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.

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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…

Week 2 Recap: The Jets (and I) are no-shows

(This post was written by guest blogger Phil S., a childhood friend and fellow doomed Jets fan.  Big thanks to Phil for covering for me while I’m away!)

The storyline before the start of this game was key defensive injuries for two elite defenses. Darrelle Revis was out with a concussion and the Steelers didn’t have James Harrison or Troy Polamalu healthy enough to fly around the field and generally wreak havoc with hard hits and beautiful, dandruff free hair. It made me wonder if this could possibly turn into the most unanticipated QB shootout in recent memory. Ben Roethlisberger isn’t elite by any stretch of the imagination, but the Steelers basically don’t have a running game right now with Rashard Mendenhall sitting out, so maybe Mike Wallace and Antonio Brown could coax Ben to throw downfield a bit? And while it could just be irrational exuberance on the part of long suffering Jets fans, didn’t Mark Sanchez look solid last week throwing to Stephen Hill and Santonio Holmes?

Like most Jets fans, I am afflicted with unjustified hope. The shootout I wanted to see between Sanchez and Big Ben, as unlikely as it sounded, wasn’t meant to be. Instead, we got a classic reversion to the mean, a return to form for a Jets team that almost didn’t score a touchdown in the pre-season, and for a quarterback whose schizophrenic inconsistency regularly drives Jets fans mad.

QB

Sanchez didn’t do much after a nice opening drive that ended in a Santonio Holmes touchdown. In fact, at one point during the game he had only 3 completions in the prior two hours of real time – although it felt much longer. It would have been a lot to ask of Sanchez to repeat last week’s performance, but to say this was a disappointing setback would be an understatement.

However, it was nice to see Tim Tebow become a factor when he came into the game in the third to lead a drive; apparently he gets paid a few mill a year for more than just leading the post-game prayer. Call me crazy, but, with the exception of Jeremy Kerley, Tebow looks like he may be the Jets most explosive offensive player…Rex should be thinking about how to get him on the field more, as long as it’s not at the Quarterback position. Sure there are risks to playing him in the backfield, but it not like he’s brittle; dude can take a hit or two.

Mandatory Tebow Shot

O Line

Sanchez was only touched twice last week against the Bills, but the Steelers D is a bit of an upgrade over Buffalo. Lamar Woodley took advantage of Austin Howard on the end and made him look bad, particularly on a sack early on the 3rd where he got beat like the proverbial red headed stepchild.

Other Offense

Shonn Greene is one lackluster mother f*cker, so I wasn’t too upset when he was briefly taken out of the game in the second period for a head injury. But even though Greene is a number 2 back on many teams, Bilal Powell is just plain shitty. They should put McKnight in when Greene is out and send Bilal to the CFL. The running game needs to improve for a run first offense; it’s too bad Khalil Bell got re-picked up by the Bears after Matt Forte got injured.

The lone bright spot from ‘Tone

And Stephen Hill, the rookie wide receiver who had a few nice catches last week and a touchdown, was targeted only twice and didn’t catch a pass all game. He seems to have some talent, but is going to have good weeks and bad weeks as he matures across his first season in the NFL. It’ll help when Sanchez decides to throw in his direction instead of repeatedly hitting Jeff Cumberland in the back of the helmet with the ball.

Defense

This is a very different defense when Revis isn’t on the field. LaRon Landry seemed to be pressing a bit and got called for two personal fouls within 3 quarters…Mike Wallace made Cromartie look silly on the touchdown thrown in the third quarter. The pass rush was average at best…besides a few plays where Roethlisberger was forced to dance around a bit, he looked as comfortable in the pocket as he is in college bars.

Beastly, but careless

Special Teams

We saw a few nice kick returns from McKnight, but nothing like the fireworks we saw last week from Kerley. And Kerley’s flubbed punt return late in the third, after a good coach’s challenge call by Rex, was definitely a momentum gift to the Steelers.

Next Week

So what does this mean for next week against the rival Dolphins in Miami, who won their game this week in convincing fashion against Oakland? After week one I would have said it was a lock for a road win, and with Revis and Dustin Keller back in the starting lineup they have a good chance, but not if they play the way they did this afternoon. That said, there’s always hope, and I think the Jets take it in Miami 20-17.

(I’ll be back next week for what I hope will be a more encouraging recap)

Week 1 Recap: DOMINATION (I totally saw that one coming)

Final Score:
Jets: 48
Bills: 28

Yes, you read that correctly – 48 points.  The highest point total for the Jets in their history on opening day.  And probably about 41 more points than most analysts were predicting they would score.   With the exception of 2 or 3 Buffalo drives, it was complete domination on all sides of the ball – offense, defense, special teams and even coaching.  You could not have dreamed up a better start to the season for Gang Green.  And I totally predicted it (sort of).

Offense

QB – After a rocky start and a terrible INT, Sanchez settled down to have one of his best games as a Jet.  He was confident and poised, and appeared to be throwing the ball with more power and zip.  He made smart decisions and wasn’t sacked once.  But what was most impressive was how well he handled the presence of Tebow, who was in from the first snap.  The Jets used Tebow more than I thought he would, and while his direct impact on the game was minimal (no passes and just 11 yds rushing – the Wildcat was not very wild), he did enough to throw the Bills’ D off-balance.  But QB controversy…not this week.  Tebow was even booed at one point when he came in at the end of the 2nd quarter and couldn’t move the ball.  This was a statement game by the Sanchise.

They really do like each other!

RBs – Solid game for Shonn Greene.  No big runs, but he seems to always pick up positive yardage.  Give the Jets credit – they said they would get back to “ground and pound” and they did – 27 carries for Greene and one TD.   That said, they only gained 118 yards on the ground in total, so there is more work to be done there.

Receivers – Welcome to the NFL, Stephen Hill!  The rookie who dropped numerous passes in the preseason had an amazing first game – 5 catches for 89 yards and two TDs – just the 5th player in history to do that in their first game. He’s big and fast and will be a major factor this year (Plaxico who?).  Jeremy Kerley went from the proverbial “doghouse” to the “penthouse,” becoming the first Jets receiver to catch at TD and return a punt for a TD in the same game.  Phenomenal performance for Kerley.  And let’s not forget about everyone’s favorite captain, Santonio Holmes – solid game for him with a couple of key first downs.

Captain-like?

O-Line – the unsung heroes of this game.  Sanchez had great protection all game and wasn’t sacked.  Game ball should go to Austin Howard – the undrafted starting Right Tackle was matched up against the $100MM man and biggest offseason prize, Mario Williams and held him to one tackle – yes, tackle – all game.  Wow.   Great start for the big men.

Defense – I’ll group these guys together because it was a pretty dominating performance, especially in the first half.  Revis picked up right where he left off with a beautiful INT on the Bills’ opening drive.  And on the other side of the field, everyone’s favorite father of eight had a pick 6 of his own, ending it with a flip into the end zone.  Laron Landry was all over the place, and levelled a vicious hit on Fred Jackson that knocked him out of the game.   On the downside, the front 4 never really generated any real consistent pressure on Fitzpatrick (Coples was very quiet) and they gave up a couple of very big plays that exploited their lack of speed in the middle.   This could be a trend to watch.

Dominant, as always

Special Teams – Kerley’s punt return TD was the highlight of the game, but kicker Nick Folk should be commended for putting nearly every kickoff (and there were a LOT) into the back of the end zone.

Coaching – Big kudos to the coaching staff, especially new O-coordinator Tony Sparano.  He called a really balanced game, getting almost everyone involved, and found a way to incorporate Tebow into the game without disrupting the flow.  Unlike last year, I never found myself questioning the playcalling, or more importantly, yelling at the TV.  Let’s see how long that lasts….

Off his diet?

So far I’m perfect on the season with my predictions.  This was a must-win in my opinion as things get much harder next week on the road at Pittsburgh, followed by another road game against Miami and then two tough home games.  The Jets will need to replicate their defense of the first half, and put-up another near turnover free game to have a chance against Pittsburgh in their home opener.  Here’s hoping my initial prediction was wrong…

1 game down…15 more to go….great start.  J-E-T-S!

Obligatory Tim Tebow Pic

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!

BREAKING: Rex Commits To Sanchez…

For 2011.  The Onion once again adds levity to an embarrassing situation.

The Saints were just scary last night.  I think they will comfortably win next week setting up an epic playoff battle against GB.

And congrats to the Texans on their first playoff victory – well deserved, especially with a rookie 3rd string QB.

As long as the Pats don’t win the Super Bowl, I will be happy.  I mean, does anyone out there really want to see Belichick raise another Lombardi trophy?