Archive for November, 2010

ESPN’s Bruschi retracts Sanchez comments

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

FLORHAM PARK, NJ – ESPN analyst and former New England Patriot linebacker Tedy Bruschi had some strong words for the Jets second year quarterback when the two teams were preparing to face each other in September.

Bruschi called Mark Sanchez a “front-runner”, where he excels only when the team is executing. But when things aren’t going in their favor Bruschi believed Sanchez wouldn’t help pull his team out of the hole.

Each week Mark Sanchez has been shedding the label of "front-runner" given to him by ESPN and former Patriot Tedy Bruschi. Sanchez and the Jets will face the Patriots in Foxborough, MA on Monday night (JetsInsider.com Photo.)

“When things go bad he tanks it, and that’s not something you want at your quarterback position,” Bruschi said.

His words caused somewhat of a media stir in New York, as it garnered enough attention to have head coach Rex Ryan bring it up in a press conference that week.

“I think [Bruschi] would have a different opinion if he was out here every day,” Ryan said. “What he says about [Sanchez] when we get ahead, that’s how he is every day here on the practice field.”

Sanchez’s play against the Patriots that week (21-30, 220 yards, 3 TDs) put Bruschi’s foot in his mouth. With Sanchez leading the Jets to a 9-2 start and in to Gillette Stadium Monday Night, Bruschi has found it timely to remove that foot.

“Rex was right. I really have watched Mark Sanchez closely from that point on, and I was wrong about calling him a front-runner. I was wrong to put that label on him. I’ve watched him and the leader he’s become, and the plays he’s made for this 9-2 first-place Jets team.

“Early in the season, I thought this team would do well based on its running game and solid defense. But there is another aspect of this team that has developed – and that’s the leadership and play they’ve received from the quarterback position and Mark Sanchez. I think he is a legitimate leader on that team. My front-runner label was wrong.”

Former Jet finds home behind enemy lines

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

FLORHAM PARK, NJ – Danny Woodhead’s path to playing football of Sundays certainly wasn’t paved. Nor was there even  footsteps to follow in. Yet, despite the odds, the player who the Jets first took a chance on has found success with their most hated rival, the New England Patriots.

The man that is short in stature has showed up in a big way for the Patriots, who were looking thin at running back prior the transaction on September 19, 2010. It is listed that Woodhead has 195 pounds hanging on a 5-foot-9 frame. That is rather generous, when seen in person he looks a more stout 5-foot-7.

But no matter his size, Woodhead continues to cut out his path.

Thus far, his path has included carving up opposing defenses out of the Patriots backfield. Assuming the role of the injured Kevin Faulk, he has become the third-down back, catching balls and taking draws. Through nine games, he has 344 yards rushing ( a large 5.4 yards per carry average) and 230 yards receiving with four total touchdowns.

“He has contributed for us in those phases of the game and he’s been an important member of our team all year. He’s made plays in the running game, the passing game and on special teams, so he’s done a real solid job,” Bill Belichick told WEEI.com.

Those numbers are reminiscent of what made him a back-to-back Harlon Hill trophy winner at Chadron State, given to the best player in Division II.

  • 7,926 career rushing yards, (most in NCAA history at that time)
  • 9,749 career all-purpose yards, (second all-time at that time as well)
  • Rushed for 200+ yards in 19 games
  • 109 career touchdowns
  • 654 career points scored
  • 2,756 rushing yards in 2006 is a single season record in NCAA history

All that, and Woodhead still couldn’t get on to a more noticeable path. He was an undrafted free agent signed by the Jets on May 2, 2008. His rookie season was spent on injured reserve, but was signed to the practice squad in 2009, before being added to the 53-man roster on October 17, 2009.

Danny Woodhead, once a back-up RB/WR/SPT, has found success with the enemy, the New England Patriots. He will face off against his former team next Monday Night. (JetsInsider.com Photo).

Despite making the team, he saw little playing time. He amassed 64 yards rushing and 87 yards receiving in 10 games. With the likes of LaDanian Tomlinson, Shonn Grenne, and rookie Joe McKnight (from the more prestigious University of Southern Cal) ahead of Woodhead, there was little field to be shared in 2010. There were murmurs of trying him out at receiver during training camp, but certainly at 5-9 (ahem) he would be a tough target for quarterback Mark Sanchez.

And soon enough the season had started, with the Jets hurting at the wide receiver position. After being ripped by the media for the Jets lackluster start, they needed to provide an offensive spark to get things going. But in order to do that someone had to go. And unfortunately for Woodhead, it was he who received the pink slip from the Gang Green.

The Jets ended up replacing Woodhead with wide receiver David Clowney (who is no long with the Jets) and Joe McKnight (4 attempts, 12 yards on the season).

“I don’t know if he couldn’t do it here,” Rex Ryan said when asked. [The Patriots] just run their offense a little different than we do. He’s perfect for what they do.”

Four days later, however, he received an offer from the New England Patriots. Many thought the signing was merely to extract information from the former Jet, with the two teams facing off the ensuing Sunday. But Bill Belichick had his eye on Woodhead for some time thinking he could carve out his niche in the Patriots wide-open offense.

“We certainly got a good look at him in preseason when we were starting to break down the Jets games and then at the beginning of the season when he wasn’t on their 53-man roster,” Belichick said. “He was right at the top of our short list and after we traded Laurence [Maroney].”

And since then, the rest has been downhill for the running back. In his first game with the Patriots, Woodhead saw 40-50  snaps, much the contrary to his 5-10 snaps per game with the Jets.

He has done such an impressive job this season, that the Patriots have rewarded him with a 2-year contract extension. The signing bonus ($425,000) is more than his 2010 salary ($395,000).  He can earn as much as $1.1 million in 2011 and $1.3 million in 2012. Currently, he is the only Patriots running back who has locked up past this season.

“[We] thank the Jets for letting him go. We truly appreciate it,” Deion Branch, Patriots receiver, said.

Woodhead’s path, once thick with brush, has now been cleared with greener pastures. And on Monday night, he hopes to keep his path rolling downhill. Ryan nearly shares the same wish.

“I love the fact that he’s having success. I just don’t wish him success on Monday.”

The Morning After Report

Friday, November 26th, 2010

FLORHAM PARK, NJ – The Jets have a lot to be thankful for after their 26-10 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals on Thanksgiving night. First, they should be thankful for facing an abysmal Bengals team on a night where the offense wasn’t at its finest. And secondly, they should send all of their Thanksgiving leftovers to the x-factor of the game, Brad Smith, who amassed 200 all-purpose yards following a 53-yard touchdown run and an 89-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.

At 9-2, the Jets kept pace with the New England Patriots, who routed the Lions in the early afternoon game. This marks their best record after 11 games since 1986, when they started off 10-1 (and finished 10-6). Their wins will set-up a mammoth divisional match-up in New England under the bright lights of Monday Night Football.

I must apologize for missing last week’s Morning After Report, as I was interviewing for a new job. But this week I vow this week’s Official JetsInsider.com’s Morning After Report will offer more than what was on dinner tables last night.

On the arm of Mark Sanchez and the feet of Brad Smith, the Jets were able to overcome their own miscues to defeat the Cincinnati Bengals for the third time in a year, 26-10. (JetsInsider.com Photo).

PASSING: B-

  • Mark Sanchez did what he had to do. While his 166 yard 1TD-1INT performance certainly was not the same as his previous three games, he was able to keep his team in the game and not let the mistakes snowball.
  • Santonio Holmes had his fourth touchdown in his last three games. I think it’s safe to say he has adjusted quite nicely in the Jets’ offense. The only difference being Holmes didn’t wait until the end of the game to make his presence felt.
  • I was really expecting the tandem of Holmes (4 rec, 55 yards) and Braylon Edwards (2 rec, 20 yards) to explode against a very questionable Bengals’ secondary, however a tip of the cap must go to them after suffering the embarrassing loss at the hands of the Bills the week prior.

RUSHING: A

  • I should’ve known this was going to be Brad Smith’s game. He has played his best when he faces the Bengals. His two longest runs of his career have come against them, as well as his only two rushing touchdowns.
  • The combination of Smith, Shonn Greene (17 att, 70 yards), and LaDanian Tomlinson (13 att, 49 yards) amassed 170 rushing yards (4.6 average) on the day. This marks the fourth time this season they have gained more than 150 yards in a game.
  • Greene’s 81 total yards is a sign that he is starting to be used more in the offense, despite last week’s crucial fumble against Houston. Hopefully LT’s numbers (63 total yards) does not mean he is slowing down, only going with a more smash-mouth style of play.

PASSING DEFENSE: B+

  • Finally! We have a complete game from the defense. Their three sacks (one safety) and two interceptions were all much needed as the Bengals were able to hang around until half-way through the third quarter.
  • Brian Leonhard’s interception was the first interception for the team since Dwight Lowery’s interception against Brett Favre and the Minnesota Vikings. Trevor Pryce’s safety late in the game was the team’s first since 2003. The Jets three takeaways match the most since playing the Vikings.
  • The match-up of Antonio Cromartie/Darrelle Revis versus Chad Ochocinco/Terrell Owens certainly favored the Jets after. After a lot of pre-game chatter between Revis and Owens, T.O. had a lowly 17 yards on three receptions. Ochocinco didn’t fare much better against Cromartie, who totaled 41 yards on four receptions.

RUSHING DEFENSE: A

  • Yesterday’s 46-yard total rushing performance marked the second time the Jets’ defense have held their opponent to under 50 yards for the game.
  • Not only that, but the Jets held the Bengals to 163 net yards for the game. This is the lowest total for a team since they allowed 124 total yards against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2009.

SPECIAL TEAMS: A

  • Brad Smith. 200 all-purpose yards. That is all.
  • James Ihedigbo had a heads-up play on a punt where the ball allegedly nicked off the helmet of Andre Caldwell. He fell on the ball and recovered it, leading to the Holmes’ score.
  • Nick Folk looked a little shaky as he missed a field goal and nearly missed a PAT that caromed off the left post and went through the uprights.

COACHING: A

  • In the short week, much credit goes to the coaching staff in keeping their players fresh and not overwhelming them with a huge gameplan. While this game was certainly  not a dominating game by the Jets, but were able to capitalize in all facets of the game.
  • They still have some areas of improvement, especially visiting the Patriots next Monday. Their inability to be discipline is still a thorn in their sides. They were penalized eight times for 64 yards. Many will say that those penalties were “bad calls”, however as they have been a highly penalized team all year, they will not get the benefit of the doubt from officials. So the close plays will continue to go in the favor of their opponents until they fix their issues.
  • Third downs are also an area where they will need to focus on next week. Going 3-13 on third downs against the Patriots will only hurt themselves, as the New England offense has been clicking on all cylinders in the past few weeks.

BENGALS — JETS PREVIEW

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010

FLORHAM PARK, NJ - This Thanksgiving, the New York Jets (8-2) will be inviting the Cincinnati Bengals (2-8) to sit at their new dinner table and break bread. Either team will sit on each side and are very much mirror opposites of each other. The Jets and Bengals were both heralded as teams ready to make the next step.

The Jets have lived up to those expectations, thus far, hitting a few bumps along the way. The defense, considered to be their strong point coming into the season, has proven to be problematic. Who would’ve thought that the Jets only two losses have been the defense’s best games? The offense, with a plethora of big-play athletes at every skill position, has risen on the arm of Mark Sanchez to an elite level over the last four weeks. Their success has often and it has come late, with their last four wins coming in either the 4th quarter or overtime.

The Bengals, on the other hand, have not. While their offense has been efficient throughout the season, the defense has been their Achilles’s heel. As we saw last week against Buffalo, allowing a team with one win on the season to score 49 points–in every way imaginable, no less–is not the staple of a winning team. Unlike the Jets, Cincinnati has not had the benefit of good luck. Seven of their eight losses could have gone in their favor.

WHEN: Thursday 11/25 @ 8:20 p.m. EST

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

SERIES: 21st meeting, Jets lead series 14-7

LAST MEETING: Jets 24 – Bengals 14, Paul Brown Stadium/Cincinnati, OH 1/09/10 (AFC Wildcard Game)

COACHES: Rex Ryan, Jets — second season, 17-9 regular season, 2-1 postseason; Marvin Lewis, Bengals — eighth season, 58-63-1 regular season, 0-2 postseason.

LAST WEEK: Jets — 30-27 win vs. HOU; Bengals — 49-31 loss vs. BUF

INJURY REPORT: JETS; LIMITED — Marquice Cole (hamstring), Drew Coleman (groin), Shaun Ellis (knee), Sione Pouha (ankle), Brad Smith (back)/DNP — Jerricho Cotchery (groin), Damien Woody (knee)/OUT –  Dwight Lowery (concussion). PACKERS; LIMITED — Dennis Roland (knee), Antawn Odom (wrist)/DNP — Roy Williams (head), Carson Palmer (foot), Rico Murry (ankle), Jonathan Joseph (ankle), Brandon Ghee (groin)/OUT –  Tank Johnson (knee).

JETS RANKINGS:OFFENSE — POINTS PER GAME – 23.8 (12th), TOTAL YARDS – 365.9 (8th), PASS YARDS – 220 (17th), RUSH YARDS – 145.9 (4th). DEFENSE — POINTS PER GAME – 17.7 (5th), TOTAL YARDS – 310.7 (7th), PASS YARDS – 220 (16th), RUSH YARDS – 90.3 (5th).

BENGALS RANKINGS: OFFENSE — POINTS PER GAME – 21.5 (20th), TOTAL YARDS – 346.2 (14th), PASS YARDS – 249.6 (8th), RUSH YARDS – 96.6 (23rd). DEFENSE –  POINTS PER GAME – 26.2 (26th), TOTAL YARDS – 341.3 (18th), PASS YARDS – 223 (18th), RUSH YARDS – 118.3 (23rd).

Mark Sanchez and the Jets hope to be the clear-cut number one team in the NFL after playing the Cincinnati Bengals on Thanksgiving night. (JetsInsider.com Photo).

KEY MATCH-UPS:

  • Terrell Owens vs. Darrelle Revis: Here is the recent communication between the the two over the past couple days. T.O.: “Just an average corner to me. Everybody has assessed his abilities as far as what he did last year, shutdown corner, this and that. He did very well last year. But I think I’m looking forward to the challenge, just like he’s looking forward to the challenge.” REVIS: “I’ll see him on Thursday night. … Everybody knows T.O. He’s going to be T.O.” ‘Nuff said. Get your popcorn ready, Terrell.
  • Jermaine Gresham vs. Jets safeties: The lack of a defensive presence against the opposing tight end has been a huge problem for the Jets this season. Gresham is a huge target across the middle and in the red zone for Carson Palmer. The Jets need Brodney Pool to step up in coverage, where Jim Leonhard has struggled against over-sized tight ends.
  • Sione Pouha vs. the Clock: Sione will be holding his breath until the clock reads 00:00 so he can get him a turkey thigh or two, maybe a few biscuits, some mashed potatoes. A guy of his stature (6-3, 325) must look forward to the Thanksgiving leftovers more than the actual meal. This is without question the biggest match-up I’ll be watching on Thursday. Somehwere, Kris Jenkins will be sitting with his feet up digging into a triple-layer turkey sandwich, drippings and all.

X-FACTORS:

  • SANTONIO HOLMES, JETS: Until he proves otherwise, I fully expect Holmes to win every game for the Jets. Seriously, this guy has ice water running through his veins. He’s scary good right now.I think he could blow up Revis Island at this point.
  • CARSON PALMER, BENGALS: This may seem like a cop-out on the x-factors this week, but the fact is that both these players can and might put their respective teams over the top. If a banged up Palmer can beat the less-than-stellar Jets’ passing defense, then I like the Bengals’ odds.

KEYS TO THE GAME:

  • GET TO THE QUARTERBACK: Simple as that. The Jets pass rush has been a weak point for the defense, after being a staple to the team last year (32 sacks). With the Bengals tied with the Jets for sixteenth in the league with sacks allowed at 17. The blitz-happy Jets should look to have a feast against the mediocre Bengals pass protection.
  • SCORE EARLY & OFTEN: The Jets have shown the ability to score in bunches, just late in games. With everyone raising their blood pressure from gorging themselves on Thanksgiving food, why induce heart attacks with another late-game win? Perhaps it might be beneficial to Sanchez and the offense to start off in a no-huddle, hurry-up style.
  • SHOW DISCIPLINE: The Jets are one of the most-penalized teams in the league, which is somewhat surprising considering the player-coach relationship Rex Ryan imposes. The defense needs to do a better job at communicating on plays and finding that thin line between playing aggressive and committing penalties. This will be the third time these teams are meeting over the last 11 months, with the last game ending with the Jets walking away victorious on the Bengals’ home field. There will be no love lost with these two and it will be imperative for the Jets to keep their cool.

THE PICK: Jets 34 – Bengals 28. I usually think the short turnaround between games will favor the offense. The Bengals’ defense is down-right atrocious. And while I’m being honest, the only man who looks capable of beating Sanchez is Bear Grylls. As much as Jets fans may be hoping for a cream puff of a game for dessert, the Jets do not play in blowout games.

With the game on the line, Holmes feels at home

Friday, November 19th, 2010

FLORHAM PARK, NJ – We all saw the moment that he turned from your average mid-first round wide receiver to an elite aerial threat. Arms extending for the ball while stretching his tippy toes to stay in bounds with a Cardinal defender all over him — all this with just a mere :37 seconds remaining in Super Bowl XLIII. We all remember the magnitude of his game-winning catch for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The play, not even two years old, is already historic for the level of difficulty in such a heavy situation. Well, heavy for some. For Super Bowl MVP Santonio Holmes, the heavy situations are the moments that he lives for.

“It’s hard to explain, but it’s almost like he says with his demeanor, his eyes, his everything, “Give me the football,” Rex Ryan said on Holmes’ assertiveness in wanting the ball in late-game situations.

Santonio Holmes has made a career out of late-game heroics. Last 3 year average of 4th quarter & OT stats: 37 receptions, 623 yards, 3 TD, 20.1 YPC. (JetsInsider.com Photo).

Mark Sanchez, as well as Ryan, are getting used to that demanding demeanor. After missing the first four games of the season due to violating the league’s substance abuse policy, it took some time for Sanchez and Holmes to establish a level of trust.

“It’s trust, ya know?” Holmes said. “Just trust me that I’m going to be where you need me to be. Just put the ball where it’ll be safe for me to get it and I’ll get there.

Over the last two weeks, that trust has been growing vastly. In the overtime against Detroit, Holmes (5 rec, 112 yards) had a back-breaking 52-yard catch-and-run that set up Nick Folk’s game winning drive. And in last week’s overtime game against Cleveland, with 16 seconds left, he (5 rec, 76 yards, 1 TD) had a 37-yard reception to win the game.

But these late-game heroics aren’t anything new for the fifth-year receiver from Ohio State, Holmes has made a career out of it. While the big-play score is what draws the headlines and praise, his abilities as a possession receiver who can keep the chains moving is what separates him from other elite receivers in the league. Of his 255 career receptions, 201 have gone for first downs.

“You sense that when the game is tight and somebody has to step up, he wants everybody to know that he’s the guy willing to do that,” Ryan said.

Ryan’s depiction couldn’t have been more on point. Throughout his career, Holmes has developed a knack for playing at his best when his team is behind. Of his 4,156 career receiving yards, nearly half (1,847) has been when his team has been on the wrong end of the scoreboard. Ten of his 21 career touchdowns have happened in the same situation as well.

In fact, while everyone recalls Holmes’ iconic touchdown grab in the Super Bowl, many forget his 40-yard catch two plays prior that set-up the game-winning score. In fact, on that final drive with 2:37 left in the season Ben Roesthlisberger looked to Holmes on five of the eight plays. He came down with four catches on that drive.

The truth is, the Jets haven’t had this type of caliber receiver since a young Keyshawn Johnson took New York by storm. Certainly Braylon Edwards ( a former first-round pick from the Big 10 as well) offers that big-play spark, but rarely does the spark ignite.

For Holmes, the spark is always lit. It’s just a matter of when the flame will become luminous.

Five Days, Two Games, One Goal: Staying Fresh

Friday, November 19th, 2010

FLORHAM PARK, NJ – In the NFL, the term “short week” used to refer to playing a Sunday game following a Monday night game. But now, with the inception of Thursday night football, teams have even less time to prepare for their upcoming opponents.

The Jets will face this predicament in the following week when, on Sunday, they will play the Houston Texans at home on 1 p.m. EST before they have to prepare for the Cincinnati Bengals, who will visit the Jets on Thanksgiving night at 8:20 p.m. EST. Five days. Two games. One goal: stay fresh.

The problem is not the amount of gas they will need to get through this stretch. After all, nearly half the league will participate on Thursday night football at some point down the end of the season. But whether they have any left in the tank to put up a good fight.

Staying fresh will be the key has the Jets enter a 5-day, 2-game stretch against the Texans and the Bengals. Staying fresh will be a must with a Monday night match-up against the Patriots waiting in the wings. (JetsInsider.com Photo).

After the 5-quarter slugfest with the Cleveland Browns and the overtime victory with the Detroit Lions in the week prior, it’s very easy to see the Jets running out of gas heading into the Thanksgiving night showdown. With a team — and in particular the defense — that plays a very physical, aggressive game, one must wonder how long these players can continue at the level of intensity they are used to.

“I think we got to be smart about what we ask our guys to do,” Rex Ryan said in a press conference Thursday. “We’ve got to be smart about keeping our guys fresh, what we’re asking our guys to do if we want the to play physical.”

One way Ryan has tried to keep his players fresh has been adjusting the way practice is run. He has cut down the total amount of plays run in practice. On Wednesday he ran 40 walk-through plays to 34 live plays. On Thursday it was 40 walk-through plays to 30 live plays. In addition to cutting back on the plays, Ryan has also allowed the players to practice without pads for the next week.

“Rex takes care of us,” Trevor Pryce told ESPNNewYork.com. “They do things I’ve never seen around here.” Pryce came over to the Jets mid-season, after spending his first 12 years with Denver and Baltimore.

With the Texans and Bengals sharing similarities, Ryan will carryover some of the Houston game plan to the Cincinnati game. Understandable, considering that the Jets will only practice on Monday and Tuesday in preparation for Thursday’s game.

The ever-maturing Jets offense

Friday, November 19th, 2010

FLORHAM PARK, NJ – Coming in to the year the Jets were not so different from a budding, young adolescent: growing up from humble beginnings to see a very promising future, blessed with a wealth of new abilities, gaining notice and praise from peers.

As far as the Jets have come to sit atop of the league and boast the NFL’s best record, they are still finding out their identity. For instance, the Jets, who have been known for the stingy defense and ground-and-pound running style, have been winning — late in games, no less — on the right shoulder of their equally budding, young quarterback.

Through the first 10 weeks of the season, we have seen the Jets offensive grow before our eyes. But don't blink just yet, as they still have yet to reach the ceiling of their potential. (JetsInsider.com Photo).

The fifth-ranked defense doesn’t have to spend the final five minutes of the game trying to hold an opponent from scoring. The fourth-ranked rushing attack doesn’t have to carry the ball 80 yards in the two-minute offense if they hope to win the game late.

Why? Over the last three games Mark Sanchez has thrown for nearly 891 yards. Since Week 8 that is tops in the NFL. As he continues to mature over the course of the season, the offense will continue to shift to a more pass-oriented attack.

“I’ll tell you what, when teams play us like they have been, one-on-one coverage on the outside, with our play-makers, Mark should have a great game,” joked running back LaDanian Tomlinson. “If people want to continue to play us like that, then so be it.”

Tomlinson, one of the game’s best pass-catching backs, has a lot to do with Sanchez’s maturation under center. The trust that he has in Tomlinson to be his check-down option, sometimes his go-to option, has given Sanchez more time to read through his progressions and, at the last second, rely on him out of the backfield.

For offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer it’s been the little things that have paid the biggest dividends in the progression of Sanchez. He, with the help of back-up quarterback Mark Brunell, has begun to hit Sanchez with foam bats to simulate the importance of instincts and pocket presence.

“The first couple weeks you actually saw him wince from [being hit],” said Schottenheimer. “Obviously, it doesn’t take the place of an actual live rep, but you do get more comfortable with things around you. It’s a little thing that has paid off for us in the last two weeks.”

As much as the offensive has matured over the course of the season’s first ten weeks, there is still plenty to improve on. Their red zone efficiency (39.3%) is the third-worst in the league. Having the league’s worst red zone defense should help, but will not fix the glaring weakness of the Jets.

Schottenheimer believes that re-focusing on the execution and fundamentals will be enough right the ship, saying the game gets smaller when you get inside the twenty-yard line.

“The game does shrink,” Schottenheimer said. “We are looking at different things we can do to try to condense the playbook and not have has many things going on.”

Rex Ryan doesn’t care how it gets done, he just wants to outscore his opponent. “We are what we are,” Ryan said. “We just want to win.”

But when asked if his team has made any adjustments to fix their red zone problems, he couldn’t have been more clear. “Ideally, we’d like to run the ball more down there. If I’m tipping my hand, that’s really what we want to do, run the ball and then throw it up.”

As you learn in your adolescence, sometimes it’s what has taken you to where you are — and not what seems the best at the time –  that will lead you forward. But as the season continues to grow, so will the roof of the New York Jets offense.

Lack of DB depth is a concern

Thursday, November 18th, 2010

FLORHAM PARK, NJ – The dynamic DB duo of Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie is enough to defeat the likes of any formidable offensive opponent. With the talents that these two gifted players possess, it’s fairly easy to conceive the Jets shutting down most teams passing hopes just with those two alone.

However, as we have seen thus far, the rest of the defensive backfield must answer a lot of questions from here on out. While Revis and Cromartie can shut down a team’s top two passing threats, there will always be other options on the field.

Coming into this Sunday’s game against the Houston Texans (4-5), the Jets will be likely down to eight defensive backs, due to the injuries to Marquice Cole (hamstring) and Dwight Lowery (head). Against a team like the Texans, who are fifth in the league in completion percentage (64.2) and passing yards (2,320), they are going to need all the help they can get.

After being buried on the bench for some time, Kyle Wilson has been making plays the last two weeks. With the Jets secondary thinning with injuries, it will be up to him and the rest of the supporting cast to pick up the slack. (JetsInsider.com Photo.)

A big question mark to the Jets defensive backfield, injuries aside, has been the up-and-down play of first-year cornerback, Kyle Wilson. After being buried on the bench for a good stretch of the season, Wilson has played well the last two weeks–given the opportunity due to the injury to Lowery. For spurts at a time, Wilson has shown the ability and instincts to be an impact player in this league. But his talents are still raw as he has drawn too many penalties and has given up one too many big plays for a team that has Super Bowl aspirations.

Wilson, who will likely split the nickel back duties with Drew Coleman, will draw the match-up of Jacoby Jones in the slot on Sunday. Jones has top-notch speed and enjoyed a breakout 2009 season. In games past, (see Burleson, Nate 7 receptions, 113 yards, 1 TD) Wilson has struggled against speedy receivers.

And while Jim Leonhard is a locker room leader, displaying the definition of “playing like a Jet”, he has looked over-matched in the passing game. Offenses zero in on Leonhard’s size to create mismatches with larger tight ends. The numbers may not show it this year, but Matt Schaub has a ton of confidence in the 6′3″, 250 pound Owen Daniels, who can outrun linebackers his size and run over defensive backs who try to run with him.

The lack of depth at the defensive back position will weigh heavily on the job the linebackers can do controlling the pass out of the backfield. Houston has the luxury of having three running backs who do a fantastic job at catching the ball. Arian Foster (33 receptions, 319 yards) has been a match-up nightmare for defensive fronts who not only have to gear up for the run (920 yards, 10 TDs) but catching the ball out of the backfield as well.

Of course, all of this will hinge on the health of their quarterback Matt Schaub. Wednesday night, Schaub checked out of the hospital after spending the night due to bursa sac injury in his right knee. Texans coach, Gary Kubiak, said he should not require surgery and that everything should be OK.

If Schaub does play, don’t be surprised if the Texans come out in three and four receiver sets, with the hopes of stretching out the Jets thin secondary.

The Morning After Report

Monday, November 15th, 2010

FLORHAM PARK, NJ -After a week filled with subplots featuring long overdue returns, family ties, and minor costume party, the Jets-Browns game, a.k.a the Ryan Bowl, lived up to the hype on Sunday. For the second straight week the Jets, lead by the big play connection of Mark Sanchez to Santonio Holmes, pulled out an overtime victory, this time with 44 seconds remaining in the game.

In what was a highly entertaining game for any type of football fan, the Jets played well on both sides of ball. They were able execute in the passing game while peppering in a pound and ground running style. On defense, they kept the bruising Peyton Hillis in check between the tackles as well as stopping Colt McCoy and the passing offense in the second half and overtime.

As the Jets continue to squeak out these close games in the waning seconds, it is slowly building their resume as a battled-tested team, that never fully considers themselves out of a game. And now, on to Week 10’s Official JetInsider.com Morning After Report.

For the second time in as many weeks, Santonio Holmes shines in overtime. His 37-yard catch-and-run TD was the fourth longest play from scrimmage this year. (JetsInsider.com Photo).

PASSING: A

  • Sanchez (27-44, 299 yards, 3 totals TD) displayed a warrior-like demeanor on the field. Not only did he finish strong ( 9-13, 117 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT), but he started off with poise (9-13, 83 yards, 1 TD) as he led the Jets to scores of three of their first four drives of the game. After sustaining an injury to this right calf, he showed off his wheels scrambling out of congestion, firing a first-down strike to Jerricho Cotchery. For the game, Sanchez was 5-8 for 72 yards, 1 TD and a passer rating of 131.3 on plays he was outside the pocket.
  • His 37-yard, game-winning pass to Holmes (5 rec, 76 yards, 1 TD) in overtime was the fourth longest pass on the season. He upstaged Braylon Edwards’ return to Cleveland, who has the three longest plays on the season for the Jets. After having trouble adjusting to a new offense, Holmes seems to be gaining more and more confidence with Brian Schottenheimer’s schemes, being targeted eight times yesterday.
  • The Cleveland Browns defensive front proved to be above average, registering six QB hits and two sacks on Sanchez, who had a large ice pack around that injured calf after the game.
  • With his 44 attempts, the Jets are showing their confidence with Sanchez winning the game for them.

RUSHING: B+

  • Finally! An even game from Team Dash & Bash! Shonn Greene (20 att, 72 yards, 3.6 ypa) made his presence felt dispelling LaDanian Tomlinson (18 att, 57 yards, 3.2 ypa). The two combined for 204 of the team’s 456 total yards.
  • Against an aggressive Browns front seven, it was clear the Jets wanted to pound the ball and establish the run. (They even frequented their Wildcat package with Brad Smith, gaining 39 yards on five attempts.)
  • As mentioned early last week, expect Greene to get more carries as Tomlinson’s numbers continue to dip. Despite gaining 110 total yards, yesterday marked the fourth straight week Tomlinson has failed to gain more than 3.7 yards per attempt.
  • Sanchez continues to get it done with his feet. His 1-yard touchdown rush to end the first half was the second rushing touchdown in as many weeks.

PASSING DEFENSE: B-

  • The Jets defense allowed the rookie Colt McCoy drive down on the in the first half, going 8-12 for 112 yards. The Browns, with no apparent passing threat, were able to dink-and-dunk their way down the field in the first half.
  • The second half, however, was a different story. They were able to get to the QB and disrupt his rhythm, as McCoy went 7-13, 73 yards, and 1 TD.
  • CB Drew Coleman’s forced fumble on former Jet, Chansi Stuckey, in overtime saved the game for the Jets. All Stuckey had to do was get out of bounds, as he had put his team within the range of Phil Dawson. However, wanting to prove something to his former team, he fought for the extra yards and paid the price.
  • I would say it was another great game for the tandem of Antonio Cromartie and Darrelle Revis, but I didn’t even know the receivers they were covering. So…great job!

RUSHING DEFENSE: B

  • For the second time all season, the Jets allowed a team to rush over 100 yards against them. Look no further than Peyton Hillis for the Browns’ success on the ground. He had 60 first-half yards and a touchdown.
  • The Jets put the clamp on the Browns offense in the second half, holding Hillis to 22 yards on nine attempts. The defense as a whole held the browns to only 107 yards in the second half and overtime, after giving up 196 yards in the first half.

SPECIAL TEAMS: D

  • The special teams unit gets a barely-passing grade only because the team won. However the overtime wouldn’t have been necessary if Folk hadn’t missed three field goals — from 48 yards (wide right), 24 yards (right upright), and 27 (wide right) . Normally automatic, Folk missed as many kicks yesterday as he had in the previous eight games.
  • “You wish you could take some back but you can’t,” said Folk, adding, “It was a pretty sloppy day for me.”
  • Speacial Teams coach Mike Westoff had to be breathing a side of relief to see Holmes trot in to the end zone, instead of sending out Folk for the win.

COACHING: B+

  • In a match-up that featured two coaching staffs that are very familiar with each other, I’m sure Rex Ryan is happy he came out on top. In the Ryan Bowl Rex is 3-0 in the NFL, while Rob Ryan holds a 3-2 collegiate record against his brother.
  • Perhaps it wasn’t what the Jets coaching did do, but what they didn’t do that allowed them to come out on top. Late in overtime, it seemed Eric Mangini looked indecisive on whether to play for the win or tie. After a three-and-out with 1:35 at the start of the drive, the Browns followed up an incomplete pass with a 2-yard Hillis run. Mangini called time out with 41 seconds remaining, leading you to believe they were playing for the tie. But a third down passing play that was broken up by a sack, which almost resulted in a safety, forces us to think Mangini wanted to make a run for the win.
  • And Ryan capitalized on the Browns indecisiveness as his team drove down the field and scored.

For Shonn, Greener pastures lie ahead

Friday, November 12th, 2010

FLORHAM PARK, NJ – Before the 2010 season commenced for the Jets, there was about as much hype to their second-year running back as the team itself. Yes, they brought a former Super Bowl MVP, an All-Pro cornerback , and even a future Hall-of-Famer to back-up him up. But it was Shonn Greene, and not LaDanian Tomlinson that was garnering the attention.

Fresh off a playoff performance that gave enough confidence in the Jets front office to let 1,400 yard rusher, Thomas Jones, run to the Chiefs, analysts and pundits alike pegged Greene as the next big running back. Fantasy Football leagues had him ahead of perennial powerhouses such as Stephen Jackson, Randy Moss and Reggie Wayne.

ATTENTION FANTASY OWNERS: He may have burned you in the first half of the season, but like he does in the game, Shonn Greene will be running through defenses for the second half of the year. (JetsInsider.com Photo).

So when he stumbled out of the gate and fumbled twice against the Baltimore Ravens (he hasn’t fumbled since) and with Tomlinson looking like a champion Clydesdale again, everyone started to wonder what Greene’s role would be. Before the season started it was believed that Tomlinson would be the third down back or check in for long yardage situations–making use of his exceptional pass-catching abilities.

Offensive Coordinator, Brian Schottenheimer, maintained that team Dash & Bash would split the carries 50:50, however once Tomlinson took over the starting role the playing time went 75:25 in favor of LT. And who could blame him? Tomlinson was showing that electrifying elusiveness that made him one of the game’s best in San Diego. In the first five games he didn’t average less than 4.7 yards per carry and 105 total yards per game.

However in his last three games, he has posted averages of 3.7 vs Denver, 3.4 vs Green Bay, and 3.7 against the Lions. In those three games Tomlinson hasn’t had a total yardage higher than 7o. Meanwhile, Greene has shrugged off the “bust” label and continues to quietly be a model of consistency. He’s made the most of his carries (roughly 11 per game) having posted a 4.6 yard per carry or higher in four of his last five games.

The formula of success for Team Dash & Bash has been to force defenses to chase the lightning quick Tomlinson early on, and then have Greene knock over a ragged, dragging defense. This way, Tomlinson saves some tread on his 31-year-old tires and offers Greene the opportunity to get some confidence behind him after the rocky start.

With that logic, as we hit the third quarter of the NFL season, now is the time to get Tomlinson his rest (for the playoffs?) and let Greene’s hard running, north-south style take over against opposing defenses. He’s not only shown that he can fall for four yards up the gut, but when he turns the corner on outside runs he’s gaining speed and running through the defensive secondary.

For all the depressed fantasy owner who plucked him in the first two rounds (I know I did; even if it was due to auto-draft after losing connection when it came time for my pick), now is the time to get your use from him. Watch his yards per carry and how he runs this week. I wouldn’t suggest starting him, as the Browns have only allowed one rushing touchdown all year. Don’t believe me? Even the Talented Mr. Roto, Matthew Berry, agrees.

Shonn Greene is a top-15 fantasy running back the rest of the way. My thinking is he’s running better and the Jets need to keep LT fresh.