Plenty of Ashes, But No Phoenix (yet)

Where to start?  With Sanchez’ now world-famous implosion on national TV?  With the decision to start your 3rd string QB this week?  With the Jets’ awful cap situation and future?  So much to write about, so little time…

By now you’ve probably read everything there is to read about what happened on Monday night.  It was quarterbacking at its worst.  The passes Sanchez threw at the end were akin to those thrown on Thanksgiving in your backyard.  Back-foot heaves into triple coverage. Reckless play that made Brett Favre look conservative.  It was as if Sanchez was daring the Jets to bench him.  Watch me throw another crazy interception!  What are you going to do?  You owe me $8MM guaranteed next year, suckas! (insert maniacal laugh)

Sanchez mercifully left Rex with no choice.  And the death threats Sanchez received this week (seriously? Especially after Newtown.  I’m ashamed to be part of this human race sometimes) only exacerbated things.  There was just no way Rex could trot out no. 6 next week.  So what do you do – start Tebow, your QB2 and constant source of media attention, but a guy who clearly has no future as the QB of the Jets?  Or do you go with Greg McElroy, your no. 3 QB who may have a future in this league – as a back-up.  The answer is:  Who Cares?  Neither guy is the QB of the future, and this team has so many problems, the last 2 weeks of the season will have no real impact on the future.   If this team were not in New York, no one would be writing about the travails of a 6-8 team without any direction.

One Last Walk-Off as the Jets' Starting QB

One Last Walk-Off as the Jets’ Starting QB

So what next?  The so-called experts in the Jets’ blogsphere and the Jets beat writers have started to chime in with their ideas.  Some good, some crazy, some predictable.  What’s pretty consistent amongst them all is that the Jets are screwed, at least for 2013, and most of that is due to Mike Tannenbaum and his epic failure of salary cap management.  Read this for some very useful analysis.

Here is one thing that I think is clear – Mark Sanchez will be with this team next year.  He makes a GUARANTEED $8MM in 2013, with a “cap hit” of $12MM.  If the Jets cut Sanchez before June 1st, his “cap hit” is $17MM.  The total cap for 2013 is projected to $120MM.  That would mean that if they cut Sanchez, a player that is no longer on the roster would make up nearly 1/6th of the salary cap.  Astounding.  And more importantly, it means they are not cutting him.

Wait - Are You Serious?  Sanchez Will Be Back Next Year?

Wait – Are You Serious? Sanchez Will Be Back Next Year?

So what do you do?  Trade him, many people say.  That would be great!  But seriously, what team in their right mind would trade for him?  Maybe, just maybe they would if the Jets assumed most of his salary, but I think that’s a long shot.  Other say that he’s so miserable, he’ll take a pay cut to get out of town.  Hmmm…maybe, but would you walk away from a guaranteed $8MM?  Or would you stick it out in New York and spend your $8MM on Eva Longoria look-alikes?  I know what I’d choose.

So where does that leave us?  It leaves us with Mark Sanchez still will the New York Jets in 2013.  He probably won’t be the starter, but he’ll be on the team.  That’s just the grim reality.

So how do the Jets get better?  It won’t be easy, but here are my top 5 priorities:

1. Fire Mike Tannenbaum and bring in an experienced GM who has rebuilt other franchises.  It was a good run Mike, but the work you’ve done the past 2 years has been a disaster.  Their best player (Revis) wasn’t drafted by him, and his track record in the draft (with the picks he hasn’t traded) has been spotty at best (Gholston, Wilson, Ducasse = bad.  Wilkerson, Coples, Kerley = good).  His FA signings and trades have been equally mixed (Landry, Bell, Tomlinson = good.  Tebow, Schillens = bad).

2. Retain Rex Ryan, fire the offensive staff.  A new GM may want to bring in an entire new staff, but my personal opinion is that Rex should come back.  As bad of a job as he did last year, he’s done an equally good job this year.  With the injuries to Revis & Holmes and the general lack of talent on the team, it’s a minor miracle that he kept this team together and in position to compete for a playoff spot.  He turned around the franchise and its culture when he arrived 4 years ago and twice had them a game away from the Super Bowl.  No other Jets coach has done that.  Give him 2 more years with a solid QB and talent around him.  On the flip-side, fire Tony Sparano and the entire offensive staff.  Bring in a proven offensive coordinator and one that can develop QBs – Norv Turner, anyone?

3. Find a new QB – duh!  This won’t be easy and their franchise QB is probably in the 2014 draft.  Sign a cheap, but serviceable QB (Matt Moore, Jason Campbell, Kyle Orton, Shaun Hill) and have him run the team for a year until you find someone in the 2014 draft.  Sanchez is your back-up until you can cut him in 2014.

4. Trade players and draft picks for more draft picks.  Many have said they should trade Cromartie ($8MM) or Revis for picks.  I don’t love this idea – why weaken your only true strength?  But the Revis idea is an interesting one – he’s actually a bargain next year, and despite the ACL injury, he would net at least a 2nd round pick, and maybe even higher.  If you can trade Tebow for a late round pick, do it.  Whatever they do, they have to maximize next year’s draft – they need as many new bodies as they can find.

5. Cut your dead, over-the-hill weight – Bart Scott, Calvin Pace, Bryan Thomas, Jason Smith, Eric Smith (anyone named Smith) and yes, probably Dustin Keller.  All goners. Holmes might well be on this list too depending on his recovery from surgery.  Sign younger, faster players and build up some depth on the O-line and D-line.  This game is still won in the trenches.

See – easy!  The bottom line is this – the Jets will (should) be in full rebuilding mode next year.  We are looking at a 4-12 team at best.  But by the end of the year, they will be out of cap hell, with a top 5 draft pick and hopefully their QB of the future identified.  And as Andrew Luck and RGIII have shown, you can turn around a franchise in less than a year if you have the right guy under center.  One can dream, right?

We Will See More of This in 2013

We Will See More of This in 2013

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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

It’s Deja Vu All Over Again

This is really starting to get old.  Another week, another loss, and more controversy. The game on Sunday was a joke.  And nothing epitomized the Jets season like the 3 play sequence in the 2nd quarter where the Jets drove to the red zone and brought in Tebow on 3rd and goal to hopefully take it in for the TD.  By now, you know what ensued – Keller was called for a terrible false start penalty which led to Sanchez coming in to replace Tebow, who then threw one of the worst INTs of his career – and that’s saying a lot.  Everyone knows you can’t pump fake when you are that close to the end zone – there are too many defenders in a tight area; it negates the impact – but Sanchez pump faked twice, never taking his eyes off of his intended receiver.  It was a rookie mistake made by a 4th year QB.  Sadly, that pass did not rank as Sanchez’ worst of the year – this one did.  How is this guy still our starter?

QB Change? Not Likely.

The week that followed was typical Jets.  Rex continued to stand by his “franchise” QB even though the rest of the sports world is calling for a change.  An unnamed source inside the Jets locker room called Tebow “terrible,” which led to Ryan calling that player a coward.  A former Jet, Rob Turner (a back-up offensive lineman), who now plays for the Rams, called the Jets the “Chicago Cubs of football.”  And through it all, many players remain confident that the Jets, at 3-6, can still make the playoffs. Right. (that said, in 2009, the Jets were 4-6 and then went on to the AFC championship game).

A loss this week against the Rams would be the final dagger for any fan or player who still has hope for this season.  Even with an “easy” schedule ahead, at 3-7, the Jets would have to run the table to even have a chance at the playoffs.  And with New England coming to town on Thanksgiving night, that ain’t happening.

In the next few months, A lot will be written about what has to change with the Jets. I’ve been saying for some time that it starts with Tannenbaum.  After a great start to his career as GM, it’s been all downhill.  His strategy of trading away draft picks to move up in the draft has not paid off, and if you like at the Jets’ recent drafts, you would be hard pressed to find a ton of impact players (Wilkerson and Kerley are the exceptions with Coples, Hill and Davis showing promise).  This review of his performance in another Jets blog is pretty sobering:  http://tinyurl.com/akj8q8z.

It’s Time for Him to Go

 

I’ll still be watching on Sunday, but it’s hard to get excited about this team when you have no faith in the leadership.  To hear Rex and Tannenbaum stand by Sanchez and the rest of the team week after week is getting old.  There is no accountability and no real commitment to winning.  Thankfully, for the first time, Woody Johnson expressed some anger about the 3-6 record.  We can only hope that if the losing continues, he will force the needed changes.

On a lighter note:

  • Grantland last week ran one of the funniest stories about Tebow that I’ve ever read – it is a must read.
  • Huge congrats to R.A. Dickey on his Cy Young.  There hasn’t been much for us Mets/Jets fans to be happy about in 2012, but Dickey was one of them.  You would be hard pressed to find a more thoughtful and sincere player in sports in right now.  If the Mets don’t sign him to an extension, there should be a mutiny.
  • The Knicks are off to one of their best starts in franchise history.  Even with the loss to Memphis last night, you have to be excited about what’s happening at the Garden.  I grew up watching Knicks teams that were known for their intimidating defense – Oakley, Mason, Starks, Ewing, etc. – and it’s nice to see a return to that form.  Woodson deserves some kind of medal for even getting Carmelo to play defense.  If this team stays healthy (a BIG if), they will be a force to be reckoned with deep into the playoffs.

On a more personal note, it was a week of both loss and life in my family.  My paternal grandmother of 88 years left us last week.  Nearly 45 years ago, she and my grandfather decided to purchase season tickets for this “new football team” and a family of Jets fans were born.  She spent many a cold day in Shea Stadium with my grandfather and father, watching Joe Namath, Don Maynard, Richard Todd, Ken O’Brien, etc..  And while she undoubtedly saw more losses than wins, she always remained a loyal fan.  I’m sure she’ll be watching on Sunday from wherever she is.

Just a few days after her passing, the newest Jet fan in the family was born, as my sister gave birth to Luke Charles.  The circle of life and Jets fandom continues…

Week 8 Recap: Franchise Altering Loss

This was not just another loss.  This was a loss that will change the fate of the Jets franchise for the next few years.  Mark Sanchez wasn’t just bad, he was incompetent. The preparation wasn’t just bad, it was completely missing.  The execution wasn’t just bad, it was embarrassing.  Everyone in the franchise had a hand in this loss, and if I’m Woody Johnson, major changes have to happen.

Where to start?  The offense was putrid.  Sanchez looked lost from the start and did nothing to make you believe that he can still be the franchise QB that we thought he’d become.  Today marked the beginning of the end of the Sanchise era.  No question. Many of the fans, including me, were clamoring for Tebow to enter the game.  But I do understand why they didn’t put him in.  The controversy that would create would be overwhelming, and you don’t just institute a Tebow offense in the 4th quarter.   But if he (or Greg McElroy) is not the starting QB after the bye week, then something is wrong.  Take the 2 weeks and make the change that has to happen.  Nobody, I mean nobody can have confidence in Sanchez at this point.  If I’m a Jets RB or receiver, I’m quietly hoping for this change.  Tebow time in New York has arrived.

His Last Time as the Sanchise?

The defense was not much better.  The only player that showed up was Laron Landry (he’s a guy they should definitely re-sign, although I’m not so sure he would want to be back).  They were flat from the start, committed stupid penalties (welcome back, bad Cromartie) and were beaten by a backup QB and a bunch of 2nd string receivers.  They have the players, but don’t have the heart, the execution or the prep.  A lot of that falls on the coaches.  I’ve never been a Mike Pettine fan and he may be one of the first coaches to go in the offseason (that is if Rex survives).

And Special Teams?  This was supposed to be Mike Westhoff’s swan song – his yearlong victory lap.  Instead it’s turning out to be a nightmare.  An onside kick recovered by the Dolphins, a blocked punt for a TD, a blocked FG and poor coverage on kickoffs.  What used to be a unit that the Jets could always rely on, has now become a liability.

This is officially the low point of the Rex Ryan era.  It was all fun and games for the first 2 years, and a dominant running game and defense masked the many deficiencies that our supposed franchise QB had.  The disappearance of that running game and defense has exposed Sanchez, and more alarmingly Rex, for the player/coach they really are.  This was one of the most poorly played games of the Rex Ryan era – on all sides of the ball.  The fact that it happened in a “must-win” divisional game at home is beyond comprehension.

Rex will have a lot of questions to answer this week.  How could a team be outplayed this badly at home – for the second time this season?  As a season ticket holder, I demand answers and changes.  If you were one of the fans there today, who came out (and spent hundreds of dollars) despite the fact that Frankenstorm is looming just hours away,  you should be livid.  It’s one thing to lose, it’s another thing to be outclassed and flat out embarrassed.  There was NOTHING positive you could take from this game.  I repeat – NOTHING.  The team was undisciplined, unprepared and flat.  The yapping all week proved to be that – talk.  This team is all talk and no action. And that falls on the coach.  When they were winning, you could deal with that.  Rex has lost this team and for the first time, his leadership and future as coach is in question.

And of course, Tannenbaum should get as much of the blame as anyone.   The Tebow trade has been a disaster.  You trade 2 draft picks for the guy and then never use him?  This was the week that the Jets were going to “empty the tank” when it comes to Tebow.  His stat line?  1 rush for 2 yards.  ONE RUSH.  That’s emptying the tank?  If we had a true “backup” QB, he would have been in there by now.  The offense is lacking too many playmakers and there is almost no depth on this roster.  I would be shocked if he’s back as GM next year.

And so the agony that is life as a Jets fan continues.  Another week, another low point.   Anyone want to buy some tickets?

A Picture Speaks…

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.

Another Day, Another Headline

Is anyone else tired of reading about the Jets?  There’s not a day that goes by where there isn’t another headline about them on ESPN.com and other national news media.  Woody Johnson speaks at a Mitt Romney event – headline.  Tim Tebow says that he wishes he had more goal line carries – headline.  Rex says that Sanchez is the starter “this week” – headline.  It’s ridiculous and I can only imagine how annoying it must be the rest of the football fan base.  You have teams like Houston who are 5-0, and other great stories like the Colts rallying to beat the Packers in the same week when their coach is diagnosed with Leukemia.  But no, the Jets still grab the headlines.   Here’s a quick recap of what happened:

  • Terrell Owens tweeted that the Jets are “more desperate than him.”
  • The injuries continued to mount up – NT Kenrick Ells is out 4-6 weeks, and Safety Eric Smith was hurt in practice and will also miss time.
  • WFAN commentator and self-professed Jets fan Adam Schein predicted that the Mark Sanchez era is coming to an end.  It’s a pretty damning but convincing article.  I have lots of respect for Schein, so this was a sobering read.
  • Actor Kevin James even chimed in saying Tebow should start in this video clip and article.  And when Kevin James speaks, you LISTEN.
  • Revis was finally put on season-ending injured reserve.  Not a surprise of course, but now it’s official.
  • Tim Tebow obsessed about his spot on the Jets depth chart (okay, not really, but still  a funny read).

Look at Those Guns…

You may have noticed that there was no recap this week.  The combination of a Monday Night game (Tuesday morning here in London) sandwiched in between two epic Radiohead concerts (where on Tuesday night I literally ran into Aaron Paul aka Jesse Pinkman of Breaking Bad fame) made for tough blogging conditions.  So I decided to skip the write-up this week, but will be back to the regular schedule starting this Sunday.

Speaking of which, I think this is a game that the Jets will win.  The Colts are coming off a very emotional victory at home for their coach, but this is still a team we should match up well against.  A rookie QB on the road usually makes for tough going, even though Andrew Luck looks to be the real deal.  The Colts run D is not good (a nice break for the Jets after facing the top 4 rush defenses in the league, in a row) so look for Greene and Powell to get on track (and can we PLEASE give McKnight a few carries and the occasional screen pass!).  But most importantly, Sanchez gets back his top target and safety blanket, Dustin Keller (Stephen Hill as well).   If he underperforms and we lose, that will almost guarantee that we will see the start of the Tim Tebow era in New York (and perhaps he’ll even get an entire drive this week).  And then the madness will really begin.   Time to step up, Sanchise.

My predictions, Jets: 27, Colts: 17

Not Looking Over His Shoulder, Yet…

Finally, a big congrats to the DC area baseball teams.  Having lived in DC for a number of years, I know how starved that city was for quality baseball.  What a tough ending for the O’s and especially the Nats, but both teams are built for future success, so hopefully they’ll be back next year.  In the meantime, I’m pulling for the Tigers (because who really wants to see the Yankees, Giants or Cards win yet another pennant.  Bor-ing).