Archive for October, 2010

PACKERS – JETS PREVIEW

Friday, October 29th, 2010

FLORHAM PARK, NJ – The New York Jets are fresh off a bye week and face a Super Bowl-caliber team in the Green Bay Packers this week. The Jets were fortunate to get some of their key players to get healthy (i.e. Darrelle Revis, Calvin Pace and Nick Mangold). They are going to need all that and then some fend of  a star-studded Packers team.

It will be imperative for the Jets to keep Aaron Rodgers and their aerial assault in check if they want to win this game. That will mean the Jets under-achieving pass-rush will have to step up as well as the defensive duo of Revis and Antonio Cromartie.

WHEN: Sunday 10/31 @ 1pm EST on FOX

STADIUM: New Meadowlands Stadium/ East Rutherford, NJ (capacity: 82,500)

SERIES: 11th meeting,  Jets lead series 8-2-0

LAST MEETING: Jets 38 – Packers 10, Lambeau Field, December 3, 2006

HEAD COACHES: Rex Ryan, Jets – second season, 14-8 regular season, 2-1 postseason; Mike McCarthy, Packers – fifth season, 42-29, 1-2 postseason.

LAST WEEK: Jets – BYE; Packers – 28-24 win vs. MIN

INJURY REPORT: JETS; LIMITED – Calvin Pace (foot) / FULLY PARTICIPATED – Darrelle Revis (hamstring), Nick Mangold (shoulder). PACKERS; OUT – Brad Jones (shoulder) / DNP – Donald Driver (quad), Ryan Pickett (ankle) / LIMITED – Nick Collins (knee), Cullen Jenkins (calf), Mark Tauschner (shoulder), Charles Woodson (toe) / FULLY PARTICIPATED – Chad Clifton (knee), Marshall Newhouse (back).

JETS RANKINGS: OFFENSE – POINTS PER GAME 26.5 (4th), TOTAL YARDS 334.2 (17th), PASS YARDS 175 (27th), RUSH YARDS 159 (2nd). DEFENSE – POINTS PER GAME 16.8 (4th), TOTAL YARDS 319 (12th), PASS YARDS 229 (22nd), RUSH YARDS 90 (7th).

PACKERS RANKINGS: OFFENSE – POINTS PER GAME 23.9 (13th), TOTAL YARDS 350 (11th), PASS YARDS – 250.7 (8th), RUSH YARDS 99.3 (20th). DEFENSE – POINTS PER GAME 19.4 (12th), TOTAL YARDS 338.4 (18th), PASS YARDS 214.1 (14th), RUSH YARDS 124.3 (23rd).

Outside linebacker Bryan Thomas and the rest of the Jets pass-rush hope to have a big day against a weak Packers offensive line. (JetsInsider.com Photo).

KEY MATCH-UPS:

  • Jets Pass-Rush vs. Packers O-Line – It’s no secret that the Packers have struggled mightily with protecting the quarterback since Aaron Rodgers took over under center. It’s also not a secret that the Jets love to rush the passer. In fact they have sent blitzers over 50% of the time this season. And while Rodgers burned opposing blitzers last-season (115.2 passer rating, 13-3 TD-INT ratio), he hasn’t had the same luck this year (87.7, 5-4). Although the Jets pass-rush has been somewhat lackluster this season, expect big games from OLB Pace and Bryan Thomas.
  • Revis/Cromartie vs. Jennings/Driver – Both sides are coming off of injuries (Revis’ hamstring and Driver’s quad), but Revis is believed to be 100% healthy. Driver had zero catches in last week’s Vikings game, and has been limited in practice all week. A Revis-Driver matchup may benefit both players in easing back to full speed. Cromartie has stepped up as the Jets number one corner – taking the 1-on-1 man coverage with some of the game’s top-flight receivers. However, when covering Jennings, expect the Jets to bracket him (jam him at the line then send safety help over the top) like most team have been doing this season against the Packers.
  • Nick Mangold vs. AJ Hawk – The two have been childhood friends since they grew up five miles a part from each other. They were rivals, then teammates, then rivals, then teammates again before getting drafted together in 2006. They were groomsmen in each other’s weddings. And they both call the plays for their respective teams; Mangold takes care of the offensive line adjustments, while Hawk calls the defensive plays. It will be a great under-lying matchup to see the back-and-forth gamesmanship as who can out smart who.

X-FACTORS:

  • Dwight Lowery, CB, Jets: After Lowery’s two game-clinching takeaways in back-to-back weeks, he has already eclipsed the Mets Francisco Rodriguez as New York’s second best closer. He has fully taken over the role as nickel back from rookie Kyle Wilson (who appears to have fallen off the face of the Earth, or depth chart at least), and has made his presence known. He picked-sixed Brett Favre late in the fourth quarter to seal the victory over the Vikings. And the very next week he recovered a fumble after the Broncos were threatening to win the game. Don’t be surprised if he keeps his high rate of play going this week.
  • Andrew Quarless, TE, Packers: The 5th-round pick from Penn State is big (6-4, 252 lbs.) and fast. Following the season-ending injury to starter Jermichael Finley, Quarless  figures to be the replacement. The Jets have struggled with defending big, pass-catching tight ends like Quarless. And if Rodgers is under duress a lot don’t be surprised to see him dump it off to Quarless in the flats or over the middle.

KEYS TO THE GAME:

  • GET TO THE QUARTERBACK: The Jets must throw Aaron Rodgers off his rhythm and keep him in the pocket. Rodgers is as good – if not better – throwing the ball on the run and has a knack for tucking the ball down and running for the first. With a weak Packers offensive line, the Jets should be able to impose their will and wreak havoc in the backfield.
  • BALANCED OFFENSIVE ATTACK: We all know that the running game is one of the best in the league (thank you LT). What has been in question, however, is the inconsistency of the Jets passing game. Coming off of their bye week, the Jets should be able to get everyone of the same page (i.e. Santonio Holmes). Holmes is Sanchez’s perfect possession receiver, all they need to do is get their timing down together. If Sanchez can rely on Holmes and Keller to haul in their grabs, then that can open up the big play with Braylon Edwards. Maybe this is the week we see Holmes finally feel comfortable in a Jets uniform.

THE PICK: NY Jets 27, Packers 24 – I honestly don’t see this team losing very much games this year. After reviewing all of their wins thus far, the Jets have won in every way imaginable – which is a true sign of a championship-caliber team. The passing game will make a few plays early on, but will rely on the ground game to grind it out late in the second half.

Woody’s trick to treat local fans

Friday, October 29th, 2010

FLORHAM PARK, NJ – As of today if you’re living in the New York area and subscribe to Cablevision, you will not be able to watch this Sunday’s Jets-Packers game at 1 pm EST on Fox(some 3 million viewers). Not if Jets owner Woody Johnson has anything to do about it.

Cablevision subscribers have been without Fox for the last two weeks after News Corp, who owns Fox, pulled their stations from the New York-based cable provider. This is not the first game to be hurt by the current Cablevision saga as the October 17th Giants-Lions game was not aired.

Jets owner Woody Johnson is doing his best peer mediator impression, as he attempts to end the dispute between Cablevison and News Corp. Fox (a news corp affliate) is airing this Sunday's Jets-Packers game. (JetsInsider.com Photo).

Giants owner, John Mara, attempted to intervene and present his case as to why the Giants-Lions game should be aired despite the dispute. However, the request was denied. Maybe because nobody wants to see the Lions play. Let’s be serious for a minute, not even Detroit fans want to see the Lions play (see local blackout rates).

Mara’s denied attempt, however, did not stop Johnson from attempting to give his fans an early Halloween treat on Wednesday. He reached out to both parties and pitched his plea.

“Today I spoke with Cablevision and News Corporation about the importance of broadcasting our game this Sunday,”  Johnson said in a statement. “Both companies acknowledged the passion of our fans and their desire to watch the game. If a resolution cannot be reached, I hope that they can set aside their differences to air our game against the Packers.”

A decision has yet to be given on Johnson’s request, but he does have a stronger case than his crosstown counterpart. The Jets are a robust 5-1 and regularly generate huge TV ratings. The Packers are just as a sexy Super Bowl pick as the Jets are and boast one of the more electrifying offenses in the league. Like the 2007 Week 17 match-up of the Giants and Patriots, this could be a preliminary meeting of two potential Super Bowl teams. This game is a heavyweight bout that deserves to be seen, not only by local fans, but nationwide.

If that’s not good enough reason to air the game, there’s numbers to back up the reasoning. In four of the six games the Jets have played this year, they have generated the top TV ratings (as from Nielsen) in the 18-49 age demographic. That is not just for sporting events, but for all TV programming for the week.

The Jets-Ravens Monday night opener pulled in  a rating of 10.5, which is the highest opening Monday Night Football rating in the last five years. CBS earned their highest ratings (16.7) since they began covering games again in 1998 when they featured the Week 2 Jets-Patriots matchup. Still not convinced? The Jets pulled in over 18 million viewers each, for their games against the Miami Dolphins and Minnesota Vikings.

Blame it on their “loud-mouth” head coach. Blame it on their perceived over-exposure. The bottom line is the Jets – like them or not – draw in viewers by the bundle. Hopefully, a representative from Fox and/or Cabelvision is reading this.

This Halloween, Cablevision, don’t be a field ghoul. Let us watch football and eat our fun-sized Snickers.

Head-butting on head-hunting; Who’s really hurt

Friday, October 22nd, 2010

FLORHAM PARK, NJ – This article was meant to be a feature story on a Jets player during their bye week. To be honest, at 5-1, the Jets are sitting with their feet up and enjoying the view from atop the league. Ho-hum.

A more pressing issue this week has been the coverage and reaction to the league’s re-commitment to player safety. Chris Nimbley wrote a poignant piece on the topic, however for an issue that garners as much attention as this has, I feel compelled to throw my two cents in as well.

Obviously, this news comes to the fore-front after four NFL players sustained head injuries and one collegiate player became paralyzed from the neck down. All of these injuries occurred due to either of the following: an illegal launch or legal lunge, helmet-to-helmet hits, or laying out a defenseless player who is catching or attempting to catch a pass.

The NFL has not implemented any new rules regarding illegal hitting, rather siding to stricter penalties for doing such. On Wednesday, commissioner Roger Goodell sent a memo out to every NFL team that was to be read in front of all players and coaches. The memo warned them that anyone who hits an opponent in the head or neck are subject to suspension, even for first time offenders. Additionally, referees will be granted the power to eject such players in appropriate circumstances. Attached with the memo was a slideshow of examples of what is acceptable and what will be considered a “banned hit”.

“Violations of the playing rules that unreasonably put the safety of another player in jeopardy have no place in the game, and that is especially true in the case of hits to the head and neck,” said Goodell in the message.

Such measures are being heightened after player backlash to the hefty fines given to James Harrison and Brandon Meriweather. Defensive players, old and new, have spoken out defending their right to defend with a vengeance. Harrison has been the most out-spoken, not by his words, but by his actions. On Wednesday, Harrison sat out of practice in what could be seen as a semi sit-in protest of the league’s strengthened stance on hitting. The 2008 Defensive Player of the Year threatened to retire after questioning the league’s actions. “You’re telling me that everything that they’ve taught me for the last 20-plus years is not the way you’re supposed to play the game anymore,” he said to the Pittsburgh-Post Gazette. “If that’s the case, I can’t play by those rules. You’re handicapping me.”

Channing Crowder, of the Miami Dolphins, was also adamant about preserving the right to hit hard as he chimed in on the topic.

“If they’re going to keep making us go more and more and more like a feminine sport,we’re going to be wearing pink for every game, not just on the breast cancer months,” Crowder said, per Hal Habib of the Palm Beach Post. “They can complain, they can suspend, they can fine and they can do whatever they want, but you can’t stop a man from playing football the way he’s been playing since high school.”

Helmet-to-helmet action, like in this photo here, will not be tolerated by the NFL anymore. Heightened fines, suspensions, and ejections will occur if such hits take place. (JetsInsider.com Photo).

His sarcasm aside, Crowder brings up a valid point. A player can be mindful of the possibilities of a fine or suspension all he wants, however in the split-second he has to react on a play all thought leaves the mind and instincts take over. And if the league wants their players to be mindful of such penalties, then what they’re really asking the players to do is soften their game. The NFL is made up of grid-iron gladiators, who abandon the thought of slowing down in any sense of the term.

Deon Grant, safety for the New York Giants, added, “Just tell us to stop hitting then. Put a flag on us and let us play flag football.”

As there is no clear-cut solution for this problem, there is also no clear end to this story. So this really begs the question how much weight will this issue hold when the time comes to re-construct the collective bargaining agreement. While it’s apparent where the player’s stand (they want to retain their creative right of entertainment and sport), the league and it’s owners are more interested in the sustainability of their players and in return, the game itself.

The league and it’s owners are very much concerned with protecting their strongest assets, the game’s offensive players. At the end of the day, it is the offensive players who bask in the glory of headlines, TV endorsements and NFL jersey sales. They are the ones who keep the owner’s pockets lined with big-faced dignitaries, and keep the fans coming to stadiums. So of course the owners would be in favor changing the game to eliminate head-hunting hits.

John Mara, owner of the Giants, came to the defense of the league and owners last night. “We’re not changing the rules. The only time we do that is in the off-season after a lot of discussion and a lot of review of tape. All we’re saying is the rules are going to be enforced and the penalties are going to be harsher.”  He went on to say, “I don’t think we’re changing the way the game is played. We’re just asking the players to be mindful that some of these vicious hits, particularly when they involve going to the head, have no place in the game.”

He is right, head hits have no place in the game. But then what happens when players stop aiming high and shoot for a player’s livelihood – their legs? The NFL already outlaws chop-blocks and have set-in place the unofficial Tom Brady rule, that prevents a defensive player from diving at a player’s leg when they are already on the ground. So what, are they trading concussions for torn ACL’s?

The result of this disagreement could ultimately be a lynch pin argument in whether a new CBA gets done or if we go a year without football. Offensive and defensive players alike seem disgusted that the league is asking them to tone down something that has helped the NFL reach the pinnacle of sports. Offensive star and league diplomat, Tom Brady, has even sided with the men who try to hurt him for a living. “It’s a dangerous game, it really is. I think we all signed up for this game knowing it was dangerous.”

While we can all agree that no one’s life should be put in jeopardy while on the clock, this issue will not be going away quietly. Unfortunately for the fans of the NFL, it may be us who get hurt the most by this form of helmet-to-helmet hitting.

5 Reasons for Jets Fans to Smile at 5-1

Tuesday, October 19th, 2010

FLORHAM PARK, NJ – Every Jet fan with a pulse watched HBO’s Hard Knocks this past summer. And everyone who watched the first episode covered their children’s virgin ears when a fired up Rex Ryan gave his enthusiastic speech about his goals for his team for the upcoming season.

“I want to lead the league in f***ing wins. That’s what I expect on offense. My defensive expectations? It’s about leading the f***ing league in wins on defense. Special teams expectations: I want to lead the league in wins. How about that? If we play every team at our best we will beat every f***ing team at their best.”

A lot of people, including Jets fans, thought of this as a hyperbolic speech in an attempt to rile up Ryan’s team. With teams like the Indianapolis Colts, New England Patriots, and the Pittsburgh Steelers in the same conference, very few might’ve expected the Jets to top some of the perennial powerhouses in the league.

"I see our team having an opportunity to get better and better as the year goes on. 5-1 is good enough to be in first place, and have the best record in football, so absolutely, it’s hard to say that we’re not the best team in the league," said Ryan on Monday. (JetsInsider.com Photo).

However, at 5-1, the New York Football Jets boasts the NFL’s best record, in what is arguably the best division in football. While there has been bumps along the way (i.e. the lack of a red zone offense, Darrelle Revis/defense not living up to expectations, off-the-field drama, etc.), the Jets and their fans have plenty to smile about heading into their Week 7 bye.

  1. The Jets are living up to their astronomical expectations. A fairly obvious statement, yes, but take a short stroll down memory lane to August and think about all the talk the Jets were getting. Critics, sports pundits, and any average Joe with a television set were giving their two cents about how no one was going to be able to stand with the Jets. Hell, even the head coach said he didn’t think anyone could stand with his team. And when the attention turned from positive to negative those same critics, pundits and average Joes were ready to say that all that talk was just a bunch of hot air. Well, through the first six weeks, Ryan and company have been making people across the country eat their words. After a disappointing Monday night loss to the Ravens to open the season, the Jets have hit their stride – winning five in a row, with no two wins coming the same way. That is the true sign of a Super Bowl caliber team, not relying on one facet of the game to carry a team, but each week have another person step up to help the team win. Thus far they have won big, won ugly, won by the run, won by the pass, won on defense, and won on special teams. Big plays coming from all over the field has become a staple for Rex Ryan’s team.
  2. We have yet to see the best the defense/Revis has to offer. Imagine just how good this defense would be had the likes of Revis, Calvin Pace and Kris Jenkins played all season. It’s clear the lingering effects of the Revis training camp holdout has hampered the team’s play. The added pressure of Revis being absent forced the team to hurry the progression of rookie cornerback Kyle Wilson, a player with a lot of raw talent that still needs refinement, and has clearly hurt the mental aspect of his game. The silver lining, of course, is that Wilson is getting early first-team snaps which will hopefully help with his development down the road. The absence of Revis has allowed for the emergence of Dwight Lowery and Drew Coleman, who have played nicely opposite Antonio Cromartie.  With the off-week, expect Revis to come back fired up and ready to earn his new contract. The rest of the defense, for the most part, has underachieved. Instead of being a stingy defense allowing few            yards in the air and on the ground, the Jets have (as of right now) turned into a bend-but-don’t-break defense. Their pass rush is middle-of-the-pack, however with the return of sack specialist Calvin Pace, they should get to the passer with more frequency. They need to make more stops on third down as they are letting teams convert just under 50% of the time (42%). And most importantly, they need to improve on not being penalized. They rank tied for fourteenth in the league with 33 defense penalties for 333 yards.
  3. The re-solidification of the offensive line. Remember when you couldn’t even name the two possible replacements for All-Pro lineman Allan Faneca (see Slauson, Matt and Ducasse, Vladimir)? Well Slauson has fit in nicely next to All-Pro linemates D’Brickashaw Ferguson and Nick Mangold. The first-year starter had some understandable bumps and bruises early on as he attempted to fill Faneca’s big void at left guard. But since the second game of the season, the 6-5 314 pound Nebraska alum has flown under the radar – a big compliment for a position that usually gets little praise and frequent jabs.  And as for Brick, he also looked to be suffering from Faneca-withdrawals early on as he went four straight games (preseason included) with a penalty. But as Slauson found a permanent home at left guard, Brick grew more comfortable with his new neighbor. Need proof? The left side of the Jets line have paved the way for 12 runs of 10 yards or more and gained 16 first downs. And as Mark Sanchez continues to emerge as a big player, so does the credit towards his 0-line. Thus far, the Jets rank tied for 8th in the league with allowing only nine sacks.
  4. Playoff hero, Shonn Greene, hasn’t lived up to potential. If anyone had thought the Jets were going to excel by their passing game and the runs of 31-year-old LaDanian Tomlinson, they would be quietly mocked by their peers when they got up to use the restroom. I’ve been waiting to see Greene explode for a huge game (partly because I drafted him high on my fantasy team, and partly because I’ve been dying to nickname the Jets backfield tandem “Dash and Bash” – neither of which has worked out in my favor), but that has yet to happen. The rejuvenation of LT and Greene’s early struggles have forced him to a reduced role. Before the season started, offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer said the run duties would be split 50-50, but as of the last two games it’s been more like 75-25 in Tomlinson’s favor. LT may run wild in the first half of the season, however it will be important for Greene to stay motivated if the tread on LT’s tires begin to wear. LET’S GO TEAM DASH AND BASH!
  5. The Jets survived a grueling first six games. I’m not saying they have the hardest record this season, because that unfortunate title goes to the Houston Texans. However the Jets faced a gauntlet in their first six games, which would ultimately decide if they were legitimate contenders or premature pretenders. While their combined opponents recorded ranked middle of the pack at 16th (128-128), the Jets play 10 games against teams that either were in the playoffs or in playoff contention last year, with four games coming within the division. To go 5-1 against teams with similar Super Bowl aspirations as the Ravens, Patriots, Vikings and Dolphins, the Jets have separated themselves as the cream of the NFL’s crop. However the rest of the way will not be any easier as they still have six tough games remaining (Green Bay 10/31, Houston 11/21, Cincinnati 11/25, @New England 12/6, and @Pittsburgh 12/19).

The Morning After Report

Monday, October 18th, 2010

FLORHAM PARK, NJ -Yesterday’s 24-20 come-from-behind victory over the Denver Broncos had all the fixings of a championship caliber team. In fact, the Jets may look back to this game as the moment where their Super Bowl dreams become solidified. Yes, the game was ugly. Yes, they won the game on a late, questionable pass interference call. Yes, Mark Sanchez and the offense took yet another step in the wrong direction.

However the silver-lining is far greater than any glaring problems with this 5-1 New York Jets team. Think about this: Look at every Super Bowl champion’s schedule and tell me there wasn’t a trying time or pivotal point that turned them around. Then look at last year’s results from the Jets. Do you see anything missing? Despite their run to the AFC Championship team, the Jets were a comeback victory. In fact, this was the first comeback victory in the Ryan/Sanchez era.

No matter how ugly this game was, however, the Jets couldn’t be happier to go in to the bye week with a 5-1 record as opposed to a pedestrian 4-2 record with questions surrounding a suddenly sputtering offense.

PASSING: C-

  • For the first time in 5 weeks, I will not be leading off with Mark Sanchez not throwing an interception. Against a banged up Bronco’s defense Sanchez threw two picks, one to some guy named Syd’Quan.
  • It’s the second week in a row that Sanchez has been sub-par after going three straight weeks of scoring 28 or more. That’s a troubling thought considering that former Super Bowl MVP Santonio Holmes returned two weeks ago.
  • Speaking of Holmes, before winning the game by drawing a key 46-yard pass interference call he nearly lost it for the Jets with a nimwitted fumble when he ran into teammate Braylon Edwards’ back.
  • The best play of the offense was a pass that wasn’t completed. ‘Nuff said.

Santonio Holmes nearly lost the game for the Jets with a costly 3rd quarter fumble. He made up for it by drawing a 46-yard pass interfence call that set up the game-winning score. (JetsInsider Photos).

RUSHING: B

  • Team Bash & Dash couldn’t rack up 100 yards collectively for the first time since their 10-9 loss on opening night against the Baltimore Ravens.
  • LT had two huge 4th quarter touchdowns that made the scores 20-17 and 24-20, respectively. Tomlinson continues to be the lone consistent piece on an inconsistent offense.
  • Shonn Greene (9 rushes, 43 yards, 4.8 ypc) looked good when given the chance, but those chances are diminishing.The Jets wouldn’t even give the north-south punishing runner the ball on the late-game goal line drive – that speaks volumes as to how highly they think of LT.
  • The Jets counter-attacked the Bronco’s 46 defensive front to grind out 81 second-half yards.

PASSING DEFENSE: C+

  • The now surprisingly pass-happy Kyle Orton made it his goal to beat a questionable Darrelle Revis. Other than a 17-yard TD to Demayruis Thomas, Revis played exceptionally well given his aggravated hamstring.
  • Antonio Cromartie held Brandon Lloyd, yes I said Brandon Lloyd, in check for the better part of the game. Over the last three weeks Lloyd has averaged seven receptions, 140 yards and 1 TD. Yesterday’s numbers: four receptions, 74 yards, and 0 TD.
  • The Jets defense held Orton and the NFL’s number 2 passing game to 209 yards. For the season they are averaging 324 yards per game.
  • For the second straight week defensive back Dwight Lowery had the game-clinching takeaway, this time recovering a botched snap. Talk about being at the right place at the right time.

RUSHING DEFENSE: F

  • After completing the daunting task of keeping Adrian Peterson in check (18 attempts, 88 yards), the Jets rushing defense was unusually bad against the Broncos.
  • They allowed a season-high 145 yards rushing to a team that averaged just over 50 yards a game. This Bronco’s team features such running threats as Knowshon Moreno, Lawrence Maroney and Correll Buckhalter. Oh yeah, and they let Tim Tebow score from a wildcat formation.
  • Since they overplayed on the league’s top passing attacks, the league’s worst rushing team was able to run effectively against one of the best run-stopping teams.

SPECIAL TEAMS: B

  • Nick Folk, as well as LT, continues to be the most consistent offensive weapon for the Jets. He hit a team-record 56-yard field goal in the thin Mile-High air. On the season he’s 13-15 on FG tries.
  • Kick0ff/return coverage to a bit of a hit, allowing 32-yard punt return, and looked to be asleep when the Bronco’s did an impromptu onside kick in the second quarter.

COACHING: C+

  • The Jets should’ve lost this game. Josh McDaniels had Ryan beat from an X’s and O’s standpoint – with catching the Jets off guard on special teams and on the rushing attack.
  • However after getting so much negative attention for his brash personality, it seems that very same personality – in which he has instilled in his team – made up for any play-calling miscues.
  • They’re adjustment to Denver’s 46 defensive front to gain 81 second-half yards allowed the Jets to get those late touchdowns to seal the win.

The Morning After Report

Tuesday, October 12th, 2010

FLORHAM PARK, NJ – Up until their Week 5 win over the Minnesota Vikings, the Jets have won with their dominating offense and taking advantage of an opportunistic defense. In last night’s win, the Jets showed guts, guile, and grit to overcome third down and red zone deficiencies to defeat a resurgent Vikings team, 29-20.

After a first half that the Jets completely dominated, other than the score, the Vikings came roaring back in the second half to score three touchdowns and make it an exciting Monday night game.

At 4-1, the Jets boast the league’s best record and last night was a featured signature win for a team with Super Bowl aspirations. They could have easily succumbed to another classic, patented Brett Favre comeback but they pulled off big plays at big points – another signature move by Super Bowl-winning teams.

Mark Sanchez has avoided the sophomore slump this season. Thus far he has yet to throw an interception and, after Monday night's 29-20 win over the Vikings, has his team at a 4-1 record. (JetsInsider.com Photo).

PASSING: C+

  • As I’ve started off in every Morning After Report, through five weeks of the NFL season Mark Sanchez still has zero turnovers. But in a game that was ravaged by the weather, Sanchez has definitely seen better days.
  • The combination of Braylon Edwards, Santonio Holmes and Jerricho Cotchery were targeted  30 times during the game. The result? A total of 13 catches for 157 yards. For what is arguably the most talented receiving corps in the NFL, that is way too many misses.
  • Sanchez made a career high 44 attempts last night. There goes the theory of defense’s forcing him to throw in order to win.
  • Their red zone and third down efficiency has been the team’s biggest Achilles’ heel all season long. They converted an anemic 29% of third downs while putting up a goose egg for red zone efficiency. The offense can’t be happy walking away with three points after every drive.

RUSHING: A

  • “Dash and Bash” ran all over a great Vikings defense that hadn’t let a team rush for 150 yards in 51 straight games. The combination of Tomlinson and Greene ran for 151 yards.
  • I like the way they’re using the two back to their advantage. In the first half, they let LT slice through defenses and force them to chase him around for 30 minutes. And after the defense is gassed from chasing a rejuvenated LT, they drop the hammer and send Greene through the A and B gaps.
  • Greene’s late 23-yard scamper proved just how effective and devastating this configuration can be.
  • For those keep score at home, LT had 25 touches for 109 totals yards to Greene’s 57 yards on ten carries.

PROTECTION: B+

  • The key match-up was not Darrelle Revis vs. Randy Moss, but rather D’Brickashaw Ferguson vs. Jared Allen. Brick won the heavyweight bout, keeping the ruthless pass rush specialist out of Sanchez’s hair all night.
  • The line as a whole did exceptionally well, while letting up two sacks for the first time in two weeks, keeping Sanchez free from the NFL’s most daunting front four (see Allen, Pat Williams, Kevin Williams & Ray Edwards). On the night, the line only allowed three QB hits.
  • The biggest compliment for the offensive line is allowing the Jets backs to gain over 150 yards on a Vikings team that hasn’t allowed that in over 50 games. A tip of the cap to offensive line coach Bill Callahan is most certainly due.

DEFENSIVE FRONT 7: A-

  • First and foremost the return of Calvin Pace, the team’s top pass rush specialist, was felt by everyone on Monday. In fact, after his 1.5 sack, 3 QB hit performance I’m sure Favre is feeling the effects more than anyone.
  • Whoever said that Jason Taylor was too old to make an impact hasn’t been watching the same guy I have. Last season he had seven sacks and three forced fumbles for the Dolphins. Respectable. This season? Through five games Taylor has three sacks and two forced fumbles in a limited role. Impact felt.
  • The Vikings made it a point to set the pass up with the above average rushing attack from Adrian Peterson. He came into the game averaging 130 yards a game and left with 88 yards on 18 attempts.
  • David Harris, Sione Pouha, Mike DeVito and Shaun Ellis all recorded four or more tackles in the game.

DEFENSIVE SECONDARY: C

  • They were bailed out by Dwight Lowery’s pick-six at the end of the game, but the secondary nearly gave the game away.
  • The Jets were able to play a straight man-to-man coverage until Moss’s 37-yard score in the third quarter. Safety help shaded over towards Moss for the rest night, which left a lot of free space in the middle of the field for Percy Harvin.
  • It was clear that Revis was not 100% like we all had hoped as Harvin was able to move at will on the All-Pro corner. “We didn’t want [Revis] to have to chase a guy 50 times who’s running 50 go routes,” said Rex Ryan on why he had Cromartie on Moss.
  • Aside from the TD to Moss, which was actually against really good coverage, Antonio Cromartie had another good game against Moss. “No, that was the plan,” said Cromartie referring to whether his coverage on Moss was a last-minute adjustment or a game plan. “Coach Ryan and Coach Thurman felt good about it.”

SPECIAL TEAMS: A+

  • Jets fans should thank their lucky stars that Ryan and GM Mike Tannenbaum took a chance on Nick Folk because so far it’s worked out. Folk, now a year fully removed from a hip injury in his kicking leg, went 5-for-5 in field goals last night. Aside from Greene’s touchdown run, Folk provided the only offensive spark for the Jets.
  • Folks performance prompted Ryan, who was not Folk’s biggest fan, to sarcastically say, “That field goal kicker is not too bad.”
  • Brad Smith showed that he can still make an impact on the game despite losing playing time since Holmes’ return. He averaged 40 yards over three returns, highlighted by an 86-yard return late in the game that sent up a 30-yard field goal from Folk.

COACHING: B

  • Credit Ryan and defensive coordinator Mike Pettine for putting a stop to the relentless play of Adrian Peterson, whom they kept in check for the majority of the game.
  • They were able to squeak out a win on gut and guile on a day that their offense was sputtering. The credit goes to the players who, at the end of the day, rallied together to win the game, but the coaches who set inspired the players to keep fighting. It’s easy to see that these players truly enjoy going to war for their coaches week-in and week-out.

Jets overcome Favre, Vikings; Win 29-20

Tuesday, October 12th, 2010

 EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – After digging them in to a hole, Brett Favre’s late-game heroics put his team back in the game and himself into the record books.

“People ask about [the milestones] all the time but the most important thing is wins,” said Favre after the game. “I have achieved a lot of things but we are 1-3 and that’s disappointing.”

A patented Favre comeback, however, was not in the cards as the New York Jets (4-1) were able to hold off a resurgent Minnesota Vikings (1-3) team in front of 77,909 drenched fans in the New Meadowlands Stadium.

After looking like a futile rookie in the first half against the swarming Rex Ryan defense, Favre’s milestone night almost was capped with another miraculous comeback before Dwight Lowery returned an interception 26 yards to put the game at its final score with 1:30 left to play.

“The pressure got there and he had to hold the ball a split second more than what he probably wanted to and the rest was history,” said Lowery who couldn’t describe the feeling of picking off a Brett Favre pass.

Jets CB Dwight Lowery seals the win by intercepting Vikings QB Brett Favre late in the game and taking it to the house in the Jets 29-20 win over Minnesota. (JetsInsider.com Photo)

Jets’ kicker Nick Folk hit five field goals, providing the offensive fireworks until Favre took the show over in the second half. The 41-year-old quarterback overcame two costly first-half fumbles to throw for 264 yards on his way to the record books.

After a week filled with off-the-field headlines, including reports that while with the Jets Favre sent lewd messages to a Jets’ game hostess, he was able to perform under pressure. The three-time MVP became the first player in NFL history to throw for 70,000 passing yards and 500 touchdowns in a single career. However the two fumbles that put the Vikings in a 12-0 deficit was too much to overcome.

Favre threw for three touchdowns for the day – two to wide receiver Percy Harvin – one of which pulled the Vikings within two points with just over three minutes to play. They even had the ball with 1:43 remaining and were driving the ball down field before Favre’s costly interception to Lowery sealed the game for the Jets. The loss was the Vikings seventh consecutive loss to New York.

The game featured the re-debut of Randy Moss on the Vikings. Moss was acquired last Wednesday from the New England Patriots for a third-round pick. On the night Moss had four receptions for 81 yards, including a 37-yard touchdown grab late in the third quarter.

Trailing 12-0 and facing a third-and-17 for the Jets 37, Favre cocked, and unloaded a perfectly thrown deep ball to Moss in the back right corner of the end zone with just over two minutes to play in the third quarter. Favre sprinted down field to join in the celebration as that was his 500th TD pass.

“I was telling [Percy] Harvin all week [that] I didn’t think Revis was going to cover me,” Moss told reporters after the game. “It wasn’t anything disrespectful, I had a hamstring injury and it took me a whole month to get back and I think his was two and a half weeks. He played the whole game and I have to commend him for that. That takes a lot of guys to come out here with that type of injury.”

The defense on Moss was good, Favre’s pass was just better. While everyone had highly awaited the Revis-Moss II match-up, it was Antonio Cromartie doing the man-to-man coverage on Moss. Darrelle Revis, who returned to the field after missing two weeks with a strained hamstring, was on Percy Harvin for most of the night. Revis did not look to be in good football shape, perhaps still nursing his hamstring, as Harvin went off for five receptions, 97 yards and two late scores.

Harvin’s first touchdown, a 34-yard catch and run score, came with five minutes of Moss’s back end zone catch. That put the game at 15-13 after the Vikings failed to convert a two-point try.

The combination of LaDanian Tomlinson and Shonn Greene, lived up to their “Dash and Bash” style of play. The two combined to rush for 155 yards, the first time in 51 games that a Vikings defense allowed more than 150 yards rushing to a team LT dashed his way for 99 totals yards, most of which came in the second half. Greene did the brunt of his work in the second, wearing out a Vikings defense that was forced to chase Tomlinson around for the first 30 minutes. Greene ended the day with 57 yards and a touchdown. His 23-yard TD run gave the Jets some breathing room late in the game as the Jets lead 22-13 with just under five minutes to play in the game.

For the folks keeping track at home, that’s 27 touches for LT to Greene’s ten on the day.

Aside from the late touchdown run by Greene the Jets offense sputtered for most of the day, looking much like they did last time they played on Monday night to open the season. After three straight weeks of dispelling the critics that the Jets can be efficient on third downs and in the red zone, they gave the critics a reason to talk again. The Jets went an atrocious 5-17 (29%) on third downs while laying a goose egg in their red zone efficiency.

Mark Sanchez threw the ball 44 times for 191 yards and for the fifth straight week did not turn the ball over. He had some help this week with the return of former Super Bowl MVP, Santonio Holmes. After missing the first four games due to violating the league’s substance abuse policy Holmes looked to be in good shape, but perhaps not good football shape after being away from the field for some time. He had three receptions 41 yards on nine targets.

The Jets defense lived up to the price of admission as they held stud All-Pro running back Adrian Peterson in check for most of the day as he rushed for 88 yards on 18 carries.

The Jets travel to Denver to face off against the Broncos this Sunday at 4:05 p.m. EST.

“We’re right on schedule,” said Rex Ryan after the game. “We want to have the best record in the National Football League at the end of the season, and we’re right on pace.”

The ‘Monday Night Miracle’, 10 years later

Tuesday, October 12th, 2010

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – If it were played in a Pop Warner league, the game would’ve been called for the mercy rule. Judging by the poor attendance at halftime, one wouldn’t be crazy to assume it was a Pop Warner game. It most certainly wasn’t a game to be aired on ABC’s Monday Night Football, a national network. And yet the final 20 minutes of the game was enough for fans to vote the Jets ‘Monday Night Miracle’ the number one MNF game of all time.

In reality it was probably the best quarter and a half to ever be played on Monday Night. In a game that featured two 5-1 AFC East rivals, only one – the Miami Dolphins – showed any signs of life. It was Jay Fiedler’s, former Oceanside (NY) High School standout, first career start at the Meadowlands. He shelled out nearly 80 tickets to shine in front of his family and friends. And he did just that.

By the time Lamar Smith scored with little time remaining in the third quarter to make the game 30-7, Fiedler watched the majority of those friends and family, along with a herd of disappointed Jets fans, vacate the Meadowlands in hopes of beating the New York traffic.

Laveraneus Coles on the Monday Night Miracle: "And I was like 'We did it, we did it.' I was so excited. It was big. I was a rookie, and everything just was happening so fast, and for us to come out and get a victory like that on Monday night, it was very exciting." (JetsInsider.com Photo).

But with the pressure not fully removed from the Jets, they went back to work. Quarterback Vinny Testeverde hit Laveraneus Coles with a 3o-yard touchdown strike to start off the fourth quarter. Little did anyone know that that score would spark the then-stagnant Jets offense and provide a resurgence for a fading former Heisman winner.

The Jets would comeback to win the game, of course. Fans turned around to come back to the game for the final five minutes. Testaverde threw four touchdowns and passed for 235 yards in the fourth quarter alone. Marcus Coleman had two overtime interceptions to keep the Jets in the game.

However the memorable moment wouldn’t be Wayne Cherbet’s  24-yard touchdown to tie the game with three minutes left. It wouldn’t even be the 40-yard field goal to win it off the leg of John Hall. For such a momentous game, the memorable moment must be ‘jumbo’.

Yes, the night would belong to a tackle eligible receiver by the name of Jumbo Elliot. He had played a cheerleader for the majority of the game trying anything to keep his teammates interested in a game that was hardly anything but. However, two plays after a crucial 4th-and-2 conversion on a two-yard pass to fullback Richie Anderson, Testaverde called on the former Super Bowl XXV stand-out.

“I get into my stance and I realize, ‘Holy you-know-what, this thing is coming to me first,’” Elliott said, laughing so loudly that customers looked over. “My second thought is, ‘Vinny, please throw it somewhere else.”’

Elliot found his way into end zone without a defender within ten feet of him. Testaverde lofted up a soft ball for the lunging Elliot in the back of the end zone.

“We were all on the sidelines like, ‘Oh come on Jumbo, catch it,’” recalls Coles. “When he bobbled it, we were like ‘Oh man.’”

The ball was bobbled for what seemed like an eternity, but as Elliot fell to his knees and his elbows broke his fall, the ball in hand cradled like a new-born. With a mere 42 seconds remaining, the game was tied at 37 apiece.

“He caught it and then we looked at his face on the jumbo screen,” says Coles. “His eyes were just wide open, and I think all the guys were like ‘Jumbo, did you catch it?’”

The play was reviewed and eventually held up. The Jets would go in to overtime have John Hall kick a 40-yard field goal, and the rest is history. For Elliot, it was a nightcap to a career that was defined by hard work, highlighted by shutting down Bills’ defensive legend Bruce Smith in Super Bowl XXV.

“A lot of people come up to me with it or send it. I’ve had people ring my doorbell. That play, in particular, is a favorite without a doubt. It’s kind of a neat thing. It was like a capping to my career at that point.”

For Testaverde, the comeback proved that he the Jets were his team. He put the team on his shoulders and wasn’t going to let anyone stop him.

“Vinny was just, he was just on. It’s almost like he was a general,” said Coles. “We were his soldiers, and he was directing, and just everything was clicking for him.”

For the entire Jets team, it showed a cohesiveness that was missing that season with the collective dislike for head coach Al Groh. The team looked at each other from within and saw the resolve to pull of such a historic comeback. It is something that all teams, not the just the Jets, can revel in.

The team will commemorate the 10-year anniversary of the ‘Monday Night Miracle’ tonight at halftime. More than 20 members from the team will be there to be honored for their historic comeback.

Last Minute Keys to Success

Tuesday, October 12th, 2010

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – After spending the last eight days discussing anything but football involving Monday night’s Minnesota Vikings – New York Jets game, I think it’s time to devote at least the final hours dissecting the keys to winning this tough out-of-conference match-up.

While the Vikings have stumbled out of the gates to a 1-2 start, they still pose a serious threat to opposing if not taken lightly. Their defense ranks fourth in the league, anchored by arguably the best front four in the league (DEs Jared Allen and Ray Edwards and DTs Pat and Kevin Williams). That means they can get to the quarterback and plug up the running lanes without sending extra blitzers – a huge luxury to have when the Vikings have to worry about a Jets offense that put up 38 and 31 points in its last two weeks.

Left tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson will have his hands fill on Monday Night against the Minnesota Vikings. He has the daunting task of keeping the relentless Jared Allen away from Sanchez. (JetsInsider.com Photo).

Left tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson had a rough start to the season but in his last two weeks looked to have recaptured his Pro Bowl skills from last year. He’ll need those skills going up against the relentless Jared Allen all night. The battle of the trenches will be something to definitely keep your eyes on as the game progresses. Last week, the Jets gained most of their 273 rushing yard one two plays against the Bills, an outside stretch and an inside lead. That’s a huge statement as to how much trust the coaching staff have in this offensive line that has been under fire early on this season.

A big part of the Jets offensive success has been the amount of time Mark Sanchez has to go through his progressions and make the correct call. If the Jets continue their offensive surge, it will be due to containing the Vikings disruptive fronts.

Speaking of Sanchez, he has looked like a kid on Christmas morning all year long, and this game won’t be any different. He will be welcoming WR Santonio Holmes to the starting line-up, who’s fresh off a four-game suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. With all the weapons the Jets have on the field, the Vikings might only be able to send their front four. Think about the this: Viking defenders must focus on deep-threat Braylon Edwards, the sure-handed Holmes, the emerging Dustin Keller, Jerricho Cotchery back in his favored slot position, and LaDanian Tomlinson coming out of the backfield.

The Vikings play with a Cover 2 set, utilizing two safeties deep in the zone, which leaves open a good chunk in the middle of the field. However with the spectacular play of Keller this season, he will command more than just a linebacker or a safety in coverage. So with possibly two defenders on Keller and man coverage on the receivers, it begs the question who will cover LT out of the backfield? We all know how much Sanchez loves to check it down to a safe decision. My guess is LT carves up a some decent yardage catching the ball.

On the defensive side of the ball, the key will be defend the run, defend the run, defend the run. Adrian Peterson sets the tone for the offense, which has been sputtering (18th overall, but 4th in the run). After spending hours searching for the last time a Rex Ryan defense allowed a 100-yard rusher, I’ve come to the conclusion that it simply doesn’t happen. It doesn’t matter if the Vikings feature a backfield tandem of Barry Sanders and Jim Brown, a Ryan defense will find a way to stop them.

Something the Jets will not be able to stop will be Brett Favre airing it out to Randy Moss on their first offensive series. Favre may not have any luck, but expect the two to get on the same page early and often to make up for their inexperience together. It may not be a bad idea, considering All-Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis is coming back after missing two weeks with a pulled hamstring. Considering Favre’s unfamiliarity with Moss coupled with Revis’ questionable hamstring, a few deep passes to Moss seems likely.

However, when all is said and done my gut feeling is that the game will come down to who can pound the ball on the ground. As this story is being written, sheets of raining flood the New Meadowlands Stadium and weather reports are saying there is only more to come. And while Adrian Peterson is pound-for-pound the best runner in the game currently, I’ll take my chances with the dash and bash tandem of LaDanian Tomlinson and Shonn Greene.

THE SCORE: Vikings 17, NY Jets 28

Despite Favre/Moss, AP still the focus

Thursday, October 7th, 2010

FLORHAM PARK, NJ – First, the story was Brett Favre returning to New York for the first time since misguiding the Jets to a 9-7 record and missing the playoffs. Then, with Randy Moss returning to Minnesota, the re-match of Darrelle Revis versus Moss stole the headlines. Add in the blinding lights of Monday Night Football’s national spotlight and suddenly this game looks more like an episode of The Young and The Restless rather than a football game.

With all the coverage surrounding Favre, Revis and Moss it’s easy to forget about the most important player for the Vikings, All-Pro running back Adrian Peterson. Yeah, remember him? The guy who has run a muck against opposing defenses since he entered the league in 2007. The same guy who’s amassed nearly 5,000 yards and 50 touchdowns through three and a quarter seasons.

“I’m not going to be disrespectful to the Adrian Peterson that was from Georgia Southern, but I wish we were playing him,” joked Rex Ryan during a Thursday press conference. “Simply put, he’s the best back in the league.”

Ryan and the Jets defense had nothing but the highest of praise for the All-Pro running back, who seems to do everything a coach would ask of a top-flight running back.

Bryan Thomas on Adrian Peterson: "You have to surround him or he'll ruin the game for you. The guy is just that good." (Photo by JetsInsider.com).

“The main thing is trying to just tackle this guy. Watching film on him, he breaks tackles and runs through people. He’s fast, runs hard and he’s a big bruising back,” said outside linebacker Bryan Thomas.

There is one vulnerable hole in Peterson’s suit of armor,albeit a rather big one. Peterson struggles mightily holding on to the ball. Through four seasons, he’s fumbled the ball 20 times while losing it on 13 of those occasions. Last year he had seven fumbles and lost all but one of them. To his credit, he has yet to fumble this year.

That will be one thing the Jets defense will zero-in on, as the Jets are tops in the league in takeaway/give-away with a plus-eight advantage. Five of those eight takeaways have come on forced fumbles. The Jets have recovered all five.

While it’s nearly impossible to stop Peterson, the Jets hope to contain him by surrounding him with defenders. Many of Peterson’s fumbles have come from fighting for that extra yardage instead of going down after initial contact.

“One guy is not going to do the trick,” said Ryan. “We’ve got to get a bunch of guys over there on him and hit him with everything we’ve got and pull the ball, go for it and do everything to slow him down a little bit.”

Ryan would go on to say that they’d prefer most teams to throw the ball, where more mistakes happen. But with this team they have to pick their poison. “What do you want to do,” questioned Ryan. “[Do] you want Favre throwing or Peterson running?”

NOTES:

  • Calvin Pace (foot) fully participated in practice today. Ryan said he thinks that Pace can play a full role. “He appears to me like he’s really looking good,” said Ryan.
  • Darrelle Revis (hamstring) participated on a limited basis in practice. Ryan and the Jets believe he will be ready to go come Monday night.
  • But if there’s a possibility that Revis won’t play, Dwight Lowery will most likely assume the starting duties. After the fine job he did last week spelling rookie Kyle Wilson from Revis’ starting spot, Lowery will also be the nickel back assuming Revis does start.
  • Ryan on Wilson: “He’s a little snake bit right now. For some reason you can be making great plays and then all of a sudden you get in a little spell and it seems like everything that’s thrown up is caught.”
  • Rookie running back Joe McKnight has been seen practicing with the defense as a defensive back. Ryan said McKnight has some raw skills that could be utilized on defense and that his attitude has really picked up.