New York Jets Defensive Film Breakdown: Week 1

Chris Gross breaks down the New York Jets defensive film against the Buffalo Bills

To complement our new series of offensive film breakdown from Joe Caporoso each week, this column will provide a similar insight into each week’s game from the other side of the ball. Each position will be evaluated, with a primary focus on the defensive line. For this week, let’s take a look at what the eye in the sky told us about the Jets’ week 1 defensive performance against Buffalo,and what needs to be improved upon heading into the coming weeks.

The New York Jets defensive play this past Sunday was, for the most part, a very impressive, and dominating performance. Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick was intercepted three times, once returned for a touchdown, all within the first 3 quarters of play. While there is certainly an abundance of reasons to be excited about the way the Jets played, defensively,there is still room for a vast amount of improvement. The ceiling for this defense is limitless, but in order to reach its’ full potential, improvements need to be made all across the board, particularly up front.

First, let’s look at each part of the defense, and evaluate based on position group. Since this series will have a primary focus on the defensive line, each player who received playing time will be evaluated individually,while the remaining defensive groups will be evaluated as a whole. We will then look at some of Buffalo’s most positive offensive plays and break down exactly what went wrong.

Defensive Line:

Muhammed Wilkerson – After a full film evaluation, there is little doubt that Buffalo game planned around the second year pro out of Temple. Wilkerson was accounted for on every single play, as he was double teamed on the majority of run plays, while the protection on passing plays was shifted to him, nearly 100% of the time. With Sione Pouha out, Buffalo recognized Wilkerson as the Jets best defensive lineman, and drew up a nice protection scheme to keep him in check, which is why he had a relatively quiet day. However, in the small sample of plays that Wilkerson saw one on one protection, he was a clear mismatch to whoever was attempting to block him, whether it was a tight end or tackle.

One particular flaw that Wilkerson displayed, however, was a tendency to peak his head inside when he was lined up outside of the tackle or tight end as the edge player. He needs to trust that his teammates will execute their assignments properly, and worry about his job on each particular play. Nothing too negative came out of this during Sunday’s game, but teams could take notice of this and attack the outside on Wilkerson, which would become a problem if this tendency persists. Still, it is obvious that Wilkerson is beginning to command respect from opposing offensive lines. The return of Pouha will likely lead to more double teams on him, and less on Wilkerson, allowing the talented defensive end to make more plays.

Quinton Coples – Coples looked very much like a rookie in his NFL debut. He did some things great, while making some mistakes that are a clear sign of inexperience. The best play he made all game was his tackle for loss on Bills running back CJ Spiller in the 2nd Quarter. Coples was lined up as a 5 technique on the outside shade of the tackle, who down blocked in an effort to get to the second level on Linebacker David Harris. Not only was Coples quick enough in his steps and reaction time to prevent the Tight End from getting down on him, but he chipped the tackle’s shoulder just enough to prevent him from getting to Harris, allowing the linebacker to go unblocked. Even if Coples had missed the tackle in the backfield, Harris was waiting right behind him to make the play, a direct result of excellent hand work by Coples. This play in particular was a textbook defense of the down block.

While this was certainly an excellent display of instinct and technique by the Jets first round draft pick, there are still a number of things he showed he needs work on if he ever wants to achieve his full potential. One aspect, in particular, is his ability to take on the double team. Coples was repeatedly lined up on the interior, either as a 3 technique on the outside shade of the guard, or as a 5 technique, with a tight end to his side. He faced a great amount of double teams when he was lined up in these positions, and did not necessarily fare too well. He needs to realize, that if he is going to be shifted all around the line, he is certainly going to see a great number of these schemes on the interior, so he needs to do a better job of expecting and preparing for it.

While Coples is superbly talented in terms of athleticism and strength, he does tend to get locked up with his blockers at times. He too often took on the entire man this past Sunday, rather than working a shade and attacking half the man. Regardless of who you are or how strong you may be, it is nearly impossible to go directly through a 300 lb man, especially in the NFL, where the game speed is at an all time high. If he can work these kinks out, Coples’ natural abilities will allow him to develop nicely.

Calvin Pace – Pace was easily the most technically sound player in the front seven this past week. He was the veteran of the bunch, and it certainly showed through flawless foot and hand work, as well as an overall instinct and feel for the game. No one on the team showed the ability to set the edge better, and Pace actually displayed the greatest arsenal of pass rush moves as well. The problem is, he is just a step too slow at this point in his career to capitalize on his excellent technique and record multiple sacks, otherwise his annual sack total would be much higher than what it has been over the past couple of seasons.

Kenrick Ellis – Ellis played very well filling in for an injured Sione Pouha. He proved to be a very immovable force as both a two gap and one gap assignment player, as he was constantly in the backfield, and could not be driven off the ball, even when double teamed. Ellis also displayed excellent lateral quickness for a player his size, something that is vital to the position he plays. When Pouha returns, the Jets are going to have a very good rotation at the Nose Tackle position.

Mike DeVito – DeVito played how anyone who has watched the Jets for the past few seasons would expect him to play. He is extremely tough and smart, and he works very hard, while hardly ever making mental mistakes. DeVito, like Ellis, could not be moved off of the ball on run plays this past week. Although he did not split double teams and gain penetration like Ellis, he did a very good job of occupying two blockers and not allowing either of them to get to the linebackers on the second level.

Marcus Dixon – Dixon did not play particularly well this past week, which could just be a sign of rust since we was just recently resigned to the team following his release at the end of the preseason. Dixon did not show any type of explosion on Sunday, and struggled mightily against the double team. Many times, particularly on some of the big runs by Buffalo, Dixon would end up 8-10 yards down the field. This cannot happen on the defensive line, and if he wants to continue to get reps, Dixon is going to have to play like he has in the past, not like he did on Sunday.

Aaron Maybin – Maybin generally played how one would have expected him to play. He is extremely fast off the ball, and relentless in his pursuit, however his lack of body control caused him to get bumped around and knocked off balance too often. Maybin can be a very effective pass rusher, as we saw last year, however if he does not get his body under control, he is going to remain as a guy who will get 4-6 sporadic sacks per seasons, rather than the 10-12 that he has the potential for.

Linebackers – David Harris played as well as he normally does. He was very disciplined and seemed to have a great feel for what was coming from Buffalo on every play. A few times, he was hindered by a defensive lineman getting blocked into him, which blocked his line of vision, thus preventing him from making a play. Harris generally did a good job of shedding his blocks, but did allow the offensive lineman to get into him a few times,before he could get separation with his hands, obviously something that he needs to be more consistent with. Still, Harris was very effective, and remains one of the best players on the defense.

Bart Scott was very up and down. He certainly brought the tenacity of the Bart Scott of old that Jets fans have grown accustomed to. However, on several plays, he was a step too slow in his run angles and pursuit, which allowed the guard or tackle to get just enough of him to prevent him from making a play, which further allowed the running back to spring into the second level. Although, on other plays, Scott did beat the lineman across his face, taking him right to the play. His play was certainly decent, but needs to improve.

Secondary – The corners played the best out of any unit on the defense, as displayed by the interceptions obtained by Darrelle Revis, Kyle Wilson, and Antonio Cromartie.

The Safeties played excellent against the run. Both LaRon Landry and Yeremiah Bell were extremely fast to come up and fill on run plays, the primary reason as to why they were involved in so many tackles. They still need to gel in coverage a bit, however. Landry did a great job of engaging the tight end on several plays, but would more often than not allow him to get a step ahead, which is why there were some plays of Scott Chandler reeling in a catchand being tackled immediately. Of the two, Landry saw much more time in the box, while Bell occupied more of a true free safety role. Once the coverage timing gets down between the two of these new additions, the Jets secondary could strike vast fear into opposing offensive coordinators and quarterbacks.

The Big Plays Allowed – The two biggest red flags from Sunday clearly came from CJ Spiller’s two runs of 40+ yards. These plays were caused by a number of things including missed assignments, mental breakdowns, and some defensive lineman just getting flat out beat. On Spiller’s first long touchdown run of 56 yards, the defensive line in the game consisted of Dixon, DeVito, and Coles. Dixon was double teamed and blown nearly ten yards off the ball, while DeVito,who was lined up at NT on the play, got blocked into David Harris’s line of sight, which caused the linebacker to vacate his gap in an attempt to regain his vision and make a play. Spiller did a great job of recognizing this as he hit the gap where Harris was supposed to be for a clear path to the end zone.

On the second of Spiller’s two long runs, there was seemingly a bad communication error. Buffalo ran a counter type play, with the back side guard pulling to kick out Garrett McIntyre, who was lined up at defensive end. McIntyre executed a spill technique, meaning he attacked the pulling guard’s inside shoulder with his outside shoulder, in an attempt to jam anything in the middle,and force the back to the outside. Normally, this technique is used in a cover 2 scheme, where the cornerback would remain in the flats, thus accounting for any leakage on the outside caused by a spill, or in defense where a linebacker is responsible for outside contain. Unfortunately for McIntyre, neither of the two were out there, so once Spiller hit the outside, he was alone with plenty of daylight ahead.

On the same play, Kenrick Ellis got excellent penetration in the backfield, but was tackled to the ground by the guard just before making the play, a call missed by the referee that was standing right there. Marcus Dixon was again doubled teamed, struggling mightily.

Overall this was a very solid effort by the defense. Outside of a few week 1 mistakes in technique and assignment, this unit put together a very impressive performance. Sione Pouha’s return will certainly help, as it will allow for a solid two man rotation at the nose, as well as freeing Mike DeVito from seeing time there, something he is clearly undersized to do. There is a lot to work on for the Jets defense as the season progresses, but there is also much to be excited about.

Turn On The Jets Film Breakdown – Jets vs. Bills

Turn On The Jets breaks down the game tape from Jets/Bills, answering your questions and giving other observations

Every week in this column we will break down the offensive game tape, both offering our observations and answering your questions submitted on Twitter. Tomorrow, our resident defensive lineman, Chris Gross, will provide a film breakdown of the other side of the ball. Thank you to everybody who sent in this week’s questions, which were aggregated into the following as many were on the same topic – 

1. How effective was Mark Sanchez at going through his progressions and making the proper reads?

The short answer is very effective and this question led me to spend most of my time breaking down the Jets passing game, which was without question the biggest surprise of the week. Tony Sparano and Mark Sanchez both did a terrific job with a game plan that was built to feature Stephen Hill, Jeremy Kerley and Jeff Cumberland while using Santonio Holmes and Dustin Keller primarily as decoys.

The first two pass plays were designed for Stephen Hill who was open on both and caught the second one on a crucial early third down. The third play was for Cumberland who was also wide open and moved the chains on a 13 yard gain. After that completion, Sanchez alternated making poor decisions/throws with terrific ones before settling down and playing a great overall game.

First, came the interception which occurred because Buffalo quickly took away his first and second read. Simply put, he should have ran out of bounds for a 3 yard gain or threw it away, as he did later in the game when the Jets tried a similar play that was defended well. He then followed up with a beautiful strike to Jeremy Kerley on a third down, where he was the first read and beat his guy immediately. Sanchez then missed a cover 2 hole shot to Holmes that could have been a touchdown, although Holmes could have got a cleaner release to help him out. Sanchez was then bailed out when he went to Hill on a 3rd and 5 and he drew pass interference, when he should have went to Holmes on a deeper out behind Hill.

Keep this play in mind because Sanchez learned from his mistake later in the game. The following pass was the Jeremy Kerley touchdown which was a well designed play by Sparano. It was meant to look like a wide receiver screen to Santonio Holmes. As Holmes works back to the ball, Kerley appears to be going to block the corner causing a slight hesitation from the man who is covering him, he then jets to the back of the end-zone and Sanchez delivered a perfectly thrown pass.

Sanchez was pretty locked in for the rest of the game from this point. He hit Holmes in a tight window to convert a third down, the Stephen Hill touchdown on his double move was an easy read and a good throw. Throughout the rest of the game, he made only three throws that weren’t on point. First he slightly overthrew Jeremy Kerley on a quick out, which was caught but forced him to extend and stumble, ending up short of the first down. Second, he just missed Holmes on a quick post, although you could argue Holmes should have made the catch. Finally, he again missed the hole shot to Holmes at the end of the half which was nearly a touchdown. This is a tough throw and they nearly executed it but missed by about an inch.

One particular play later in the game that was encouraging from Sanchez was a 3rd and 9, when instead of throwing it immediately to an open Dustin Keller in the flat (a play he absolutely would have made last year), he was patient and waited for his primary option, Jeff Cumberland (who is on the 20 yard line in this screen shot), to run his 9 yard hook route before delivering a spot on pass to convert a third down.

Finally, remember the Kerley touchdown? Tony Sparano smartly came back to the wide receiver screen to Holmes, knowing that the defense would be hesitant to jump it after getting beat earlier in the game. This was executed to perfection, thanks to a great block from Dustin Keller and went for a 17 yard gain.

A few final observations on passing game – It was striking just how often Hill, Kerley or Cumberland were the first read on passing plays. It showed immense confidence in three unproven players and all three answered the bell. The plan worked well because Buffalo was keying on Holmes and Keller, which helped get the three of them consistently open. Ironically enough it appeared the receiver Sanchez had the least chemistry with was Holmes. They just missed on three completions that all could have been big gains (two of which should have been touchdowns). If they get rolling on the same page, the Jets passing offense could be that much more effective.

2. Austin Howard/Mario Williams

Howard’s game was as good as advertised. He spend the majority of the dropbacks singled up on Mario Williams and consistently stonewalled his pass rush. Williams continually tried to bull rush him and use his power but could not get through, which gave Sanchez time to go through all the progressions outlined above. Howard showed surprising quickness and the times WIlliams looked to adjust to more of a speed rush he looked a step slow. His complaints about illegal hands to the face certainly didn’t show on the film as there were not blatant penalties missed by the officials on Howard.

3. Shonn Greene

Shonn Greene did finish with 94 yards, unfortunately it took him 27 carries to get there. Yes, there were times Greene ran very well in-between the tackles and he pushed the pile. However, the Jets need another option when running to the edge. This play below serves as a perfect example of why Greene needs a complimentary speed back with him. This play only went for 6 yards and look how well it is blocked up. Greene, again inexplicably stumbles when he receives the handoff, a recurring problem for him.

After the stumble, he gets temporarily held up behind the line here yet still there is space for a run that should net more than 6 yards. However, he simply doesn’t have enough burst to hit the seam. This is why the Jets may need to consider giving more outside handoffs to both Bilal Powell and Joe McKnight.

Check back tomorrow for Chris Gross’ film breakdown of the defense, primarily focusing on the defensive line. 

Turn On The Jets Stock Watch – Jets/Bills Recap Edition

Mike Donnelly’s weekly Stock Watch is buying and selling after the New York Jets thrashed the Buffalo Bills in week 1

You probably didn’t hear all that much about the Jets the past two days from the national media. Well, at least not as much as you did the previous four weeks anyway. Funny how that works, huh? After weeks and weeks of the media portraying the Jets as an absolute joke and pundits everywhere seemingly taking great joy in taking shots at them, the Jets went out and absolutely slaughtered the Buffalo Bills in the first game of the season that actually counted. Yep, that’s right, believe it or not those 4 preseason games actually didn’t mean crap, and the Jets not scoring a touchdown meant even less than that. When the lights came on, the Jets dropped a 48-spot on everyone’s sleeper darling team, the Buffalo Bills. It felt good. It felt damn good. Let’s break down what we saw..

BUY: Mark Sanchez – I hate to say “I told ya so”, but… Ok, I’m not going to get too carried away just yet, but that was as good as we’ve ever seen the Sanchize look. He had time in the pocket, he looked poised and confident, and he showed a newfound zip on his passes down the field. It’s amazing what a quarterback can accomplish with a legit deep threat (Hill), competent blocking on the right side (Howard + a game plan using chip blocks), and most importantly not having Brian Schottenheimer holding him back. I’m sure it was just a coincidence that in the first game without Schotty, Sanchez had arguably the best game of his career, right? Speaking of which..

BUY: Coaching Staff – This goes to all of the coaches, from top to bottom. Rex Ryan obviously used the media’s negative portrayal of the team to motivate them and lead them into the Great Buffalo Massacre of 2012. Plus, he –along with Mike Pettine– showed he can actually coach a little football and put together a defensive game plan that absolutely shut down Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Bills spread attack. On the other side of the ball, watching the offensive play-calling and play design was a thing of beauty. All offseason I couldn’t say enough how much better the offense would be simply by getting rid of the black sheep of the Schottenheimer family, and the early results look promising. It had been so long, I forgot that an offense could actually stick with the run throughout an entire game; I didn’t realize you could exploit mismatches on defense and attack them; I didn’t know you could throw a pass beyond 6 yards. Week 1 was an eye-opening performance by the coaching staff. By the way, I haven’t heard many “Schotty must be laughing in St. Louis!” jokes that everyone seemed to love throughout the pre-season. I wonder why?

BUY: The Wide Receivers – Santonio Holmes was mostly double-teamed throughout the game and didn’t put up big numbers, but he clearly impacted the game just by being out there. Stephen Hill, on the other hand, did put up eye-opening numbers, scoring two TD’s in his NFL debut and getting himself open repeatedly. Jeremy Kerley also chipped in 4 catches, a TD (plus a punt return TD), and put his rough pre-season beyond him. Chaz Schilens even shocked the world by not only walking onto the field without pulling his hamstring AND making a catch. What a day!

BUY: Shonn Greene Carrying the Load – Shonn Greene was handed the ball 27 times and showed he could handle the load, which is extremely important for this Jets team. He ran hard throughout the game, didn’t tire, and was breaking tackles well into the 4th quarter which is exactly what we want to see. He’s never going to be a game-breaking threat but combined with Tebow’s wildcat, he can really be a factor in Sparano’s clock control offense. That being said..

SELL: Shonn Greene’s fumbles – Greene put the ball on the ground twice on Sunday, including once at the goalline and that is absolutely unacceptable. I’m as staunch a Greene defender as anyone, and I was generally encouraged by his performance, but he can NOT be doing that. Also..

SELL: The Run Blocking – Generally the run blocking was pretty solid on Sunday, but this team still needs a Tight End who can block. Cumberland and Reuland aren’t going to cut it, and when Jason Smith comes in for that role, it kind of tips their hand as to what is going to be run.

BUY: The Secondary – A dominant performance by the defense was marred slightly by an apparent concussion for Darrelle Revis. If the Jets are going to win in Pittsburgh, we’re going to need to see a healthy #24 out there to eliminate Antonio Brown from the Steelers offense. Against the Bills, we saw Revis, Cromartie, and Wilson manhandle the Bills receivers. We saw the new safeties, Laron Landry and Yeremiah Bell make big hits and actually make some plays. It was nice to see a Jets safety out there not just trailing a tight end by 5 yards while hopelessly diving for a tackle. We’re going to need a solid performance from these guys next week against a Pittsburgh team that likes to throw to Heath Miller down the middle of the field.

SELL: Depth on Defense – Perhaps this is nitpicking a little bit, but when the Jets started making some defensive substitutions late in the game, it got really brutal out there. Ellis Lankster can be a nice 4th corner, but when he was forced into a larger role he got picked apart. Isaiah Trufant should never be on the field for defense. Garrett McIntyre came in for an injured Bryan Thomas and the drop off was noticeable. Even Kenrick Ellis, who had a great preseason left a lot to be desired as Sione Po’uha’s replacement. We are going to need to see a healthy Sione this week against Pittsburgh and their crap offensive line.

SELL: The media – I wonder how some of these morons were able to recap the game on Sunday with a giant foot sticking out of their mouths. What a major disappointment Sunday had to be for the media hacks who had the Jets dead and buried before a single play that actually counted took place. I feel really bad that they had to file away their pre-written “clown” jokes since they weren’t able to use them. What a major disappointment. And did I take great joy in reminding everyone that the real “clowns” were people like Evan Silva, who called for the Jets to score a mere 6 points this week? Yes, yes I did. It was just one game and we can’t get too carried away because there’s a long way to go, but what a game it was. I have a feeling there are going to be plenty more like it.

New York Jets Week 1 Report Card – Dean’s List

A grade report for the New York Jets opening season win over the Buffalo Bills

Quarterbacks (A) – If Mark Sanchez is completing 70% of his passes and throwing 3 touchdowns on a regular basis, the Jets are going to be one of the toughest teams to beat in the NFL. Sanchez showed accuracy, poise and a short memory after a first quarter interception. He pushed the football down the field and spread it around to seven different receivers, consistently finding the proper read based on what the coverage was dictating. Yesterday’s performance confirms something we have been saying about Sanchez for a long time here, if he is protected properly he has the skills to be a very good NFL quarterback who can lead a winning team.

Tim Tebow didn’t do much with his limited reps, finishing with 11 yards on 5 carries and handing off for a few short runs. There has to be some ongoing concern about disrupting Sanchez’s rhythm by replacing him with Tebow but it wasn’t an issue yesterday. Eventually, he will be need to throw the ball out of the Wildcat to keep defenses honest. It will be interesting to see how long it takes Tony Sparano to dial one up.

Running Backs (C) – Shonn Greene ran hard for 94 yards but let’s keep perspective, it took him 27 carries to reach that total. His longest run of the day was 14 yards and he fumbled twice (losing neither). He continues to look like nothing more than a slightly above average back who lacks the ability to consistently break tackles or make people miss. Bilal Powell showed a little giddy up on a 16 yard reception and you have to wonder when the Jets will bump his carry total up. They can’t give Greene 27 carries on a weekly basis, so maybe Powell will start getting 7-10 carries a game.

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends (A) – Stephen Hill had a spectacular debut, scoring 2 touchdowns including one where he smoked fellow rookie Stephon Gilmore on a double move. We knew Hill would be a vertical threat but what was really impressive was how he moved the chains on a few third downs with precise routes and tough catches in traffic. Hill has a chance to be a better version of what Braylon Edwards was for Mark Sanchez in 2009 and 2010. Santonio Holmes was productive and just missed having a ridiculous touchdown catch at the end of the half. Jeremy Kerley came up huge in the slot with a 27 yard catch and a 12 yard touchdown…hell even Chaz Schilens caught a pass for 8 yards.

Dustin Keller was quiet in the passing game but Jeff Cumberland pulled in three nice catches for 33 yards. Newcomer Konrad Reuland deserves credit for logging 17 plays after being signed just a week before the season starter.

Offensive Line (A) – Austin Howard completely shut out Mario Williams. I feel as if that needs to be typed again…Austin Howard completely shut out Mario Williams…just an unbelievable job by the Jets first year starter. The rest of the unit was excellent as well, keeping Sanchez clean all game and giving him to go through his progressions.

Defensive Line (C) – Without Sione Pouha, the Jets rushing defense struggled at times, particularly in letting CJ Spiller rip off a few monster runs. However, despite not logging any sacks they received a good push up front when the game was still in question. Muhammad Wilkerson did have a quarterback hit and Mike DeVito had 2 tackles.

Linebackers (B) – David Harris led the way with 7 tackles, Bart Scott wasn’t far behind with 5 including one for a loss. Calvin Pace hit Fitzpatrick twice  and also had 5 tackles. Bryan Thomas tweaked a hamstring and will be questionable for next week. Quiet game for Aaron Maybin.

Secondary (A) – An interception for each of the Jets top three corners. Antonio Cromartie’s was gift wrapped for him, both Darrelle Revis and Kyle Wilson made nice breaks on their respective picks. LaRon Landry seemed to be in on every tackle, finishing with 7 and a pair of quarterback hits, along with forcing a fumble on CJ Spiller. This secondary has the potential to be one of the league’s best, particularly if they keep forcing game changing turnovers.

Special Teams (A) – A beautiful punt return touchdown by Jeremy Kerley, two made field goals from Nick Folk and great distance on kickoffs…not much for Mike Westhoff to complain about. New punter Bob Malone looked very good as well.

Coaching (A) – Rex Ryan pushed all the right buttons this week by keying his team up from all the “circus” talk. His decision to publicly call out Jeremy Kerley also seems to be paying early dividends. Tony Sparano’s game plan was a refreshing break from Brian Schottenheimer ball the past 6 years.

Initial Reaction – 48 Points And A Barrel Of Laughs, Jets 1-0

The New York Jets rolled to a 48-28 win…thoughts on how they handled Buffalo

While we are happy to say we told you so about the Buffalo Bills being overhyped and the New York Jets remaining the second best team in the AFC East, we certainly can’t say we saw that coming. 48 points? Special teams touchdowns? The Jets looking like a high functioning NFL offense for an entire game? Today was a fun one at MetLife Stadium. Fun, because today demonstrated just how good this team could be and just how ridiculous all the negative pre-season hype around the team was.

Let’s start at the top, with the most important positon on the field and the most important player on the Jets roster not named Darrelle Revis…Mark Sanchez. Outside of a bonehead interception in the first quarter that had Twitter ablaze with cheap shots, Sanchez was as accurate as we’ve ever seen him, consistently fitting passes into tight windows and pushing the football down the field. Credit Tony Sparano for an aggressive game plan but credit Sanchez for dropping in some gems. He effectively spread the ball around, completing passes to 7 different receivers and showing tremendous comfort with rookie Stephen Hill. When you protect Sanchez, he can make all the throws necessary to win in the NFL.

The Jets wide receivers took a beating all summer, particularly Hill who many people claimed wasn’t ready for a big time role. He silenced those critics by turning in a monster 5 catch, 89 yard, 2 touchdown performance. Hill is a faster, bigger version of Braylon Edwards who Sanchez was extremely comfortable with in 2009 and 2010. Jeremy Kerley also got himself out of Rex Ryan’s doghouse with a 4 catches for 45 yards, a receiving touchdown an electric punt return touchdown. If they can stay consistent, the Jets offense has a ceiling much higher than anybody expected.

Austin Howard deserves to be singled out for praise. Mario Williams laid a goose egg today and Buffalo’s pass rush in general did absolutely nothing. The whole line deserves credit but Howard just recently stepped into a starting role and has the most prove. He was more than up to the challenge against Buffalo’s much hyped personnel.

Defensively, it was playmaking. The Jets made Ryan Fitzpatrick look every bit the overpaid, mediocre quarterback he is by intercepting him three times and taking one back to the house (we have been waiting for that defensive TD Cro!). Yes, the running defense and the lack of sacks was a mild disappointment but ultimately when the game was still in question, the defense routinely made game changing plays. LaRon Landry seemed to be in on every tackle and there is no question the tandem of him and Yeremiah Bell are a major upgrade from last year’s safeties.

The Jets and their fans have every right to enjoy this one. It was a statement victory in the division. However, there will be an even better chance to turn some heads this week in Pittsburgh. The talent is there to win, but will the consistency be there?

Check back tomorrow for No Huddle, a full Report Card and a closer look at Sanchez’s performance

Turn On The Jets Week 1 Roundtable: Jets/Bills Prediction

The Turn On The Jets staff gives their predictions for Jets/Bills

The TOJ Staff gives their predictions for the New York Jets regular season opener against the Buffalo Bills. Make sure to give everybody a follow on Twitter

Joe Caporoso – 12 Pack

Chris Gross – Jets 19 Bills 10 – Don’t expect this game to be very pretty in terms of offensive fire power. Each of these teams are built on defense and running the ball. The Jets play their first real game in the brand new offensive system of Tony Sparano, while Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Bills take on a New York defense that seems poised to rank in the top three in the league. The Jets offense will struggle to score touchdowns until it fully gels within the new system, but stellar defensive and special teams play will allow them to win the field position battle and accumulate points through field goals, with a touchdown sprinkled in. Expect either a “TebowCat” TD run from inside the ten, or a play action pass from Sanchez to Keller.

Mike Donnelly – Ahh, the Buffalo Bills. There’s not a team I’d rather see the Jets opening against. After months and months of hearing about how wonderful Buffalo is going to be this year on both sides of the ball, while the Jets are expected to show up in their clown car and just throw in the towel, we get to see both teams actually prove it on the field. WIth or without Sione Po’uha, the Jets defense is going to smother the Bills. You know damn well Rex Ryan has a few special wrinkles saved up for Chan Gailey this week, and I don’t expect Ryan Fitzpatrick to be able to handle them. The Jets offense is NOT as bad as they’ve shown this preseason, and now that the games count you better believe they’re going to open up the playbook and actually, you know, score a touchdown. They’ll do just enough on offense and unleash the hounds on poor Fitzpatrick on defense as the game slowly turns into a rout, something like 27-10. Oh, and expect this guy who wears #24 for the Jets to put all the “Stevie Johnson owns Revis” garbage to rest, once and for all. My official prediction? I’ll let Clubber Lang handle this one –

TJ Rosenthal – Jets win 23-17 if: The Front four remains as physical and quick off the bell as they were against Carolina weeks back. This will allow the  Jets to make the Bills duo of Jackson and Spiller unable to dictate terms. Sanchez will be efficient in this scenario while finding a way to make the big strike at some point. Tebow will move the chains and bring energy to Met Life with a few scintillating runs. Jets lose 27-13 if: The offense looks the way it did all preseason, tiring out a Jets D that had good intentions, but couldn’t rest properly. Eventually caving in after halftime.

Chris Celletti – This game is going to be absolutely excruciating for Jets fans. Not because I think they’ll lose, as you’ll see, but it’s not going to be pretty at all. I still don’t have a ton of confidence in this Jets’ offense. I expect Mark Sanchez to make some really nice throws, hit a few intermediate plays and try some deep throws, but I don’t expect a huge statistical output and I’d be shocked if he doesn’t throw a pick (and at what point that pick comes and the context of it is going to determine the circus factor in MetLife). Tim Tebow and the Wildcat will prove to be efficient, but since the Jets’ offensive line struggled in the preseason on standard running plays, I don’t see them opening up huge holes for Tebow to make a big play. I think both offenses will struggle, especially the Bills as I think the Jets’ D has a big day. The Jets do find a way to score a few touchdowns in a defense/field position battle, and the panic button goes away for at least a week. Jets 20, Bills 16

Rob Celletti– It’s not surprising that of the 16 games on the NFL Week 1 slate, Jets/Bills has the lowest over/under number (39, half a point lower than what promises to be an unwatchable clash between Minnesota and Jacksonville), and still, I’d take the under. It’s not going to be pretty, folks.  The Jets will run the ball, and they’ll punt.  Sanchez will take some sacks, and they’ll punt.  But the defense will not only hold, but dominate, and the Jets offense will find a rhythm at some point.  Look for the offense to score points when they start with a short field, via turnovers or an explosive special teams play.  Mark Sanchez will get this team into the endzone twice, and the Jets will win the game 20-13.  The statistics won’t be pretty, but 1-0 will be

Early Thoughts On Jets/Bills Week 1 Match-Up

Early thoughts on the New York Jets week 1 match-up against the Buffalo Bills

A collection of early thoughts on the New York Jets week 1 match-up against the Buffalo Bills, make sure you check back later in the day for Mike Donnelly’s Stock Watch. Also if you are planning to head out in NYC tomorrow for the NFL opener or Sunday for Jets/Bills, we have partnered with Night Out to hook you up with a discount at Traffic East in Midtown. 

1. It sounds like Sione Pouha is 50/50 to play this Sunday. Pouha is obviously one of the Jets top defenders and his presence would be missed. However, the team is well equipped to handle his absence this week for two main reasons. First off, because of Buffalo’s spread attack, the Jets will spend more time in their nickel and sub packages, which would equal less playing time for him anyway. Second, Kenrick Ellis has been terrific this pre-season and is a capable stop-gap for a week or two. It might be better to exercise caution with Pouha and make sure he is 100 percent for week 2 in Pittsburgh.

2. The Jets haven’t had this low of expectations since prior to the 2006 season, which is a good thing. In the past decade, they have performed better in seasons where the expectations weren’t high. Most “experts” are ignoring the reality of how strong the Jets defense will be and how soft their schedule is, particularly when it comes to playing inexperienced quarterbacks and quarterbacks Rex Ryan has had success against.

3. Speaking of quarterbacks Ryan has had success against, Ryan Fitzpatrick is 0-4 in his last 4 starts against Rex Ryan’s Jets with an average QB rating of 70.3.

4. A few more fun Buffalo stats against the Jets since Chan Gailey took over

  • 0-4 record
  • Average margin of defeat – 18.75 points
  • Average points per game – 14 points
5. An overhyped storyline coming into this week will be Stevie Johnson’s “success” against Darrelle Revis, stemming from the “monster” 8 catch, 75 yard, 1 touchdown game he had against him last year. Of course most people neglect Revis was supposed to have underneath help on Johnson’s touchdown and that 8 catches for 75 yards wasn’t enough for a win that day. I am sure everybody in the Jets building is hoping Buffalo comes after Revis early and often with Johnson.
6. If Buffalo was smart, they’d make CJ Spiller a large part of their game plan on Sunday, particularly in the passing game. The more you can force the Jets linebackers into coverage, the better chance you have to move the football on their defense. Buffalo lacks a tight end who can exploit the middle of the field so Spiller is their best bet to take advantage of the softest spot of the Jets defense.

7. The best way to neutralize Mario Williams and Mark Anderson is for the Jets to establish Shonn Greene early and often, and then work the play action passing game off him. It doesn’t matter how highly touted rookie Stephon Gilmore is, he is still a rookie. If the Jets can get Santonio Holmes on him 1 on 1, they have to go after him.

8. You hate to say week 1 games are must wins but look at the Jets schedule, look at what everybody has been saying about Buffalo this off-season…this is a must win. The Jets can burst the early bubble on the Buffalo hype train, build momentum heading into a tough week two game on the road, get a crucial division win and avoid the embarrassment of feeding into pundits by losing in their own building to the supposed “up and coming” AFC East team.

New York Jets: An Examination Of Aaron Maybin’s “Ego”

Chris Gross on why the recent criticism of Aaron Maybin has been unwarranted

In an article published to BuffaloNews.com, columnist Tim Graham observed recent comments made by New York Jets OLB Aaron Maybin. Graham, like many fans and analysts out there, has taken a very negative view of what Maybin has said, declaring him as egotistical and “delusional.” However, when looking at Maybin’s thoughts and comments, with bias aside, there is certainly another way to interpret what the former first round draft choice was preaching. Let’s take a look at each quote while observing how people are interpreting it, along with an alternate translation.

“Me and that slow-down button don’t get along too well, but I’m learning.”

This quote was used as an example to demonstrate how Aaron Maybin’s ego has been refueled in New York. However, finishing the quote by saying “but I’m learning,” tells me something else. Maybin seemingly realizes that he plays completely out of control at times. Although he accumulated 6 sacks over 12 games last season, anyone who knows anything about rushing the passer can tell you that he probably would have reached double digits in sacks if he played with any type of control. Maybin’s high motor is certainly one of the positives to his game, however, getting to the quarterback is an art. Not only do you need to be extremely fast and explosive off of the line of scrimmage, but you also need to have the awareness to slow it down just at the right moment, or you will find yourself running right past the quarterback as he steps up into the pocket, something Maybin did countless times last season. So, while some wish to consider him egotistical for praising his own motor, it is actually a case of Maybin seemingly poking fun at himself, while making the clear assertion that he needs to be more under control to build on his success from last year.

“It is hard to say that you are satisfied, but I am saying this is probably the most fun I’ve had in a training camp in my career.”

Apparently this has been interpreted as Maybin taking a shot at the Bills. People have criticized this comment because Maybin has only been in about 2.5 training camps, if you take his rookie hold out and the fact that he was released twice last season into account. So, because he doesn’t quite have three full training camps under his belt, he isn’t allowed to have fun? Graham makes the argument that he speaks as if he has experience similar to that of Pro Football Hall of Famers.

I’m just not sure what to make of this. Yes, Maybin certainly does not have the most experience in the NFL. However, he simply declared, in comparison to his prior experience, this is the most fun he has had in camp during his short career. Putting any Jets or Bills bias aside, it is fair to say that the more significant role you have on the team, the more enjoying practice will be. This can be related to any field of work. Who do you think has more fun at ESPN every day, Adam Schefter or the night cleaning crew? Who has more fun at the Tonight Show, Jay Leno, or the people collecting tickets at the door? No disrespect to anyone, but work is simply more enjoyable when you have a prominent role in your company, regardless of what field you are in. Maybin finally has a significant role, in an elite defense mind you, so to him, it is exciting to get out there and work towards improving himself and the team every day.

As far as his statement declaring that it is hard to stay satisfied, there is no doubt that anyone associated with sports at any level knows that the best ones never are. Do you think Kobe Bryant is content with five NBA championships? Is Tom Brady happy with his three Super Bowls? Is LeBron James all set now that he has finally won a single Championship? If they were, what would be the point of playing the game? The great ones are never satisfied, regardless of the amount of success they have had. Peyton Manning would already be in discussion as the greatest Quarterback to ever play the game if he were to retire today, however he has worked himself back from a very serious neck injury to continue his career. I can assure you his motivation was not financially related. Any of these players are perfectly fine in that area. Instead, it is that competitive drive, the lifeblood that has propelled each of their careers since the day they began playing their respective sports. Is it a coincidence that players like Brett Favre, Jerry Rice, and Michael Jordan had such a difficult time walking away from the game?

For the most part, anyone who has made it to the professional level, possesses or has possessed that drive at some point during their careers. Maybin struggled early, but because of his hunger, worked himself to a notable season last year. Now, he has simply tasted how sweet personal success is, and he wants more. Maybin is hungry to bring further success not only to himself, but to his team as well. So, while he is being criticized for being cocky, it is simply a matter of the mindset of a professional athlete, the desire to be the best of the best, the need for success and nothing else. Some have it, others don’t, and that can be the difference between good and outstanding when it comes to sports. Maybin is being condemned for speaking about his drive, but he should instead be praised for his continued work ethic to build on his strong 2011.

The final point to be made is the hypocritical title of Graham’s article, since it was posted to a Bills biased news source. Graham entitled his article “Aaron Maybin pretends he has veteran perspective.”

Again, Graham, like everyone else, is entitled to their own opinion and interpretation of quotes. However, Graham claims that Maybin is “a tad delusional about his brief NFL tenure.” This is an interesting choice of words considering how most people closely associated with the Bills seem more than a tad delusional about their complete lack of success over the past two decades. The last time the Bills even appeared in the post season, they fell to Tennessee in what is today known as the Music City Miracle. Yet, Buffalo had a strong offseason and everyone is ready to crown them as the number two team in the division with an almost guaranteed wild card spot. To talk about another team or player having an undeserving sense of entitlement, is beyond hypocritical of anyone associated with Buffalo, considering the franchise’s extensive stretch of below average play.

Comparing AFC East Teams To The Corleone Children

Turn On The Jets compares the teams of the AFC East to the Corleone children from The Godfather

This is the time of the NFL season where it is important to do things like compare AFC East teams to the Corleone children in The Godfather. If you didn’t comprehend that first sentence, go watch all three movies…thank me…and then come back to read this article. The original inspiration for this article came from a group of Buffalo Bills fans referring to themselves as #BillsMafia on Twitter, where I couldn’t help but respond by calling them the Fredo of the AFC East as they promptly lost 8 of their last 9 games. Let’s fill out the rest of the family heading into the 2012 NFL season –

New England Patriots – Michael Corleone – The head of the family and the head of the division. Sneaky, ruthless and willing to do whatever it takes to maintain power. Bill Belichick and Tom Brady came out of nowhere to run the AFC East, just like Michael came out of nowhere to run the family. Belichick is notoriously paranoid about every piece of information surrounding his team, while Michael was paranoid enough to kill his own brother. We know that Belichick back-stabbed the Jets by resigning from their head coaching position and Michael was never shy to back-stab anybody on his rise to the top. The Patriots have the media (Peter King, Pro Football Talk) in their pocket just like the Corleone’s did under Michael’s leadership. Beyond that, couldn’t you see Belichick showing up at the Spygate hearings in the NFL office with a member of the family of anybody who was going to testify against him?

New York Jets – Sonny Corleone – Hotheaded and a little too outspoken for their own good at times. Rex and the Jets had a short reign at the top after knocking New England out of the playoffs in 2010 before coming crashing down from their brash words and actions in 2011. Sonny got hit on the causeway because Carlo gave him up. Who is Carlo? I am going with Brian Schottenheimer and his atrocious playcalling throughout the 2011 season, most notably dropping Mark Sanchez back over 60 times against the Giants pass rush in a game that all but ended their playoff hopes.

Buffalo Bills – Fredo Corleone – Always looking for respect when they have done nothing to deserve it. Every year they are hyped up as a contender but are then “stepped over” in the division by the Patriots and Jets. Buffalo can’t compete with their brothers, considering their combined record against the Pats and Jets since 2009 is 2-10. Yes, we hear everybody saying they can handle things in 2012 and will be a contender but we think they will be stepped over yet again.

Miami Dolphins – Connie Corleone – Not taken seriously. Connie is a floozy bouncing in and out relationships, while still being financially dependent on her brothers. The Dolphins put tarps over their seats, sell Jets apparel in their gift shop and will have David Garrard throwing passes to Chad Johnson Ochocinco Johnson this season. Hysterical…

Unfortunately, the New York Giants have to currently be Don Corleone since they are the reigning champs and their cloud hangs over the Patriots and Jets. Yes, it isn’t always being a Jets fan but “this is the business we have chosen”

New York Jets Fact Or False: Jets vs. Bills Edition

Chris Gross goes Fact or False on the Buffalo Bills and New York Jets, who are battling to be New England’s main competitor in the AFC East

With all of the hype surrounding the Buffalo Bills this offseason, particularly as the favorites to challenge the Patriots for the top of the AFC East this year, it seems as if many have forgotten that the Jets still play in the division. Since the Bills made the big splash this offseason in signing free agent defensive end Mario Williams, coupled with the Jets 8-8 season last year, most people have written New York off, and have proclaimed the Bills as the best team behind New England in the East. However, when comparing the Jets and the Bills, there are several things to consider before handing Buffalo two easy victories this season. This week’s New York Jets Fact Or False focuses on what to believe, and what not to believe, when it comes to the Jets vs. the Bills.

Fred Jackson will be an elite level RB this season. False. While Jackson surely experienced the greatest success of his career last season, the clock unfortunately struck midnight on his Cinderella story in week 11 when he suffered a fractured fibula against the Miami Dolphins. Now Jackson, on the wrong side of 30, will try to bounce back from the leg injury while battling father time, which just so happens to be horribly unkind to NFL Running Backs. In fact, last season there were only two backs that ranked in the top 30 in the NFL in rushing yards over the age of 30, Willis McGahee, who had just turned 30 in October of 2011, and Jackson. While it would certainly make for a nice story, it will be extremely difficult for Jackson to establish an elite level of production this season when considering all of these factors. Of course, crazier things in the NFL certainly have happened, however don’t forget that Jackson has had only just a single 1,000-yard season during his five years in the NFL. To expect him to surpass that less than a year removed from a broken leg at age 31 would be asinine.

Mark Sanchez is a better quarterback than Ryan Fitzpatrick. Fact. We can talk numbers all we want here, but there is only one number that matters in this debate: 4. That’s the number of playoff wins that Sanchez has over Fitzpatrick. In fact, Sanchez has won each of those games on the road against two good quarterbacks in Carson Palmer and Phillip Rivers, along with arguably the two greatest of all time in Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. While Sanchez has yet to take the leap and lead his team to the Superbowl, Fitzpatrick has yet to take his team into the post season.

While staying on the topic of postseason success, consider this: Sanchez has done all of this at the ripe age of 25. With only one collegiate season as a full time starter, before his very young 3 years in the NFL, it would be completely ignorant to think his best years aren’t ahead of him. Fitzpatrick, on the other hand, started two seasons at Harvard before his 6 seasons in the league, and will turn 30 by midseason this year. Sure, the argument can be made that he is finally starting to blossom, but realistically Fitzpatrick has likely maxed his ceiling for success in the NFL. Not many players in this league turn the corner after the age of 30.

The Bills’ top offensive weapons are enough to overcome the Jets defense. False. I’m sure everyone associated with the Bills will argue this until the cows come home, and for good reason. Buffalo certainly has some talent on the offensive side of the ball. However, when matched up with the Jets, the Bills’ 4 best offensive weapons have not exactly performed at a level that would produce an abundance of victories. Here’s a look at how Jackson, RB CJ Spiller, WR Stevie Johnson, and QB Ryan Fitzpatrick have fared against Gang Green over the span of their careers in Buffalo.

Jackson – 77 carries, 268 yards, 1 Touchdown, 3.4 YPC. While Jackson certainly has elite talent level, his career high in yards against New York is a mere 82. The Jets have repeatedly shut down the efforts of Jackson over the five year span that he has been in the division, and in comparison with how he has played against the rest of the NFL, the argument could certainly be made that the Jets have his number.

Spiller – In Spiller’s four career games against the Jets, he has amassed the stat line of 26 carries for 76 yards and no touchdowns. This number could certainly be regarded as misleading due to the fact that Spiller hasn’t necessarily gotten a heavy workload during his four games against the Jets, however after the injury to Jackson last season, Spiller was forced to take over as the full time back in Buffalo. Against the Jets in week 12, Spiller was given a sizeable workload with 19 carries, but amassed just 55 yards for a 2.9 YPC average. These are not exactly numbers that will cause Rex Ryan and Mike Pettine to circle number 28 on the scouting report.

Johnson – While all of the Revis haters will undoubtedly argue that Johnson owns DR, a notion which we have already dispelled at Turn On The Jets, his career numbers against New York tell the truth. Over a span of six career games, Johnson has 22 catches for 283 yards and 3 Touchdowns. Those numbers average out to 3.7 receptions for 37 yards and .5 Touchdowns per game. Considering Johnson is Buffalo’s primary passing option, it is fair to assume that he will not be carrying the Bills to any victories over New York in the near future.

Fitzpatrick – One thing that cannot be denied about Fitzpatrick is that his most recent game against the Jets was easily his most successful. During their 2011 week 12 matchup, Fitz threw for 264 yards with 3 touchdowns and no interceptions. However, when looking a bit deeper, Fitzpatrick has struggled against the Jets more often than not. Since becoming a Bill in 2009, Fitzpatrick has thrown a total of 145 passes, while completing just 72 of them, resulting in a completion percentage of 49.6. To gauge what a good completion percentage in the NFL is, consider this: Blaine Gabbert completed 50.8% of his passes last season. While it could certainly be said that Fitzpatrick is finally starting to get comfortable against the Jets after playing them for three years, a similar argument could be made that he took advantage of the Jets poor defensive effort that day, causing his awful 49.6 career completion percentage against New York to actually be inflated. Most people would presumably take the latter.

Rex Ryan is a better Coach than Chan Gailey. Fact. This is one that surely is not up for argument. Gailey is 28-36 as an NFL Head Coach, while Ryan is 28-20. Gailey is 0-2 in the post season, while Rex is 4-2. Ryan’s biggest coaching accomplishment is winning a Super Bowl as the Defensive Line Coach for the Baltimore Ravens in 2000. Gailey’s greatest coaching accomplishment is winning a Division II NCAA National Championship in 1984 as the Head Coach of Troy. What else is there to debate?

Mario Williams will dominate the Jets in every contest. False. Based on his ability alone, it is certainly easy to assume that Williams is going to come into the AFC East and wreak havoc across the division. If healthy, Williams will undoubtedly have a great impact not only on the Bills, but against everyone he lines up against. Williams has played against the Jets just twice in his career, getting to Sanchez twice, both coming in their most recent matchup in 2010. However, Williams has never beaten Gang Green in his career, and when observing his surrounding talent in Houston, it is seemingly much better than what he has joined in Buffalo. Brian Cushing and DeMeco Ryans, two All-Pros, each played in both of Williams’ matchups against the Jets. The proclaimed “Super Mario” now joins a Buffalo defense that has just one former All-Pro in Shawn Merriman, who hasn’t exactly been “Lights Out” as of late. While there is surely an abundance of young potential in Buffalo’s front seven, let’s not crown Williams the sack king just yet. He will likely face a great amount of double teams until that young talent proves itself worthy of respect.

The Bills are still the Fredo of the AFC East. Fact. This notion has been looked at time and time again here at Turn On The Jets, yet it never seems to get old. When observing both characters here, the Buffalo Bills and Fredo Corleone (The infamous brother of Michael Corleone in The Godfather films, most known for going against the family), the similarities are uncanny. Both want to be the top dog, but just don’t have what it takes to garner any real respect. Fredo was overlooked to take over as head of the Family after Sonny was shot at the causeway because no one truly believed he had it in him to be the Boss of the long respected Corleones. Similarly, no one truly believes the Bills have it in them to overtake both the Jets and Patriots as the Boss of the long respected AFC East Division. The Bills want to be good, they really do, but like Fredo, they have a long history of never having quite enough in them to succeed. When Buffalo tried to act like the big dogs, they lost 4 consecutive Super Bowls. When Fredo tried acting like the big dog…well we all know how that ended.