around 9-11 wins instead of 12-13 and securing home playoff games.

JOE: On a week to week basis, yes they are a better football team. They are more consistent and have one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history under center with a ridiculous collection of weapons. Fortunately, that doesn’t mean the Jets aren’t more than capable of beating them in a few weeks and again in the playoffs if it comes to that. A few weeks ago, the Jets played far from their best game and hung right with New England. They have confidence against them, which goes a long way.

TJ: The Patriots of week 6 were better than the Jets. We’re not so sure if they will be by week 9. This Jets team has the roadmap to success now, thanks to a second half against the Chargers that helped highlight key blueprints. They have found their identity of spreading the ball around and stretching the field in order to open up the run game. This while locking down the corners, covering tight ends with nickel guys, and putting some heat on the pocket with Maybin and Calvin Pace. McKnight and rookie Jeremy Kerley provide the field positon in the return game. There is still room to grow for the Jets so the jury is stlll out. Falling behind by two games by failing to identify the strengths and weaknesses of this current group earlier, makes it tougher to win the division though. Obviously.

10. How can the Jets compensate for their shortcomings on defense, particularly at safety and outside linebacker?

JEFF: By getting to the quarterback. I can’t state it any clearer.

JOE: Rex Ryan and Mike Pettine. They have the ability to coach around those shortcomings, which existed last year but still didn’t prevent the Jets from beating Indianapolis or New England on the road.

TJ: By working Brodney Pool into the safety rotation for more athleticism and aggressive hitting. By rushing guys like Wilson on passing downs and again, asking Pool and the safeties to play the outside run a bit more. This would leave Antonio Cromartie and Darrelle Revis on their own more often so Cro would HAVE TO think less and react more on his island. We all know that Revis can handle any coverage assignment by himself.

CHECK BACK FOR PART TWO ON SUNDAY

Final Thoughts On Jets/Raiders

Game MVP – LaDainian Tomlinson, who ripped apart the Oakland defense as a receiver out of the backfield. For the second year in a row he is off to a very strong start.

Game Goat – Antonio Cromartie…the feast or famine act is growing old very quickly.

Play of the Game – Cromartie’s muffed kick is where the game went down the toilet. Fortunately, I can’t find a YouTube video link of it because I don’t want to see it again.

Trending Up

  • LaDainian Tomlinson – The Jets most consistent playmaker on offense through three weeks.
  • Plaxico Burress – He is still a match-up nightmare when given the chance.
  • Derrick Mason – Finished with 6 receptions and a handful of huge third down conversions.
  • Colin Baxter – Held his own in his first NFL start.

Trending Down

  • Wayne Hunter – A weekly regular in this category.
  • Antonio Cromartie – A lung injury could keep him out this week.
  • Santonio Holmes – Not necessarily on him but Jets must do a better job of getting #10 involved.
  • Bart Scott/ Calvin Pace/Bryan Thomas/David Harris – Not a pretty week for the Jets highly touted LBs.

1. I said before this game that the only way the Jets would lose is if they laid a complete egg. They found a way to do that in spectacular fashion for a key stretch of the game that put them in too big of a hole to climb out of. Penalties, turnovers, and missed tackles equal losses. It happens in the NFL. Too many people are making broad proclamations about the implications of this game as I will get into later today.

2. Jamaal Westerman is not an answer as a pass rusher. This team has to stop procrastinating each off-season when it comes to adding a player who can get after the quarterback.

3. Look for more Joe McKnight on kick return, especially if Antonio Cromartie will be nursing an injury. If Cromartie can’t play on defense, Kyle Wilson will likely get the start. He will get quite the chance for redemption after his rough season opener against the Baltimore Ravens in 2010.

TJ reviews his top five from the game

NFL Week 3 highlights

Final Thoughts On Jets/Jaguars

A few final thoughts on Jets/Jaguars…

Game MVP – It has to be Antonio Cromartie, who bounced back from being last week’s Goat in this article. Cromartie came up with 2 interceptions and 2 big kick returns, demonstrating his big play potential.

Game Goat – I will go with Wayne Hunter, who has given Jets fans no reason to believe the right tackle position is in good hands moving forward without Damien Woody.

Play of the Game – The first quarter touchdown strike from Mark Sanchez to Santonio Holmes, ending the team’s first quarter touchdown drought, showing Sanchez’s accuracy and that Holmes was healthy.

Trending Up

  • Dustin Keller – Back to back big games, as he finished with 101 yards and another touchdown.
  • Muhammad Wilkerson – First career NFL sack went for a safety.
  • Bart Scott – Second straight week with a sack. Scott looks poised for a big year.
  • Nick Folk – 3/3 on field goal attempts.

Trending Down

  • Nick Mangold – Will likely be out 3-4 games with a high ankle sprain.
  • Wayne Hunter – Badly in need of a steady performance against Oakland.
  • Derrick Mason – Still hasn’t found his niche in the offense.
  • Mark Sanchez – Two ugly interceptions. He must protect the football better.

1. Calvin Pace and Scott have been consistently getting pressure on the quarterback, which is limiting the need for the Jets to blitz as much. This is an encouraging trend moving forward. It will also help if Muhammad Wilkerson can continue to get after the quarterback.

2. Colin Baxter should be living at the Jets facility the next month. After Oakland, he has Haloti Ngata and Vince Wilfork headed his way. Brandon Moore and Matt Slauson need to step up to help him out.

3. Regardless of double teams and his mature attitude on the situation. The Jets must do a better job of getting Plaxico Burress involved in the offense, in the first half. Throw the guy a quick hitch or slant and let him get in the flow of the game.

TJ Rosenthal reviews his top 5 keys from the game

TOJ Week 2 Roundtable: Jets/Jaguars Key Match-Up

What is the key match-up in the Jets/Jaguars game?

Joe Caporoso: I am going to say the New York Jets linebackers against Maurice Jones-Drew. With Mercedes Lewis likely out, Jones-Drew is the only person who you have to worry about gashing the Jets defense. It is key the Jets keep him contained and force Luke McCown to make some throws to keep the game competitive and considering the Jaguars wide receivers versus the Jets secondary, I doubt that will happen.

TJ RosenthalGround and Pound vs Jags run defense: The Jaguars come into the game second in the NFL against the run. We know. It has only been one week and a rusty Chris Johnson had a mere nine carries last week for the Titans. However, the Jets come into the game still searching for their rushing attack. The Cowboys took the run away from the Jets. The Jags have a slew of free agents that were added to Jack Del Rio’s unit. It is time for Shonn Greene to get it going early in a season.

Rob Celletti: The key match-up this week – and it is one I think the Jets will ace – is their front seven vs. the Jags rushing attack (Maurice Jones-Drew).  To me, MJD is the only person that can really hurt the Jets and make this game close if he has a huge day. The Jets got some great play from Mike DeVito, Sione Pouha and Bart Scott in week 1, so if those same guys contribute again and are joined by the rest of the bigs up front, the Jets will stuff the run and – absent some truly boneheaded plays on offense and special teams – be on their way to a win.

TOJ Week 1 Roundtable: Jets/Cowboys Picks

Joe Caporoso: See the 12 pack

Justin Fritze: This game will start slow as each offense will try and guess what the defense is going to do. We know one thing about the Dallas front 7. DeMarcus Ware is coming. John Conner will be put to the test. LT will not stop Ware in run blocking. The Jets got lucky that the secondary of Dallas is decimated, as Sanchez can air it out with less fear. You can’t run a Ryan defense without good corners, and Rob Ryan’s bluster will be put to the test. The Jets will try to run the ball, but we know Dallas is going to stop the run first. I see Holmes and Burress having big catches, and Dustin Keller finally getting some long deserved passes over the middle.  Romo will have a touchdown pass and Felix Jones will take it in from the goal line. I take Jets 21-17.

Rob Celletti: The Jets get off the ground, winning 24-16.  I think the defense will come up with a big performance highlighted by an interception or two of Tony Romo and the offense will do just enough, adjusting as the game progresses and scoring 17 of their 24 points in the second half. Santonio Holmes, LaDainian Tomlinson (receiving) and Shonn Greene will score touchdowns for Gang Green.

TJ Rosenthal: Not a big fan of predicting games or seasons because we all know that one injury to a key player can change the complexion of how two teams play. That said, the matchup right now can go in two directions. If the Cowboys new offensive line struggles in their first game together, if the Dallas secondary, banged up and struggling has communication issues, the Jets have an edge in a 24/27 to-13/17 type of game. On the other hand if the Jets can’t stop Tony Romo from escaping the pocket to find TE Jason Witten, and Mark Sanchez and the new WR corps aren’t on the same page yet, the Cowboys have the edge in a 21/24-13 type of game.

Chris Celletti: I think it is a very close game that comes down to the last possession.The Jets will have some success throwing the ball, but I think Jason Witten and Miles Austin will have big games for the Cowboys as well. The Jets have a slight edge in the running game, with the inexperience of the Cowboys’ offensive line showing through. Plaxico Burress hauls in his first TD since being in the slammer, and Nick Folk makes a field goal in the 4th quarter to put the Jets up. The Jets get a stop on a 4th and long late in the game to seal a 23-20 win.

Interviews With Mark Sanchez & Darrelle Revis

TJ Rosenthal made the trip out to Bryant Park yesterday and had the opportunity to interview both Mark Sanchez and Darrelle Revis.

TJ interviews Mark Sanchez about utilizing Dustin Keller more

TJ talks with Darrelle Revis on Kyle Wilson’s development

Check out www.profootballnyc.com for further coverage of yesterday.

TOJ Roundtable: Strongest and Weakest Position?

Welcome to the TOJ Roundtable, where a collection of our writers debate a pressing Jets question of the day –

What is the strongest position on the Jets current roster? The weakest?

Joe Caporoso: The strongest position on the Jets roster is cornerback. I would go with offensive line but I am little concerned about Brandon Moore missing so much time this pre-season, while they are breaking in a new full time right tackle in Wayne Hunter. The offensive line is still strong and if Hunter is anywhere near what Damien Woody was the past few years and Matt Slauson continues to improve, this will be their strongest unit. Yet, their corners led by Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie, the league’s top starting duo in my mind, takes my vote at the moment. Let’s not forget nickel back Kyle Wilson was a first round pick last year for a reason and veteran Donald Strickland provides excellent depth if Wilson struggles. Marquice Cole has also shown flashes on defense and is more than capable of stepping into the nickel role for a few weeks if necessary.

Backup quarterback is the weakest spot on the Jets roster. If Mark Sanchez misses an extended period of time, you are kidding yourself if you think Mark Brunell is capable of taking over. He hasn’t played a meaningful snap since NFL Quarterback Club was the video game of choice. Greg McElroy is only a rookie and would be in over his head if pressed into immediate action.

TJ Rosenthal: Strongest Position: The offensive line. It contains two All-Pros in D’Brickshaw Ferguson and Nick Mangold. The entire unit is intact from the 2010 playoff run. Few teams can boast of that continuity. No unit is as essential to the success of what the Jets want to do offensively as the guys in the trenches are.

Weakest Position: The backup quarterback position. If Mark Sanchez goes down for any extended time, we can’t say that we are comfortable with Mark Brunell, in his 19th season, running the show for any EXTENDED period of time. The backup quarterback should be a capable functional player with some NFL experience, especially given how physical the AFC East may be up front this year with the addition of Marcell Dareus to Buffalo and the new parts of the Patriots defensive line. The Jets are skating on thin ice at the ultimate security position.

Rob Celletti: The strongest position on the Jets’ roster in my opinion is cornerback.  Anchored by one of the best players in the entire league in Darelle Revis, it is an all-around solid unit.  With Antonio Cromartie out to prove something this year, and the ever-improving, aspiring Revis-clone Kyle Wilson at third on the depth chart, it is safe to say the Jets are going to be very difficult to throw on this season, at least to wide receivers.

The weakest position, and really the key to the season, is the defensive line.  The Jets will have a serviceable line under Rex Ryan’s tutelage, no question, but it is a point every fan and journalist has been harping on since the start of training camp: are the Jets relying too heavily on unproven commodities (Mo Wilkerson and Kendrick Ellis) alongside solid role players (DeVito and Pouha) without any real dominant force?  It is hard to call the position “weak”, but it definitely raises the most questions.