Time For New Jets Media Strategy

It is time for the Jets to reconsider their media strategy

Jets rookie QB Greg McElroy, who was put on IR prior to the regular season, echoed yesterday on the radio, what many have sensed was true regarding the 2011 Jets. That there was something not right inside the Jets locker room. Few would have gathered though, that this team was a selfish stat hungry group. This insight thanks to the 7th round pick out of Alabama’s use of the team’s open door media policy, once again gives the fans totals access to their beloved team. The system may not be great for the team itself though, over the course of an emotionally grueling NFL season. Where mutual trust amongst the soldiers in the trenches is the only way to make it out alive.

We are not suggesting that the Jets go to to the other extreme by igniting their own Belichick-ian Foxborough tactic of non speak across the board. Or demanding the feared silence that helped Kim Jong il’s nuclear North Korea stiff arm the world over the past three decades.

We ARE saying that some sensibility from the players has to be a must.

If the players CAN’T utilize the privilege of voicing their thoughts in a team oriented way, then maybe the Jets need to reconsider how they allow members of the squad deal with the media going forward.

Wasn’t Rex Ryan just crying in the locker room, pleading for unity amidst the turmoil?

Too many people are beginning to tell too many family secrets. Too many names have been named already since week one. For a team that has now shown fatal togetherness issues in 2011, it’s time to review the club’s media policy. Making it priority number one heading into 2012. Before any talk of roster changes take place.

The Jets can keep the open Door Policy “open” or could go Martial law. Those are the two most extreme paths to take. What the Jets need to avoid though, is failure to clean up how the team and the media deal with each other at all. The same way won’t work anymore.

A new edited law of the land must be put in place. One that rules calling teammates out illegal, and stays away from offering the story hungry modern day blogosphere, some extra red meat to chew on.

Winning games in the NFL is hard enough as it is. The Jets need to batten down the hatches now. Tone the access down. Say goodbye to HBO and “Hard Knocks” approach. Make the Rex addicts in the media who love to live through his antics but are the first to bury him after losses, go find another team to get involved with .

It’s time for the Florham Park boys to shut up and play ball and not let anyone with a pen and paper, or a laptop run with the ball and dictate the tempo anymore. The Jets have invited and enjoyed all that has come with the recent attention from the chatter, but they have to take control of their message again, by pulling the plug on the 24 hour light that shines at the team’s complex.

As for McElroy, here’s what he had to say today to WZNN-FM:

“It’s the first time I’ve ever been around extremely selfish individuals. I think that’s maybe the nature of the NFL. But there were people within our locker room that didn’t care whether we won or lost as long as they got their … they really had a good game individually. And that’s the disappointing thing.”

“It’s going to take a lot to kind of come together next year. I think the fact that we struggled at times this year really led to a really corrupt mind-set within the locker room. But I think we’re going to regroup and I know that we’ll be a better team because of the trials and tribulations this year.”

New York Jets: A History Of Failed Expectations

Unfortunately, the New York Jets have a long history of not living up to expectations

It only takes a quick peak into the New York Jets history books for some perspective on the “failure” of this 2011 season. While it is true that the Jets were built up by Rex Ryan and many others, as a Super Bowl contender and tricked into believing that Mark Sanchez was primed to take the next step, like many other Jets teams of the past, preseason hopes simply didn’t match up with the season that followed. This recent disaster is not the first time that such a tragedy has taken place for the Gotham Football Club.

Publications as early as 1966 had the Joe Namath Jets ready to take the AFL title. In Namath’s second year, “Pro Football” magazine had already pictured Weeb Ewbank’s crew gelling on both sides of the ball. Led by the bonus baby face of the league, “Broadway Joe.”

Instead, the Jets went a disappointing 6-6-2, falling three games short of the Eastern Division title. There were no wildcard berths in the American Football League so that meant that the Jets were done for the year. Namath? He threw 19 TD’s and 27 int’s that year with a lousy 49.1 completion percentage. It wasn’t until the magical season of ‘68 that he and the Jets made any postseason appearance.

Richard Todd’s Jets were just a game away in 1982, after losing the famed AFC Championship “Mud Bowl” in Miami 14-0. 1983 saw Todd on the Sports Illustrated cover to reinforce the belief by many analysts that the Jets were Super Bowl favorites.

Then they went 7-9.

Todd threw 18 TD’s that year with 26 picks, in playing his way off of magazine covers and OUT of New York. Todd ended up in New Orleans with the Saints in 1984.

Vinny Testaverde came off the bench to replace Glenn Foley in 1998, leading the Jets, like Todd, to an AFC championship. This time a heartbreaking 23-10 loss to Denver. Testaverde threw 29 TD’s and just 7 picks that year, with an impressive 61 pct completion rating and 101 QB rating. The Jets were surely set to fly in 1999.

This of course, until Testaverde went out for the season in week one, by tripping over a yard line and tearing his achilles tendon. The Jets had no proper backups in place early enough that year, to weather the storm. Season over.

Another sky high expectation crashing on the runway for the Jets.

This leads us to 2011. A year first affected by the NFL lockout and Wild West free agency period. A training camp where for the Jets, saw many new faces replaced reliable old ones on offense.

By the time the season started, the Jets who were initially set to open up the air waves, lacked cohesiveness and chemistry right from the start. The confidence of their young franchise QB soon waned, as losing streaks piled up throughout the course of the year.

The 8-8 ending of this year’s Mark Sanchez Jets has shocked many diehards, but if they consider the team’s history, it shouldn’t.

There are two lessons to be learned from all of this as well.

Namath’s career provides Jets fans with the hope that sometimes expectations arrive prematurely. Todd and Testaverde on the other hand, remind us that opportunities can’t be squandered because there are no guarantees that they will reappear again.

For Sanchez and his teammates, those are the two paths they can travel. Clearly Rex’s Jets currently reside at the fork of these roads as we head into the 2012 season, One that will start with the changes soon to take place in Florham Park.

Even if, none of these alterations, came alongside that silly good for nothing Monday Press conference that many loyalists waited an extra half hour for.

2011 is gone. An opportunity wasted in what has at times been a recurring theme for those who have bleed Green and White. Despite the latest severe disappointment, the saga that is the New York Jets will again continue on. Never dull, never boring, and rarely ending up the way it is drawn up on paper.

That’s why we love them Jets Nation. Don’t forget that.

New York Jets Need To Worry About Themselves

The New York Jets need to stop worrying about the Giants, the Patriots and every other team and focus on improving themselves

If you need any window into why it meant so much for Rex Ryan to tell the world on Monday that the Jets “were better” than the Giants a week before losing to them, look no further than in his book “Play Like you Mean It.”

It was released prior to training camp this past summer. Somewhere in it he notes that it meant so much to him to have changed the culture of the Jets around during his first two years — to have people talking “Jets” in a positive light in the world of pro football.

The Ryan family wears their hearts and heads on their sleeves, but what the Jets organization must now do going forward, once this season DOES officially end, is keep the focus in Florham Park. Rex can keep his essence, but it’s time for the organization to forget about which local team has more fans.

It’s also time to stop worrying about New England, which is going to win 12 games every season anyway.

The Giants were here first, plain and simple. Born during the Prohibition era, they played the game that first ushered in pro football on television – the 1958 NFL Championship game. To many it is known as “The Greatest Game Ever Played.” The Colts won the game, but the Giants were part of sudden death overtime thriller captured the nation, and made them household names.

And it happened just as the NFL began to compete with baseball for the sports fans’ hearts and minds.

The Jets were the laughable Titans in 1960, while those Giants were among the first famous faces of the league. It took until 1969 before the Jets and the entire AFL gained any respect.

We all know that story.

Like the Giants, the Jets ushered in their own era — that of the NFL-AFL merger in 1970. Having beaten the Colts in Super Bowl III, the Jets proved that the leagues were on par with each other talent-wise. In Week 1 of that ’70 season came the initial broadcast of Monday Night Football, and you guessed it, Joe Namath’s Jets were in the game, against the Cleveland Browns. Namath gave the AFL club’s admittance into the NFL a stamp of approval. He was a huge star, especially after his Miami poolside guarantee before Super Bowl III. He became the perfect centerpiece for the new night time experiment on Mondays.

So the history is there for both teams. It’s just that the Jets have had only sporadic moments over the last 40 years, while the Giants have been by and large a model of consistency – and, at times, championship consistency.

The joke used to be that people who couldn’t get tickets to Giants games became Jets fans. Maybe part of that was true in the early ‘60s but Ryan doesn’t need to carry that all of that ‘60s era weight with him anymore. He doesn’t have to wear the pain that Jets fans held as second-class home owners in “Giants Stadium,” either.

Rex’s first association with the Jets came as a kid as his dad, Buddy, became the defensive game planner of that upset over the Colts on Weeb Ewbank’s staff.

That’s why when Rex closed out the Meadowlands in 2009 in its final game ever by beating the Bengals to clinch a playoff berth in his first season, it may have meant more to him than just the playoff entry. After all, to Ryan the Jets were family. The fans felt the same way about him.

Finally, the other team of New York via the Garden State had a head coach who wanted to be here and cared like they did about the team. Rex was one of the fans. He got it. He understood the plight. He totally got what it was like to be laughed at and mocked for years, especially by fans of the cross-town team.

Therefore, it was no surprise when he boldly got out in front of the new stadium opening by declaring that it was the Jets’ house and town this time around. He was speaking for the fans.

But though he might think he still has to, Rex really doesn’t need to stand up for the franchise anymore.

The ones who truly live and die with the team know that the Jets have been as successful at reaching the playoffs as the Giants have been since 1998, with each team getting there six times since in that span.

The Giants’ tremendous playoff run and subsequent Super Bowl win over the undefeated Patriots in 2008 skews this fact, but in the grand scheme of things has not lessened what the Jets have accomplished.

Ryan has nothing to prove anymore to Jets loyalists, and especially when it comes to comparing their team to the Giants. Big Blue has been here longer and may have more fans in pure numbers, but as long as the new Jets continue to strive for the Vince Lombardi Trophy, unlike the Leon Hess-owned Jets of the late ‘70’s through the late ‘90s seemed incapable of doing, then Jets fans should be happy.

On Saturday, the “Battle for New York” became a distraction to the very guy who raised the temperature of it. After the humbling 29-14 loss, Ryan admitted that quarterback Mark Sanchez throwing the ball 59 times was not the recipe to success.

Perhaps had Ryan been more attentive to the run-pass ratio, and not so revved up in the emotion of beating the Giants and claiming the “Big Brother” status he had boasted about for more than a year, he might have piloted the ship in the final quarter to his satisfaction.

If you can, try to forget this season, one that seems stuck in mediocrity for Gang Green. No matter what happens during what will almost surely be a wild Week 17, the Jets have no choice but to be what they are in the Tri-State Area now – a very good franchise that should remain as such for the foreseeable future. They’ve earned the right to do so with their own die-hard fans. They should respect the Giants as co-tenants of the building and leave the Jets-Giants talk alone from this point forward.

Their real nemesis will continue to be the Patriots. The Jets have to lessen the self doubt that any failure to catch them in the standings creates. Too often under Ryan, the club has measured its self worth heading into matchups with New England, only to leave with hangover losses.

Last year the affect of a defeat to Robert Kraft’s club was the Sal Alosi-fueled “Trip Gate” loss to putrid Miami, at home no less. This year after the Jets again lost to the Pats in the battle for first place back in November they got “Tebowed” days later, mostly because they were still punch drunk from falling yet again in a big game against Tom Brady. The nightmare in Denver left them at a very pedestrian 5-5 and on their way down in the AFC pecking order, ultimately into a position in the wild card pecking order.

The Jets’ need to over take the Pats in the AFC East is not worth the havoc it perennially wreaks when they fall short. In addition, the Jets should not lose sleep over any scenario that may include a three-game road run to the playoffs.

This isn’t 1980 when Jim Plunkett led the Raiders to the first Super Bowl win for a wildcard entry. It’s 2011, an era featuring touchdown dances and teams that can display flaws, yet still go deep into the playoffs.

Back in the ‘80s it wasn’t just playing the extra postseason game that made it tough on wild-card teams. It was who they had to deal with coming off of one week’s rest. From the Super Bowl’s first matchup in 1967 to 1980, teams that earned the bye week often included the “Purple People” eating Minnesota Vikings, the “No Name” Miami Dolphins, the “Steel Curtain” Pittsburgh Steelers, John Madden’s Raiders and Tom Landry’s Dallas Cowboys, a team still dubbed “America’s Team” despite more failures than successes.

Teams built for the long haul with the core of players in tact for years don’t exist anymore. Aside from the current long-time Steelers and Ravens defensive units and the Brady and Bill Belichick up in New England, dominant units on either side of the ball are few and far between. That’s why having to play an extra game against these new quickly formed clubs en route to the Super Bowl is no longer a death sentence. The extra game is sometimes an advantage for teams who get hot late in the year.

The 2010 champion Green Bay Packers were once 3-3. The Super Bowl Giants of 2007 started out 0-2. The 2005 Steelers were playoff road dogs, too. All three had to win three away from home before earning a trip to the big game. This route is without a doubt daunting, but next to an impossible task? No longer.

By lessening the obsession with becoming more popular than the Giants and altering this goal of having to overtake the dynastic Patriots during the regular season, the Jets can develop a clear and healthy outlook to go alongside a solid foundation that now includes an owner who is willing to spend money and make moves needed to win; a general manager in Mike Tannenbaum who has put together a solid core and a head coach who is loved by his team and fan base and bleeds green and white, even if it is to a fault sometimes.

This offseason, whenever it officially arrives, will be the perfect time to replace tabloid talk about the Giants and Patriots with the following: Determining where and how Sanchez fits now and in the future, improving the offensive line, figuring out a solid concept for the offense that can stay true to for an entire season and gaining a few closers on defense – primarily at safety and defensive end.

This way when Rex tells us that he will “play anyone, anywhere, on any given day” it will pack more of a viable punch.

Battle Of New York: Two Coaches Who Do It Their Own Way

TJ with respect for the differing methods of Rex Ryan and Tom Coughlin

Tom Coughlin: “Regardless of what is said. Talk is cheap, play the game. That is the way I’ve always believed.”

Rex Ryan: “That’s the old saying, ‘Talk is cheap, money buys whiskey. I understand all that and that’s the truth. But I don’t care about Tom Coughlin or anybody else. I know how I believe. I don’t care what’s acceptable in everybody’s opinion. I really don’t care. I’m worried about my opinion and this is how I feel. Quite honestly, I don’t care what anybody thinks.”

Rex Ryan was right when he remarked about the Jets/Giants border war, and how “it is on.”  Wednesday the temperature grew hotter as both sides traded fire. Giants WR Hakeem Nicks called Darrelle Revis a “decent” CB while Santonio Holmes called the Giants secondary bad tacklers and exposable. The coaches went tit for tat as well (see above) but try and put the coaches flurry of early round jabs aside for a moment and consider this. BOTH Ryan and Coughlin actually deserve some praise. For their annual ability to navigate through storms like losing streaks, and players with poor behavior in their own ways. Both teams are left for dead yearly, yet somehow get up off the mat under that duress and get back into contention. Led by their head coaches who refuse to quit.

Ryan clearly put his face on the front lines as a target this week but that was his choice. Perhaps a strategic one. His team got pummeled last Sunday in Philly, and probably needs an emotional injection.

Giants RB Brandon Jacobs alluded to this notion today and he’s not far off. Where he may be wrong though, is that the effect for Gang Green will be minimal. The Jets often rally around Ryan for sticking his neck out. They can’t play worse than they did against the Eagles anyway, so Rex might just be trying to stir it up for his own troops. To deflect talk about underachieving players and units, whether it’s the conventional approach to use or not.

It’s interesting how Ryan’s pot stirring has Giants beat writers all of a sudden taking offense to the mistreatment of Coughlin. When for the past two seasons and more, much of their fan base have gone after Coughlin directly themselves.

We guess that knocking off the undefeated Pats in the Super Bowl as a streaking road wildcard entry, one of the greatest collections of wins in Pro Football history, doesn’t mean that much anymore.

It just doesn’t seem “classy” for the Giants storied organization, to let Coughlin twist in the end every year without getting in front of the message and providing this loyal guy in season support. What message does that send? It sends the message that it’s ok to rail on the HC every time the Giants hit bumps in the road. Allows for degrading talk about perennial playoff loser Bill Cowher (albeit except one Super Bowl win by Cowher over the Seahawks who never get that far anyway) to surface every time a few losses occur in succession in the process.

Ryan has taken risks. Some of them unprovoked ones. By talking Super Bowl. By saying that New York is the Jets town. By going after who ever he goes after, as often as he does. Whenever, and for whatever reason that he chooses to.

In the end Ryan essentially answers to the Jets fan base. Some of whom DO disapprove with Ryan’s current barrage on the Giants. As others applaud Ryan’s attempt at giving THIS team the verbal swagger that it has fed off of while playing for him. None of whom will dismiss how irrelevant the club was nationally for years at a time since 1969. Even if Ryan’s high expectations leave a new found disappointment as each big time goal fall short.

Maybe one day Rex will pull it back. Reel it in. Utilize his motivational ability in a less confrontational way. Maybe he won’t.

As for Giants nation though, it’s ironic how they have chosen THIS moment, thanks in part to Ryan, to rally around a coach who has taken them to the playoffs in four out of eight seasons. While never damaging the integrity of a franchise that prides itself on integrity above all else. Even as the bullets fly towards him every year, during the season. For Coughlin, it’s taken too long for the support, and that’s not right.

Saturday’s Jets Giants matchup will be decided on the field. By the players and coaches. Not by the ones wearing Green and Blue jerseys in the stands. When it’s over, regardless of the outcome, a victory still won’t guarantee either club a postseason bid. The Jets will still have their loyalists, and the Giants will have theirs.

These aren’t the fly by night GOP straw polls of Iowa. This is the NFL. These are the Jets and Giants. Two teams with die hards, who have invested more in their love for their teams, than some media hyped weekend involving tough talking quotes from both sides, could fictitiously inflate. The truth is, Saturday provides us with a matchup between two teams whose records hardly warrant ownership of anything extended life into week 17.

How many who reside on either side of this border war, when the clock hits 0:00, will be able to step back and say that both Ryan and Coughlin have made their teams better since they arrived? Have made their teams competitive into December every year (excpet one. 2004. When Coughlin made the switch to Eli Manning as a developmental choice). Have put their teams in position to compete for the Vince Lombardi trophy ever year. The one’s that don’t have it in them to, should.

Maybe the unwilling ought to call up Browns fans. Or Dolphins fans. Or Redskins fans. Ask them if THEY would sign up for one of these guys on their sidelines going forward.

Rex Ryan and Tom Coughlin took over clubs with different histories, and have both held up a significant part of the bargain. Ryan has rebranded the Jets from their self loathing and self pitying past to a team won’t feel sorry for itself anymore. Coughlin has kept the Giants dignified.

Few expected any friendly fire in the press this week from either camp given what is at stake this weekend.  Yet when the so called “Battle for New York” ends, both coaches should get a hand. For what they’ve done, not for what they haven’t, or have said when microphones are placed in front of them.

Ryan and Coughlin not being cut from the same cloth is far from being any breaking news. One is an outspoken loudmouth who does seem to like creating extra drama for himself. The other, is a throwback to the days when discipline was priority number one. The successes that Rex Ryan and Tom Coughlin have, come from doing things in their own particular way. Whether all who follow the NFL agree with their methods, and whether or not you like them as coaches or as people too.

Jets vs. Giants: The Survival Bowl

TJ takes a closer look at two teams battling for survival in December

When you’re fighting for a divisional title at 7-7, there is nothing to brag about. When you’re a 8-6 club hanging onto a wildcard berth by a thread after guaranteeing Super Bowl appearances, there is no need for boasting either. The Jets host the Giants Saturday in a stadium both call home, but the only real award awaiting the winner may be life beyond the final week of the regular season.

The Jets have been second class citizens throughout their fifty year history, albeit aside from Joe Namath’s miracle and a few Bill Parcells years sprinkled in. This until Rex Ryan came to town. Loud and brash and proclaiming a take over.

Over his first two seasons, the Jets HAVE arguably been better. Just ask Rex if you need proof. He’ll tell you that it is true, due to the club’s exciting and improbable late season road runs to the AFC Championship Game. This as the Giants slipped from their 2007 Super Bowl champion pedestal.

Gang Green’s newfound perch as one of the best in the AFC, a date with HBO Hard Knocks, and a plethora of nationally televised night games, came with even more public reminders from their coach that New York was now a Jets town. Ryan’s constant bravado and comments aimed at Big Blue, has inflamed the emotions of alot of Giants fans. Many of whom now consider the Jets an enemy on par with the hated Eagles and Cowboys.

The heat was turned up even more this past summer when volatile Giants RB Brandon Jacobs and Jets rookie Muhammad Wilkerson got tossed for fighting during a preseason game. A scrum that was symbolic of two teams who were truly battling for turf.

Both teams and fan bases have had the Christmas Eve day match-up circled on their calendar since the 2011 NFL schedule was made available.. Many feeling that proof as to who owned New York would finally be settled on the field. Not in the press, or some fictitious game played by backups during the second half.

Only days ago, this match-up had different implications. The Giants had come off of a huge comeback win over Dallas. The Jets were riding a three game win streak that propelled them from also rans to owners of the sixth wild-card spot.

After two putrid losses by both on Sunday though, the landscape has changed. No longer is this battle about which team can gain serious steam towards the playoffs. Now the “Jets vs Giants” is about who can fight to see another day.

A Giants loss coupled with a Cowboys win on Saturday against the Eagles, will send Big Blue home. A Jets loss won’t eliminate them, but it may damage them severely. A win is key but guarantees nothing either. Such is the fate for a team that relinquished total control after getting steamrolled in “The City of Brotherly Love” last Sunday.

This week, the fans, the media and the players on both teams will build this game into seismic proportions. Ryan wasted no time doing his share on Monday, with proclamations that the Jets are better. His chatter may be a ploy to kick some swagger back into a team that plays less fierce when it acts cordially during the week.

This match-up is in part, about being the king of New York, Ryan and the Jets winning the prize of “being better” without a ticket to the big dance though, will not be enough for a team whose not so secret goal was making a push for Indy in February. The sight of the upcoming Super Bowl.

Talk aside, “Jets vs Giants” is about survival. Of keeping the true goal of making the playoffs for a shot at the Vince Lombardi Trophy, alive. Right now, both New York football teams are in each other’s way in terms of reaching that goal.  THAT’s what makes this latest round in the gridiron “Battle for New York” so crucial. No matter how much Ryan has ranted about the Jets overtaking the Giants since he first got here.

New York Jets Wildcat: A Stunt Or December Surprise

TJ on the benefit of the New York Jets using the Wildcat more moving forward

With the 2011 season on the line in Washington, Rex Ryan unveiled off all things, the Wildcat formation. Doing so with speedster Jeremy Kerley and Shonn Greene at the helm. The results were a success at times, other times not so much. Looking deeper into the message this surprising ploy may have sent, the bigger question is whether or not this wrinkle was a game day stunt or permanent December addition. Further, what are the advantages of continuing the use of the Wildcat if it IS here to stay?

The idea reached the peak as the Jets closed out the Redskins with a direct snap play to Shonn Greene, who rambled into the end zone in the closing minutes at Fed Ex field.

Perhaps its use in the Jets overall offensive gameplan going in, was to function more than as just a measure to slow down the Redskins pass rush. The Skins, ranked 3rd in the NFL in sacks with 33 heading into the contest, were a threat to the shaky Jets pass protection.

By adding some plays to the ground game Gang Green not only neutralized the Skins attack up front, they also allowed Kerley and Joe McKnight (who lined up as RB when Kerley took the snap), the fastest skill position Jets, a few more chances to make plays.

In addition, by adding run plays, the Jets helped minimize more passing attempts from Mark Sanchez. A player who thrives late in games but has, to his detriment, contributed to uphill climbs in 2011, by throwing into traffic prior to the final quarter of games.

Going forward, the Jets might want consider the Wildcat as a package against the rest of their schedule.

The Jets average 24.2 points a game and give up 21.7. Their margin for error is small. However, it is one that, when matched up against their final four opponents, bodes well, should they be able to keep living up to their own numbers.

INSIDE THE NUMBERS: The Jets remaining opponents:

Kansas City Chiefs: 13.9 scoring, 22.3 allowed

Philadelphia Eagles: 22.6 scoring 23.5 allowed

New York Giants: 22.9 scoring 26.2 allowed

Miami Dolphins: 20.5 scoring 18.5 allowed

While it is fair to say that these are year long numbers that are not based on recent trends to highlight backups Vince Young, Matt Moore, and Tyler Palko at the helm on offense for their respective clubs (to which only Moore has helped improve production from the injured starter), the stats still show that the Jets on average, outscore all four opponents.

By limiting opportunities for the other team to score more than THEIR average, the Jets will be in every game for the rest of the season. The Wildcat works if it cuts down on turnovers. It thrives if it delivers solid gains and of course touchdowns.

Don’t be surprised to see it stick around. For more reasons than just trickery, or the hope that it springs big plays from the line of scrimmage.

New York Jets: Who Is Mark Sanchez?

TJ takes a closer look at Mark Sanchez’s performance against Buffalo and what to expect from him the rest of the year

In the Jets 28-24 comeback win over Buffalo, QB Mark Sanchez was just 17-35 for 180 yards. He threw an interception out of his own end zone that led to a Bills TD. He also threw a few others that were almost picked. He also threw 4 touchdowns including the game winner with 1:00 left. On a season saving drive that including other key completions. Maybe this dual personality is the essence of Mark Sanchez at this stage of his career. A player who may not be consistent, but can be there to help engineer the comeback win.

Much of the blame for any of the Jets troubles is put on the shoulders of Sanchez on a weekly basis. It was the Jets defense on Sunday though that let the Bills without star Fred Jackson, drive down the field and chew up the clock too often. For three seasons in fact, the defense has lacked a heavyweight knockout puncher who can end games with blindside uppercuts.

The rushing attack since the Ground and Pound thrived in 2009, has not been the home of a solid 100 yards per game rusher either.That’s why every play Sanchez makes, is delivered under the most high powered microscope that exists in the Big Apple. The Jets leave him little room for error.

Located in this scrutiny are missed opportunities to open receivers and a handful of dangerous choices each week. Sometimes a visible lack of confidence on the face of number six as well.

Yesterday though, the Jets franchise signal caller kept his cool. The Jets followed his lead, and came from behind with Sanchez at the helm yet again.

Yet even when they do pull one out, it’s never enough. Jets fans want more out of him. Rex Ryan naturally does too. The Jets HC even predicts Super Bowl appearances with the “Sanchise” at the helm. This while he gives a rusty 41 year old QB, reps in practice. A move designed to light a fire under Sanchez that brings with it the cryptic message of what COULD happen should the struggles continue .

Both the ultra high bar set by the diehards and Lombardi Trophy visions that Ryan has created, have added the pressure of expectation that Mark Sanchez could never have truly envisioned the magnitude of. Back during his initiation to it all in 2009. As he entered the world of pro football after just one year of major college playing experience.

The fans and the Jets themselves may simply have to accept that Sanchez has faults, but important strengths as well. Pluses that often lack currency in fantasy football, but translate into valuable traits on the field and in the standings.

For now he may only be at his best in spurts, but Mark Sanchez has proven that he can engineer late game winning drives. Regardless of what the first 55 minutes or so bring. Then there’s his playoff record. One that already includes four wins. All having come on the road. Where one big gaffe can end an entire season.

It may not look pretty throughout, but Mark Sanchez unlike those who habitually LOSE games in the final minutes, can find ways to win them. After almost three seasons as a NFL starter, THIS is what Mark Sanchez is. A player with a range of emotions and imperfections, who owns a winner’s ability to be clutch by getting hot when the money is on the line

Mental State Of Mark Sanchez Key To New York Jets Making A Run

TJ on the mental state of Mark Sanchez being a key factor on if the Jets can make a late season run

Over the last seven days, Mark Sanchez has been beaten by a quarterback who rarely throws a forward pass, and replaced in practice by another who hasn’t seen the field in a meaningful game in years. The mental state of Mark Sanchez, has expressed both confident and fearful tendencies over two and a half NFL seasons, and is the key component for the Jets playoff hopes. As the club embarks on a six game stretch that includes winnable games on paper, with virtually no room for error.

The 5-5 Jets have done it to themselves. Shoddy offensive line play, a pedestrian rushing attack, and a defense that has failed to dominate the line of scrimmage, have along with the now mistake prone Sanchez, all contributed to the club’s current need of running the table.

Going 5-1 should get the Jets in. 4-2 probably won’t. Not with five losses already in the AFC, and an AFC East title that appears headed for another Foxboro crowning.

The task is doable. A banged up Bills team. A QB-less Chiefs club. A Jekyll and Hyde Philly team and 3-7 yet improving group of Dolphins bring a semblance of hope to the Jets. Provided that their play improves. Starting with Sanchez.

It hasn’t all been the fault of the quarterback though much of the blame for the losing has fallen on the shoulders of number six. What has come first, the Jets quarterback’s lack  of ball security or the mounting losses, is debatable. What is NOT up for debate is that Sanchez has made a plethora of key errors that have led directly to failed outcomes. A collection of instances that have left many questioning his ability to lead the Jets.

Sanchez entered this season prematurely awarded the keys to an “Air Coryell” type of offense that was to throw early and often. Deep and short, and all over the field. Once the hardened wall of  a promising 2-0 start began to show cracks up front, a decision was made to do an about face. The “ground and pound” then made their way back into the huddle after Sanchez took a physical beating in Baltimore. In a loss that dropped the Jets to 2-2 during a hellacious three game road swing. The club’s move back in time settled down the ball security issues that following Sunday, but still resulted in a low octane, 30-21 loss at New England.

After a mundane offensive performance during a 24-6 Monday night win over winless Miami, OC Brian Schottenheimer came out from his lab in order to implement “science project three,” a spread out attack against San Diego. The new look got all Jet skill players involved early. However, an end zone interception thrown by Sanchez in the first half thwarted a drive that reminded some of the game ending pick six by Ravens CB Lardarius Webb in Baltimore one week prior. Despite a solid second half comeback that resulted in a big 27-21 win over the Chargers, a scary habit was forming for the Jets underneath the surface, and inside the helmet of it’s signal caller. At 3-3 though, the Jets were at least back in the race.

The Jets returned from a bye week answering doubts surrounding their recent history of egg laying after breaks, by embarking on a crisp nine minute opening drive at 4-2 Buffalo. One that resulted in, you guessed it, an end zone interception by Sanchez that gave Buffalo life. The play seemed to shake the foundation of Sanchez for the rest of the first half, as another pick was followed by a fumbled snap. Two quarters dominated by the Jets defense soon ended with Gang Green owners of a slim 3-0 lead. Sanchez and Co. got it together later in closing out the Bills 27-11, but questions regarding the QB’s “growth” after his nervous play early on, grew louder afterwards.

Now at 5-3, but trailing 30-16 with 8:00 left in a matchup for first place with New England, Sanchez did it again. Throwing a pick six from his own goal line that put the Pats up for good at 37-16. A play that ended the Pats two game slide and talk of a Belichick dynasty in it’s final throes. The interception only compounded an inexplicable timeout that Sanchez had called prior to a late first half TD, that left Tom Brady enough time to regain the lead 13-9, with a TD of his own.

Anecdotally, the lost lead at halftime had sent the Jets marching toward the locker room, where an angry Ryan told NBC the timeout was the “stupidest play in the history of football.” Moments later, a fan compared Ryan’s work to King Bill’s to which the Jets boisterous coach responded “STFU.” A comment that later led to a $75,000 fine by the league on Ryan.

The loss to it’s archrival after the rare shot at a divisional takeover slipped from within their grasp, left the Jets ripe for an ambush in Denver. Where only days later, on an odd Thursday night tilt, Sanchez again threw away the lead. This time at the tail end of the third quarter of a game the Jets led 10-3. Where points were at a premium, as injured primary backs Shonn Greene and LaDainian Tomlinson sat as specators. The resulting 10-10 tie then set the stage for Tim Tebow’s impersonation of a John Elway game winning drive.

Despite the many gaffes that Sanchez has had in 2011, his body of work during prior years, should still leave him with many postives to rebuild his confidence from. Regardless of the truth that Ryan’s Jets have been built on defense and a stout rushing attack, Sanchez’s caretaking DID lead to four big comeback wins in 2010. As well as clutch play during mistake free play from behind center over two postseasons.

Mark Brunell was given first team reps over the past few days, but the 19 year veteran is not about to start on Sunday in a must win rematch with the Bills. However, don’t take Ryan seriously when he says as he did at a press conference today, that he can’t envision sitting Sanchez. Should the “Sanchise” struggle with the season on the line, in a winnable game that will feature a Fred Jackson-less Bills offense, don’t be shocked if Ryan goes to the bullpen for a short term fix.

The only person who can prevent this scenario is also the only one who can spearhead the Jets return to a swagger that carried them to the Super Bowl’s doorstep for two years straight. Mark Sanchez.

Sanchez must believe in himself again. By surveying the field. By delivering throws on time. By avoiding the tunnel vision that has led to so many points for the opposing the defense. The Jets QB has to remember that he was brought here to get the Jets over the hump. He must take the field Sunday knowing that if the coaching staff DIDN’T feel as though he could achieve that, he would have never been given the starting job from day one, with a quality team built around him, in the first place.

As Jets Regroup, Time To Consider A Three Headed Monster

TJ on how using a three headed monster at running back could help open up the Jets offense

It might be late in the game for an entire overhaul of the offense. From airing it out, to grounding and pounding, to a recent attempt at balance, the Jets have tried almost everything in 2011. Except for a three headed attack out of the backfield. Which won’t require an arduous rewriting of the playbook on the fly, in order to do so.

BIG PLAYS FROM SPEEDY MCKNIGHT WILL EASE THE HEAT ON SANCHEZ

QB Mark Sanchez is in desperate need of confidence and rhythm. He has to be better. Perhaps using Joe McKnight as a Dexter McCluster type can help. The second year McKnight can give the Jets a chance for big plays both with some extra pitches outside, and bubble screens from the slot position. Going in motion towards a WR position after initially lining up in the backfield. All of which require little from Sanchez, as far as reading defenses and making tough choices go.

LET GREENE HAMMER, BUT USE HIM LESS

Shonn Greene can continue to hammer away inside. However, despite what the Jets brass will tell you when they say that Greene gets going once his numbers INCREASE, a few less carries will limit the potential of the nagging injuries that seem to plague Greene the MORE he touches the ball.

LT IS A VINTAGE CAR, USE HIM WISELY

LaDainian Tomlinson changes the pace in the screen game and in tough yardage scenarios, where both experience and vision become top priority. His recent MCL sprain though, may require the curtailing of any foreseeable heavy work loads. LT will be key in keeping drives alive, but like a classic and effective vintage car, must be used wisely.

NOTHING WILL HELP THE OFFENSE IF THE JETS DON’T OPEN IT UP

The switch to three instead of two won’t solve everything on. The notion of injecting more of McKnight only helps if the Jets ALSO remember to open up their passing game downfield. Stretching the defense has been the very reason why the eternally emerging TE Dustin Keller, has found little room to work in.

The unwillingness to try many deep throws stifles the Jets many quick slants and five yard outs. Predictable routes that have allowed defenses to pack it in, leaving no room for receivers Plaxico Burress, Santonio Holmes and Jeremy Kerley to run after the catch.

SHORT RANGE CAN WORK IF THE BALL IS SPREAD AROUND

After keeping teams honest by going deep, the Jets can take solace in knowing that teams CAN be effective when employing a predominantly short range ideology. Take Denver and Tim Tebow as even the most extreme example. Most plays nowadays in the Mile High city, start with footballs being tossed as options BEHIND the line of scrimmage. Yet it is  anyone’s guess as to which Broncos ball carrier or receiver ends up with it.

GO DOWNFIELD, USE THREE RBs, IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER

So then, what should come first? Throwing downfield to guys like Holmes in order to back the opposing defenses up? Or should the Jets try to spring a few quick pitches and screens for yardage in order to utilize a Sanchez favorite, the play action, to go deep with purpose? Our answer is, it doesn’t matter which of the two is higher up on the scripted play chart. As long as both are tended to, and a potential threat, throughout the game.

THREE RBs WIDENS THE ATTACK WHILE PRESERVING GREENE, LT

Opening it up downfield is a must. Going with a committed three pronged attack out of the backfield is an idea for an offense that certainly needs a spark. What do the Jets have to lose by widening the line of scrimmage with McKnight? Adding his speed and carries to keep the oft injured Greene, and currently banged up Tomlinson, rested.

In order to survive long enough to even attempt a 5-1 finish, the Jets must get more out of Mark Sanchez AND go downfield already. Yet they should consider how a three headed rushing attack could aid in the process.

Jets Fail To Escape Denver, And Fear Of Themselves

TJ on a New York Jets team who now plays scared football

To the Jets last night’s 17-13 loss to the Denver Broncos in the church of Tim Tebow, felt more like “The Exorcist,” than a happy go lucky gospel led religious revival. Where that cliched final scene of horror was only a matter of time. Jets fans endured the final moments, watching through their hands like a Friday the 13th film, as the last drive took the Broncos 95 yards to an improbable victory. One that not only placed the Jets into the thin air of uncertainty. It left them trapped in their own fears. With concern and confusion as to what time is the right time for turning up the “risk and reward” dial on either side of the ball.

The Jets had come off of an emotional 37-16 loss to the hated Pats just days prior to this Thursday night matchup. In the altitude against a bizarre, yet effective run based Bronco club, featuring of all things, the option formation. All signs pointed towards a Jet letdown, highlighted by schematic confusion on the field. None of this was to be the case however.

The Jets came out focused on defense, and certainly clear about their intent on offense. One that was to be a mistake free”war of attrition.” Featuring a game long patience to grab any lead, then force the throwing challenged Tebow into trying to gain it back.

The way things were playing out, this shotgun gameplan, put together virtually on the flight out to Denver, was on it’s way to working to perfection. However, an inability to decide upon when to open up the offense, or go for broke and smother Tebow on defense, let things fester for too long. Part of the reason for the decision not to go for the kill, with the ball, was understandable to some degree.

Starting RB Shonn Greene had exited early in the game with a rib injury. Therefore right off the bat, the offense had to deal with more insecurities regarding ball security. Trying to limit mistakes by Sanchez, as the Jets coaches often do, was made more difficult after rookie Bilal Powell fumbled on the Denver goal line, and Joe McKnight, who was the primary ball carrier, fumbled after a long kickoff return. Who could the Jets turn to even if they wanted to put the Broncos away?

A run game in fear of putting the ball on the ground, with a QB who the Jets sidelines are always handcuffing, behind a line that offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer seems to doubt during five step drops or more by Sanchez, made for a unit that was walking on eggshells all night.

Those wondering about where the downfield attack asked themselves “where was Santonio Holmes? Why is the only play to Dustin Keller a rollout throw into the flat? How can a team have any room to work if they don’t make the field longer than a ten yard box?”

Playing in fear of a mistake was of course heightened further after Sanchez erased 40 plus minutes of attrition work, by throwing away 7 points and the lead late in the third quarter. In a game where a touchdown felt like 40 points.

It only made sense then, that on a key third down, with the chance to keep the ball rather than give the angelic Tebow one more chance, the Jets chose to run a draw to Powell. Rather than risk the decision making of Sanchez again. Behind a shaky line, with Broncos Dumervill and Miller (already having big nights) ready to pounce from the blindside and change the game.

Why NOT put the safety of insuring a much needed road win in the hands of a Rex Ryan’s defense, right? Right. Sort of.

When the Broncos DID get the ball back with 5:00  left down 13-10, the Jets needing one negative play, feared the big play. Perhaps an aggressive call to create one from coordinator Mike Pettine could have hurt the Jets but also could have created a loss of yardage. A fake blitz look up front could have caused a Bronco lineman to jump out of concern for a sack. Instead, the Broncos milked the clock, moved the chains, and drained the Jets. Slowly. Horrifically.

In fact, after Jim Leonhard missed his chance to close the deal by over pursuing a screen in the end zone on a play that started the nightmarish drive, the only attack the Jets went on, came on a mortally self inflicted middle blitz package. One where Tebow ran like a Pop Warner QB around the left side, virtually untouched, for the game winner with 0:58 seconds left.

Why blitz then? With third and eight, and the Broncos already in game tying FG position? Why not be the aggressor on the other teams twenty yard line? Because they needed proof that Tebow could do it. So he did. for seventy five yards. Rex Ryan, envisioning a brutal bloody ending, like a Hitchcock film said, “blitz.” From the inside. With no insurance that the edges would be guarded. Too little, too late.

The Jets are not dead yet. 5-5 in a conference where many teams will end the weekend with at least four losses, means that with six games left, there is hope. What makes it FEEL like 2011 is over, is not the record as much as how the Jets looked last night.

They played scared. Afraid of themselves. The Jets were afraid to open up the field and take a shot at knocking that team out of their collegiate strategy. They were afraid to attack defensively, miles away from their end zone. Against an option QB with no arm accuracy whatsoever. They were afraid to close the game out on either side of the ball. So the Broncos thanked them for an opportunity instead, and did it for them.

Fear took over this team last night. As it has for much of the year on offense. THAT’s why the Jets season feels as though it has hit a point of no return.