Chris Gross – Patriots 27, Jets 20- The Jets head into Foxboro coming off of a dominating performance against the young Indianapolis Colts at home. They face a New England team ranked 5th against the run with a very young and talented front 7, accompanied by an extremely explosive offensive unit. New York has been vastly improved over the past couple weeks, particularly defensively, where we have seen how creative and intelligent Rex Ryan truly is.
The keys for the Jets rely on another strong performance from the pass rush, and secure, smart play from Mark Sanchez. Defensively, if the Jets can get Quinton Coples, Muhammad Wilkerson, and Aaron Maybin in Tom Brady’s face, making him very uncomfortable, they might just have a chance to shut down New England’s high powered offensive attack. Offensively, New York needs to take advantage of every possibly opportunity they may get. The Jets cannot afford to have Sanchez miss open targets, particularly deep, or make careless turnovers.
New York will come into this game guns blazing. Rex will likely be very aggressive with the defense. Expect to see some pressure schemes designed to keep Brady off balance, accompanied by a surplus of personnel groups, including the “big nickel” package, designed to compete with the Patriots’ no huddle offense. On offense, the Jets will look to open up the run by testing New England’s secondary with a few early deep passes. Shonn Greene will get going again, but this week don’t expect another 100+ yard performance. Instead, Greene will likely get 20-25 carries for about 75-80 yards. Sanchez will play well enough to hold off Tim Tebow for another week, while the Jets keep it close all game, but ultimately fall short due to a strong 4th quarter by Brady and Co.
Mike Donnelly – While the Jets may have issues of their own this year, it’s important to keep in mind that the Patriots are not exactly THE PATRIOTS anymore. The defense is still amongst the worst in the NFL, and the offense doesn’t put up video game type numbers on offense like they used to. I expect the Jets to be outplayed, but make a few big plays throughout the game to make it more competitive than most think. Look for a healthy dose of Tebow, a big special teams play or two, and a few timely defensive plays (Tom Brady, meet Quinton Coples!) as the Jets shock the football world and pull out a 26-24 win.
Chris Celletti – If the Jets can keep Tom Brady relatively in check – eliminate big plays, get some hits on him, force a turnover or two – I think this going to be a close game throughout. The Jets are going to try and continue the success they had on the ground last week with Shonn Greene, even though there’s a much more formidable opponent in front of them this week. But I still think they’re going to be very conservative and try to get one of those “game managing, don’t lose it for us” games out of Mark Sanchez. I also expect plenty of Tim Tebow and the rest of the kitchen sink stuff we’ve seen over the past two weeks. The Jets know they need to do some of those things to beat superior teams. Unfortunately, I think Brady and Belichick outdo their counterparts by just enough, holding on late for a 24-17 win.
Rob Celletti -The Jets will play like an insulted, disrespected team on Sunday, and they should, being 10.5 point underdogs. I’m not saying the Jets are on equal footing with New England, but this is a “throw the record out” scenario. Even if the Jets were 0-6, I’d think they would keep the game close against their arch rivals.
New England’s defense, particularly on the backend, is nothing to brag about. Mark Sanchez has had some of his best games as a pro against the Patriots and there will be places to throw the ball aggressively on Sunday. I also think the Jets will get a representative game on the ground from Shonn Greene and will hit on some creative things with Tim Tebow in the mix. The result of this game is incumbent upon the defense. The Jets can pull an upset if they hold New England to less than 24 points. If Wes Welker and the vaunted tight ends are running rampant in and around the Jets’ linebackers, a likely scenario, watch out.
In the end, the Jets battle to the end, but can’t muster anything on their final drive: New England 31, Jets 27.
Mike Donnelly with his weekly Fantasy Preview, looking at week 7 in the NFL
As we approach the midway point of the fantasy football season, it’s time to evaluate who you should try and trade off while their value is high, and who you should be sticking with as you chase that 2012 fantasy championship. Unless of course your name is Joe Caporoso and you’re sitting in the basement at 1-5 in the TOJ Fantasy league, that is. In that case, your season is already over and you should be mocked publicly, but I digress.
Anyway, for this week’s column I brought in Dan Drobnis, the co-host of the popular weekly fantasy football podcast, The Tebow Sports Show (which can be found here, or on Twitter @TebowSportsShow. His co-host is Jay Ferraro). Dan also doubles as a friend of mine and long-time fantasy league rival, but today we are going to be debating five of the most confusing players in the 2012 fantasy football world. These are guys that have been driving their owners crazy, either due to poor play, injury, or perhaps just that they’ve been playing a little too well and a dip in production is feared going forward. As is usually the case, there are two strong sides to each player, and we’re going to be exploring what you should do with these guys from here on out.
QB: MATT RYAN
Case For (Mike Donnelly) – Don’t be turned off by Ryan’s clunker against Oakland last week. Every quarterback is going to have bad weeks from time to time and that was a clear letdown game for the Falcons against an inferior opponent that they clearly were looking past. Ryan still has the best set of targets of any quarterback in the league with Julio Jones, Roddy White, and Tony Gonzalez and to top it off has quite an easy schedule the rest of the way. He gets to face the Saints and their hilariously bad defense twice, and during the playoff weeks he gets to take on the Panthers, the Giants at home in a dome, and then the Lions in another dome game. Stick with Ryan and expect top 4 QB production as you march into the playoffs.
Case Against (Dan Drobnis) – If you’ve got him, you know how productive he’s been early in the season. But he must have had you scratching your head last week when he threw three picks and failed to reach 300 yards against a Raiders defense that came in ranked 28th in the league against the pass. The Falcons’ margin of victory has been slim each of the past 3 weeks, and I believe that’s a direct result of the league starting to catch up to what Dirk Kotter and the Falcons offense has been doing here in early in the season. Being undefeated can have that effect. I’m not saying he won’t be a productive fantasy quarterback the rest of the way, but fantasy owners have already seen the best they’ll get from Ryan, and should move him now while his value is still sky-high. There are not as many cupcakes on the schedule in the second half and his most recent performance hints that there is some regression right around the corner. Give me any one of the other top 5 QBs over Ryan the rest of the way.
RB: CHRIS JOHNSON
Case For (MD) – It may seem odd that I’m going to defend Chris Johnson here since I own him in one of my leagues and I’ve mercilessly trashed him in this column repeatedly, but that’s exactly what I’m going to do. The Titans have quite possibly the worst offensive line in the NFL, but they’ve actually started to play better and last week’s 114 total yard output by Johnson was very encouraging. Looking ahead, Johnson has games against Buffalo and their joke defense, two games againt Indianapolis who just got run all over by Shonn Greene, Jacksonville, Green Bay, and the Jets. I’m not saying he’s an every week guaranteed starter, but he has the opportunity to rack up some very solid games for your squad. Also, with Kenny Britt now healthy, it should help open things up for Johnson as defenses won’t be able to stack the box nearly as often.
Case Against (DD) – He’s got two juicy matchups over the next two weeks against the Bills and Colts respectively, and then the sledding gets much tougher for the artist formerly known as ‘CJ2K’. Let him build off of what was a solid performance against the Steelers last week and then ship him off to any sucker in your league that’s dumb enough to trade for him. He’s much too hesitant when hitting the hole, and leaves a lot of yards on the field even when he does produce a decent fantasy day. Their O-line doesn’t open up any running lanes for him and Jake Locker and Matt Hasselbeck won’t exactly have defenses scared of the pass. Let him be someone else’s headache, and target a back like a Willis McGahee or Doug Martin who have easier schedules in the second half of the year and have shown they can consistently produce in the early part of the season.
WR: JORDY NELSON
Case For (DD) – Jordy Nelson isn’t going to surprise defenses the way he did in his 2011 breakout campaign when he scored an astounding 15 TDs, and won fantasy football championships for people all across this great country. But Nelson will make up for the inevitable regression in the TD department with the increased targets he’s seen being as an every-down player in one of the NFL’s most explosive passing attacks. Aaron Rodgers hit Nelson early and often against the Texans last week, and he should see less double-teams and safety help once Greg Jennings returns from a groin injury that has had him on the shelf for most of the season. He does have a tendency to disappear some weeks, as Aaron Rodgers likes to spread the ball around. But as long as you aren’t relying on this guy to carry your team, he should be locked into your lineup each week as Aaron Rodgers’ go-to guy.
Case Against (MD) – Nelson is a prime example of a guy who you shouldn’t be tricked by after one great week. That does not offset 5 weeks of mostly mediocre play, not by a long shot. Aaron Rodgers is not going to throw 6 touchdowns every week, and as we’ve seen this year, he spreads the ball around to many different receivers, so Nelson won’t be the prime target every week — especially when Greg Jennings returns. The Packers offense has not been the same dominant force it was last year as the league has seemingly caught on to their schemes. I’m not saying Nelson won’t have his moments, but I wouldn’t rely on him week in and week out. If you can pawn him off while his value is high right now, I’d recommend doing so.
WR: HAKEEM NICKS
Case For (MD) – Yes, I know Nicks has been a disappointment to those who drafted him this year as he’s missed most of the season due to injury, but there are few receivers I’d rather have from here on out. When Nicks is on the field, he’s always performed really well, highlighted by his 199 yard effort in week 2. He’s always going to be the #1 option on this Giants offense, and with Victor Cruz playing so well, defenses won’t be able to key on Nicks like they have in the past. If you take a look at his schedule the rest of the season it’s extremely promising, as he gets to face the Redskins twice, the Packers, the Steelers, the Bengals and then the Saints, Falcons, and depleted Ravens secondary during the playoff weeks. Nicks is the kind of guy that can single-handedly win you a championship.
Case Against (DD) – I’m calling this one more of a feeling than anything else. I won’t deny it. Nicks is a beast when he’s on the field, and plays with arguably the best quarterback in the game today in Eli Manning. But he rushed back from a broken foot and aggravated his knee trying to compensate for the foot injury. Not to mention, in the games that he’s already missed, guys like Domenik Hixon and Ramses Barden carved out larger roles in the Giants offense. If Nicks were given time to let his injuries heal, I wouldn’t be so down on him. But this just looks like it’s going to be a down year for one of the most talented, young receivers in the game and a headache for fantasy owners trying to figure out when, if, and how effective he’ll be on Sundays dealing with all of the lingering issues stemming from the preseason foot injury.
TE: TONY GONZALEZ
Case For (MD) – Just like with Matt Ryan, I don’t think you should be giving up on this Falcons offense at all, and quite frankly I’m surprised Mr. Drobnis is so down on them. Gonzalez has been the clear-cut top Tight End this year, and there’s little reason to think that’s going to change going forward. The Falcons simply have too many weapons for defenses to deal with, and with Jones and White getting so much attention, Gonzo has been torching everyone over the middle of the field. Plus, he’s a great red zone target and the opportunity for touchdowns are always there. The only thing to worry about now is if the Falcons run away with the #1 seed and start to rest veterans like Tony down the stretch, but I don’t anticipate that happening. Gonzo is a stud.
Case Against (DD) – As the blueprint for slowing down the Falcons offense gets around the league, you’ll see more and more teams taking away Gonzalez and forcing Matt Ryan to throw into double coverage down the field as he did Sunday against the Raiders. I always like to sell high on players, and with the way Gonzo has produced early on, you’d be wise to shop him around and see what you get. He’s been the #1 fantasy TE through the first 6 weeks of the season, something no one saw coming from the 36-year-old future hall of famer when the season started. With guys like Kyle Rudolph, Heath Miller, and Brent Celek (just to name a few) outperforming their draft-day price tags, there are cheaper options at tight-end that will produce about the same if not more fantasy points than Gonzalez the rest of the way. Put his name out there and see what you can get.
It’s hard to believe that we are already heading into week 7 of the regular NFL season. For the New York Jets, to say it has been a roller coaster season up until this point would be an understatement. After a week 1 blowout of the Buffalo Bills, all looked extremely promising for Gang Green. Following that game, many felt as if the Jets were finally poised to be a legitimate threat to New England’s AFC East throne. However, since then, the Jets have suffered tough losses and injuries to their two most high profile players in Darrelle Revis and Santonio Holmes. New York has responded well the last two weeks, though, with a tough effort against Houston and a blowout of the Indianapolis Colts to put them back to .500 and give them their current lead in the division.
The landscape for the remainder of the season still remains to be seen. This sudden group of low profile Jets seems to be starting to develop an attitude of camaraderie based around the notion that their season is dead in the water. Unlikely players like Chaz Schillens have stepped up into leadership roles by voicing out against the popular belief that this team doesn’t have a chance to make it out of the regular season with a winning record. This is something that we have yet to see in the Ryan era, but for this group of Jets, it could be a recipe for success.
This week will be a true test of how valid that idea may be. New England, although also .500, still remains the top dog in the AFC East. As Rex Ryan so eloquently put it, you need to beat the man if you wish to be the man. That’s exactly what this group will attempt to do this Sunday in Foxboro. Will the “us against the world” concept drive this team to be successful? Or was last week merely a mirage in a season poised for a serious let down? Come Sunday night, we should know a lot about where this team truly stands heading into the second half of the season.
For now, let’s breakdown some likely, and unlikely, scenarios that we expect to see in this week’s rivalry matchup in our latest edition of New York Jets Fact Or False.
The Jets will do everything in their power to prepare for New England’s hurry up offense.Fact.We are already seeing the makings of a package designed specifically to defend the hurry up offense. Antonio Allen is active again, and the Jets recently activated LB/S Marcus Dowtin from the practice squad. As noted here earlier in the week, these guys are players who fit perfectly into the “big nickel” package. What this means is that Rex Ryan will try to put his most versatile players on the field at once. Allen and Dowtin have the size to line up in the box and defend the run, as well as the speed to get out in space and cover tight ends. There is a very good chance that Allen will see extended reps and that Dowtin will be thrown right into active duty, just days after being signed.
Also, expect to see a big game out of LaRon Landry. Landry has linebacker size, with safety speed, something that will make him a weapon against this type of offensive scheme. Rex has been getting extremely creative with his defenses this past week, and you can bet your bottom dollar that he has been up all week devising a package that he believes will be effective against the hurry up. Whether it proves to be truly effective remains to be seen.
Tom Brady will be sacked at least twice.Fact. The Jets are familiar with the formula for beating the Patriots, as their counterparts in New York have made it a point to set the blueprint on how to take down New England’s high powered offense. You want to beat the Patriots, you need to get Tom Brady to the ground and throwing out of the pocket. The last time the Jets beat New England, in the 2010 playoffs, they did a great job of pressuring and hitting Brady. Brady notoriously becomes frazzled when facing a premiere pass rush, but the key is to get pressure without having to use a surplus of blitzes.
Brady has made a name for himself torching blitz packages for years. The Giants have success against New England because their pass rush is good enough to get to him by rushing just 4. The Jets had similar success in the 2010 playoffs. This year, the Jets finally have some natural ability up front that will allow them to get pressure on Brady without having to blitz too frequently. Quinton Coples is finally coming into his own as a pass rusher, primarily from the interior, where he could be deadly against a struggling Patriots offensive line. Muhammad Wilkerson will surely bring pressure as well, and if Aaron Maybin can duplicate his play from last week, the Jets may have a real good chance to get to Brady numerous times.
Shonn Greene will run the ball for 100+ yards for the second consecutive week.False. Shonn Greene is coming off a career week against the Colts in which he rushed for 161 yards and 3 touchdowns. While this is certainly an encouraging sign for the Jets rushing attack, don’t be fooled by these numbers. Yes, Greene looked more decisive, elusive, and powerful than he has in years, but the Colts rank in the bottom tier in rushing defense. New England, on the other hand, ranks 6th in that area, surrendering just 82.7 yards per contest on the ground.
With Bilal Powell and Joe McKnight out, the burden to carry the load will be on Greene. We know that he has struggled in such a role, but if the Jets can get yards from Tim Tebow and Jonathan Grimes, then Greene still has the potential to amass somewhere between 75-90 yards. As far as the century mark, don’t be disappointed looking at the box score after the game. Greene can be effective, but it is highly unlikely he surpasses 100 yards rushing in consecutive weeks, which would be a career first.
Tim Tebow will see over 30% of the offensive snaps this week.Fact. It was one thing to expect to see more of Tebow with a depleted group of wide receivers. The popular thought was that, with little playmaking ability in the offensive arsenal, Tebow would be used more frequently to generate a spark for this offense. As we have seen, that has not been the case since losing Holmes in week 4. However, this week presents an entirely new set of obstacles for this offense.
Following a week where New York finally seemed to gel in terms of running back depth and rotation, two of the three most used backs were lost due to injury and are out this week. That leaves the Jets with Greene and a very untested Jonathan Grimes. New York seemingly has no choice but to use Tebow on the ground, if not in the wildcat, then in a running back role. Greene may struggle as the only proven running threat, and it is unclear what exactly Grimes will bring to the table at this point. Why not add another proven runner to that stable of backs and allow Tebow to carry the ball 10-15 times in any type of capacity? There is no reason for the Jets to avoid this, and it will certainly be in their best interest to include a heavy dose of TT in the run game this week.
A few thoughts on how the New York Jets could game plan for the New England Patriots
The New York Jets head to New England this Sunday in a pivotal AFC East game between a pair of 3-3 teams. Despite having the same record, the Jets find themselves as 10.5 point underdogs. New England is a better team but the Jets have beat the Patriots in the past when they had less talented rosters than them. This is another “kitchen sink” game where Rex Ryan and the coaching staff needs to put together a creative game plan that doesn’t hold back any gadgets or surprises. How can the Jets give themselves a chance to pull off the upset?
Offense – New England is extremely weak in their secondary, giving up an inordinate amount of 20+ yard passing plays. Their corners and safeties have a difficult time playing the ball in the air and both position groups are generally lacking on talent. The Jets are going to have to take their shots down the field. This is the type of game they drafted Stephen Hill for. This is the type of game you give Antonio Cromartie another shot to run a pass route or two. Jeremy Kerley should be able to do some damage down the seam. Of course all of that is irrelevant if Mark Sanchez cannot be accurate with his deep passes. This is a big test for Sanchez. Can he take advantage of a weak secondary? In the past Sanchez has played some of his best games against New England (and some of his worst) – but he does have over a 100 quarterback rating in 4 of his 7 games against them. The Jets need “Good Sanchez” in a big way on Sunday.
Obviously the Jets can’t be one dimensional. They need a productive running game to open up play action passing down the field. Without Bilal Powell and Joe McKnight, that much more pressure will be on Shonn Greene to perform. Nobody is expecting him to duplicate last week’s performance but if he could give the Jets a solid 20 carry, 85 yard performance it will go a long way to helping their passing game out. Powell and McKnight’s absence could also lead to a bigger role for Tim Tebow.
I had an interesting conversation with Steve Hunter of Sports Geek, where he mentioned the possibility of using a “surprise” Wildcat that utilized Tebow in a hurry-up offense. New England uses their hurry-up to prevent defenses from subbing and allowing them to take advantage of team’s nickel personnel with their running game or their base personnel with their passing game. If the Jets started a series with Sanchez at quarterback and Tebow at one of the running back spots, they could move to a hurry up and alternate in plays where Tebow lines up quarterback before New England has a chance to substitute or react. This also wouldn’t be a bad game to allow Tebow to take a shot down the field, considering the Patriots vulnerable secondary.
Basically, the Jets need to get creative to manufacture points because New England is going to score their share. You aren’t winning this game with anything less than 24 on the board.
Defense – As previously mentioned, New England is going to gain their yards and score their share of points. The key is going to be, how many times can the Jets force the Patriots to settle for a field goal instead of letting them get in the end-zone? And can they force New England into a couple of turnovers? The Jets can’t allow the Patriots to rip off huge chunks of yardage. They have to make them work on long drives and hope they press eventually and Brady throws them an interception or Stevan Ridley coughs up a fumble.
New England thrives in their no huddle because they take advantage of a team’s inability to substitute and then gash them with their running game when they have personnel on the field to defend the pass. This is what makes having the personnel to run a “big nickel” that much more important. Rex Ryan seems to recognize that and smartly brought up hybrid safety/linebacker Antonio Allen last week and now this week has brought up another hybrid in Marcus Dowtin. These are the type of players you need to defend the Patriots, guys with coverage skills but who have the ability to play in the box and make tackles. Considering Eric Smith’s injury, look for extended reps for Allen and for Dowtin to be thrown right on the field like Allen was last week. At linebacker, Demario Davis should see a big chunk of Bart Scott’s playing time because of his speed and coverage skills.
Safeties LaRon Landry and Yeremiah Bell were brought in to help slow down the Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. They can’t match them in man to man coverage and it may be a good idea to give Antonio Cromartie a few shots on them in certain situations. However, they have the ability to get physical with them in the box and re-route or delay their routes in hopes of throwing their timing with Brady off. It will be imperative that Muhammad Wilkerson, Quinton Coples and Aaron Maybin generate a pass rush because Brady is a different quarterback when he is getting frequently hit.
Special Teams – If Joe McKnight doesn’t play, Antonio Cromartie will be the primary kick returner and he is always capable of ripping off a big return. Jeremy Kerley remains dangerous as a punt returner as well. Any points generated from special teams would be a huge bump in a game where the Jets are trying to pace themselves with the Patriots offense. I have a tough time seeing the Jets executing another fake punt because you know New England is going to be waiting for it. Let’s see how creative Mike Westhoff can get.
Can the New York Jets remain a factor in the increasingly mediocre AFC?
In case you haven’t noticed, the 2012 AFC is a breeding ground of mediocrity. Through six weeks, only two teams are over .500 (Baltimore and Houston, both at 5-1) and there are seven teams sitting at 3-3. Beyond that, you have eight teams under .500, including five teams who are already at least two games under. Let’s take a quick, semi-serious look at the flaws with every team –
Houston (5-1) – They just lost Brian Cushing for the season and were stomped out in their own building by the Green Bay Packers. They barely scrapped by the Jets as they were acclimating about 6 new players to full time roles. When has Matt Schaub ever won an important game? Seriously, name one.
Baltimore (5-1) – No Lardarius Webb (a huge on field loss). No Ray Lewis (a huge locker room loss). Terrell Suggs still not all the way healthy and Haloti Ngata is banged up. They are almost entirely reliant on their offense right now. Is Joe Flacco really on that level yet? He has shown signs but did also only score 9 points against the Chiefs who couldn’t beat 11 sobbing Jason Whitlocks right now.
Jets (3-3) – Of course, I am listing them before all the other 3-3 teams not based any specific criteria just because this is a Jets website after all. I won’t go into the Jets flaws here because I do that every single day and night (check for our articles later today!)
Patriots (3-3) – Marquice Cole might be the best player in their secondary right now. Also they manage their games like you would if you played your little brother in Madden. Basically, you have Belichick and Brady keeping a Joe Biden sh*t eating grin on their face until they get an intentional grounding and a 10 second run off before the half so they can’t kick a field goal…and then lose by 1 point.
Denver (3-3) – You can’t fall behind 3 touchdowns and win every week because you can’t play Philip Rivers and Norv Turner every week. Their running backs are awful and their defense is criminally overrated (trust me, I know a criminally overrated defense when I see one…look at the team I cover).
San Diego (3-3) – Can’t wait until they finish 8-8 and somehow bring back Norv, their GM and Rivers for one more run! Remember, insanity is the definition of doing the same thing over and over again while expecting a different result.
Buffalo (3-3) – Mario Williams is the most overpaid player in football. Their defense is thoroughly atrocious They are a lock to go 1-5 in the AFC East. Oh and their fans will be seeing this sign on their way to games in a few years…
Miami (3-3) – Not sold on the Tannehill-Hartline love fest yet. Despite beating powerhouses like Oakland, St. Louis and Cincinnati who promptly turned around and got whipped by 0-5 Cleveland. Also Reggie Bush is inevitably going to get hurt.
Cincinnati (3-3) – AJ Green is a fantasy God-send. Seriously, he is more consistent than intense stomach pains after a meal at PF Changs. Unfortunately, Andy Dalton has never beat a team over .500 in his life. BenJarvus Green-Ellis is not a lead back and their defense has taken a major step back.
Pittsburgh (2-3) – Outside of their passing game, they don’t do anything particularly well any more. Their defense is old and slow. Calvin Pace, Eric Smith, Bryan Thomas and Bart Scott would fit right in.
Indianapolis (2-3) – They won’t win more than 2 games on the road this season. No matter how many “LOOK AT THE POISE!” articles on Andrew Luck are written, he is still a rookie working with a suspect supporting cast.
Cleveland (1-5) – Most accurate description of a sports city possible –
Oakland (1-4) – If the Raiders traded two 7th round picks for Carson Palmer they would have overpaid. Nevermind what they actually paid for him.
Tennessee (2-4) – Matt Hasselbeck is still better than Jake Locker, which isn’t a good sign for the long term health of this franchise. Chris Johnson. (Nothing else needs to be added).
Jacksonville (1-4) – Are we surprised it looks like they overpaid for Laurent Robinson and that Blaine Gabbert is still awful? Would they still take Tebow for a 3rd round pick?
Kansas City (1-5) – Brady Quinn! Peyton Hillis! Dontari Poe! Jonathan Baldwin! BOOOO!!!!!!!
So where do the New York Jets fit into this cluster of mediocrity heading into week 7? Fortunately, in the division they are off to a good start by being 2-0 where tie-breakers will be of enormous importance. They have played both San Francisco and Houston already while New England has played neither and Buffalo and Miami have only played one apiece. Their schedule for the rest of the season doesn’t make it implausible to think they could grab 9 wins in a conference where 9 wins could equal a division title and 8 wins could equal a wild-card spot.
Ultimately their success this year will depend on how the new parts acclimate to extended playing time. Rex Ryan appears to have recognized the shortcomings on his base defense and looks to be using more varied looks and personnel. The Jets need players like Quinton Coples, Demario Davis, Antonio Allen and Josh Bush to grow on the job while players like Antonio Cromartie, David Harris and Muhammad Wilkerson provide leadership and supply elevated levels of play that matches their talent.
On offense, Mark Sanchez needs to get the most out of his young group of receivers, starting this week in New England. We will get into this more tomorrow when we discuss offensive and defense game plans but the Jets must throw the ball down the field against the Patriots brutal secondary. This is the type of game they drafted Stephen Hill for and one that Jeremy Kerley, who is turning into a serious playmaker, should thrive in.
Obviously the running game must also remain effective. We have been harshly critical of Shonn Greene’s performance on this site in recent weeks because the film dictated that type of criticism. Greene broke out last week, thanks to better vision, a surprising amount of broken tackles, stronger run blocking and a weak run defense. Greene will shoulder a big load again this week and likely next week while Joe McKnight and Bilal Powell are recovering from injuries. He must continue performing, to give balance to the Jets offense and open up the play action passing game. Proper use of Tim Tebow should also enhance a running game that has been struggling.
The Jets are facing a pivotal part of their schedule with two upcoming division games. They have an ability to take a stranglehold on the AFC East by winning their next two or an ability to dig themselves in a hole with losses in both. Realistically, a split should be the goal and would set them up well for a second half that features games against Jacksonville, Tennessee, Buffalo, St. Louis and San Diego at home in December.
This is a flawed team in a conference of flawed teams. There is an opportunity to create a little separation from the pack and gain a little respect with a win this week. Let’s see if the Jets are up to it.