Week 14 Recap: Sanchez Survives, Barely

Another week, another poor Sanchez performance, another win.  The Jets squeaked out a win against a terrible team for the 2nd week in a row.  I know they say a “win is a win,” but this is nothing to get excited about, Jets fans.  At 6-7, the talk of playoffs will now only get louder, but its laughable to think this team has any shot.

Sanchez did just enough to not lose.  But he tried his best when he had his league-leading 11th fumble.  Combined his INTs, he on his own has more turnovers than about 6 or 7 TEAMS, according to the announcer.  He made one- really, one – big play, the entire game, and that was the throw to Cumberland on the last drive.  A throw he almost overthrew.  And the Jets showed how much confidence they have in their $20MM QB on that last drive, by handing the ball off on 3rd and 8, which put them in the desperate situation which almost resulted in a loss.

Rex and co. proved time and time again this game that they have no confidence in Sanchez when they needed a big play in the air.  Why start him if that’s the case?  Even more puzzling, they made McElroy inactive, and listed Tebow as the 2nd string.  Can someone please explain that to me?  You energize your team and fan base last week with McElroy, only to make him inactive this week?  What if Sanchez really, really struggled?  You then go to Tebow – a guy you’ve already demonstrated that you also have no faith in as a starting QB.  It’s a mind-boggling decision from an organization that has no clue right now.  This is 1980s Jets stuff, people.

You will hear a lot this week about the decrepid offense that the Jets are rolling out.  And I don’t disagree.  With Keller out and Stephen Hill hurt early on, the Jets were playing a number of guys on offense who could barely crack the practice squad early in the year.  Sanchez isn’t exactly surrounded by pro-bowl talent.  But that said, he’s still missing receivers, holding on to the ball too long and making terrible decisions.  And that has almost nothing to do with the players around him.

The defense played a stellar game again.  But one has to wonder about the last 2 weeks – was that great defense or terrible competition?  Probably both.  Cromartie and Landry continue to be the defensive MVPs, and today was Quinton Coples’ coming out party.  He absolutely levelled Chad Henne in the 4th quarter, and his pressure on the last play of the game caused the last INT.  With he and Wilkerson coming on strong this year, and the return of Revis next year, the Jets have the makings of a very, very good defense for 2013. And they will need it.

This win shouldn’t give you any additional confidence that the team is improving.  For the 4th time this year, the Jets were shutout in the first half.  Shut out by a team that has won 2 games this year, and who’s defense ranks near last in the league.  The offense has been reduced to one that can’t do anything, but run.  And at the end of the game, when the Jags were stacking 8 guys on the line, we couldn’t run the ball.  Why they didn’t do that earlier makes no sense.  You can be sure Tennessee will do that next week.

So Sanchez will be the starter again next week.  And the offense will struggle, mightily.  Tennessee is a tougher team than Jax, and it’s not an easy place to win on the road – on Monday Night Football, no less.  If the defense gives up more than 10-14 points, I don’t think we have a chance.  And they have two big-time playmakers in Chris Johnson and Kenny Britt.  Sanchez is going to have to make plays.

What’s most depressing about all of this is that it is 100% guaranteed that Sanchez will be back next year, and will be the starter.  Rich Cimini of Espn.com did his usual phenomenal analysis of Sanchez’ contract in this article.  Bottom line – he is uncuttable and untradeable.  The cap hit is enormous.  Unless Sanchez decides to take a massive pay cut to get out of the cauldron that is New York, he’s here next year.  So I hope you like a lot of what you’ve been seeing the past few weeks…

6-7, one win away from .500.  The Jets, who had the most difficult schedule in the NFL across the first 12 games (still, no excuse), now have the easiest schedule the rest of the way.  9-7 is conceivable, but something tells me that they will find a way to lose at least one of those games.  And that “they” is our starting QB.

Week 13 Recap: The King is Dead, Long Live The King

At 3:09pm on December 2nd, 2012, the Mark Sanchez era officially came to an end.  It doesn’t matter who won today’s game, or even who starts next week’s game – the minute that Rex Ryan and the Jets pulled Mark Sanchez, was the minute that the Sanchez era ended.  All you had to do was hear the crowd reaction, and more importantly, see the team’s reaction.  They responded.  Tough catches were made.  Players were fired up. They CARED.  And all it took, was a QB change.

Meet Your New QB, Jets Fans

Meet Your New QB, Jets Fans

The game itself was miserable.  The score said it all: 7-6.  The Cardinals may be one of the few NFL teams that are currently worse than the Jets.  Calling this game a “defensive struggle” is being generous.  This game was an offensive struggle – the Cards converted zero – ZERO – third downs, all game.  But someone had to win, and it was the Jets.

But back to the real story.  After 2 1/2 awful quarters of Mark Sanchez, Rex finally made the move he had to make and made a QB change.  But it was not the change everyone thought it would be.  With Tim Tebow inactive today due to a rib injury, in came 3rd string QB and former 6th rd draft pick, Greg McElroy.  And the team responded with a TD on the very first drive, which was enough to win this sorry excuse for an NFL game.

Sanchez was terrible from the start – in fact, he threw an INT on his very first throw – to former Jet Kerry Rhodes of all people (he had a fantastic game by the way – the ultimate payback game).  And it got worse from there.  2 more bad INTs and one more throw that should have been picked off and returned for a TD.  Sanchez looked lost from the start  Final Numbers:  10-21 for 97 yds and 3 INTs.  Ouch.

And you know much Rex and Tanny love Sanchez.  That’s how bad it was.  Rex had no choice but to make a change.  There was literally NO chance that the Jets were going to win today with Sanchez under center.  He single-handedly was holding them back in another game where their defense did what it needed to do.

Is McElroy our long-term solution at QB?  Probably not.  He’s a smart game-manager, the kind of QB who can take you places with a great running game and a great D – neither of which the Jets have at the moment.  He’s a slightly stronger-armed Chad Pennington – which is still an upgrade.  But what this moves does is signal that the Sanchez era is over. It has to be.  There will be a small riot in Florham Park this week if Rex goes with Sanchez again.  The players will erupt, as will the fans.  This move should have been made months ago and credit to Rex for finally, making it.   Rex has already said that he won’t announce his starter for next week.  But what else is he going to say at this moment?  It’s going to be an interesting few days inside Jets’ HQ.

The ultimate loser in this (besides the long-suffering Jets fans) is Tim Tebow.  He must be thinking – what the heck do I have to do to get in a game?  Many are speculating that if Tebow were active today, Rex would have stuck with Sanchez – i.e. that there is no way they will ever go with Tebow as their starter.  If that is the case, then the move to get him was even dumber than many thought it was when they made it.  You don’t trade for a back-up QB if you have no intention of ever using him.  But the irony here is huge – all year, everyone has been speculating about a Tebow-inspired QB controversy.  Who would have predicted a McElroy-inspired QB controversy?

So the remaining 4 weeks of the season just got interesting.  I was just starting to lose interest in the season, but now you have a reason to watch.  And with Jacksonville up next, they have a legitimate chance of getting to 6-7.  But nothing is guaranteed with this team, and that now includes the starting QB.  It’s never dull here in Jets-land…

Oh and by the way – the Pats clinched the AFC East today for the 9th time in 10 seasons. The more things change, the more they stay the same…

He Got His Wish

He Got His Wish

Week 11 Recap: Right Where We Want To Be

Final Score:
Jets: 27
Rams: 13

4-6.  Right where we want to be.  The Jets will talk a lot in the coming days about the fact that they were 4-6 in 2009.  And you know what happened after that – they went on to win 5 of their next 6 en route the AFC championship game in Indy.  But that was a very different Jets team – one with a top 5 run game and a top 5 defense.  And while we looked like we had both of those things today, I don’t necessarily see the Jets replicating this performance each week for the rest of the year.

But a win is a win is a win as they say. And while the Rams are a bad, bad team (I wonder which team Schotty wishes he was still coaching?), there were a few encouraging things to take away from this game.

Offense

  • QB – A very efficient game for Mark Sanchez, and his first turnover-free game in a long time.  He was shaky early and sacked 3 times in the 1st half, but he steadied and made some nice throws.  The throw of the game in my opinion was when he looked right, and then checked down to the left for a 25 yard pass to the TE Reuland, which set up the 1st of Powell’s TDs.  He showed patience and poise on that throw and it left me wondering, where has that been all year? And it’s no coincidence that Sanchez had one of his best games while Tebow had a season-low in snaps.  I think this game proved once again that the Tebow experiment has been a colossal failure.

    Hey Kid, I Used to be Tim Tebow!

  • RB – Forget about a QB controversy; might we have an RB controversy on our hands?  Unlikely, but it was really nice to see Powell and McKnight have an impact.  Powell had career TDs no. 1 and no. 2 and showed some nice burst in the 4th quarter.  McKnight seemed to make things happen every time he touched the ball – MORE carries please!  And Greene was solid, but not spectacular – typical Greene.  Solid blocking by the O-line as well.  A game to build on for sure.

    Your New Starting RB?

  • Receivers – Despite a number of key drops by Stephen Hill (it’s crazy to think the Jets thought this guy would have an impact in his rookie year.  He will be a stud in 1-2 years, but he is RAW), the receivers had a solid day.  Kerley continues to make big, clutch plays, and Schillens had his best game as a Jet with a beautiful 25 yard TD.  They still miss Santonio’s game-breaking abilities, but this squad is coming along nicely.

    You Know It’s a Good Day When There is a Chaz Schillens Pic

Defense

  • D-Line – This was the defensive line’s most impressive game of the year, primarily due to another studly performance from Mo Wilkerson, who is quickly becoming one of the best D-lineman in the game.  He’s established himself as a dominant force on the edge, and the rare lineman that can stay in on rushing and passing downs.  And with Coples coming on strong, it’s clear the Jets will have a pair of beastly defensive ends the likes of which we haven’t seen since John Abraham, Jeff Lageman and the New York Sack Exchange days.
  • LBs – Bart Scott is slow.  Great recovery of the fumble by Wilkerson, but man is he slow.  You are seeing the last few games of Scott in a Jets uniform.
  • CBs – Another great game by Cromartie – he’s really stepped up since Revis his been hurt.  The hit he levelled on Pettis was bone-crushing.  And Laron Landry continues to be a force in the defensive backfield – one of the few great offseason moves by Tanny and hopefully someone we can resign.  Ditto for Yeremiah Bell.

Special Teams –  What happened to the days when the Jets were one of the top units in the NFL?  A blocked FG – the 4th this year! – and a botched fake punt, just in the 1st half.  And if it weren’t for a holding call, they would have given up a 100 yard KO return for a TD.  Nick Folk continues to be solid in the kicking game, but this unit is a shell of its former self.

Coaching – Credit to Rex for pulling the team together after a brutal start to the game. The team stayed focused, and they executed a very efficient game plan on offense and an opportunistic one on defense.  It was especially impressive given all of the distractions during the week.  This would have been a very easy game for the Jets to lose, and with that, the season would be over.  But now they have a glimmer of hope.

And now the Pats come to town on Thursday Night – Thanksgiving.  This has the makings of either being the win that truly turns around the Jets’ season and catapults them into the playoffs (look at the rest of the schedule) or a beatdown of epic proportions that exposes the team for what they really are.  If history repeats itself, we are unfortunately in for the latter.  Just look at the last 2 seasons when the Jets played the Pats in a big spot (excluding the playoffs) – it usually doesn’t end well.  I hope I’m wrong, but this has destruction written all over it.

But at least we have a reason to watch as we digest our turkey and stuffing (here in London my Dad and I will be watching over a cup of coffee at 7am – no spoilers!).  This win should quiet down the critics for a week, and should definitely quiet down the Tebow talk.  In fact, he might be the only guy that’s not excited about this win.  But that said, we shouldn’t get too excited about things – this was a win over a very bad team (lots of parallels between these two teams with Bradford being drafted no. 1, just 4 spots ahead of Sanchez in the 2009 draft).  Next week is a much truer test.  We will find out for sure if this team is “close” as Rex would have you believe each week, or on their way to a 2nd straight playoff-less season.

Confident, At Least For 1 Week

Week 7 Recap: It Still Goes Down As a Loss

Final Score (OT):
Pats: 29
Jets: 26

Reading all of the analysis in today’s papers and on the web, it would be easy to lose sight of the fact that nobody – NOBODY – gave the Jets even a remote chance of winning.  The fact that we are even talking about how close they came to winning this game, needs to be reflected upon for a moment.

Okay, enough reflection.  The reality is that the Jets blew a golden opportunity to pull off a major upset, and take sole possession of first place.  They had every opportunity to win this game at the end of regulation, but instead played very conservatively on both sides of the ball, and it burned them.  So much for Rex’s proclamation that you always “play to win the game.”  Last night at the end of the game, they played not to lose, or to tie at best.  It was a valiant effort, but there are no moral victories.  And at the end of the season, it still goes down as a loss.

Looking back on the game, there were I think a few critical decisions & plays that came back to haunt them:

  • On 3rd and 1 at the 2 yard line, they decided to throw a quick slant to Chaz Schillens, instead of running it up the gut.  This was an absolutely perplexing call.  For starters, your workhorse back, Shonn Greene, has been nearly perfect on 3rd and 1 situations all year long, including a previous conversion in that game.  Secondly, you have Tim Tebow – one of the best in the game in these situations.  This is why you traded 2 draft picks for him – for this very situation.  Finally, if you are Rex/Tony and you really think it calls for a pass, why in the name of Leon Hess are you passing to your no. 3 receiver, and a guy who has about 10 catches all year at this point?   Somebody please answer these questions.

    The Closest He’s Come to “Tebowing”

  • The final drive of the game – obviously there was the drop by Stephen Hill.  That was an absolute killer.  Santonio Holmes makes that catch.  But even so, the Jets were very conservative on much of that drive, which started at the Pats’ 20 yard line.  The Jets clearly felt that a 3 point lead with only 1 timeout for New England was a lower risk scenario vs. going for the 7 points, not getting it, and then leaving more time and timeouts for the Pats.  What happened next?  Tom Brady marched down the field in 90 seconds and set up a game-tying FG.
  • Employing a 3-man rush – On the last two drives, the Jets went heavy in pass coverage, and light on their pass rush.  Big mistake.  Brady carved up the Jets all day when they rushed 3 passers.  When they rushed 4 or more, his completion percentage really dropped.  How did the coaches not know this by the 4th quarter and make the appropriate adjustments?
  • Sanchez’ turnovers – all 3 were killers.  The 1st quarter fumble & safety was only partially his fault, and they survived it.  The INT in the 2nd quarter was one of those throws that just leaves you shouting at the television (apparently there were Boston area beat writers in the press box who were publicly saying that he was the “worst QB” in the league right after that), and then of course, the fumble in OT.  That was his 3rd turnover in OT since 2009 – 2 more than any other player in the league in that timeframe.  That’s called “not clutch.”

    The Definition of “Not Clutch”

A quick recap on the performances:

QB: As I wrote earlier, you live with Sanchez and you die with Sanchez.  His performance is so inconsistent, it’s maddening.  Get this: he went 16 for 20 with 190 yards and a TD after halftime, including that beautiful game-tying 92 yard drive in the 4th quarter.  Those are insanely good numbers on the road against New England.  But then of course there were the killer turnovers, including the game-ender.  How do you coach for this?  How do you know which Sanchez you can rely on in a given drive, let alone an entire game? Some will say these are growing pains.  Many, like me, increasingly believe that he’s no longer the answer.

I Wish I Were You

And the Tim Tebow experiment continues to fail miserably.  Just when you thought the Jets figured out to use him last week, they regress.  He was on the filed for less than 10 snaps and he wasn’t used on that key 3rd down situation at the 2 yard line.  Wasn’t this the reason you brought him here?  And while I love the 3 and 4 yard pick-ups he gets, can we please let the guy throw the ball?  Just once, to keep the defense honest.  I know I’m no expert here, but doesn’t everyone in the building know he’s going to run?

RBs:  A solid showing against a very tough run D.  Give credit to the Jets – they found a way to pick up tough yards when they needed it.  At the end of the game they were down to one healthy RB – rookie & former practice squad player, Jonathan Grimes.  Not exactly ideal.  Greene and McKnight put in gritty performances and I’m liking Lex Hilliard more and more.  It’s no surprise that with the return of a respectable run game, the Jets offense has looked better the past 2 weeks.

Receivers:  Hello Jeremy Kerley!  I think we’ve found ourselves a starting WR for years to come.  He was everywhere yesterday, making big play after big play including many key 1st downs.  I like his game.  And welcome back Dustin Keller.  7 receptions for 93 yards and a TD – yesterday showed how much we missed him.  As for Stephen Hill…we knew there would be days like this.  He’s going to mature into a big-time receiver in this league, but there will be growing pains along the way.

Welcome Back

Defense:  Despite the last two drives, you have to give these guys a lot of credit.  Everyone thought that this unit would get torched by the Pats, but they hung in there.  It was a frenetic pace, and the Pats did everything they could to keep them off balance.  Wilkerson and Coples had another solid game – these two will get better and better.  I loved rookie LB Demario Davis’ game (did we see the end of the Bart Scott era last night?) – he’s fast and a solid tackler.  And the secondary had a really solid game – no major blown coverages and they kept Welker (Isaiah Trufant?!) and Lloyd in check.  It was inevitable that Gronkowski would get his catches (the man is just unreal – a person that big should not be that fast with the ability to make diving catches in the end zone), but they did a decent job containing him and Hernandez.   Cro dropped a game-changing INT and Wilson was flagged for a questionable pass INT call in the 4th quarter, but overall solid performance.

Beast Mode

Special Teams:  I really thought Mike Westhoff was going to destroy someone on the sideline.  The kickoff return for a TD took away any momentum the Jets had after their first TD.  That team did atone for that mistake with the fumble they recovered at the end of the game.  And while he had a great game receiving, I’m not sure what Kerley is thinking when he fair catches the ball inside the 5 yard line – isn’t the golden rule that you let it go if it’s inside the 10?  Nick Folk was money – someone remarked he’s the most consistent player on the team.  Sad, but true.

Coaching:  First off – credit to Rex and co. for a great game plan and phenomenal preparation.  This team was not intimidated, and they had a plan to attack the defense and stop Brady.  And that plan, despite some shoddy execution by Sanchez and others, worked well for 3 1/2 quarters.  They Jets were aggressive on offensive and selectively aggressive on defense.  But then they got scared.  Scared of turnovers, and scared to get burned by Brady.  So they went conservative on offense and defense.  And they paid for it.

I know it’s easy to second guess – everyone is an expert on Monday.  But as a Jet fan, you’ve seen this happen so many times.  The team fights and claws its way back into the game, only to get conservative when victory is so close.  Rex has to know that while he has a very good defense, it is not a great defense.  It’s not a shutdown defense.  And asking any defense to limit Tom Brady – the master of the 2 minute drill and an offense built around that very scenario – to just 3 points when the game is on the line, is frankly asking too much.  Rex should have known better.

So, where does that leave us.  3-4, which is where I thought we’d be after the post-Revis predictions.  All in all, not terrible, especially when you consider that there are just three – yes, three – teams who are over .500 in the AFC right now.  That’s crazy.

It does make a victory next week pretty darn important.  Division game, at home, against the Dolphins.  A sweep of the season series would give them a huge advantage and would put them at .500 going into their bye week.  The Jets then hit the road for two tough road games against Seattle and St. Louis, before returning home to see the Pats on Thanksgiving evening.  That is going to be a fun one.

Who are these Jets?  Are they the “same old Jets” that we often cite and refer to?  Or are they a team of fighters who are just starting to come into their own, as Rex would have you think?  While, I still don’t think we can answer that, I think it’s safe to say that they still have a lot of work to do if they have any serious hope of making a real Super Bowl run.  Still too many mistakes, especially by their “franchise” QB, and too many holes on the roster.  But at least they are making it interesting and fun to watch on Sundays.   Because hey, it could be worse – you could be a Cleveland Browns fan.

Hi, I’m Evil. Thanks for Playing!

Just Another Reason to Hate the Pats

Week 6 Recap: Jets Get Back to Ground & Pound

Final Score:
Jets: 35
Colts: 9

So this was the ground and pound attack we’ve been hearing about since the preseason. Facing one of the worst rush defenses in the league had a lot to do with it, but it was nice to see the Jets get back to their old running and not surprisingly, winning ways.  Sanchez was returned to his more comfortable role as “game manager,” and the defense was dominant.  It was a vintage Rex Ryan era victory – one we haven’t seen all year.

Offense

QB – Sanchez was efficient and smart, with no turnovers.  Get this – this was the first game in the last 17 without one turnover for the Jets.  That’s a stunning statistic.  The Sanchise still missed a few easy throws, but overall he played solid football with two nice TD passes to the Hill brothers.  More importantly for him, he probably bought himself at least 2 more starts.  Tim Tebow also had an impact, picking up a key 1st down in the red zone, but I still don’t know why they don’t let him throw more or take an entire drive. Everyone in the stadium knows he’s running the ball when he’s under center.

See, Jesus Is a Jets Fan!

RB – Shonn Greene had his best performance as a Jet – 32 carries (career high) for 161 yards and 3 TDs.  He ran hard and fist, and showed off a sweet spin move on his second TD – something he’s never shown before.  There was finally a Joe McKnight sighting as well as he took his first carry for 61 yards – thank you Tony – finally!  Unfortunately for McKnight (and are you surprised by this?), he was injured on the run and his status for next week is questionable.  Ditto for Bilal Powell as well.  This team just can’t stay healthy. But for at least one week, Greene was the true no.1 RB that we hoped he would be and the Jets as a team went over 200 yards rushing for the first time in a looooong time.  That said, don’t get too excited – the Colts run D is bad, real bad.

Welcome Back, Shonn Greene

WRs – not much to say here as Sanchez only threw the ball 18 times.  But it was nice to Stephen Hill making some nice plays, including one TD, and old friend Dustin Keller was back as well.  This unit will be tested more next week in New England.

Skillz

O-Line – their best performance of the year – they were beasts.  They dominated the Colts in the trenches, opening up holes for Greene all day long and giving Sanchez ample time to pass.  This unit has quietly been getting better as the year has gone on.  Good thing too as they will need another stellar performance on the road in Foxborough next week.

Defense – This was a dominant performance in every aspect.  The D-line was aggressive and mean.  DE Muhammad Wilkerson had the best game of his young Jets career and was in the backfield all day long, forcing a fumble on Luck at the very end.  Fellow 1st round pick, Quinton Coples also had a solid game – his first one as a starter.  The secondary was solid, and despite a number of pass INT and holding calls, didn’t get burned for the big play.  Cromartie was effective in shutting down Reggie Wayne and Landry and Bell were their usual beastly selves.

Special Teams – another week, another fake punt!  This time Tebow took the snap and passed the ball to back-up LB Nick Ballore who looked like he was being chased by a dog for 25 yards.  Great call and great execution.  Punter Robert Malone continues to have an all-pro season – great find.

The First and Last Time You Will See This Man on the Blog

Coaching – kudos to Rex – he had this team fired up and ready to dominate.  This has not been an easy few weeks for the Jets – to call them tumultuous would be an understatement.  Injuries, QB controversy, an outspoken owner, etc. – lots of distractions. But Rex kept them focused and they were clearly prepared.  Great job all around.

Rex Ryan Weight Watch – the watch is back on!  Rex has clearly been putting in some late nights…see below.

Look Out, Rex is Coming!

This was a game that the Jets were predicted to win and simply had to have.  A loss today would have put them at 2-4, with a road game next week against New England.  No team comes back from 2-5 (no, I’m not predicting a victory next week).  Instead, at 3-3, the Jets still find themselves exactly where most “experts” predicted they will be at this point.  It’s amazing what a difference one week makes…

Next week the Jets go on the road to the sight of some of their most memorable victories, and lopsided losses – Foxborough, MA to face the evil empire.  After a sluggish start, the Pats are back to their dominating form.  This will not be an easy game for them and will be a huge test for their banged up defense.  All I’m hoping for at this point is a close game. For now though, let’s savour this win.

Week 3 Recap: Jets Win the Battle…

Final Score (OT):
Jets: 23
Dolphins: 20

…you know the rest.  This was an ugly and costly win for the Jets.  A win is a win is a win, as they say, but this one came with a price.  All-world CB Darrelle Revis left the game in the 3rd quarter with what looked like a serious knee injury, and the Jets defense looked very ordinary after that.  Sadly, ordinary is still much better than the Jets’ offense, which was sloppy, undisciplined and just plain bad.  Ugh.

Oh Sh*%^t

To the recap…

Offense

QB: This was not one of Sanchez’ finer performances – 21 of 45 for 306 yards with 1 TD and 2 INTs.  That said – give him credit, he was resilient in the clutch, leading two big drives at the end of the fourth quarter and in OT.  It was nice to see him regain a connection with Santonio, but that was about the only bright spot.  He missed two easy TD throws, and continually threw behind receivers, especially when under pressure.  I don’t fault him for the two INTs as they were primarily due to receiver mistakes, but he needs to clean things up if this is the year he really steps forward.   As for Tebow…well, another quiet game for him.  This is what I don’t get – why don’t they let him throw the damn ball?  If he’s only a glorified RB, then put McKnight in.  They need to at least keep defenses honest by having him throw a pass here and there.  Right now the Wildcat is just useless and often counterproductive.  Let’s see some creativity Sparano.

RBs:  My prediction – Bilal Powell will be the starting RB by week 5.  He looked faster and sharper than Greene and had good blocking as well.  I think its clear that Greene is not an every down RB – let’s make that change.  And please for the love of god, give Joe McKnight some carries or at least a screen pass or two!  He’s one of your fastest players and true playmakers – get him in the game.  Keeping him on the sideline is just bizarre.

Receivers:  Great game for Santonio – he still had some key drops, but overall, his best game as a Jet.  Unfortunately he was the only receiver worth talking about.   Stephen Hill dropped an easy TD and was otherwise a non-factor.  Kerley had a big catch in the 3rd quarter and the go-ahead TD, but disappeared for long periods of time.  There was a Chaz Schillens sighting.  No impact, but I really wanted to write Chazzzzzzzz (how long until the Terrell Owens and Chad Johnson rumors start?).   And once again the absence of Dustin Keller was huge – his replacements were just awful.  Jeff Cumberland?  Konrad Reuland?  Who are these dudes?  I can tell you what they are not – NFL calibre Tight Ends.  They are having a huge impact on the game – poor blocking, wrong routes and just plain terribleness.  Keller – come back soon.

This Guy Starts for Us!

Offensive Line: Pass protection was good, but not great.  We knew this would be a tough day running the ball (Dolphins are one of toughest run Ds in league), and they played better as the game went on, but this is a far cry from “Ground and Pound” as Marv Albert loved to point out.  I think he just enjoyed saying “Ground and Pound” (sorry, couldn’t help myself).

Defense

If this is truly one of the best defenses Rex has ever had, well that doesn’t say much for every other defense he’s coached.  Even before the loss of Revis, they were not impressive.  Outside of the two turnovers in the 3rd quarter – and that was a masterful pick 6 by Landry – they were just mediocre.  This was a rookie QB they were playing and yet he  had them in a position to win the game in OT.  A truly stellar D stops the Dolphins at the end of the 4th quarter, or OT for that matter.  The loss of Revis had a huge knock-on effect.  Cromartie was forced to cover the top WR, and got burned on a big play in OT.  Wilson was flagged for a big (but very questionable) pass INT call in the 4th quarter.  And the Jets rarely blitzed, which was a problem since the D line created very little pressure. This is a very, very mediocre D without Revis.

Special Teams

Great call on the fake punt with Tebow – his most meaningful play as a Jet.  Kerley had a nice bounceback game and kudos should go to the punter, Robert Malone, who placed a few inside the 10 – that really helped with the field position.  And of course another solid game from Nick Folk who nailed the game winner (although his first kick was blocked just after the Dolphins called timeout – Doh!).

Ladies & Gents, Your MVP

Coaching

We are not approaching Brian Schottenheimer territory yet, but some of Sparano’s calls were questionable.  Tebow in the red zone has to stop for now – they only seem to go backwards when he’s in there.  They called a great screen pass in OT that went for a big gain, but where was it the rest of the game?  And as mentioned earlier, get McKnight in there for a few downs.   On the defensive side, they seem to have abandoned the blitz this year.  I don’t get it – that is always a hallmark of a Rex Ryan D.  Let’s get back to being aggressive.

And the Rex Ryan weight watch is back on – anyone notice that he was wearing that lame black sweater vest…in 85 degree heat Miami?  He was clearly trying to sweat out some extra poundage, amateur boxer style.  I appreciate the effort, Rex.

On a side note – did anyone notice how empty the stadium was?  Apparently the game was blacked out because they couldn’t sell it out.  That’s terrible – your team is 1-1 with a top draft pick at QB, facing your most hated rivals, and you can’t sell out?  And those that were there looked like they were dressed for a redneck Mardi Gras party vs. a football game.  I know Miami is a terrible sports town (Heat fans are notorious for leaving early, just another reason to hate the Heat), but c’mon Miami – show some interest.

The Jets were very, very lucky to walk away with a win.  If not for two missed field goals, we would be looking at a loss.  And this is not a good Dolphins team – they have a rookie QB and were playing without their best player, Reggie Bush, for much of the game.  It shouldn’t have been close.   I called it a “must win,” but I was told by my fellow season ticket holder, that it was not.  A short summary of our texts during the game (this also give you some insight into the stress I endure during every game):

Me:  We can’t lose this game:

G: Don’t panic.  There is never a must win in week 3.

Me: With SF and Hou next?  We need this.

G:  Meh.  Week 3.  (Tannehill throws long bomb in OT to set up FG)

Me: Can we trade for that guy?

G: I would trade QBs in a second.  I’m serious.  (Carpenter misses 2nd FG)

G: This is the sad bowl.   (Folk goes on to kick game winning FG)

Me:  I’m exhausted.  And a little sick.  That was terrible.

A little insight into the mind of a deranged, obsessed Jets fan.  I hope you enjoyed that.

Next up…San Francisco.  The Jets best get healthy and clean things up otherwise we are looking at 2-2, in my opinion.   Until then…J-E-T-S.

You Know The Drill…

JETS – 2012 Season Preview!

So the 2012 season is finally upon us.  Another “quiet” offseason and preseason has come to an end, and it’s time to make that elusive Super Bowl run that us Jets fans have been craving for a lifetime.

I’ve purposely stayed quiet during the preseason.   Call it ignorance – I call it self-preservation.  There will be enough angst across the next 4 months – why waste it on a bunch of meaningless preseason games?

So instead of looking back, I choose to look forward with my position-by-position preview and my game-by-game predictions.  Feedback, as always, is welcome….

Quarterback – So, did anything change with the Jets’ QB situation this year?  Right.  I’ve said from the very first day they acquired Tebow, that Sanchez was still the man.  They did not draft him in the 1st round and give him a big extension for him to be a back-up.  This is his team, and I think (hope), his year.  The man has won more playoff games at this point in his career than many other acclaimed QBs (Eli, Brees, etc.) and has proven that he can succeed in the cauldron that is New York.  I’ve been so impressed by the way he’s handled himself since TebowMania descended upon us, and all of the preseason reviewers say he looks confident and poised with improved footwork and mechanics.

The key for Sanchez this year is turnovers.  He will not be asked or expected to win many games on his own this year.  The Jets gave up over 60 pts last year when the offense was on the field.  That’s nearly a touchdown every other game.  If Sanchez makes smart decisions, and limits the turnovers, I think they will be very successful.  The defense is not going to give up a lot of points – I think 17 points will win a lot of games for Gang Green.  It may not be fun to watch, but as long as they win, who cares?

As far as Tebow goes…well, I think you know what you are getting.  A supreme athlete, a hard worker, a ridiculously likeable guy, and a terrible passer.  We are all eagerly awaiting the unveiling of the Wildcat on Sunday…I say he gets 10 snaps total.   And if Tebow is the starting QB at any time this season for non-injury reasons then I think it means the season is close to over.

Because I Had To…

Running Back – What was once a strength for the Jets is now a question mark.  Shonn Greene had a decent year last year, and it is now firmly his job.  Backups Bilal Powell and Joe McKnight have shown some flashes, and the early word is that Powell could have a breakout year.  But no one in this crew causes opposing defenses to quiver.  Either way, we will be seeing a lot of these guys as the Jets get back to “Ground and Pound.”

Receivers – It’s boom or bust with this crew.  You could see Holmes returning to his Pro Bowl form, Kerley blossoming into a real slot and 3rd down threat, and Stephen Hill becoming the gamebreaker they drafted him to be.  On the other hand, you could just as easily foresee Holmes remaining the distraction he was a year ago, Hill dropping many passes as he did in the preseason, and Kerley on the sidelines with injuries.   Hey, at least there’s Chaz Schillens…..

Tight Ends – Every year I hear that this is the “breakout year” for Dustin Keller.  I’m not buying it – he disappears for long stretches and doesn’t break enough big plays.  He’s solid, but not a star.   But there is NO depth behind him, so he’ll be counted on a lot.

O-Line – It’s amazing that the Jets sent 3 players to the Pro Bowl last year, yet finished near last in rushing and gave up a ton of sacks.  Gone is Santonio’s best friend and target of Jets fan’s ire, Wayne Hunter, and in is Austin Howard and Jason Smith.  My money says that this line returns to the dominating form we saw 2 years ago – there’s just too much talent there – 3 First round picks in Brick, Mangold and Smith along with proven veterans Slauson and Moore.  Tannenbabum smartly added some depth here as well.

D-Line – Probably the most improved unit of the team.  First round pick Quinton Coples looked beastly in the preseason, and last year’s 1st round pick Mo Wilkerson  (it’s amazing what a near-death car accident will do to you) and 3rd rd pick Kenrick Ellis (its amazing what jail time will do to you) have both really stepped up and will make meaningful contributions.  Throw in vets DeVito and Pouha and you have the makings of a deep and talented unit.

Linebackers – While still a strength, this is an aging unit that is the weakest part of the D.  David Harris remains one of the most underrated players in the league, and he’s flanked again by the Mad Backer, Bart Scott and Calvin Pace.  Word is that Scott is playing like a man possessed, and he better as they drafted DeMario Davis to take his place.   This is a veteran unit that lacks speed however, and they will get exploited in the middle of the field by the league’s better Tight Ends (i.e. Gronkowski twice a year).

Secondary – The best corner in history and the most virile corner in history are both back.  They are joined by two newcomers at Safety – LaRon Landry (former 6th overall pick) and Yeremiah Bell, who takes over for the oft-injured and now departed Jim Leonard as the QB of the defense.  This unit could be one of the best in the league if they stay healthy.

Special Teams – Do you really care what I have to say about special teams?  If you do, then you are either a bigger Jet nerd than me, or you just love special teams.

Coaching – Rex is back, with less talking, and less weight.  Have you seen him?   Tony Sparano takes over the offense – all eyes will be on him the first few weeks for sure.

HOT DAMN REX –                                           YOU LOOK GOOD!!!

So, onto the predictions…..

Week 1 – Bills – Win.   Jets have dominated the recent series and despite the Bills’ additions on defense, they are still coached by the awful Chan Gailey.

Week 2 – @PIT – Loss – Jets have won once there – the must win game to get into the playoffs 2 years ago.  I don’t see it happening again.

Week 3 – @MIA – Win – Tannehill looks good, but there is a severe lack of talent on that team.

Week 4 – SF – Win – Alex Smith played out of his mind last year.  He’s not that good.  SF travelling cross-country never bodes well.

Week 5 – HOU – Win – At home on Monday night football.  Texans have a history of choking against the Jets.  Revis shuts down Johnson and Jets Run D shuts down Foster.  They matchup well

Week 6 – IND – Win – Andrew Luck’s first visit to New York.  Rex has a history of tormenting rookie QBs.

Week 7 – @NE – Loss – They look even better than last year.

Week 8 – MIA – Win – see above.

Week 10 – @SEA – Loss –  cross-country trip after a bye week = letdown loss.

Week 11 – @STL – Win – Jets vs Schotty.  Rams might be the worst team in football.

Week 12 – NE – Win – short week – Thursday night of thanksgiving.  Crowd will be fired up.

Week 13 – ARI – Win – Cardinals are not good.  East coast trip in December never bodes well.

Week 14 – @JAX – Win – I’m not buying Blaine Gabbert.

Week 15 – @TEN – Loss – Monday night football on the road in December – not a good combo.

Week 16 – SD – Win – Sunday night football and Chargers never do well on the East Coast in December

Week 17 – @BUF – Loss – I hope I’m wrong and I hope we don’t need it but Dec. 30th on the road in Buffalo is a brutal draw.

Total: 11-5….too optimistic?  Maybe…feel free to pick it apart.  But then I remembered this article and I really started to believe (BTW – some of the best writing on the Web right now is happening on Grantland.  If you don’t read it, I encourage you to give it a try – brilliant writers, great topics, lots of fun).

Kick-off is now less than 24 hours away…my Revis jersey has been pressed and cleaned, ready for another year.  The boys’ jerseys are ready to go.  8 months of peaceful Sundays are over – my wife is officially depressed.   Let’s Do This.

J-E-T-S JETS JETS JETS!