Archive for December, 2012

GAME PREVIEW: JETS (6-9) vs. BILLS (5-10)

Saturday, December 29th, 2012

The Jets look to finish the 2012 on a positive note with a road victory against the Buffalo Bills. The offensive line is looking to rebound after coming one shy of tying the NFL record for sacks given up in a single game, in which quarterback Greg McElroy paid for the price. He will not play due to a concussion and an abdomen injury. Mark Sanchez will return to the top of the quarterback depth chart after being benched only two weeks ago.

“I’m going to start Mark Sanchez and the reason I’m starting Mark is we have two practices and one walk-through to get ready for Buffalo,” said Rex Ryan. “Mark has had success earlier in the season against Buffalo. He’s very familiar with them and that’s the reason I’m going with Mark.”

The Jets offensive line looks to rebound after an poor performance last Sunday.

Even though the team is out of the race, it finds itself making headlines seemingly everyday. The rumor mill hasn’t been kind to Gang Green, whether dealing with coaches or players, but questions will be answered next week when the regular season is wrapped up.

It’s tough to gauge how the team will perform on Sunday. Motivation is the most obvious hurdle, but seeing how the players perform for Ryan will be something to look out for. If the Jets trot out and give a repeat performance of last Sunday’s game against San Diego, Ryan wouldn’t be making it easy for the Jets brass to bring him back.

This Sunday’s game against Buffalo may be the last game for many pieces in the Jets organization. The anticipation for what changes the Jets will make on and off the field is very high, but there is still one more game to impact decisions that will greatly affect this franchise.

WHEN: Sunday, December 30th, 2012, 1 pm EST (TV-CBS, Radio-ESPN)

WHERE: Ralph Wilson Stadium, Buffalo, NY

INJURY REPORT:

JETS—Out: CB Aaron Berry. Doubtful: TE Dustin Keller, QB Greg McElroy, WR Chaz Schilens, LB Bryan Thomas. Questionable: WR Braylon Edwards, CB Ellis Lankster. Probable: TE Jeff Cumberland, DT Kenrick Ellis, K Nick Folk, S LaRon Landry, P Robert Malone, C Nick Mangold, LB Garrett McIntyre, RB Joe McKnight, G Brandon Moore, LB Calvin Pace, DT Sione Pouha, RB Bilal Powell, QB Mark Sanchez, LB Ricky Sapp, LB Bart Scott, G Matt Slauson, QB Tim Tebow, DE Muhammad Wilkerson.

BILLS—Out: DE Mark Anderson, TE Scott Chandler, S Da’Norris Searcy. Probable: LB Nick Barnett, S Jairus Byrd, RB Dorin Dickerson, WR Marcus Easley, G Andy Levitre, CB Justin Rogers, RB C.J. Spiller, LB Chris White, DT Kyle Williams, DE Mario Williams, C Eric Wood.

GAME KEYS:

Offensive Line: After being embarrassed last week against San Diego, the offensive line has to regroup to give the team any chance to end the season on a high note. The Bills have some serious talent in their front seven, but expect the veteran offensive line group of the Jets to have a prideful performance that will keep Sanchez relatively clean for the entire game.

Youth Movement: To steal a game key from Chris Nimbly from last week, the Jets must test out some of the younger pieces they have on the roster. Ryan had already voiced that some of the talent that usually is on the bench will be in full display against Buffalo. I think everyone is curious to see what talent we have in players like DeMario Davis, Antonio Allen and perhaps maybe even a Jordan White at wide receiver. The Jets could catch lightening in a bottle if one player can prove he belongs on the field.

Expectations for Sanchez: What do we want to see from Sanchez on Sunday? His performance on Sunday won’t change anyone’s opinion and no one thought we would be seeing him standing under center again in 2012, but I bet there is a group of people who want to see him orchestrate another clunker so they can be sure it is time to move forward. If he plays well, does it mean anything? Will ending the season with a zero-turnover, two-touchdown game make anyone’s feelings change? It’ll be interesting to see how Sanchez plays after the benching from his worst season as a professional and it will also be interesting to see if his play affects anyone’s opinion, whether it be fans or evaluators in the Jets organization.

X-Factor:

Desire to finish strong—What else can you say? Everyone has had the discussion with friends that it’s ridiculous for any professional athlete to take a game off mentally but we all know it happens. The Heat lost to the Wizards this season in the NBA, it just happens. What else is there to ask for besides a performance from the players to show they haven’t given up with one game remaining? Of course they do not have to prove anything to anyone, or owe anyone anything, but it’ll just be positive. And everyone knows there hasn’t been a lot of positive flying around recently.

Jets 27—Bills 17

Tim Tebow Defends Character

Wednesday, December 26th, 2012

Florham Park, N.J.: According to reports last week, Tim Tebow had asked out of any Wildcat plays that would’ve been called in Sunday’s game against San Diego. These reports came across as very un-Tebow-like, as he stood behind his team-first attitude week after week this season.

“He knew I was frustrated, but I didn’t ask out,” said Tebow. “I didn’t say that I wouldn’t do anything.”

Tim Tebow just wanted a chance to play "regular quarterback."

And of course when some media outlets saw their opening to attack Tebow’s character, which had been almost impossible to this point, many took the stage to rip him for being selfish and for not playing the good soldier role.

Today, Tebow defended his character saying, “You work your whole life to build a reputation. Then people try to bring you down when they don’t understand even what happened. It’s disappointing. You just want to express your side of the story.”

Tebow did confirm he spoke to Rex Ryan on Tuesday after the loss to Tennessee on Monday night, expressing that he wanted the chance to start at quarterback.

“I never said, ‘Hey I don’t want to do anything or I won’t do anything.’ That wasn’t the talk at all. He knows that and everybody on this team knows that I would never not do something if I was asked. That’s what’s disappointing,” said Tebow. “People saying ‘Oh you quit’ that was not it at all. It was just me asking to get an opportunity to play the position I love, which is quarterback. It wasn’t me asking out of anything.

It is odd that Tebow would lash out with two games remaining in the season. Considering all indications are that he is on his way out, why stir the pot now? But it isn’t absurd to believe Tebow finally retaliated after the Jets basically wasted a year of his career. But Tebow continued to defend himself, saying “For people not to know the situation and go off something and then start to bash your character and say you’re a phony or you’re a fake or you’re a hypocrite. I think that’s what’s disappointing and that’s what’s frustrating…but your character and your integrity, that’s who you are as a man and I think that’s a lot more important.”

Tebow’s one and only season in New York will be forgettable for more than just his play on the field.

GAME RECAP: CHARGERS 27—JETS 17

Sunday, December 23rd, 2012

Jets “ridiculous” offensive line play gives team their ninth loss.

Florham Park, N.J.: Quarterback Greg McElroy couldn’t overcome poor offensive line play in his first career start in the NFL. The Jets offensive line gave up 11 (one shy of the NFL record) sacks in the 27-17 loss against the San Diego Chargers.

“It was great on their part, but ridiculous on our part,” said Rex Ryan.

“They were running some pretty good twist schemes in there that were pretty difficult, but we still have
to be able to pick them up,” said Nick Mangold.

McElroy completed 14 of 24 passes for 185 yards, lost a fumble and threw an interception. Shonn Greene had 38 yards on 14 carries and score both of the team’s touchdowns.

“This team’s goal was to finish 8-8 and win the last two games and we’re disappointed we’re going to finish short of that goal,” said McElroy. “We got to do a better job of getting on the same page and doing a better job of anticipating things and just doing a better job of getting the ball out. Gotta do a better job and try to improve, learn from this, watch the film and then come back on Wednesday ready to work.”

The offensive line had no answers for the Chargers pass rush on Sunday.

The Jets special teams unit put the team in an early hole by letting Michael Spurlock return the first punt of the game for a 63-yard touchdown.

McElroy and the offense responded quickly, marching down field with back to back big gains. After Greene gained 30 yards on a screen play, Jeremy Kerley had a 42-yard completion to Clyde Gates out of the wildcat. Greene ran in from a yard out to tie the game at seven.

The Jets continued to spread the ball around, getting Kerley, Joe McKnight and Braylon Edwards involved in their next possession. On third and seven just outside the Chargers’ 20-yard-line, Edwards drew a defensive pass interference call to put the Jets at the one-yard-line, where Greene barreled in for his second score.

After San Diego kicker Nick Novak connected on a 51-yard-field goal, McElroy started to take some hits from the opposing defense. In the last 8:32 of the second quarter, McElroy was sacked four times but never was separated from the football.

“I really didn’t get a chance to watch. I was out there running routes and by the time I turned back, Greg
was already on the ground,” said Edwards.

The Jets had a 14-10 halftime lead, but Phillip Rivers started the second half with an eight-play, 81-yard drive that ended with a 37-yard touchdown catch by Danario Alexander. The Jets offensive line continued to struggle as McElroy continued to take hits from a strong defensive defense. Rivers soon found Antonio Gates for a 34-yard touchdown pass after Gates shook loose from Eric Smith.

After being secure with the football for almost three full quarters, McElroy forced a pass towards the sideline to Gates that was intercepted with 10 seconds to go in the third quarter. The Chargers could only put up three points after the interception and led 27-14 with 14:11 to go in the fourth quarter.

McElroy connected with Edwards and Chaz Schilens before the drive stalled and the deficit was cut to down with a Nick Folk field goal. After getting the ball back, McElroy moved the ball to the San Diego 42 but was separated from the football after a Shaun Phillips sack. The Jets defense put up another three and out, but the offense line didn’t give McElroy a chance to spark a comeback.

On the Jets final drive with 3:30 to go, McElroy earned two first downs, but was then sacked on three consecutive plays to put the Chargers in double digits for the game.

“Offensively you ain’t beating anybody playing like that. It’s simple as that,” said Ryan.

“Again this was not our day. We didn’t play and execute in the matter that we’re capable of, but it’s our job
to make sure that doesn’t happen,” said D’Brickashaw Ferguson.

“I want to learn from the mistakes made today and I want to learn and capitalize on the opportunities that were there today. I want to capitalize on those next week,” said McElroy.

“He’s a tough guy. He took some hits, which was disappointing, but he kept getting back up, so that’s a
good thing. I think he’ll be a good player,” said Mangold.

Quinton Coples continued his improved play, hitting the quarterback three times and earning one and a half sacks.

The Jets final game is against the Buffalo Bills and McElroy will get his second career start.

Where’s the Consistency? Keep Rex Ryan.

Wednesday, December 19th, 2012

Florham Park, N.J.: The Jets organization is at a crossroads. The team has so many perceived problems, there is not one solution that will guarantee the team with be on the straight and narrow towards a playoff birth for next season. You have heard it all in the past few days: Fire Rex Ryan, fire Tony Sparano, fire Tannenbaum, pay Mark Sanchez and let him walk, etc.

But in all likelihood, ‘blowing it up’ will not happen. The cleaning house process is a long shot, as the Jets brain trust will not admit they were wrong about everything only four seasons into this Ryan-Sanchez era.

Rex Ryan should not be the fall guy for this embarrassing Jets season.

I like to think I’ve watched a lot of football in my 22-year-old life. I know the first Super Bowl I vividly remember was back in 2000 when Kevin Dyson caught a pass, reached toward the end zone with seconds remaining and just couldn’t quite make it. I’m not going to tell you I remember Dick Vermeil coaching that game, but I do know coaches like Bill Belichick, Bill Cowher, Tony Dungy, Tom Coughlin. Coaches who are been part of the league for decades, coaches who are forever connected with the teams they coached and won with.

But just for kicks, lets rattle off the New York Jets head coaches since 1990: Bruce Coslet (‘90-’93), Pete Carroll (‘94), Rich Kotite (‘95-’96), Bill Parcells (‘97-’99), Al Groh (2000), Herman Edwards (‘01-’05), Eric Mangini (‘06-’08) and Rex Ryan (‘09-Present).

It’s just too many. When you hear about ‘model franchises’ such as the Steelers, Patriots, Packers and the Giants, head coach stability is what sets them apart. Ownership of those teams have complete faith that ‘their guy’ will get the team to where it needs to be.

The Jets have to show that same faith in Ryan. The Jets need to keep Rex Ryan as their head coach and the Jets need to keep Ryan for a long time.

Here is a chart of Super Bowl winners since 2000, the winning head coach and his tenured time with the team.

Team Head Coach Tenure with team
2000 Rams Vermeil 1997-2000
2001 Ravens Billick 1999-2007
2002 Patriots Belichick 2000-Present
2003 Buccaneers Gruden 2002-2008
2004 Patriots Belichick 2000-Present
2005 Patriots Belichick 2000-Present
2006 Steelers Cowher 1992-2006
2007 Colts Dungy 2002-2008
2008 Giants Coughlin 2004-Present
2009 Steelers Tomlin 2007-Present
2010 Saints Payton 2006-2011
2011 Packers McCarthy 2006-Present
2012 Giants Coughlin 2004-Present

Rex’s decision Monday night to not dress Greg McElory was misguided and just straight plain wrong, but that alone isn’t the reason to show him the door. The only reason to fire Ryan would be for his stubbornness to not bench Sanchez earlier and try to salvage this season (where his ‘players coach’ mentality becomes a weakness). Aside from that, he can handle himself in this market and has shown the ability to win. He also isn’t rock-headed enough to the point where he knows he needs an offensive mind calling plays on Sunday. It’s well-known players will run through walls for Ryan and I think he’s learned from his previous mistakes such as losing the locker room at the end of last season.

Winning a Super Bowl, finding a franchise quarterback, winning playoff games. These things are difficult! Flip-flopping from coach to coach every few years is a losing formula the franchise has already been through. Some decisions are more obvious than others (have you seen an offensive coordinator have less feel for calling plays than Sparano? Yeesh), but the handling of Ryan seems to me like a no-brainer.

There are plenty of decisions and moves to be made in the offseason to put the New York Jets back on the track towards the playoffs, but axing the relationship the team has with Ryan is not one of them.

GAME RECAP: JETS 17-JAGUARS 10

Sunday, December 9th, 2012

Jets hold off Jags while receiving help in the AFC playoff picture.

As usual it wasn’t pretty, but the Jets did just enough to beat the Jaguars 17-10 in Jacksonville.  Shonn Greene and Bilal Powell both ran for touchdowns and the defense put together another great performance to improve the Jets’ record to 6-7 on the season. Muhammad Wilkerson continued his strong sophomore season by wreaking havoc in a variety of ways while Ellis Lankster sealed the game with an interception.

Mark Sanchez’s play did not improve after last week’s benching, completing 12 of 19 passes for 111 yards with a lost fumble.

The game’s first questionable decision came before the game started, as third string quarterback Greg McElroy was inactive and did not dress a week removed from playing the role of hero. Sanchez is clearly the guy until the end of the season, no more speculation is necessary.

After starting the game with a three and out, the Jaguars put together a 13-play, 62-yard drive that resulted in zero points as Bart Scott intercepted Chad Henne’s pass over the middle. After trading possessions, the Jets began their first drive in the second quarter.

Stephen Hill left Sunday's game with a knee injury.

After picking up a first down, Sanchez dropped back and threw towards Hill, but he slipped and went to the turf holding his knee. Hill did not return to the game and his MRI is scheduled for tomorrow to determine the extent of the damage. “”Hopefully it’s not too severe,” said Rex Ryan.

On the same drive, the Jets moved into Jaguars territory but Sanchez’s ball security problems showed up again as he was stripped by Jason Babin.

After surrendering a field goal, Sanchez found Jeremy Kerley at midfield but Kerley fumbled fighting for extra yards.  The Jets went into the half scoreless for the fourth time this season. The Jets first half drives were punt, punt, fumble, fumble, punt, punt.

But the second half begun and the Jets rushing attack started to wear down the NFL’s worst rush defense.  Starting at their own 43-yard line, the Jets ran seven of the next nine plays, the last of which was a Greene one-yard touchdown to take a 7-3 lead.

The Jets defense forced four straight three and outs from the Jaguars offense in the second half, who put up six yards (Yes, six) in those drives. The Jets continued to pound the rock, running the ball seven straight times with Powell who scampered in from four yards out to put the Jets up 17-3.

“Both those guys found holes because there were holes to be found,” said Sanchez.

But as we all know, it’s never that easy.

After allowing the Jaguars to reach midfield, the drive was kept alive by a Quinton Coples facemask penalty. The Jaguars kept fighting forward and running back Montell Owens turned the corner and scrambled in from 32 yards. After the Jets couldn’t close the game in their next two offensive drives, Henne had one more chance to continue his success against the Jets.

Henne completed a fourth and fifteen to Jordan Shipley to move the ball into Jets territory, but a miscommunication between quarterback and receiver led to Lankster catching the fair-catch interception that put the game away.

Greene and Powell combined for 39 carries (20, 19 respectively) for 155 yards and two touchdowns.

Two of the teams the Jets are chasing in the playoff picture, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati, lost on Sunday. It is still too early to think about possible playoff scenarios, but almost everything went right for the Jets on Sunday. The Colts earned a win and most likely a playoff spot, it seems the race for one team is between the Jets, Steelers (7-6) and Bengals (7-6).

Ryan on Sanchez starting: “It’s 100 percent my decision.”

Wednesday, December 5th, 2012

Florham Park, N.J.: Rex Ryan stepped to the podium Wednesday to rationalize his decision to start Mark Sanchez on Sunday against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

“Really it’s a decision I feel great about,” said Ryan.

Ryan wasn’t clear on when the exact moment was that he made up his mind (sometime yesterday, to be specific), but he met with all three quarterbacks this morning and explained to them why he made his decision.

Rex Ryan spoke Wednesday to rationalize his decision to start Sanchez Sunday against the Jaguars.

Ryan said he “wasn’t convinced by somebody” specifically, but also said, “I wanted to get the pulse from a lot of different people.” Ryan also admitted there was not a unanimous opinion across the board and that opinions did vary.

Ryan argued against the assumption that personnel decisions on the field are made from people above Ryan on the food chain. “I don’t get pressure from Woody,” said Ryan, “It’s 100 percent my decision on who plays and what their role is.”

Ryan thinks Sanchez will benefit from the benching during the Arizona game. “He hasn’t had that before,” referring to watching another quarterback from the sideline. “Sometimes your view becomes clearer.”

“I felt confident in my abilities. I think just coming off of this last weekend, things could be a lot worse,” said Sanchez. “We could have lost the game. Like I said on Sunday, I was happy for Greg.”

“I’m thrilled for the team and I’m pleased with Rex’s decision and now it’s my job to go make him right. Not just him, but the rest of the guys in the locker room and to go and compete my butt off and play like I know how—to protect the football, and do it for the rest of the guys in this locker room.”

Ryan was quick to praise Greg McElroy, who came in and threw the game-winning touchdown against Arizona. “He took it to a higher level,” said Ryan, while he also admitted that McElroy’s play made this an actual decision. “It did make me think on what the appropriate decision was.”

“Obviously, if a certain situation were ever to come up, God forbid, I would like to know that I will be prepared and just continue to keep doing what I was doing before and continue to keep trying to improve,” said McElroy.  “That’s really the number one thing for me at this point and obviously, to help Mark and Tim and that’s my number one goal. So I was glad I was able to get a little playing time and tried to make the most of it and hopefully I continue to build off that and try to get better.”

Ryan also said that if Tim Tebow is healthy, he will be the team’s No. 2 quarterback.

McElroy seemed to understand his role with the team at this point. “Not at all because honestly, roles change day-to-day. In this game, in this sport, in this profession, you’re not guaranteed anything, so not at all,” said McElroy about being surprised if he was the third string quarterback this coming Sunday. “Obviously all you have to do is, when you are in the game you have to do your best to try to make the most of your opportunity and do your best to help the team be as successful as they possibly could be. We did some good things on Sunday, and we were able to do enough for a win, but understand that roles are never set in stone, they can change day-to-day and just whatever your role may be, embrace it and try to do whatever you possibly can to help the team.”

Lastly, Ryan understands this decision falls squarely on his shoulders and isn’t looking for anyway out if choosing Sanchez turns out being the wrong decision.

“Obviously I have to get this one right and I believe I have,” said Ryan.

When asked if this was Sanchez’s worst experience of his life, Sanchez responded “It was definitely the worst but it could turn around and be one of the best things that has happened.”

PREVIEW: NY JETS (4-7) vs. AZ CARDINALS (4-7)

Saturday, December 1st, 2012

The New York Jets host the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday in a game where both teams are surprised about where they stand at this point in the season.

“We feel we’re a better football team than our record indicates, and I’m sure they do as well,” said Rex Ryan on Wednesday.  “They should feel that way. Both teams are hungry for a win, and I think there probably are some similarities there.”

Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt said more of the same.  “We’re playing a team that is a lot like us.  They’ve had moments where they’ve looked very good and other moments where they haven’t.  They’ve had their mistakes.”

The players on the Jets realize their playoff hopes exist by the slimmest of margins, where even winning the rest of the remaining games on their schedule may not be enough.

“I think we’re mentally prepared for it, (and) physically, we had a good little break. We treat it like any other game,” said Mark Sanchez.  “Guys are excited just knowing these next five games are crucial to our success and crucial to making the postseason. I think we have the right mindset, just take it one at a time, really focus on ourselves and avoid beating ourselves like we have in the past.”

Rex Ryan expects Stephen Hill to have a big game on Sunday against Arizona. His production thus far suggests otherwise.

Bryan Thomas echoed a similar sentiment.  “The sole focus is on this one game.  You can’t look ahead.  What are we going to look ahead for?  We’re not playing those guys.  We’re playing Arizona.  We’re playing the Cardinals.”

For the obvious statement of the week, Sanchez and the offense will have to limit the turnovers against a stingy Cardinals defense. “I think our biggest thing that we need to do offensively is protect the football. I think there are other things we’re making strides in, but obviously, we have to protect the football,” said Ryan.  “When you turn it over five times, you’re not going to beat anybody. That’s clearly something that we’ve talked about.”

The Cardinals rank seventh in overall defense, along with ranking fourth in the NFL in interceptions (15) and second in opponent completion percentage (55.6).

Ryan had high praise for Arizona’s defense, who lines up players such as linebacker Daryl Washington and defensive ends Calais Campbell and Darnell Dockett. “When you look at that defense, this is a really talented defense. Some of the guys up front, you have two Pro-Bowl type players in Calais Campbell and Darnell Dockett. They really get after it.”

The Jets improbable road to the playoffs begins Sunday at Metlife Stadium.

WHEN: December 2, 2012 @ 1:00 pm EST

WHERE: East Rutherford, NJ / MetLife Stadium (capacity: 82,500)

SERIES HISTORY: Eighth meeting; Jets lead regular season match-up 5-2

LAST MEETING: Jets 56 —Cardinals 35  (09/28/08 @ Giants Stadium)

NOTABLE: The Arizona Cardinals began the season as a surprise team throughout the league starting 4-0. Since then, the Cardinals have dropped their last seven games.

HEAD COACHES:

  • Cardinals – Ken Whisenhunt / 6th Season with Cardinals / 48-49 with Cardinals (including playoffs)
  • Jets — Rex Ryan / Fourth Season with Jets / 36-29 (including postseason).

INJURY REPORT:

  • Cardinals — LIMITED -Laron Byrd, Calais Campbell, Early Doucet, Kevin Kolb, Andre Roberts, Chris Wells. FULL- Justin Bethel, Mike Leach, William Powell, Kerry Rhodes.
  • JETS — DOUBTFUL- Clyde Gates LIMITED – Sione Po’uha (back),  Aaron Berry (quad), Tim Tebow (ribs),. FULL - Bilal Powell (shoulder), Mark Sanchez (low back), Brandon Moore (hip/foot), Matt Slauson (knee), Mike DeVito (finger), Jeff Cumberland (wrist),  Calvin Pace (shoulder), Stephen Hill (ankle), LaRon Landry (heel), Nick Mangold (thumb).

KEY MATCH-UPS:

  • Jets WR vs. Cardinals Secondary — The Jets WR’s have had trouble separating all season.  If Sanchez makes a mistake in this game combined with the athletes in Arizona’s secondary, players like Adrian Wilson or Patrick Paterson could be dancing in the end zone.
  • Jets vs. Themselves- It is easy to say so I will.  It would be nice to see the Jets play a full game without shooting themselves in the foot. The battle against self restarts every week.

X-FACTOR:

  • Stephen Hill, WR, Jets — Rex Ryan said it’s time to expect rookie WR Hill to have a breakout game against Arizona and “wants the ball.” Hill has had plenty of games to forget this season, but he could start a fresh second half with a strong game in Arizona.

THE PICK: Too many question marks under center for Arizona. The Jets five game season begins Sunday and I expect them to start it just as they did the real start to the regular season (blowing out Buffalo). Jets 24 – Cardinals 10