Where’s the Consistency? Keep Rex Ryan.

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

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.”

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)

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

Meet Sunday’s Largest Problem: Daryl Washington

November 28th, 2012

Florham Park, N.J.: Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but the Jets opponent this coming Sunday has a young, pass-rushing, game-changing linebacker.  Whether it be Chandler Jones, J.J. Watt or Aldon Smith, the Jets routinely go against guys they just can’t seem to get their hands on.

The Arizona Cardinals present to you, Daryl Washington.  The Cardinals second-round pick in the 2010 NFL Draft (47th overall) has nine sacks this season, which is one shy of the franchise’s single-season mark by a linebacker and there are five games remaining.  With his 10th sack, Washington would become just the fourth inside linebacker in NFL history to record at least 10 sacks in a season (since the sack became an official statistic in 1982).  He will be the first Cardinals player with double digit sacks since Bertrand Berry in 2004.

Rex Ryan was quick to compliment the success of Arizona's inside lineback Daryl Washington.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen an inside linebacker, have I don’t know, whats he got nine sacks already?” said Rex Ryan.  “So that’s something you don’t see everyday.  A guy with that kind of production blitzing the quarterback.”

Washington is not flying under the radar, either.  Here are some of the Midseason All-Pro lists the linebacker has made: Pro Football Weekly All-Pro, Sports Illustrated.com All-Pro, Yahoo! Sports.com All-Midseason team, CBS Sports.com All-Pro team and even received Fox Sports’ Terry Bradshaw NFL Defensive MVP.

Washington finds his name sixth on the 2012 NFL sacks leaders, behind San Francisco’s Aldon Smith, Houston’s J.J. Watt and Miami’s Cameron Wake—all players the Jets have faced this season.  Let’s look at how they terrorized the quarterback to try and predict what Washington can possibly do.

Aldon Smith: Four tackles, three solo, two sacks, two tackles for loss and one QB hit.

J.J. Watt: Six tackles, four solo, one sack, one tackle for loss, three pass deflections (J.J. Swatt!) and two QB hits.

Cameron Wake (two games): Six tackles, five solo, one sack, one tackle for loss and four QB hits.

You can almost guarantee Washington is going to end up getting to Mark Sanchez more than once, whether it remains in a sack or not is to be determined.  Washington joins Green Bay’s Clay Matthews as the only two defenders in the NFL with at least 14 sacks and three INTs since 2011.

And if you don’t know, now you know.

Game Recap: JETS 27 – RAMS 13

November 19th, 2012

Jets keep postseason chances alive with win in St. Louis.

After coming off their Bye week and losing big in Seattle, the Jets season seemed to been in a tailspin.  With two blowout losses in three weeks (MIA, BYE, SEA) and an article released that supposedly shed some light on a divided locker room, the Jets found an escape at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis.

“Our guys have been working extremely hard and I’m really happy for all of us that it showed,” said Rex Ryan.  “We needed a win obviously, in the worst way.”

Mark Sanchez led a turnover free offense, completing 15 of 20 passes for 178 yards and a touchdown pass, caught by Chaz Schilens in the second quarter.  Bilal Powell rushed for his first career touchdown in the beginning of the fourth quarter and added his second with 8:59 remaining to put the game away.

The Rams bit on the fake Kerley screen that paved the way for Schilen's touchdown catch.

“If you take the positives from this game, build on those, continue to get better and improve, we can become a team that just doesn’t turn the ball over,” said Sanchez.  “That could be our identity, if you want it to be and if you work at it.”

The Rams opened strong with an 86-yard drive that resulted in a Brandon Gibson touchdown catch, but Sam Bradford and the offense couldn’t muster up anything else beyond that point.

After Nick Folk hit a 51-yard field goal, Bradford was intercepted by Eric Smith to the Rams 13-yard line but Folk’s second attempt was blocked as Mike Westoff’s special teams unit continues to struggle.

After trading possessions (one that included a failed fake punt pass by Tim Tebow to Lex Hilliard), the Jets defense created another turnover.  Muhammad Wilkerson sacked Bradford causing a fumble and Bart Scott was the beneficiary, returning the ball to the Rams 28-yard line.

The Jets finally cashed in on a turnover, as Sanchez hit Schilens for a 25-yard touchdown pass.  Jeremy Kerley looked as if he was going to catch a screen, but the Rams secondary bit forward on the Sanchez pump fake, allowing Schilens to get behind the defense for an easy pitch and catch.

The Jets stopped the Rams for consecutive three and outs, mixed with another Folk field goal and headed to halftime with a 13-7 lead.

The Rams only had two possessions in the third quarter: six-plays, 26 yard for a punt and three plays, 1 yard for a punt.  The Jets started their drive with 6:14 remaining in the third quarter and ended after two plays in the fourth quarter.  After a key third down reception by Konrad Reuland for 18 yards, Powell found the end zone for the first time in his career, a five-yard draw touchdown run.

“I try to take full advantage of every opportunity I have to be out there, and I’m blessed to be back,” said Powell.  “The offensive line did a great job and it was two good play calls.”

The Jets defense shut the door on any comeback hopes the Rams had when LaRon Landry knocked the ball loose for Daryl Richardson.  A Greg McIntyre recovery gave the Jets the ball in Rams territory, where Powell ran it in for the second time to secure the win.

The Jets are 4-6 and their next game is on Thanksgiving Day against New England.

Wake Up Call for the Sanchez Apologist

November 14th, 2012

Florham Park, N.J.: There are plenty of Mark Sanchez apologists for the way he has played this season.  I’ll admit it,  I am one of them.

You’ve heard it ad nauseum: Sanchez doesn’t have the playmakers around him, the offensive line isn’t doing their job, the wide receivers aren’t getting open, etc.

But the excuse heard on television or radio through commentators and ex-quarterbacks alike is how can Sanchez get in a rhythm?  When Sanchez completes a pass and then runs to the sideline for a Tim Tebow run, how can he stay in a groove throwing the football?

You can look for excuses, but Sanchez has been poor protecting the football.

For example: After Sanchez brought the Jets to the Seattle red zone after hitting Jeremy Kerley for 43 yards, the Jets brought in Tebow, then put Sanchez back in on 3rd and six where he winds up throwing an interception right before the end zone.

These are where the Sanchez apologists come in. Ranting and raving that subbing a quarterback out when he completes a long pass play is moronic, let him stay in rhythm. His high turnover numbers are because of this, this happens all the time.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t happen as often as they would like to hear.

Sanchez has nine interceptions and eight fumbles this season.  Of those eight fumbles, four of them were lost.  Yes, there are examples like the Seattle game, or even the first game of the season against Buffalo, where Tebow entered for a play and Sanchez threw an interception three plays later.

But of Sanchez’s 17 combined ‘mistakes’ (INT + Fumbles), only four have come on drives where Tebow was entered for at least one play.

INT FUM LOST FUM Turnover/Plays after Tebow Entered
Bills 1 - - INT 1/3 plays
Steelers - - - -
Dolphins 2 0 1 INT 2/1 play
49ers 1 1 1
Texans 2 0 2
Colts - - - -
Patriots 1 1 2 -
Dolphins 1 1 1 -
Seahawks 1 1 1 INT 1/5 plays. FUM 1/3 plays

What does this show? Sanchez is simply having a poor year.  It is easy to create convenient excuses—some of which do contribute to Sanchez’s and the team’s poor play this season.  But Sanchez apologists must realize that if the Jets make it back to their 2009, 2010 team form, an improved Sanchez has to be part of the puzzle as well.

Rex Fuels the Fire for Jets Distractions

November 14th, 2012

Florham Park, N.J.: Sometimes you have to know when to keep quiet.

Rex Ryan stepped to the podium today and almost, repeat almost, didn’t feed into answering questions about an article put out by the New York Daily News that said about a dozen players anonymously said Tim Tebow simply isn’t good enough to start.

“First off, if a player doesn’t put their name to something [and] it’s an anonymous source I’m not going to comment on specific things that are said in an article that doesn’t have a name to it,” said Ryan.

This is where you expect some St. Louis Rams talk, didn’t you?  Again, almost.

Instead, Ryan stood there and defended everything Tebow related: His snap count, his improved mechanics, bringing him on board in the first place.  Add a few minutes of discussing team chemistry and it is now official that the Jets’ opponents aren’t their most primary concern on a weekly basis.  There was not one question or answer geared towards the St. Louis Rams.

Ryan began with defending Tebow’s work ethic and attitude since joining the Jets.  “Every single day when he hits the field, he works about as hard as anybody I’ve seen,” said Ryan.  “He stays longer than probably any player we have, working on those skills.  He’s a football player and I’ve said that from day one.  We never brought him in here to be the starting quarterback.  We already have our starting quarterback in Mark Sanchez.  I thought I was clear on that the day we brought Tim in here.”

“We ask him, former Heisman trophy winner, first-round pick, a quarterback that led a team to a playoffs, that you know what?  We would like you to be our personal protector.  We think that’s going to give us an advantage in the punting game.”

It is easy to forget how great the punting game has been when the team sits at 3-6, on the verge of missing the playoffs for the second straight season.

Rex Ryan said Tim Tebow's effectiveness has mostly shown itself in the Jets' punt game. Is that worth the distraction?

Even though Ryan has made it clear Tebow was not brought on to the team to be a starting quarterback, he discussed Tebow’s improvements as a passer.  “I really think his hard work is paying off,” said Ryan.  “Fundamentally, I think he’s improving.  I think when you look at it statistically, he’s thrown one incompletion this year and that ball actually should’ve been caught.”

There has been Jets conspiracy theorists who say Ryan was forced into bringing Tebow on the team and that the men in management brought Tebow in more for ticket sales than winning.

“I absolutely wanted Tim here,” said Ryan.  “I was very honest from day one and have never gotten off of that.  I know how tough it is to prepare for.  I think he gives you an opportunity that, if a team maybe isn’t as ready to handle it, that you can do some things with him.”

“The personal protector thing is I knew that would give us an edge.  That’s what we were looking to do.  Not just have a backup quarterback, but being able to do other things and contribute in other ways.”

Mark Sanchez also had a lot to say about the anonymous attack on Tebow.  “We talked about it as a team and that’s really all I’ll say about it,” said Sanchez.  That’s too bad, I didn’t see that one coming.  Tim’s been great.  He’s a great football player, that’s why we brought him here to try to help us.  So he’s doing everything he can.”

When asked what impact the story had on the team, Sanchez replied, “It really didn’t affect many guys.  Of course, (it affected) Tim.  I can tell you I’ve been in those shoes.  So, if anybody knows what it feels like, it’s me.  He’s mentally tough enough to handle that, I know it.  He’s a grown-up.  He’s a young man, he’s smart, he’s strong, mentally and physically, and it really won’t bother him.  That’s all you do in that situation is, keep working hard, keep trusting the guys around you (and) keep playing.”

Sanchez would not take this development as a show of support for himself.  “I don’t know either way.  Guys know that I’m the starter, that’s nothing new.  The team has said that, other players have said that.  But at the same time you don’t have to go overboard and blast a guy.  He works his butt off so just be supportive of all of us.  That’s the coaching point really.”

Team Chemistry

The end of the Jets 2011 season was ugly.  As the season spiraled out of control on the field, it reportedly did the same off the field, as it was found out that there were a multitude of chemistry problems inside the locker room.  With anonymous players talking about one another, it is only natural to think those chemistry problems of old are back in the spotlight.

“I don’t think we have the same problem.  Even back then, I think that was probably a little more over-exaggerated than the rift was in the entire locker room,” said Ryan.  “I don’t think it existed the way it was portrayed, but I do recognize that there was something wrong there and I made it my personal agenda to go out and fix it.  If I’m going to be judged on this team, will it come together or not, that’s fine with me and I’ll be here a long time.  Will it be 100 percent that you’re going to have total belief in this guy and everybody?  I don’t know if that holds water in the entire league.”

One player who did not remain anonymous was Matt Slauson and Ryan was okay with that.

“I have no problem with Matt Slauson because he put his name on it,” said Ryan.  “I don’t agree with everything Matt said.  I agree with the fact that we have a starting quarterback.  I think it’s interesting, my understanding is [Slauson's comments] were made much earlier this season.  It’s not like it was a recent comment.”

“I feel I have nothing to hide.  I will never say, ‘team you have to do this or have to say that,’ that’s not me.  Quite honestly, I feel extremely confident that this football team is coming closer together.”

Rex addressed the anonymous comments with his team.  “Did I address it?  I absolutely addressed it because I think it’s a cowardly thing.  If you’re not going to put your name to it, I think that’s about as cowardly of a thing as there is.”

Sanchez agreed saying, “You hear about it and nobody put their name on it.  I said it was a cowardly thing last year.  I said I don’t think its professional.  My feelings really haven’t changed on it, whether it’s me or anybody else, it’s just not cool.”

When it comes down to it, Ryan could’ve squashed this non-issue that when you think about it, is fairly obvious, and did not.  Do you enjoy every one of your co-workers?  Every player on the roster has to like every player and coach?  This was Ryan’s moment to show he has control of this football team and squash a non-issue.  Instead, the players will have to answer questions on Ryan’s comments about the situation.

As easy as it is to like Ryan’s personality for being as open to the media as he is, for once it would’ve been nice to hear “no comment.”

Jets, Sanchez look to buck trend in Seattle

November 9th, 2012

Home field advantage is an interesting topic.

We all understand it exist in college sports.  Where 18, 19 and 20-year-old player’s performances can be affected by a group of jumping, chanting, body-painted people.  But what about professional sports?

We have seen road teams band together and pull off the so-called upset in more than one occasion.  Most recently, the 2012 World Series Champion San Francisco Giants faced an 0-2 National League Division Series deficit after losing the first two at their own ballpark, before sweeping the next three games in Cincinnati to move on.

For the NFL, there is that other NY/NJ team that always seems to bring their “A” game on the road.  You have probably had a friend or two tell you about their recent success, you know, the winning Superbowls thing…

Anyways, whether you believe in home field advantage or not, the “12th man” of the Seattle Seahawks CenturyLink Field has had tangible effects on opponents.

From the Seahawks website:

“CenturyLink Field has established itself as the loudest stadium in the NFL.  Its 2.36 false starts per game is the highest average in the National Football League since 2005.  On gameday the 12th MAN produces as much as 112 dB, nearly as much noise as a Boeing 747 when the opposing team is on offense, but quiets down to an amazing 87 dB when the Seahawks’ offense takes the field.”  Since 2005, there have been 113 false start penalties by opponents, which tops the NFL.

“It’s about as tough of a venue as there is to play in the National Football League, so let’s have at it,” said Rex Ryan.

And it’s not just the crowd, this Seattle team has a physical, aggressive defense that has disrupted a few top tier NFL quarterbacks.

“These are two really big corners and the one safety is a giant,” said Ryan.  “It’s an interesting group.  They have a big, physical defensive line with two extremely productive and athletic edge rushers, so that’s a big challenge.”

Mark Sanchez also praised Seattle’s defense saying, “They have great edge pass rushers and they’re tough in the middle as well.  They have a great front seven and then, their backend, safeties and corners, are probably the most physical in the league.  They are some of the toughest guys we’ll play.  They have great speed and good ball skills, they find the ball in the air.  This is one of the best groups we’ll play all year.  They’re a sound, disciplined team and that’s no surprise with their head coach.  It’s going to be good for us.”

The Seahawks are 4-0 at home this year with wins against Dallas, Green Bay, New England and Minnesota.  Lets look at the quarterback numbers for those games.

Tony Romo: 23/40, 251 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, sacked once, 38.3 QBR, 74.1 passer rating, seven points scored

Aaron Rodgers: 26/39, 223 yards, 0 TD, 0 INT, sacked eight times, 54.3 QBR, 81.5 passer rating, 12 points scored

Tom Brady: 36/58, 395 yards, 2 TD, 2 INT, sacked once, 72 QBR, 79.3 passer rating, 23 points scored

Christian Ponder: 11/22, 63 yards, 0 TD, 1 INT, sacked four times, 11.1 QBR, 37.3 passer rating, 20 points scored

Whether its completion percentage, turnovers or points scored, one area of a quarterback’s game will be effected by this Seattle defense/crowd combination.  It is not normal to make Brady misfire on over 20 passes.

Will Sanchez accomplish what Romo, Rodgers and Brady could not?

“On defense, all they are is the 4th rated defense in the National Football League,” said Ryan.  “They have a huge secondary.  They look huge.  I don’t know how else to put it.  I think they average 6 foot 3 inches, 220 pounds in the secondary.  The biggest corners look like Antonio Cromartie.”

Per usual against a tough crowd and a top ranked defense, red zone success and limited turnovers are obvious keys to stay in the game.

“Especially when you get in the redzone, that’s where you have to be sharp and at our best and we haven’t been this year.  So those things just have to get cleaned up and whatever we can do to fix it, we have to try and do it.  We’ve identified some of those things, and that’s where our emphasis will be.  We just have to keep playing smart and really take care of the ball and don’t hurt ourselves.”

One interesting trend to pick out from the chart above is Rodgers being sacked eight times, but still (basically but not in reality) winning the game.  We all remember how that became the infamous moment for the replacement refs, so lets assume Green Bay won that game.

Rodgers took eight sacks, he didn’t force throws under pressure or play any ‘Hero Ball’.  Sometimes offenses have to accept the sacks and move on to the next play.  Not turning the ball over is more valuable than a loss of yards on one play.  Rodgers had zero touchdown passes but zero interceptions—Sanchez doesn’t have to be a hero on Sunday, but his patience and risk/reward determination will be tested in a major way at Seattle on Sunday.

Where Do They Go From Here?

October 29th, 2012

Home on Long Island, shacked up in the storm: No one can say there was zero chance that the Jets would rest in the position they are in heading into the Bye week.  When evaluating the team before the season started, like most teams, there were a laundry list of problems that either didn’t get addressed, or would have to be covered up by other areas exceeding expectations.

To name a few: Mark Sanchez learning a new offense, speed at linebacker, new safeties, explosive playmakers at wide receiver and running back, use of Tim Tebow.

Those problems paired with a difficult first half schedule has the team at 3-5.  Expectations of 4-4 were most realistic, but at any rate, it is how the team has arrived at this point which seems to be the cause for the extreme negativity.  There is inconsistency in every part of this team.  From coaching, to the players, to the offense, defense and special teams, the Jets can’t put together consecutive performances that leaves confidence in anyone watching them.

‘Something has to change’ is the idea swirling around after getting embarrassed at home to the Miami Dolphins.  Changes always have consequences, so lets go through some possible changes and the results of those moves.

Let Sanchez throw 35+ times a game: With 2:43 left in the first half, the Jets threw out five wide receivers and ran their no huddle offense.  Sanchez hit Stephen Hill for 19, Chaz Schilens for 14, Clyde Gates for 11, and Shonn Greene for 21 to put the Jets in scoring position in two minutes (2:00, 9 plays, 70 yards).  Yes I understand I am choosing one drive of one game to make a point, but if there is more progress in two minutes then there is in the other 28 minutes in the first half, it makes an impression.

The Jets offensive philosophy needs to be addressed during the Bye week.

I know the Jets preach ground and pound and do it terribly, but it isn’t that kind of league anymore.  To have Sanchez in these two and three wide receiver sets seemingly running quick slants and out patterns is helping no one.  When offensive coordinator Tony Sparano runs twice in a row for nine yards and throws on 3rd and 1 for a three and out, how is Sanchez to blame?  Trotting two or three wide receivers on third and short when no team is scared of the run game feels ancient.  Sanchez also showed us against New England that he can rule the intermediate passing game with quick hitters.  Let the guy loose and let him sling it all over the field, at the very least the organization will find out if he’s capable.  If you want to stick to Sparano’s ground and pound lifestyle then…

Move on from Mark Sanchez: After the Dolphins blocked a punt to go ahead 10-0 in yesterday’s game, Sanchez and the offense took the field to regroup and put the team on the comeback path.  Sanchez dropped back and was strip-sacked from the blind side, giving the Dolphins the ball in Jets territory, eventually putting the Jets in a 17-0 hole.  These types of plays seem to happen all to often.

It is tough to accept that Sanchez will randomly pick up the skills of feeling and sliding away from pressure and ball security after his fourth NFL season.  It is usually one of those things a quarterback has or doesn’t have.  It is frustrating to see the lack of progress on something that seems easily fixable like ball security.  The scarier part is the recognition of pressure getting closer, which doesn’t seem to have been better since watching Sanchez as a rookie.

If the offensive philosophy is going to continue and stay the same throughout the entire season, the Jets should consider cutting ties with Sanchez.  There are two results from this scenario.

1. Tebow takes over with a team that has the same exact problems (quarterback change doesn’t effect pass rush, pass protection, lack of run defense in case anyone was curious) but for reasons no one will be able to explain, stuff like this happens and you just ride the wave.  Sanchez era ends and you move forward with Tebow.

2. Tebow takes over with a team that has the same exact problems and the team continues into mediocrity and pisses the playoffs.  Being mediocre in sports is the worst thing for a franchise.  You do not get top draft picks and get franchise-impact players and you don’t reap the benefits of playoff appearances.  If going 8-8 or 9-7 and missing the playoffs with Tebow at quarterback is a solution you had in your mind, erase it.  If Tebow is put in as the starter, Sanchez cannot return to this team.  If the Jets are mediocre, the only solution is to blow it up and start over.

Power Forward: Getting destroyed by a division opponent after the Jets ran their mouths all week hurts, but over-reacting could have long term effects for this team that could be very damaging.  Hearing a Sanchez defender might be annoying at this stage, but he is not the guy who can carry a mediocre team above and beyond.  Everyone knows this.  Comparing him to the best in the league is a waste of time.  He has proven that given a solid foundation with some playmakers, he can do enough to get a team where they need to go.  This offense doesn’t maximize his talent or potential, not to say he isn’t to blame for what has gone on this season, but whoever has watched him knows he shouldn’t be the scapegoat for the season if it gets out of hand.

What other suggestions do you have, what other (realistic only please) scenarios play out in your mind?  Which path will the Jets most likely stroll down?