Grading Out Jets/Patriots

TOJ grades out the Jets 30-21 loss to the New England Patriots

Quarterbacks (B) – Mark Sanchez played well within in the game-plan, which was built to pull him back from his erratic ways the previous weeks. There were at least 4 or 5 dropped passes and Sanchez did a good job avoiding a handful of sacks. I don’t see how you get on him for his performance on Sunday. He was far from the reason the Jets lost.

Running Backs (B+) – Shonn Greene did well in an expanded role, averaging 4 yards per carry and getting into the end-zone for his second touchdown of the season. The Jets did a poor job of involving LaDainian Tomlinson however. Just because Greene is getting used properly doesn’t mean Tomlinson should be getting less than 5 touches. We still didn’t see enough Joe McKnight on offense. John Conner had a third down drop.

Wide Receivers (C) – It was disappointing to see Plaxico Burress leave a handful of plays out on the field with his drops. Santonio Holmes also dropped a pass but had a strong second half, catching his second touchdown of the year. Jeremy Kerley likely Wally Pipp’d Derrick Mason, who might have talked himself off the team.

Tight Ends (C) – A quiet day from Dustin Keller at a bad time. He had a bad third down drop. Matthew Mulligan helped get a good push in the running game with Keller.

Offensive Line (B+) – Nick Mangold obviously made a huge difference and the offense took a step in the right direction running the football. Yet, the pass protection was average and it is sad how we are now celebrating a 80 yard performance from Greene, when as Damien Woody said on Twitter “they’d be disappointed if they ran for less than two bills” a few years back.

Defensive Line (D) – Ben Jarvus Green-Ellis, come on man. Mike DeVito was missing tackles all over the field and Muhammad Wilkerson was invisible. It probably wouldn’t have hurt to have Shaun Ellis out there.

Linebackers (C) – They are responsible in the running game as well. Bart Scott has been awfully quiet the past three games after a strong start. It was good to see Jamaal Westerman finally make an impact, as he broke through with two sacks.

Secondary (B) – I thought the whole secondary played pretty well outside of Eric Smith, who continues to get beat like a drum. They were victim to a few phantom illegal contact and pass interference penalties out there.

Special Teams (B+) – Joe McKnight is becoming a serious weapon out there. The only misstep was the low line drive on the punt to Wes Welker which led to a New England field goal.

Coaching (D) – Just not good enough right now. I am starting to wonder if Brian Schottenheimer will make it through the season. Let’s see how Rex Ryan can handle this crisis. Keep in mind the Jets had two separate three game losing streaks in 2009 and actually lost 6 out of 7 that year…for the record that team finished 9-7 and was within a half of the Super Bowl.

Brady In Red: How The Patriots Decided To Play As The Jets

2-3. A mark most teams reach and start to wonder what isn’t going right. For the New York Jets, that’s quite a few things on both sides of the ball. Special teams? Could be the best in the league. Mike Westhoff will get returns with Sione Pouha, but sadly special teams accounts for but 30% of total play.

Offense. Surprisingly, the Jets are finally making the shift towards getting legitimate use out of their draft picks (except Ducasse). The Jets are testing out Jeremy Kerley, who will probably end up as the slot receiver by the end of the year unless Derrick Mason starts catching balls on 3rd down and quiets his criticisms of his offensive coordinator. The kick return job, which initially went to Antonio Cromartie, has been relegated to Joe Mcknight, who is finally emerging as a legitimate 4th round draft pick . McKnight got a few plays at running back, knowing Shonn Greene isn’t going to break anything to the outside and is better off with a full head of steam going north and south. If the Jets can get McKnight going, along with a steady power running game with Shonn Greene, LT may have even better stats than he did last year. Sadly, we must wait what will undoubtedly be a long 11 weeks and see if that pans out.

So what gets the Jets off to the slow start? Lack of a screen game. Lack of a power running game. Lack of a legitimate tall deep threat (No more Edwards). They have a middle of the field threat with Holmes and a sideline/end zone corner threat with Burress, but this whole going after aging talent that isn’t experienced with the system gamble is not working out the way it was supposed to. They can’t play off the run the way they are supposed to. They also can’t run the occasional Wildcat like they used to with Brad Smith. It is easy to see they should have paid Edwards and kept some sort of continuity with Sanchez and not have this receiving core of egos already blowing up against their coordinator.

Remedies? Can’t turn back time at this point in the season. Look at Philadelphia. On paper champions. If this was a video game, the Jets could probably run the table. Unfortunately, they have no run stopping linebacker with the loss of Bryan Thomas, and their backup center/guard Rob Turner isn’t going to be in for substitutions, which may lead to Vladimir Ducasse getting some sort of playing time.


Bill Belichick is the smartest coach in the NFL. There is no doubt at this point that he spent the large majority of his offseason trying to figure out the Jets and how they go about their defense against the Patriots. To the Patriots favor, some good things happened for their offense as opposed to the Jets defense. Their two tight ends are fully comfortable in this offense. They are too fast to play against linebackers, and they’re too strong to play against safeties. It just so happens the Jets have two undersized safeties and only two legitimate linebackers. Sure Revis took away Welker, but someone always has to account for those two tight ends, and no one on the Jets has the size or adequate speed save for Cromartie, who unfortunately spent his day attempting to catch Deion Branch as he got open for touchdowns.

Tom Brady has quite a few options if he decides to stay away from Revis. Deion Branch will usually have a corner playing against him, and if their two receivers are covered and the two tight ends stay in to run block on a play action, they can always jump out over the middle to get the ball up top, with the clear height advantage against Jets safeties or linebackers. And if the Jets bite on the play action? Well then they bring out the running back on either a wheel or circle route and utilize him as a receiver.

The clear difference with this Patriots team is the tempo. They will gash you down the field, run the ball to get a third and five, and then keep you guessing. In the past they would look for a short pass, but the new Patriots move at a pace they completely dictate. More often than not, they will run the ball on third down, knowing you will probably try and sub players out and waiting for one mismatch out of 5 matchups.

What puts the Patriots offense up to and beyond the light speed offense of the Packers is the legitimacy of their running game. With Ellis and Ridley, the Patriots have shown a willingness to put serious time in as a two tight end power running team that could at any point audible into a play action pass, keeping at least 2 linebackers or safeties dropping over the middle of the field.

Why did the Jets defense fail? No Trevor Pryce. No Shaun Ellis. Donald Strickland getting beat like a drum all day. No James Ihedigbo. No Dwight Lowery. No Drew Coleman. These were guys that were great at upsetting the rhythm of Brady. Ihedigbo and Coleman were both small speedsters who were great at matching up on the small Patriots receivers and occasionally sneaking in on a blitz. When Tom Brady is comfortable, you’re defensive coordinator is up in the booth counting to 3 and waiting for a completion. That is exactly how in control Brady is against a defense that simply can’t get to the quarterback the way it needs to with 4 down lineman.

Is it an indictment of Ryan? It’s hard to say. Muhammad Wilkerson is going to have to be a complete beast if the Jets defense expects to play with any sort of confidence. Sione Pouha? Good backup. Marcus Dixon and Mike DeVito? Both great rotation players, but these guys wouldn’t even make the Giants starting roster. If anyone in New York wants to look at the Giants for anything helpful, look how insanely productive the front 4 of the Giants defensive line are. If you can get pressure with 4 or 5, you’ll be able to drop 6 with very few holes. When you have to rush 6, you’ll always have holes in your defense. Sometimes the Giants only have to rush 3 to get pressure for gods sake.

What this season shows is how hard Rex Ryan’s job has been as a head coach, trying to get the most out of a team that is probably not even in the top 15 in terms of talent on both sides of the ball. As smart as they are, the following players wouldn’t even start on any other team in the NFL: Jim Leonhard, Matt Mulligan, Matt Slauson, Marcus Dixon. And on…

If the Jets are to make the playoffs this year, it would no doubt be a heroic effort of a team that is finding the crossroads of youth and veteran leadership rather difficult to overcome.

Initial Reaction – Just Not Good Enough, Jets Fall To 2-3

The Jets just aren’t a very good football team right now, as they loss their third straight game

It wasn’t awful. It wasn’t ugly but it just wasn’t good enough. The New York Jets lost 31-20 to the New England Patriots today in a game where both sides of the football took turns letting the whole team down.

The offense came out of the gates slow and the defense was too soft against the run, leading to a 10-0 hole. Both sides battled back to get the score to 17-14. However, after a few stops by the defense in the third quarter, the offense had a pair of killer three and outs. The defense finally bent, 27-17 New England. Of course the offense then woke up with a touchdown, setting the defense up with one stop giving them a chance to go for the win but the defense let Ben Jarvus-Green Ellis run the ball down their throat to expire the clock. Bad job by both sides. The reality is that the defense is slightly above average and inconsistent, far from being one the league’s best. The offense took steps forward today but remains thoroughly mediocre.

This season isn’t a lost cause and there were encouraging signs today, namely Shonn Greene, Jeremy Kerley and Jamaal Westerman. However, the Jets are a cut below New England and Buffalo right now. The Jets absolutely must win their upcoming home games against Miami and San Diego heading into their bye week and then regroup for a road game against Buffalo and New England at home on Monday night. If they can win the next two weeks, they will have a chance to make themselves relevant in the AFC East in the middle of the season.

Right now, it is about finding some type of balance on offense and getting some consistency on defense. It is good to be coming home to Miami but don’t write off the Dolphins who have a way of playing above their heads against the Jets.

0-3 on the road trip…not pretty.

Also, hey Derrick Mason, Plaxico Burress, Santonio Holmes…we hear your criticisms of Brian Schottenheimer but don’t complain and then drop passes. Mason may have also talked himself out of a job as there are rumors he could be cut and Jeremy Kerley looked better today than Mason had all season.

TOJ Roundtable Week 5 – Jets/Patriots Predictions

The TOJ writers give their predictions for Jets/Patriots on Sunday

Joe Caporoso: 12 Pack

Rob Celletti: Though I’m not one to panic after every loss and banish this team back to “Same Old Jets”-ville, I’d be lying if I told you I was confident about this game. Can you pass on the Patriots? Absolutely. But will the Jets be able to provide their embattled quarterback time to throw? Will the Jets get back to their run-heavy ways? Will the defense play like it did last December vs. the Patriots, or last January?  This increasingly seems like one of those games where the Jets need to play nearly perfect football (no turnovers, no penalties of the backbreaking variety, finish off good field position opportunities with touchdowns, not field goals) PLUS get a couple of breaks to win.  Unfortunately, I don’t see it happening.  For the first time this year, I’m picking the Jets to lose 27-20.  The Pats will have nothing but revenge on their mind, and let’s call a spade a spade: the Jets are currently a fragile team that has a lot of uncertainty sprinkled throughout its roster. Hard to see them getting everything in line in time for Sunday’s game.

TJ Rosenthal: Jets WIN IF: The Defense takes over the driver’s seat for this team. We expect some early Ground and Pound experimentation by the offense, for better or worse. The Pats D is missing some key pieces so this may boost the Jets sagging run game as well.This will bring down the scoring on both sides we’ll assume Rex wants to slow down this Pats offense averaging 33.8 per game. Last year the Jets averaged giving up 19 per game, scoring 22.9. So this needs to be somewhere in between. If the defense can hold the Pats to 24 points or so, the Jets have a real shot. Despite being 9 point underdogs.

JETS LOSE IF: The Ground and Pound stalls while Brady jumps out to a lead that is too wide for the Jets. This would mean that Sanchez and co. wouldn’t be able to simply stay in a shell. Opening things up out of early desperation would make this another ugly contest like last Monday nights 45-3 drubbing. It won’t be as bad this time, but would be the type of  loss that could feel like the Jets are chasing to get back into a game that is out of their reach all day.

Justin Fritze: Jets win 21-20. I was unfortunately correct about my pick with the Ravens last week, but I think the Jets know that week 5 is like week 15 in New York. A loss to the Patriots puts them up 4-1 with the Jets at 2-3 with a much needed home stand against the Dolphins trying to get them back to .500. I see the Jets pulling this one out  and jumping into at least second if not first in the AFC East.

Chris Celletti: The Jets are in another tough spot here. The Patriots smell blood and you know they want to contribute in putting the Jets’ season into a tailspin. I think the Jets’ defense will put together a respectable effort. They responded in a big way on Sunday night, and I expect them to do the same. The onus is on Mark Sanchez to protect the ball and make good reads, and on Brian Schottenheimer to construct a winning
offensive game plan. I’m not so sure the Jets will be able to put up enough points, however. As good as the Jets defense might play, it’s extremely difficult to keep the Patriots at or around 20 points, which is where the Jets might need them if they want to win. Unfortunately for Gang Green, I think they fall in a game that is close in the fourth quarter, but goes to the Patriots 27-20.

TOJ Week 5 NFL Picks

Last Week: 8-8
Season Record: 35-28
  • Philadelphia (-2 ) vs. Buffalo
  • New Orleans (-5) vs. Carolina
  • Oakland (+6.5) vs. Houston
  • Indianapolis (-1.5) vs Kansas City
  • Cincinnati (+2.5) vs. Jacksonville
  • Minnesota (-2.5) vs. Arizona
  • New York Giants (-9) vs. Seattle
  • Tennessee (+7.5) vs. Pittsburgh
  • San Francisco (PK) vs. Tampa Bay
  • San Diego (-4.5) vs. Denver
  • New York Jets (+9) vs. New England
  • Atlanta (+5.5) vs. Green Bay
  • Chicago (+6.5) vs. Detroit

Jets vs. Patriots: 12 Pack Of Predictions

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The 12 pack is ice cold right now after a strong start, very similar to the Jets. You keep reading (we had our highest month of traffic ever in September) and we keep picking. Here are 12 predictions for Jets/Pats on Sunday –

1. Mark Sanchez will not throw more than 26 passes on Sunday. He also will not turn the football over. Outside of that, I am not venturing a guess on his passing statistics.

2. Joe McKnight will have at least five offensive touches on Sunday. If he doesn’t, myself and TJ Rosenthal are protesting outside of Brian Schottenheimer’s house next week.

3. Aaron Maybin. Two weeks on the active roster. Two sacks. He will bring down Tom Brady on Sunday.

4. Tom Brady will throw for somewhere between 275 and 325 yards along with a pair of touchdowns. However he also turn the football over at least once.

5. Shonn Greene won’t crack 60 yards rushing.

6. Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski will combine for 150 yards receiving and a touchdown.

7. Joe Namath won’t approve of something he sees on the field this Sunday and tell the media about it, leading to 18 more stories on the topic of his thoughts next week.

8. Jamaal Westerman and Josh Mauga will see the bulk of the reps filling in for Bryan Thomas.

9. Dustin Keller will have at least 75 yards receiving and a touchdown.

10. Wes Welker will have less than 75 yards receiving.

11. Chad Ochocinco won’t be a factor in this game.

12. I have to do it. Patriots are going to win a tight one 27-23. Prove me wrong Jets.

The Frustrating Negativity Around The New York Jets

I was out a bar last night watching the New York Yankees have their season come to an end. When I was approached by a friend from my town who is a “Jets” fan. I put that in quotes because it is hard to actually consider this individual a fan. He has never said a positive thing about the team and truly believes they are always some combination of awful and overrated. Rex Ryan is an idiot. Mark Sanchez is terrible. And on and on…every season, regardless of how the team is doing. He offered me some strong criticism for having any type of optimism about the team and for not having packed up this season already, even though the are Jets 2-2 and there is 14 games left.

Let me repeat this fact to all Jets fans who have given up on the season. They are 2-2 and there is 14 games left. They are 2-2 and there is 14 games left. They are 2-2 and there is 14 games left.

My favorite thing about Rex Ryan and the past few years? The identity. I can’t stand the damn negativity around this team and talk about a cursed franchise or the “same old Jets.” Nobody on this team has anything to do with the 1998 AFC Championship Game meltdown and or the Rich Kotite Jets. You can “root” for this team without your ongoing misery. Can we face the reality that the Jets have been a successful franchise since that dreaded 1-15 season? They have been a consistent playoff contender, won their share of playoff games and been to the AFC Championship Game three times in the past 13 years.

Of course we all want a Super Bowl and they are headed in the right direction. I can tell you that cutting ties with Sanchez, Ryan, or the direction from the previous two years isn’t the appropriate way to get that Super Bowl.

Am I being unrealistic by saying the season isn’t a lost cause because it isn’t week 5 yet and the Jets have made the playoffs the last two years and had a winning season 5 of the last 7 years? Or are the negative fans being unrealistic and petulant by giving up on a season 4 games in? I like it better my way.

TOJ Guest Post – Belichick The Chess Master

A guest post on TOJ, looking at how Bill Belichick turns the game of football into a glorified chess match better than any coach in the NFL

Today’s guest post comes courtesy of Kevin Kelly from GET Broken Record. If you are interested in contributing a guest post, send an email request with your idea to

Bill Belichick plays chess with human beings. And he’s better at this particular version of the game than any man alive.

Normal chess is man against man, mind against mind, strategy and tactical maneuvers engineered to attack while simultaneously defending.

Football is a complicated version of chess. Complicated for three reasons:

1. Only a few people realize it’s happening. Everyone else, the players included, are caught up in the excitement of the moment. 100,000 screaming fans, millions more watching at home, touchdown dances, cheerleaders, fireworks, explosions, the whole nine yards. But high atop the field watching quietly in the booth, a few select men sit quietly, studying, analyzing. They don’t see the sweat dripping off the faces of the athletes competing; they see pieces moving on a board. They watch. They look for patterns, holes, strengths and weaknesses not only in their own pieces, but also in the movements of the opponent.

2. There are multiple games being played simultaneously, and both games are using the same set of pieces. For example, the Offensive Coordinator and Defensive Coordinator both watch the game from the booth, and they play against a corresponding set of coordinators. If New York’s O.Coordinator bests New England’s defense, it means nothing if New York’s Defense gets trumped by the O.Coordinator for the Patriots. And it happens on the fly. All of this information, dozens of statistics and conditions and tangible pieces of evidence that suggest the what, where and how to succeed is then passed from the booth down to the coach.

3. This is where Belichick’s genius comes into play. He is a master at thin-slicing. He’s given an incredible amount of information and in the blink of an eye can deduce what needs to happen, to which he consistently adds resolve. Setting specific pieces into motion at certain times to evoke a reaction that butterfly effects a result two possessions or quarters or games later. It really is an incredible thing.

Rex Ryan screamed last Sunday. He screamed last Monday. On Tuesday, he probably yelled again for good measure. He talks trash. It has come to define him. But this Sunday he faces the Gridiron’s Bobby Fischer in a must-win situation. When Fischer beat the Russian Champion Boris Spassky in 1972 in a best of 7 series, Fischer didn’t show up for the first game. He intentionally took the loss. And it baffled the Russian. Without words, without doing anything at all, he planted a seed that chipped away at the best player in the world. Fischer took the series a few days later and became the first American Champion…ever.

Silence has a way of baffling the loud and outspoken. It’s a move they don’t understand, only drawing them further and further in, until it’s far too late.

If the Jets are to win on Sunday, their leaders need to shy away from the immediacy of the scream, away from the excitement of the moment and the roar of the crowd, and focus instead on the pieces on the board as Belichick has done for the last 20 years. It’s the NFL. Both sides have muscle, strength, and conditioning, top tier talent. All of that means nothing if you lose your mental, as reason walks out when emotion walks in. This is where New York needs to improve. And this is exactly what New England will look to exploit. Football is chess with living pieces. And in the immortal words of Bobby Fischer: Chess is war over the board. The object is to crush the opponent’s mind.

New York Jets: What Is A Reasonable Offensive Gameplan?

What is a reasonable offensive game plan for the New York Jets to put together this Sunday?

The big talk of the week for the New York Jets is the return of the “Ground and Pound.” It is a sensible move to pull back the passing offense, which has created too many turnovers and moved the Jets away from a successful identity. However, there needs to be some type of happy medium in the offensive game-plan. The running game needs to set up the passing game, hence there still needs to be an existence of some type of passing game. Mark Sanchez does need to throw more than 12 passes on Sunday.

Ideally, he will throw roughly 25 times, which is the number he has averaged in his three career victories over New England. You would like to see Shonn Greene, LaDainian Tomlinson, and Joe McKnight (who needs to be involved on offense) combine for about 32-35 carries. That type of consistency in the running game will open up play action attempts down the field, even if the runs are only going for 2-3 yards a pop. When Sanchez does go play action he should find favorable match-ups for Santonio Holmes, Plaxico Burress, and Dustin Keller.

The Jets also need to expand their screen game. A good way to get Sanchez’s confidence going early is to set up a few screens for Tomlinson and McKnight, along with their receivers. Let him get a few completions under his belt and get into the rhythm of the game before pushing the football down the field. One other comment on the passing game, where is the back shoulder fade to Plaxico Burres down the sideline? In single coverage, that pass is an indefensible way to gain a quick 15 yards. It needs to be worked into the Jets playbook.

In the running game, the Jets need to press the edges and consider giving the Wildcat a few snaps. Jeremy Kerley can be a weapon in the open field, especially if he is working in tandem with McKnight.

Brian Schottenheimer receives his share of criticism but he has come up with a few clutch game-plans in his day. Most notably, playoff victories over Cincinnati and New England in previous years. He needs to come up with another one on Sunday.

Rex’s Pride and Joy Needs To Lead Way On Sunday

It is always about the defense. Ever since Rex Ryan has taken over, he really hasn’t made much of an effort to hide his biased love for that side of the football. The offense is his ugly stepchild who he will occasionally make an effort to give some affection to but in reality his pride and joy, his baby, is his defense.

It will be on that pride and joy to lead the way to a Jets victory Sunday. Starting with a Rex Ryan/Mike Pettine game plan that can slow down Tom Brady and his legion of wide receivers, scatbacks, and tight ends. Similar to the playoff game, it will take a mix of zone and heavy pressure combined with getting the most value out of the Jets top player on that side of the football, Darrelle Revis.

Revis needs to be everywhere on Sunday. I would guess he will spend the bulk of his time on Wes Welker, but there will be times to slide him over to either Deion Branch or one of the Patriots tight ends.  On the whole the Jets secondary needs to be physical, extremely physical. Welker, Deion Branch, and Chad Ochocinco need to be pushed around, jammed and drilled when they come over the middle.

It is all hands on deck in the secondary. Brodney Pool, Kyle Wilson, and Donald Stickland are going to spend the majority of the game on the field, not on the bench.  I don’t trust anybody outside of Revis to cover either Welker or Rob Gronkowski one on one, so the Jets better be ready to double whomever he isn’t on.

In the front seven, the Jets can’t go crazy sending 7 or 8 man blitzes because Brady will target away from Revis and dice up man coverage. Calvin Pace and newly acquired Aaron Maybin need to take advantage of their pass rush opportunities. Muhammad Wilkerson needs to build off last week and continue to get a push up front.

Brady can be susceptible to interceptions. He threw four against Buffalo a couple of weeks ago and we all remember how David Harris picked him off in the playoffs, along with the two times the Jets intercepted him in week 2 of the regular season last year. The Jets will need a turnover or two and to keep their offense reasonably in check. In both of their victories over New England last season, the Jets offense scored 28 points The Patriots averaged 17.5 points in those two games.

I would say if the Jets allow 24 points or less, they are giving the team a reasonable shot at a victory. Let’s hope Rex and his baby are up to the challenge.