New York Jets: Westerman Provides Shot In Arm To Linebackers

Jamaal Westerman provided much needed speed and playmaking ability to the outside linebacker position for the New York Jets on Sunday

The New York Jets have missed outside linebacker Bryan Thomas since his season ending injury in week 4 against the Baltimore Ravens. It has been clear the impact Aaron Maybin has provided to the Jets. Yet, he isn’t a traditional outside linebacker and is used specifically as a pass rusher, primarily out of a sprinter’s stance on the defensive line. The carousel of players attempting to replace Thomas began with Jamaal Westerman, then moved to Josh Mauga, and most recently to Garrett McIntyre.

After failing to lock down the job in his first attempt, Westerman replaced a benched McIntyre in the base defense starting in the second half against Washington. He responded with 5 tackles, a sack, and 2 tackles for a loss. It wasn’t his first batch of impact plays in the 2011 season, as he has 3.5 sacks so far and forced a safety against New England a few weeks back.

Despite lacking size, Westerman provides much needed speed to a painfully slow linebacker group. He also looked much improved against the run in the second half versus Washington. Perhaps he realizes that if he doesn’t make an impact in these final stretch of games, he may never get the chance again to be an impact player on this defense.

Prior to the year, Ryan dubbed Westerman his DPR or “Designated Pass Rusher” but it has been Maybin who has taken over that title, literally. He was announced in the starting line-up at the Jets/Pats game as it. With likely another shot at the starting outside linebacker spot, Westerman has a chance to still develop into the impact player the coaching staff envisioned him as.

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New York Jets Need Shonn Greene Now More Than Ever

TOJ on the importance of Shonn Greene continuing to assert himself as a true lead back down the stretch

Shonn Greene still has not truly asserted himself as a full time lead back for the New York Jets, yet he is slowly moving in that direction. His continued movement in that direction will go a long way to determining whether or not this football team will make the playoffs.

Greene has taken slack for not being durable but so far he has missed only 3 quarters of football this season and is currently playing effectively through a rib injury. LaDainian Tomlinson is banged up with knee issues and Joe McKnight has a hyperextended elbow. Rookie running back Bilal Powell didn’t look ready to be a contributor when he received a chance earlier in the year. Without question, it is looking like the Jets are going to need Greene to carry the load like the lead back they talked him up to be all off-season.

Against Washington, he finished with 88 yards on 22 carries with 3 touchdowns and also added 3 receptions for 26 yards, including a huge third down conversion late in the game. Greene has quietly improved substantially as a receiver, pulling in 23 catches so far this year.

This past Sunday was the fifth time in six games that he averaged at least four yards per carry as he continued a career trend of improving as it gets deeper in the season. We all know the Jets offense thrives when they are working off a power rushing attack. It will be Greene who has to answer that call with 18-22 carries each week now with Tomlinson and McKnight’s health being a question mark.

A strong finish will go a long way to the Jets deciding to commit to Greene long term as their number one back, instead of exploring other options via free agency or the draft. Greene is carrying both his future with the team and their playoff hopes in these next four games.

New York Jets: Mark Sanchez Does It Again

TOJ on Mark Sanchez doing what he always does, making a big play in the fourth quarter to lead the Jets to a win

The New York Jets formula for victory the past few years has been: keep the game close and wait for Mark Sanchez to make a big play or two late to carry them to a victory. It worked last year and we have seen it work the past two weeks.

Yesterday Sanchez had a crisp first drive but was thoroughly average after that until the Jets received the football down by 3 late in the fourth quarter. He then made two plays that are the reason this team will always have a chance in close games with him under center.

3rd and 4. Sanchez eluded the pass rush as his first and second option were both covered and then found Shonn Greene in a tight space over the middle for a 10 yard gain. He has consistently thrived throughout his career when the play breaks down and this was another example. Two plays later, he used a well-timed pumped fake and dropped in a gorgeous 30 yard touchdown to Santonio Holmes who smoked his defender on a slant and go.

It isn’t always going to be pretty with Sanchez but he has a knack for coming up in a big spot, with a big time throw. Everybody who has watched him throughout his career knows that. He won’t receive the praise that somebody like Tim Tebow does because this isn’t Denver and everybody who isn’t inside of the Jets organization or a fan of the team, hates them because of how they carry themselves.

Matthew Stafford has gone 2-5 since the Lions 5-0 start. Josh Freeman has been terrible on a 4-8 Bucs team and is now hurt. Matt Ryan was outplayed by T.J. Yates by a wide margin yesterday and still has never won a playoff game. Mark Sanchez has 19 touchdowns and 11 interceptions on a 7-5 team that has won their last two games thanks to plays he made in the fourth quarter. It isn’t good enough to the national media but it is good enough for the Jets, who remain a dangerous team until they are mathematically eliminated from contention.

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.

New York Jets: Final Quarter Full Of Opportunities

Can the New York Jets run the table on the final fourth of their schedule?

After three-fourths of the New York Jets season, they sit with a 7-5 record, probably a game or two off the pace most people had projected them to be on. They are in a dogfight for a wild-card spot with Cincinnati, Tennessee, Oakland, and Denver. Despite all the disappointments so far this season, the opportunity to become a playoff team is right in front of them.

The negatives? This remains an inconsistent team with some personnel and coaching issues that won’t be going away. The positives? They still have an ability to rise up in a big spot and win close games. This team could lose to anybody left on their schedule, just as easily as they can beat them.

Speaking of the schedule, the games will get progressively harder over the next three weeks. It starts out with a home game against the Tyler Palko led Kansas City Chiefs. Similar to the Redskins today, the Chiefs have a strong defense but very poor quarterback play (even poorer than Washington). The Jets will have the benefit of being in MetLife Stadium where they are 5-1 this year. After the Chiefs, comes the failed Dream Team of Philadelphia on the road. I don’t care what Philly’s record is or how pathetic they have looked lately, they have a ton of talent and that is a tough place to play. After the Eagles, comes the Giants who will be fighting for their playoff lives and will be overloaded with bulletin board material from Rex Ryan. If the Jets are alive heading into week 17, Miami is playing as well as any team in the AFC right now despite being 4-8.

It won’t be an easy road. 2 out of 4 won’t cut it. 3 out of 4 makes it a toss up for a playoff spot. 4 of 4 will get the Jets in, nevermind the momentum of heading into the playoffs with a 6 game winning streak.

What has been odd about the past couple of weeks is that the Jets have preached all week about treating each of these games like the playoffs, yet they keep coming out flat. They aren’t turning on the switch until they absolutely have to. That might fly against Buffalo, Washington and maybe even Kansas City this week, but you can’t expect the Jets to beat Philadelphia, the Giants, or even Miami like that.

Everything has been in spurts the past two weeks. Flashes of big plays in the passing game. Flashes of the running game. Flashes of a very good defense The Jets need to move towards putting together a complete game or they won’t be able to string together another 4 wins this regular season.

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…

New York Jets Fans: Week 13 Rooting Guide

Who should New York Jets fans be rooting for this Sunday?

The New York Jets didn’t get any help last weekend in their pursuit for a playoff spot. Let’s hope week 13 brings a little more luck…of course along with a win over Washington or else none of these games really matter –

Tennessee (6-5) at Buffalo (5-6) – After ending Buffalo’s playoff hopes last week, the Jets and their fans need to hope the Bills can come through for them by knocking off Tennessee at home. This game is a toss-up but a loss for the Titans probably cements a 9-7 or 8-8 record for them considering they still have New Orleans and Houston on the schedule.

Denver (6-5) at Minnesota (2-9) – Will Tim Tebow’s divine magical ride ever come to an end? Minnesota isn’t as bad as their record indicates and I think this one will be close but maybe that is just wishful thinking. This guy has to lose a game eventually right?

Cincinnati (7-4) at Pittsburgh (8-3) – The Bengals have put up an admirable effort all year, yet they still lack a banner victory. Let’s hope Pittsburgh can take care of business and stay in the hunt for a AFC North title by giving the Bengals their 5th loss. The Jets are going to be in trouble if Cincinnati wins this game.

Green Bay (11-0) at New York Giants (6-5) – It would be nice to see the Jets have a crack at having the best record of the local teams yet again.

Kansas City (4-7) at Chicago (7-4) – It would be good to see Kansas City start to tank out before they head to MetLife Stadium next week.

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.

TOJ Week 13 NFL Picks

TOJ with his week 13 NFL picks. Who are your best bets?

Last Week: 8-5

Season Record: 89-70-5

Week 13 Picks

  • Seattle (+3) vs. Philadelphia
  • Buffalo (-2.5) vs. Tennessee
  • Chicago (-7) vs. Kansas City
  • Miami (-2.5) vs. Oakland
  • Pittsburgh (-7) vs. Cincinnati
  • Cleveland (+7) vs. Baltimore
  • Washington (+4) vs. Jets
  • Atlanta (-3.5) vs. Houston
  • New Orleans (-9.5) vs. Detroit
  • Minnesota (PK) vs. Denver
  • San Francisco (-14) vs. St. Louis
  • Dallas (-6) vs. Arizona
  • Green Bay (-8) vs. Giants
  • New England (-20) vs. Indianapolis
  • Jacksonville (+4.5) vs. San Diego

Can Rex Ryan’s Defense Rise Up?

Can Rex Ryan get the most out of a mostly average defensive unit for the rest of the season?

Despite the reputation of the New York Jets, when you look at the current roster it is pretty clear that there is more talent on the offensive side of the football than the defensive side. The success of the Jets defense in recent years has been a testament to Rex Ryan and Mike Pettine.

Right now this unit, has a good, deep defensive line rotation. One great linebacker, surrounded by a generally mediocre group around him. One great corner, surrounded by below average safeties and a wildly inconsistent starter opposite him. It is the recipe for a pretty average defense. Unfortunately, the Jets need this defense to be well above average to compensate for an inconsistent offense that doesn’t regularly play to their talent level.

For that to happen it is on Rex Ryan and Mike Pettine to get creative with their game plans. Those game plans need to be complimented by Darrelle Revis and David Harris playing to their elite level, which they have all year with the exception of Revis last week. The pass rush is going to have to keep coming from Aaron Maybin, who needs an enlarged role and from the blitzing. Unlike previous years, Jets defensive backs haven’t been racking up sacks…that needs to change down the stretch. Drew Coleman, Dwight Lowery, and James Ihedigbo combined for 9 sacks in 2010. All three are gone now and the Jets haven’t replaced that production.

The defensive line may have to pick up the slack of the linebackers. Hopefully the coaching staff will consider more 4-3 looks to take advantage of their depth up front. Bart Scott and Garrett McIntyre aren’t going to get any faster overnight but should be more effective with less reps and being reduced to situational players.

Rex loves to talk about his defense and having the reputation of being a great defensive mind in the NFL…with the sputtering Redskins, Chiefs, and Eagles coming up on the schedule, it is time to show he can get the most out of a mostly average group.