Archive for November, 2013

The Dolphins weaknesses are the Jets strengths

Thursday, November 28th, 2013

Florham Park, NJ It’s all gloom and doom with the Jets these days. They had perhaps their best game right before the bye against the Saints, but they are currently on a two-game losing streak. The offense seems to regress each week.

Chris Ivory could be in for a big day Sunday.

Chris Ivory could be in for a big game on Sunday.

But the season isn’t over. Despite losing almost every tiebreaker at the moment, the Jets are right in the fight for the sixth seed with a 5-6 record. The last time Rex Ryan and the Jets had that record was back in 2009. That team also lost two games after the bye, in fact they were in the midst of a three-game losing streak when they managed to turn it around and win five of their remaining six games.

“We were in the last week,” said Ryan. “And that’s the way the league is. I don’t know if it’s been like this where we had that many teams lumped in with the same record or one game apart. But again, I know the approach has to be focused here. It can’t be long term. It has to be on taking care of the present. I think that’s where the big focus is.”

That present is a Miami team that has had its own struggles on offense. A team that already ranked near the bottom of the league in rushing is without the left side of their offensive line; that same line is on pace to give up a new NFL record in sacks. The Jets certainly have the personnel to take advantage of that.

But with Geno Smith’s struggles, the focus is going to be on the Jets offensive line. And there is one man in particular who can makes things real easy for him, Chris Ivory.

Lost in the shuffle of this latest slump is how well the acquisition of the former Saint has worked out for Gang Green. Ivory is on pace to rush for a career-high in rushing yards. In the three games he has gotten at least 15 carries he has averaged 113 yards and over five yards a carry.

For a big guy he’s even made some big plays, busting for runs of 52 and 69 yards in his last three games. He’s had injury issues all season, and practiced on a limited basis yesterday. But Ryan remains optimistic.

“I saw him out there,” said Ryan. “He looked good today. He was running around pretty good today. Maybe he was limited, but I thought he looked pretty good.”

When he has been healthy he has been the workhorse the Jets coveted, and has helped the Jets fashion a rushing attack that ranks eighth in the league.

Perhaps a return home where the Jets are 4-1 will help, but no matter what Ivory is going to need to get 15+ carries and continue to be that workhorse for the Jets if they want to win this game.

For how great Miami’s defense has been this season, they rank 26th in the league in run defense. They’ve given up over 100 yards rushing in 7 of their 11 games, which includes five straight games.

Smith is going to have to have double-digit completions for the first time in three games to win this one. But this is a great game for the defense and running game to lead the team.

Playing like a rookie

Thursday, November 21st, 2013

Florham Park, NJ – The Jets young players have been inconsistent, and the 5-5 record certainly indicates that. Dee Milliner, Stephen Hill, Geno Smith, even Brian Winters have been the focus of fan vitriol. Which brings up a very common saying, “he looked like a rookie.”

Yes, these players have had some poor performances so far this season, but it’s a complete overreaction to want to run these guys out of town. Young players need time to develop. History is littered with players who took their lumps in the NFL. For every Andrew Luck there is an Eli Manning.

Geno Smith

Geno Smith and the rookies have had their ups and downs this season.

Even Aaron Rodgers was a project when he first came to the NFL. His first two years Mike McCarthy and the Packers were lenient with Favre about returning because they weren’t sold on Rodgers as the answer.

Now there is Smith. We don’t even know if he won the job out of camp. No one thought he’d be ready week one, and everyone was fine with letting him develop. But now the Jets are in a playoff race and fans are ready to write him off.

He hasn’t been good the last several weeks. That’s probably an understatement. In the last five games Smith has thrown one touchdown pass and 8 interceptions while only completing over 55% of his passes twice (both in losses), and only surpassing 200 yards passing twice.

Fans are calling for Matt Simms to start, and pining for the days that Mark Sanchez was under center. Let’s slow down. It’s been a while so I understand it’s easy to forget about how bad Sanchez was, but let’s look at the numbers.

Mark’s rookie season: 53.8% completion percentage/2,444 yards (6.71 YPA)/12 TD/3 rushing TD/20 INT/8 fum/15 games.

Projected 16 game season for Smith: 56.3% completion percentage/3,360 yards (7.12 YPA)/13 TD/5 rush TD/25 INT/6 fum.

I’m sorry, but those numbers clearly favor Smith. And that is all while being asked to throw the ball downfield more, and with a worse supporting cast.

Not a fan of comparing rookie seasons? Ok, let’s look at Sanchez’s numbers last year: 54.3% completion percentage/2,883 yards (6.36 YPA)/13 TD/18 INT/9 fum/15 games. Still giving the edge to Smith

Even take Mark’s best season: 56.7% completion percentage/3,474 yards (6.4 YPA)/26 TD/6 rushing TD/18 INT/4 fum/16 games. Ok, now I might give a slight edge to Sanchez.

Mark got 4 years with those numbers; Smith hasn’t even gotten a season. He’s had games where his top targets were David Nelson, Greg Salas, and Zach Sudfeld.

And Smith isn’t the only one struggling. Winters had one of his worst games last week. Hill has failed to become the reliable receiver the Jets need, and Milliner and the pass defense have allowed way too many big plays.

After four years, being better than Mark Sanchez doesn’t seem like a lot. The point is he’s had a worst supporting cast and has so far performed better in his rookie season than the Sanchize did in his. He’s not the first rookie to struggle and he won’t be the last. He’s not even the only rookie currently struggling on the team. Basically, show some patience and give these players time to develop.

Tight end Konrad Reuland put on IR

Wednesday, November 20th, 2013

Florham Park, NJ – The Jets placed tight end Konrad Reuland on the IR today. They have yet to announce a corresponding move.

Even with the move the Jets still have three tight ends on the roster in Kellen Winslow, Jeff Cumberland, and Zach Sudfeld. Winslow and Cumberland have both missed time this season, but played this past Sunday in Buffalo.

Reuland has had a minimal impact for the Jets so far this season, and has seen the bulk of action on special teams. Perhaps most curious about the move is that Reuland played on Sunday, and did not appeared injured. There was no news of the injury before he was placed on the IR.

It wasn’t in the cards: Jets lose to Bills 37-14

Sunday, November 17th, 2013

ORCHARD PARK, NY – Nick Folk lined up to kick a 48-yard field goal. The Jets were looking to strike first on their way to their sixth victory of the season. But as the ball sailed towards the uprights, it veered way off to the right thanks to a strong gust of wind. It was an ominous sign that we probably should’ve taken more seriously at the time.

The return to Buffalo wasn't what David Nelson was hoping for.

It was like a giant hand came down and swatted the ball away. Like the universe was working to keep the Jets off the board, the loss already predetermined. The same way it seems the universe is bending over backwards to get the Giants back into the playoff race. In what seemed like only a few moments the Jets went from in control, to trailing 17-0. They eventually lost 37-14.

Destiny is certainly a cheap way to explain a loss, but it seems easier to get your head around than how a team can look so good one week, and putrid the next. Despite their record, the Bills aren’t a bad team. They’re not exactly the ’85 Bears either. Being shutout in the first half is embarrassing.

With the loss the Jets home/road split is becoming more pronounced. Their lone victory on the road was against a Falcons team that is in the running for the top pick in this year’s draft. That’s also the only game on the road that Geno Smith didn’t turn the ball over. He’s had at least two turnovers in every other contest. After torching a depleted Bills secondary in week 3, a healthy group returned the favor. Smith only completed eight of his passes, while throwing three picks. The only touchdown he threw was a pick-six

But Smith isn’t alone in his struggles. The defense continues to give up big plays. The storyline at the start of the game was how inexperienced the Bills receivers were, but they certainly took advantage of a suspect Jets secondary. Sure Dee Milliner gets a lot of the attention, but Antonio Cromartie has been inconsistent too. The Jets needed him to follow up on his strong performance last season, but he’s struggled.

The “Sons of Anarchy” continue to play well, and the Jets once again kept a team to less than 100 yards rushing (The Bills had 68 yards for 1.8 ypc), but they only sacked Manuel once and the team failed to get a single turnover.

But even knowing all that, the worst sign is the way the Jets react in these games. It seems when the game starts going bad they let things spiral. Simply put, when it rains it pours with this team. The only real fight they showed was right after halftime. Smith engineered a touchdown drive that cut the deficit to 20-7. 13 points is certainly a manageable comeback. But just as quickly the Jets lost the momentum. The Jets only have one comeback after trailing by double digits, and a defensive score spurred that.

For all the bad, there were positives. There was the run defense that was already mentioned, and the run offense was pretty good as well. The Jets ran for 133 yards with 4.6 ypc. A 69-yard run by Chris Ivory near the end of the game certainly helped those numbers, but the rushing attack wasn’t dormant outside of that play.

It’ll be a rough week, but with the way things have been going it’d be far from a shock to see the Jets get back in the win column next week.

Ed Reed a welcome addition to the Jets locker room

Thursday, November 14th, 2013

Florham Park, NJ – You couldn’t find a person part of the Jets organization who was anything but excited about the addition of Ed Reed.

Dawan Landry welcomes back former teammate Ed Reed.

Reed was signed this morning after being released by the Houston Texans earlier in the week. He got in early enough to practice, and sported the number 22. While Rex Ryan has already said Reed won’t start this week, Reed did line up next to his old partner Dawan Landry for part of practice.

Both Ryan and defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman were borderline giddy about getting the former all-pro back on their team. Even after his release from the Ravens the duo never expected Reed to be wearing green.

“Obviously we recognized that he’s a tremendous football player and we would’ve loved to have him, but I think sometimes there are financial things,” said Ryan. “And really the commitment was going to be too great.”

Reed signed a 3-year $15 million contract with the Texans in the offseason, but the Jets will only be paying a fraction of that price. But the Texans willingness to let Reed goes doesn’t mean the safety is done in this league. He’s had an underwhelming season highlighted more by what he hasn’t done (missed the first two games due to injury, and hasn’t recorded a turnover yet this season), than what he has.

“I would say that is a false statement that he can’t play anymore,” said Rex. “I saw the [Chiefs game]. I saw that particular game that you’re talking about. What I saw was a guy that had movement skills, a guy that was locked in man coverage–that straight zero coverage on tight ends–and still did a tremendous job. So I was excited about watching him.”

“I don’t think I’d be here if they thought [I didn't have anything left],” added Reed.

But more important than the type of player Reed can be for this defense, is what kind of mentor he can be for the young defensive backs in this locker room.

“I said, ‘Mr. Reed. Hello, I’m your shadow,’” said Josh Bush. “To be around a guy like him and Dawan is every young safety’s dream.”

“For the younger safeties it helps a lot more,” added Antonio Cromartie. “He teaches them things maybe they haven’t seen, and he understands what Rex is looking for from his safeties and stuff like that.”

“I’m here to help the team win,” said Reed. “If that’s coaching the young guys up on their technique, that’s what I’m going to do. That’s what my game has always been about.”

The Jets pass defense has struggled this season due to an inconsistent secondary. The youth certainly plays a factor into it. Reed might not fix that on his own, but as a coach on the field, a mentor in the locker room, and an athlete with a few good years left, he should certainly help.

Is the pattern for real?

Thursday, November 7th, 2013

Florham Park, NJ – So how consistent have the Jets inconsistencies been this season? We know they haven’t lost or won consecutive games all year, leaving them at 5-4 heading into the bye. But has it been one type of team that has given the Jets struggles, or one facet of the Jets team that has been inconsistent?

Let’s first look at the five teams the Jets beat. They are the Bucs (0-8, 31st total offense, 17th total defense), Bills (3-6, 15, 20), Falcons (2-6, 12, 21), Patriots (7-2, 11, 19), and Saints (6-2, 7, 9).

Owner Woody Johnson and GM John Idzik would certainly like to know what is the cause of the team's up and down play.

Record wise the Jets have beaten teams at both ends of the spectrum. But there is a clear discrepancy in the home/away split at 4/1, and there seems to be a similarity with the teams. Most of them rank in the bottom half of the league in total defense. Outside of the Saints at 9 we’re looking at 17, 20, 21, and 19. And even though the Saints rank at 9, they’re way down at 25 as a run defense, and that’s exactly the area the Jets exploited.

Now the teams they’ve lost to. The Patriots, Titans (4-4, 24, 11), Steelers (2-6, 18, 12), and Bengals (6-3, 9, 5). Again no trend in the record of the opponent, but logically there is a trend for location with three of the four losses coming on the road. And look at the defensive rankings. Outside of the Patriots, the three teams the Jets lost to rank in the top half of the league in defense at 11, 12, and 5.

Taking that a step further, look at the point outputs for the Jets four losses: 10, 13, 6, and 9. Even with a defense as good as the Jets have, it’s tough to win games when you’re scoring that little.

When you look closer at the offensive numbers a pattern emerges. In the Jets losses they have averaged only 99 yards rushing a game. In their wins they average 153. In fact, the only time the Jets got over 100 yards rushing in a loss was week 2 against the Patriots. The problem in that game was 4 turnovers.

There is a difference in passing yards—212 in wins and 190 in losses—but the victory number is inflated by that 331-yard performance against the Bills. If you remove that one game the average drops to 183 in wins.

Defensively the numbers are almost identical. 252 yards passing allowed in wins and 250 in losses. 76 rushing yards allowed in wins and 71 in losses.

So the major difference is in the offensive rushing yards. Part of that has to do with the early deficit the Jets found themselves in (Titans and Bengals), but in both the Steelers and Bengals game the Jets had a poor yards-per-rush average as well. More importantly it brings us to the type of game the Jets struggle with.

The largest margin of victory for the Jets is seven, that in their 27-20 victory over the Bills. And in wins the Jets have only trailed by double digits once: an 11-point deficit to the Patriots going into halftime. That turned around at the start of the second half by the Jets only pick-six of the season.

The point is the Jets have a limited offense. Their main weakness is Geno Smith and the passing game. This isn’t to say it’s all Smith’s fault. There are many factors going into this. But basically, the Jets need to stay balanced offensively to have a chance. They can’t ask Smith to pass them to victory.

If the defense doesn’t show up, or costly turnovers put them in a hole they don’t have the personnel to come back. Good defenses are going to give them trouble because they can force turnovers and limit the effectiveness of the rushing attack, and playing on the road certainly doesn’t help things.

The Jets play three of their remaining 7 games against teams with top half defenses, and two of those three are on the road. The Ravens (10 total, 8 against the run, away), Panthers (4, 2, away), and Browns (3, 7, home).

This doesn’t mean the Jets are doomed to go 4-3 down the stretch. For starters Smith will improve as the season goes on. He has already started to cut down on the turnovers that plagued him early on. Plus, Marty is going to get to know Smith’s strengths and weaknesses more each week. The Jets offense probably won’t morph into a top ten unit in the second half, but it doesn’t have to be.

If anything this shows the clear importance of improving the passing game in the offseason. With a pretty good receiver class coming out in this upcoming draft (Sammy Watkins, Mike Evans, Marqise Lee), and a couple first-round tight end options (Eric Ebro and Jace Amaro) it would be wise for the Jets to spend their first-round pick there, even if there is a top defensive player still on the board.

But focusing on this season let’s see how much the trend was due to the opponents the Jets had, or if this trend is really here to stay.