New York Jets: A Report From The Road

What is it like traveling on the road to watch the New York Jets play?

I had the pleasure of making a road trip down to Washington, DC last week for the Jets’ at times frustrating yet ultimately very satisfying 34-19 win over the Redskins.  As usual, the game has been discussed at length and everyone is rightfully looking forward to the task at hand: the Kansas City Chiefs.  But I wanted to quickly recap some of the non-game facets of the trip.

There has been a fair amount of criticism in this space and elsewhere regarding the atmosphere at Jets games, the shortcomings of MetLife Stadium, the behavior of Jets fans and so on. All of that criticism is still justified, but after visiting FedEx Field, I realized that things in East Rutherford might not be so bad after all.

A friend of mine, who lived in Washington, DC for four years, described FedEx Field as “a soulless venue.”  This mostly has to do with the fact that the Redskins have had five winning seasons and four playoff appearances since 1992. Still, there was little to no energy in the building at kickoff.  As a matter of fact, about half of the stadium was empty, and people were still finding their seats with as late as 1:45 left in the first quarter. The Jet crowd (and most New York crowds nowadays) is notoriously late-arriving, but it has never been like that.

One cool moment occurred after the Redskins scored a touchdown on the opening drive.  After the extra point, the Redskins Marching Band (yes, they have a band, and yes, it sort of makes you feel like you’re at a high school game) broke into “Hail to the Redskins”, with the entire crowd singing along.

As an aside: I’m a big soccer fan and part of the reason I became one was the incredible atmosphere at English Premier League games. Hearing 40,000 people sing in unison to spur on their team is something that struck me, even only on television. So even though “Hail to the Redskins” has a decidedly college football feel, I was reminded of a soccer crowd. But in terms of positive atmosphere and energy from ‘Skins fans, that was it.

From a road fan perspective, I expected to sit quietly and watch the game, so as not to draw the attention and ire of the home crowd. However, section 430 at FedEx Field might as well have been section 317 at MetLife stadium, as there were hundreds of fellow gang green supporters nearby.  As the game progressed, my exaltations (and frustrations) were expressed out loud, with no threat of retribution. As a matter of fact, it seemed like ‘Skins fans were indifferent to the result of the game.

Seeing so many Jets fans at a road game renewed some of my faith in what I called one of the most negative fan-bases in sports just last week. Almost every fan I came in contact with was positive about the team, excited about the game and ready to show their support on the road.

They always say that the Steelers and Packers travel best, but when roughly 15,000 Jets fans at FedEx Field made the “J-E-T-S Jets Jets Jets!” reverberate through vacated seats and concourses, I knew the trip was worth it.

Grading Out Jets/Redskins

TOJ grades out the Jets week 13 win over the Washington Redskins

TOJ’s grade report for the New York Jets week 13 win over the Washington Redskins

Quarterback (B) – Mark Sanchez had the kind of performance that would have the national media lavishing praise on him if he was a religious quarterback playing in Denver. It wasn’t a pretty 3 quarters but when the Jets needed a touchdown with under five minutes to play, Sanchez made two huge plays. He converted a third down to Shonn Greene over the middle and then right after hit Santonio Holmes on a beautiful slant and go for the go ahead touchdown. Right now the Jets need wins, no matter how ugly they look, and Sanchez is delivering them.

Running Back (B+) – One of Shonn Greene’s better games in the past couple of years, as he finished with 88 yards rushing, 26 yards receiving, and 3 touchdowns. LaDainian Tomlinson and Joe McKnight are both banged up now, so the Jets need Greene down the stretch more than ever.

Wide Receivers (B) – Santonio Holmes did it again, continuing to build on his reputation as one of the most clutch players in the game with another huge fourth quarter touchdown. Outside of that play, it was a fairly quiet day for the Jets receivers.

Tight Ends (D) – The only impact Dustin Keller and Matthew Mulligan had in this game were on penalties.

Offensive Line (A) – Zero sacks on Mark Sanchez for the second straight week and a strong push in the running game. They need to keep getting better each week because every team they are playing the rest of the year has a strong defense or pass rush.

Defensive Line (C+) – Recovered from a terrible start to put together a pretty good all around effort. Sione Pouha led the way with 4 tackles.

Linebackers (A) – I have ripped them all year but Bart Scott and Calvin Pace put together very good games, particularly Scott who had a key pass defensed and 2 tackles for a loss. Jamaal Westerman took back his starting outside linebacker spot with a sack and two tackles for a loss. Aaron Maybin continued his unbelievable season with another sack and forced fumble.

Secondary (C) – The wide receivers were taken out of the game by the cornerbacks but Fred Davis ate up the Jets safeties and nickel backs.

Special Teams (H) – H…for “how the hell did this team muff another punt?” There shouldn’t be another person all season returning a punt outside of Jim Leonhard.

Coaching (B) – I wasn’t crazy about the Wildcat and the clock management was a problem yet again. But Rex Ryan made nice adjustments at halftime as the Jets completely shut down the Redskins offense in the third and fourth quarter. Brian Schottenheimer made a timely call with the slant and go…now let’s see it more often.

Two Down, Four To Go: Jets Roll Late, Beat Washington 34-19

The New York Jets are still breathing after another come from behind victory in the 4th quarter

We have seen this movie before. The New York Jets play sloppy and inconsistent in all three phases of the game for 3 and a 1/2 quarters, yet when it comes down to the final minutes, they step up with a clutch performance led by their quarterback.

It happened all over again today in Washington. It was hard not be furious with the Jets offense, for horrible clock management, questionable and conservative play calling, along with another weak showing from the passing attack. It was hard not to be furious with the defense for allowing Washington to waltz right down the field on the opening drive before settling down into an overall strong performance. It was hard not to be furious with the special teams for muffing yet another kick (this time Jeremy Kerley was the culprit).

With a little under 5 minutes to go, the Jets trailed by 3 points. Finally, they decided to take advantage of running more slant routes than any team in the NFL by calling for a slant and go, which was perfectly executed by both Santonio Holmes and Mark Sanchez. Another clutch hook up for those two to add to the laundry list they have accumulated in the past two years.

The defense then responded to their reputation for not being able to close by coming up with a strip sack of Rex Grossman. Aaron Maybin continued his unbelievable season by coming up with that sack, his sixth of the season. Shonn Greene then put the game on the ice with a touchdown run and added another one in garbage time for good measure.

The Jets aren’t a great football team, they have flaws which we cover here all the time but hey…they know how to win close football games. We have seen them do damage once they get into the playoffs the past two years and the hope of getting back there this year remains alive, especially with losses from Cincinnati and Oakland today.

There won’t be any easy games the rest of the way, this team isn’t consistent enough yet to say there will be, but for now the Jets are still breathing…

Jets vs. Redskins: 12 Pack Of Predictions

TOJ with 12 predictions for Jets/Redskins

The 12 pack is marching towards the playoffs (hopefully)…here are 12 predictions for the Jets do or die game in Washington:

1. Roy Helu is going to run for more yards than Shonn Greene.

2. LaDainain Tomlinson will have a big impact in his return to the Jets line-up, with four receptions and 60 total yards of offense. He will also get back in the end-zone.

3. Aaron Maybin will record his sixth sack of the season and force another fumble.

4. Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan will lead a pass rush that will sack Mark Sanchez at least twice.

5. Darrelle Revis will have an interception. Rex Grossman will be sacked at least twice and turn the ball over at least twice.

6. Plaxico Burress will score yet another touchdown.

7. The Jets will NOT turn the ball over on special teams…finally.

8. Fred Davis will have a big game for Washington and score a touchdown.

9. Jeremy Kerley will be active in his return to the line-up, with a big punt return and three receptions.

10. Mark Sanchez will have at least one turnover and throw less than 30 passes.

11. Santonio Holmes will lead the Jets in receiving yards, finishing with over 70.

12. The Jets will win, an ugly, sloppy low-scoring game, 17-14. This one will come down to a late Nick Folk field goal.

Ten Preliminary Thoughts On Jets vs. Redskins

Ten preliminary thoughts on the New York Jets chances against the Washington Redskins in week 13

Ten preliminary thoughts on the New York Jets/Washington Redskins week 13 match-up —

1. The Washington pass rush has the potential to give the Jets offensive line fits. They have the third most sacks in the league, led by Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan. This is the type of game that could leave Jets fans cursing Wayne Hunter yet again. However, let’s at least hope D’Brickashaw Ferguson can break out of his slump as he has struggled heavily in recent weeks against Denver and New England.

2. Fred Davis leads the Redskins in receiving and the Jets defense under Rex Ryan has struggled to stop tight ends. They must be smarter than just letting Jim Leonhard or Eric Smith single him up. It will be a long day if the coaching staff is that naive in their belief of their safety’s coverage abilities.

3. You would think Darrelle Revis will be raring for a big time comeback game. The Redskins top wide receiver is Jabar Gaffney, who actually had some success against Revis last year as a member of the Broncos.

4. LaDainian Tomlinson is expected back this Sunday. It will be interesting to see the division of carries between Shonn Greene, Joe McKnight, and Tomlinson. The Jets must get McKnight more looks, particularly in the screen game. Tomlinson should be able to spell Greene occasionally on the inside carries, especially since Greene is dealing with a rib injury.

5. Antonio Cromartie will have the opportunity to see a player just like himself on the other side of the field Sunday, with DeAngelo Hall lining up for the Redskins. Which cornerback will make the most bonehead plays…or which one will actually step up to make a play, like they are supposed to be getting paid for?

6. What quarterback isn’t going to kill their team with turnovers? I think that could end up being the deciding factor this week. We know both Rex Grossman and Mark Sanchez are capable of producing turnovers in bundles, particularly when they are going against solid defenses.

7. I don’t buy any talk of the Jets being favorites in this game or certainly of this being an “easy” win. I think this will be an ugly, low-scoring dog fight in a somewhat hostile environment. This won’t come easy and either will any other games on the Jets schedule.

8. I would like to see what the Jets can do if they avoid a killer special teams turnover. Jeremy Kerley will be back and should be splitting punt return duties with Jim Leonhard.

9. It is on Brian Schottenheimer and Sanchez to make sure Dustin Keller remains involved in the offense. If he can get on a roll, the Jets offense will be that much harder to stop. The Jets have never lost a game in which Keller has scored a touchdown.

10. I am worried about Roy Helu gashing the Jets defense on the edges and in the screen game. Calvin Pace needs a big game. Marcus Dixon and Ropati Pitoitua must step up to fill in for Mike DeVito.