Archive for November, 2012

Rex won’t give up on Top-5 Defense

Thursday, November 29th, 2012

JETS HEAD COACH ‘STUNNED’ BY DISMAL PASS RUSH PERFORMANCE BY DEFENSE.

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Rex Ryan was confident in training camp that he was the best defensive coordinator in the game. Not only that, but he beat his chest while defiantly announcing his 2012 defensive unit as the ‘best group he’s coached’ since becoming a head coach.

After the New England Patriots put up 49 points on the Jets Thanksgiving evening, dropping them to the 19th-ranked defense in the NFL, Ryan, losing six of his last eight, is ’stunned’ by the recent play of his defense — particularly the pass rush — but isn’t ready to give up hope.

“I’m not willing to concede anything, though. Maybe we can have some of those great games. We’ve got five games left,” Ryan said Thursday.

As a manufacturer of perennial top-five defenses [he's ranked in the top five in total defense every year since 2005], Ryan — thirteen weeks into the season — isn’t giving up hope of meeting his lofty expectations, but believes it’ll take ’some doozies on defense to get there’.

Short of getting the New York Sack Exchange back on the field, the 2012 Jets will buck Ryan’s defensive trend. Currently, the Jets are giving up 354.1 total yards per game — good for 19th in the NFL. Ranked 30th in the league with 17 team sacks and with Bryan Thomas your leader with 2.5 sacks, getting to the quarterback — much like gas in the Greater New York area — has come at a premium.

Rex Ryan has been 'stunned' by the mediocre play of his defense in 2012. (JetsInsider.com Photo).

Through 11 games, the Jets have averaged  1.54 sacks per game — which, in return, would work out to 24.64 sacks through a 16-game season. To put that in perspective nineteen other teams already have 24 team sacks.

The reason for the lack of sacks is two-fold. One, the loss of Darrelle Revis — the type of unique player that allows head coaches to not worry about one side of the field — forced Ryan to change his approach. Instead of having a lock-down corner who can provide single man coverage on either end of the field, he has one. Having a healthy two would allow the defense to send an extra pass rusher if desired, where Ryan wouldn’t have to worry about the back end coverage. Without Revis, however, he has to worry about the back end coverage and, instead, replaces an extra would-be pass rusher with a defensive back.

The other reason is Aaron Maybin. He unexpectedly exploded for the Jets in 2011 — leading the team in sacks and forced fumbles while only playing in half the season. After given a new contract, new job security and new life in the NFL, Maybin brought the mayhem in training camp — where the only thing that was louder than his skull-cracking hits was his mouth. The problem was, it never translated to the regular season. Maybin was cut at the mid-point of the season for his lack of production.

Ryan wouldn’t place blame solely on Maybin however, citing that often times the sack statistic can be overrated. And he’s right, a bigger picture point-of-view of the pass rush takes QB hurries and hits into account when measuring pass rush efficiency.

“Sometimes sacks are a little misleadings, I remember we played New England the first year I was here and we knocked [Tom] Brady down 22 times and had no sacks. Sometimes that can be misleading, but we wont a Super Bowl in Baltimore with 35 regular season sacks,” he said.

When looking at the bigger picture of pass rushing, however, the Jets individually still have trouble treading water. A Pro Football Focus study on Pass Rushing Productivity[ Sacks (1) + Hits (.75) + Hurries (.75) / # of pass rushing attempts x 100] indicates that only rookie DE Quinton Coples has been the most productive Jets pass rusher, scoring a 7.4 PRP after getting 16 QB pressures over 168 pass rushing snaps.

He ranked tied for tenth among inside pass rushers.

The rest of the Jets? Well, they reside in the murkiness of mediocrity — as PFF only focuses on either end of the spectrum and offers little information on the middle men.

PREVIEW: Patriots (7-3) @ NY Jets (4-6)

Tuesday, November 20th, 2012

The Jets play host to the New England Patriots in the Thanksgiving nightcap game that will surely help any turkey-glutton football fan in avoiding the mandatory post-meal nap.

Clawing to their playoff hopes the Jets are facing a must-win game on a short week as they look to capture back-to-back wins since winning their first two games of the season. The Patriots, fresh off their 59-24 drumming of the Indianapolis Colts, are looking to all but secure their ninth division title in ten years.

At 4-6, the Jets currently find themselves in the ten spot in the hunt for the AFC playoffs — on the outside looking in with the likes of San Diego, Tennessee and Cincinnati. With the sour taste of a would-be win left in their mouths following the October 21 29-26 OT loss, Rex Ryan and the Jets have even more motivation to defeat New England on Thursday.

Mark Sanchez had what was perhaps his best game of the season in New England — who’s secondary is, at best, opportunistic and, at worst, leaky. At Sanchez’s best, he’s passing in and out of the pocket, spreading the ball around to his receivers. At worst he’s turnover prone.

If he’s at his worst Thursday, expect the Jets to be in a long day. While the Bill Belichick’s defense has ranked among the bottom half in the league in recent years — they consistently rank tops in the league when it comes to takeaways. When the Patriots win the turnover battle they are 35-10 (including the playoffs) since 2010. When Sanchez has a turnover in a game the Jets are 16-21 since 2009 and 2-5 through 10 games in 2012.

WHEN: Thursday, November 22, 2012 @ 8:20 pm EST (can be seen on NFL Network or ESPN Radio).

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

SERIES HISTORY: 108th meeting; Patriots lead regular season match-up 54-52-1

LAST MEETING: Patriots 29 — Jets 26 F/OT (10/21/12 @ Gillette Stadium)

NOTABLE: The winner of the turnover battle has won six of the eight games (including postseason) between the two franchises since Rex Ryan joined the Jets in 2009. The only exceptions came on 09/20/09 when the two teams broke even in the turnover battle and the Jets won 16-9 and again on 10/09/11 when the Patriots overcame a minus one in the category to win 30-21.

Jeremy Kerley (heel/hamstring) said he feels ready to go Thursday, but will he be the x-factor? (JetsInsider.com Photo).

HEAD COACHES:

  • Patriots – Bill Belichick / 13th Season with Patriots / 162-62 with New England / 199-107 overall as an NFL head coach (including postseason).
  • Jets — Rex Ryan / Fourth Season with Jets / 36-28 (including postseason).

INJURY REPORT:

  • PATRIOTS — DNP - Rob Gronkowski (forearm/hip), Chandler Jones (ankle), Logan Mankins (ankle/calf). LIMITED - Ron Brace (elbow), Patrick Chung (shoulder/hamstring), Dan Connolly (back), Steve Gregory (hip), Aaron Hernandez (ankle), Dont’a Hightower (hamstring), Brandon Lloyd (knee), Nick McDonald (should), Brandon Spikes (knee), Sebastian Vollmer (back/knee), Wes Welker (ankle), Tracy White (foot). FULL — Julian Edelman (hand), Kyle Love, (knee), Jerod Mayo (elbow).
  • JETS — LIMITED – Sione Po’uha (back), Kenrick Ellis (knee), Joe McKnight (ankle), Bart Scott (toe), Jeremy Kerley (heel/hamstring), Aaron Berry (quad). FULL - Bilal Powell (shoulder), Mark Sanchez (low back), Brandon Moore (hip/foot), Matt Slauson (knee), Mike DeVito (finger), Clyde Gates (shoulder), Jeff Cumberland (wrist), Tim Tebow (ribs), Calvin Pace (shoulder), Stephen Hill (ankle), LaRon Landry (heel), Nick Mangold (thumb).

KEY MATCH-UPS:

  • Mark Sanchez vs. Himself — It’s been a tale of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde for Sanchez all season. At times he’s proven he can make every throw on the field. And at others he’s looked like a monstrosity — looking lost, flat and shown an inability to hold on to the football. It’ll take a mentally tough Sanchez to overcome the obstacles an opportunistic Patriots defense (led by ball hawk Rob Ninkovich) and steal a victory. As Sanchez stated Monday, the preparation for a short week is 100% mental.

It really is a mental battle all week. We have to prepare well mentally … Ninkovich is one of the best at [creating turnovers], it seems. He’s really getting after the quarterback. He’s getting after the football and that’s really their whole defense. That’s kind of their M.O. and they’ve always played well.

  • Ellis Lankster vs. Wes Welker — Isaiah Trufant did a surprisingly excellent job at slowing down the speedy Welker in Gillette Stadium, however with Trufant on season-ending IR it was Lankster who stepped up in his absence. Lankster played well — getting two passes defended against St. Louis. He’ll have a far tougher task in clamping down Welker than any of the Rams’ receivers offered.
  • Muhammad Wilkerson vs. Nate Solder – #BeastMo is no longer a reference to going hard at the gym. Jets fans have gone to Twitter to show their love for their former first round pick. And what isn’t there to love about Wilkerson’s beastly game? In his last five games, Wilkerson has 37 tackles, two sacks, three passes defended, three forced fumbles and a fumble recovery he returned 21 yards for a touchdown.

X-FACTOR:

  • Julian Edelman, WR/PR, Patriots — You know never know who’s going to be the x-factor for the Patriots as every week another player seems to have a big week. Coming off five receptions, 58 yards, 1 TD and a 47-yard rush, Edelman’s week may have come versus the Colts. Having said that however, I suspect Belichick, Josh McDaniels and Tom Brady will be able to find the mismatch on the field and exploit it. In this case, Edelman on a slower linebacker.
  • Jeremy Kerley, WR, Jets — He’s the x-factor for the Jets week-in/week-out. Given that he has heel/hamstring issues, his effectiveness Thursday is questionable. Kerley has proven to be the deep threat the Jets desperately need against an iffy Patriots secondary.

THE PICK: The home team on Thursday night games have reaped the benefits through the first 10 weeks, earning a 7-3 record. Home teams are also averaging 20 more yards and three more points in Thursday match-ups. That said, the Patriots are 8-2 in November games since 2010 and look to be getting in postseason mode. Sanchez mistakes prove too costly, Jets lose the turnover battle and, thus, the game. PATRIOTS 31 – JETS 24

MORNING AFTER REPORT: Running the Show

Monday, November 19th, 2012

JETS OFFENSE KICKS IT INTO HIGH GEAR AS DEFENSE STIFLES SCHOTTY’S RAMS OFFENSE.

The Jets managed to put aside the gigantic off-the-field distraction of yet another anonymous player bashing teammates for a convincing win in St. Louis Sunday. Further more, they left their three-game losing streak in the review; riding a trio of running backs and a smothering defense on their difficult path to the playoffs.

All this against former offensive coordinator and scapegoat, Brian Schottenheimer.

Mark Sanchez (15/20, 178 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT) was efficient — sharp, even — shaking off two previous shaky performances where the offense scored once in nine quarters. The offense on Sunday didn’t fail to do anything wrong, balancing a solid passing game off a reliable rushing attack that led to winning two key statistical categories: time of possession (33:03 – 26:57) and first downs (17 – 15).

What’s truly noteworthy was the zero turnovers by the Jets offense — an area that’s proven to be a costly thorn in their side.

Defensively, the Jets welcomed Schottenheimer’s sputtering Rams offense with open arms — particularly the open arms of DE Muhammad Wilkerson. His strip of Sam Bradford in the second quarter marked his second-straight week with turnover-turned-touchdown — with the strip leading to a 25-yard touchdown by Sanchez to WR Chaz Schilens three plays later and the strip/sack fumble return touchdown last week.

The Jets defense forced three turnovers and continually confused Schottenheimer’s offense. After a Rams’ first drive that went 13 plays, 86 yards and resulted in a touchdown they were stymied Ryan’s defense gaining only 57 yards on 16 plays in their following five drives.

The bigger picture still has the Jets on the outside looking in from the 10th spot in the AFC. A win on Thursday at home against the AFC East leading New England will be another step in the right direction.

PASSING OFFENSE: B+

  • Not explosive enough for an A grade, but Sanchez played within himself and made big plays when he had to. He registered a 123.2 passer rating in the first half after completing nine-of-13 pass attempts with one touchdown and no interceptions. Sanchez finished the game 15-of-20 with a touchdown, no interceptions and 178 yards for a passer rating of 118.3 — finding nine different receivers, four at least twice.
  • Three first half sacs allowed by the offensive line is forgivable given they cleaned up their mistakes in the second half. All-in-all a great overall performance by the o-line. Two of the three sacks were given up by RBs Shonn Greene and Bilal Powell — with a possible miscue in slide protection by Austin Howard in the first quarter when Chris Long got off the line untouched and Howard double-teaming Kendall Langford on the inside.
  • Schilens hauled in a 25-yard pass from Sanchez to give New York a 10-7 lead over St. Louis with 4:37 left to play in the second quarter. It is the second touchdown reception by Schilens in the past three games, he caught his first as a Jet vs. MIA (10/28).  WR Jeremy Kerley averaged 19.8 yards a reception on the road in 2012. In the second quarter, Kerley caught a 32-yard pass to the Rams 40-yard line at the two-minute warning. The reception setup a second K Nick Folk 51-yard field goal and extended the Jets lead to 13-7.

Shonn Greene, with help from Powell & McKnight, led the way Sunday to a convincing 27-13 road win. (JetsInsider.com Photo).

RUSHING OFFENSE: A-

  • Greene carried the load for the offense by setting the tone early to the tune of 32 yards on seven carries over their first three drives. He finished the afternoon with a hard-earned 64 yards on 18 carries. His downhill running set-up the shifty styles of Powell and Joe McKnight.
  • With 14:16 remaining in the fourth quarter Powell carried the ball five-yards for his first career touchdown. The score capped a 12-play, 63-yard, 6:58 drive. He recorded the second touchdown of his career later in the quarter when he carried the ball 11-yards to give the Jets a 27-7 lead.
  • McKnight’s 74 total yards on six touches exemplifies his explosiveness when he touches the ball.
  • The offensive, which has struggled in run protection throughout the season, had a great interior attack largely due to linemen Nick Mangold, Matt Slauson, Brandon Moore and Vlad Ducasse.

PASSING DEFENSE: A

  • Think Ryan had an idea of how to attack Schotty’s offense? On multiple plays Ryan sent DB blitzes from the corner trying to jump the snap. Additionally the never allowed a ball to get behind the secondary — speaking to the play from safeties Yeremiah Bell and LaRon Landry.
  • Prior to Sunday’s game, Wilkerson had registered 33 tackles, one sack, three passes defensed, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery returned 21-yards for a touchdown in his last four games.
  • CB Ellis Lankster was a solid play in the nickel for the Jets defense. Lankster assumed the nickel duties after the Jets lost Isaiah Trufant to the season-ending IR list. He had two passes defended on the afternoon.
  • Landry’s eight solo tackles and two forced fumbles was easily the defensive performance of the day.

RUSHING DEFENSE: C

  • Schottenheimer was hell-bent at establishing Stephen Jackson early in the game. And for the most part, it was effective. The problem was Bradford couldn’t generate anything off the deep pass to spread out the Jets defense. Jackson gained 81 yards and averaged 6.1 yards per carry. Back-up RB Darryl Richardson averaged 4.3 yards per carry on six attempts but had a costly fumble late.
  • David Harris picked up his play Sunday and with a healthy Sione Po’uha back healthy the Jets front seven seems to be heading in the right direction … for now.

SPECIAL TEAMS: D

  • This is the second time in three weeks Mike Westhoff has seen a blocked special teams play and the second time he’s seen a blocked field goal this season. Rookie CB Janoris Jenkins got a free release on Folk’s 26-yard attempt in the second quarter. D’Brickashaw Ferguson was the outside blocker on the play. He has double duty — assigned to blocking the inside man but must also, at the very least, get a hand on Jenkins to slow his pursuit to the kicker. Ferguson got locked inside, leaving Jenkins a free angle to the ball.
  • Folk connected on two 51-yard field goals in the first half. He is the second kicker in Jets history to register two 50+ yard kicks in the same game; Pat Leahy (53, 52) was the first to do it at NE (10/20/85). For his career, Folk has connected on 13 kicks of more than 50 yards, eight as a member of the Jets.

Date             Opp.          Yds.

10/11/10    vs. MIN      53

10/17/10    at DEN       56

09/11/11    vs.DAL       50

11/06/11    at BUF       50

12/04/11    at WAS       51

10/21/12    at NE         54

11/18/12    at StL          51

11/18/12    at StL          51

COACHING: A

  • An all-around complete game for the Jets. They managed the Wildcat package well [translation: they used it sparingly]. The Tebow package brings confusion to the personnel, momentum to a halt, offers little production and takes Sanchez out of the rhythm. They were more in tune to the flow of the game than they were the last two games.
  • Credit Tony Sparano for adjusting the offensive line scheme in the second half. After allowing three sacks in the first half, he shifted the pocket a couple of times after the snap to ensure better protection on Sanchez roll outs.
  • Time management was right on time Sunday — another area of concern for the coaching staff to this point.

ANONYMOUS SOURCE: The 54th Man

Thursday, November 15th, 2012

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — The Jets saw just how effective Seattle’s twelfth man was in their 28-7 loss on Sunday. Wednesday, once again, we saw the Jets’ mysterious 54th man –an anonymous source — rear his ugly head. His effectiveness can only be truly measured over time, however the immediate impact is damaging nonetheless.

One starter defensive starter told the New York Daily News that Tebow is “terrible,” and another, when asked about switching to a Tebow-run wildcat offense, said, “We can’t win running that s—.”

Rex Ryan, after dealing with a similar locker room mutiny due to an anonymous source last season, had difficulty hiding his distaste for what is being called a “cowardly” act.

“I absolutely addressed it because I think it’s a cowardly thing. If you’re not going to put your name to it, I think that’s about as cowardly of a thing as there is. I even mentioned that. I don’t want to get into the specifics of what I said, but I did address it with our football team,” he said Wednesday.

Tim Tebow was the target of the 54th man of the Jets roster -- an anonymous source -- that took shots at Mark Sanchez last season. (JetsInsider.com Photo).

Since coming to the Jets, Ryan has never put a muzzle on players when it came to the media; allowing them to speak their minds — an ideology that should nip this very type of predicament in the bud. So while Ryan was noticeably peeved at the 54th man, he was forgiving to left guard Matt Slauson, who spoke on the record — even if it were statements made “months” ago.

“I said from the day one when I took the job we’re not always going to be lined up exactly as is, but we’re actually going to tell you what we believe. I have no problem with Matt Slauson because he put his name on it. I don’t agree with everything Matt said. I agree with the fact we have a starting quarterback. We’re confident, and obviously Matt is confident in Mark Sanchez,” he said.

Having been in a similar last season, Sanchez offered a bit of his own advise to the polarizing back-up quarterback.He reiterated his message from last year that not putting your name on a quote like that is “cowardly” and “not professional”. In other words, “it’s just not cool”.

“I feel for Tim, that sucks, it just sucks.  I know, it can’t feel good.  But at the same time, I’ve been there. You just wake up the next day and keep playing and stay positive and smile and have fun and know you’re playing a game and have a good time with it.  Just focus on the positive stuff and try to stay above it,” Sanchez said.

As the team addressed the issue, it’s clear a conscious effort is being made to move on and regain focus on football. The pink elephant, however, is still in the circus tent. After a kumbaya-like off-season filled with new beginnings in Cortland, another season of Jets West and trust seminars there is still a lack of respect for the fellow men in the locker room.

The 54th man is leading the circus show, however to call whomever the anonymous source is a leader is incorrect because no one follows a man without a name.

Jets Waive Aaron Maybin; Sign RB Kahlil Bell

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — The mayhem has come to an end for the New York Jets. For now at least.

The Jets announced they have waived linebacker Aaron Maybin on Tuesday amid a three-game losing streak. Dubbed at the start of the season as their top pass-rushing threat, Maybin failed to produce a sack in eight games in 2012.

He earned that label coming into this season after reviving his career with the Jets — providing a team-high six sacks and four forced fumbles in thirteen games in Green and White. A former 11th overall pick in the 2009 NFL Draft from Penn State, Maybin was cut from the Buffalo Bills before initially joining the Jets on August 17, 2011.

Aaron Maybin won't be creating any "mayhem" for the Jets. The team waived him on Tuesday and signed RB Kahlil Bell.

His performance in 2011 earned a pay raise from the Jets to the tune of one-year, $1.015 million contract with a $325,000 signing bonus and a $75,000 roster bonus.

His one tackle in 119 defensive snaps this season is a bit misleading as he ranks fourth on the team with nine quarterback hits. The team chose to go in the direction of Maybin’s training camp roommate, Ricky Sapp, for their designated speed rusher. Sapp was activated to his first NFL game for last week’s 28-7 loss in Seattle in favor of Maybin, who was made inactive.

By being waived, and not cut or released, the possibility of Maybin returning for a cheaper price once clearing waivers is there.

The move makes room for running back Kahlil Bell, who was signed from the Chicago Bears Tuesday after working out for the Jets as NFL Network’s Jason La Confora reported. Bell, a fourth year back from UCLA, has played in two games this year gaining 33 total yards. La Confora also reported that Steve Slaton was also being worked out at the team’s Florham Park facilities. Slaton has spent time with offensive coordinator Tony Sparano’s schemes when the two were together in Miami.

Bell offers insurance to a depleted Jets backfield that features beat-up back-ups Bilal Powell (concussion) and Joe McKnight (high-ankle sprain). Bell could see playing time in Sunday against the St. Louis Rams.

EXTRAS: Jets have placed DB Isaiah Trufant on injured reserve with a left knee injury Tuesday. Trufant injured his knee on the first play of Sunday’s loss against the Seahawks.

He was originally signed to the Jets practice squad (12/08/10) before joining the club’s active roster (12/30/10). He has seen action in 23 regular season games, mostly on special teams, racking up 21 special teams tackles.  In his only start as a Jet (vs. NE, 10/21/12), Trufant collected six tackles, including two for a loss.

PREVIEW: NY JETS (3-5) @ SEAHAWKS (5-4)

Friday, November 9th, 2012

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Think Rex Ryan and company spent the last two weeks sleepless over Seattle? The Jets are hoping to be Jet-lagged free on Sunday where a time zone cautious coaching staff is focusing on east coast time management on their furthest trip west on the season.

“I think by staying on the east coast time, even though you’re out there west, I think that helps [the change in time zone].  It hasn’t been that big of an issue in the past. In fact, it’s been a good thing. I know we played poorly when we went to Oakland one time, but other than that, I thought we’ve been pretty successful going out there,” Ryan said Thursday.

The Jets are 3-2 including the playoffs against west coast teams on the road since 2009.

Despite Antonio Cromartie confidently stating that his 3-5 team will definitely make the playoffs on NFL Network Thursday, the Jets have a long road ahead that starts against a Seahawks team that is undefeated at home in one of the toughest places to play in the league.

Coming off their bye week the Jets are looking to end a two-game losing skid that saw their perfect 2-0 divisional record even out at .500 following losses to New England and Miami. The bye week is usually reserved for a self-evaluation period and with theirs coming smack in the middle of the season mistakes are still correctable.

“There are some things that you see about yourself. Again, some of the things, it’s really disappointing. We’re turning the ball over. We’re fumbling the ball away. The red zone turnovers have really been costly, obviously, because you’re taking points off of your board and, in some cases, putting them on the other team’s board. On defense, things are really not to our standards with our red zone defense and our third-down defense.  Our run defense is not where we want it to be. It’s improving, but it’s not where we want it to be. Those are areas that (we have to improve in) and on special teams, where we normally lay our hat that hey this is how we build our football team, (we need to improve). We have to get back to who we say we are,” Ryan said on Monday.

A silver-lining amid the growing list of Ryan’s disappointments are the recent improvement on run defense an offense. According to Ryan, over the last 100 attempts his defense is allowing 3.1 yards per carry and the offense is gaining 4.3 yards.

The silver-lining for Mark Sanchez may be growing thinner by the week as he continues his sporadic play that has followed him through the first three years of his career. After two strong performances against Indianapolis and New England, Sanchez laid a goose egg at home against Miami — perhaps proving former coach Pete Carroll’s doubts as Sanchez left USC early for NFL fame and fortune.

“I felt it was the right decision no matter what, no matter what anybody said.  When you make a decision like that, there’s no turning back. I think the most important thing I heard during that process is I have to live it out to be the right decision for me, no matter what. He wasn’t the only one saying don’t go. There were plenty of people, my parents included,” Sanchez said on Wednesday.

Currently ranked 10th in the AFC playoff picture, the Jets need to continue to tune out the naysayers to right the ship against the Seahawks on Sunday.

WHEN: Sunday, November 11, 2012 @ 4:05 pm EST (Can be seen on CBS or heard on ESPN Radio).

WHERE: Seattle, WA / CenturyLink Field (capacity: 67,000).

SERIES HISTORY: 18th meeting / Seahawks lead all-time 9-8-0.

LAST MEETING: Seahawks, 13, Jets, 3, CenturyLink Field (12/21/08).

NOTABLE: New York has won eight of the last 10 contests against Seattle.

HEAD COACHES:

  • JETS — Rex Ryan / Fourth Season with Jets / 35-27 (including postseason).
  • SEAHAWKS — Pete Carroll / Third Season with Seahawks / 20-23 with Seattle & 54-56 overall as an NFL head coach (including postseason).

Is Tim Tebow Week 10's X-Factor in the Jets Insider's Preview article? (JetsInsider.com Photo).

INJURY REPORT:

  • JETS — OUT – Kenrick Ellis, Joe McKnight. QUESTIONABLE – Bart Scott, Brandon Moore, Nick Mangold, Eric Smith,Bilal Powell, Sione Po’uha. PROBABLE – Mark Sanchez, Matt Slauson, Calvin Pace, Mike DeVito, Clyde Gates, Damon Harrison, Jeff Cumberland, Jeremy Kerley,LaRon Landry.
  • SEAHAWKS — OUT – James Carpenter, K.J. Wright. DOUBTFUL – Greg Scruggs. QUESTIONABLE – Clinton McDonald. PROBABLE – Doug Baldwin, Red Bryant, Kam Chancellor, Braylon Edwards, Jason Jones, Marshawn Lynch, John Moffitt, Richard Sherman, Max Unger.

KEY MATCH-UPS:

  • Jets WRs vs. Aggressive Seahawks’ CBs — Listed at 6′3″ and 6′4″, respectively, Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner play a very physical man cover scheme and love to jam receivers at the line. A lanky Stephen Hill has proven to have a tough time handling man press coverage. The 5′9″ Jeremy Kerley has been explosive at times, but against bigger defensive backs will he have as much success as recent history has shown?
  • Muhammad Wilkerson vs. Russell Wilson — The Jets top edge setter will have his hands full on Sunday containing the Seahawks rookie QB to stay in the pocket. The 5′11″ Wilson has made his mark by passing outside the pocket on designed rollouts, bootlegs and play-action passes. Wilkerson is leading the team in eight tackles for loss — putting him on track to break Bart Scott’s team-best 18.5 tackles for loss in 2010.
  • Ex-Jets vs. Former Team — Leon Washington and Braylon Edwards will be sporting chips on their shoulders as they welcome their former team to their new home. Washington is itching to return a kick against the team that didn’t want to pay him while Edwards hopes to remind nostalgic Jets fan of his 2010 success with Sanchez. In what might be a tough game for Jets fans, watching the mini-matchups may be the most fun they have all Sunday evening.

X-FACTORS:

  • Antonio Cromartie, CB, Jets – Perhaps the biggest playmaker on the Jets, Cromartie has adopted the role of Darrelle Revis — yet teams are still throwing in his direction. Ryan’s defense has fared well against rookie QBs this season — with a 1:8 TD:INT ratio in three games against Ryan Tannehill and Andrew Luck. That certainly sounds like a good situation for an opportunistic Cromartie to yet again come through.
  • Russell Wilson, QB, Seahawks – A fairly obvious choice, but here’s my thinking: Carroll loves to run the ball and will definitely look to Marshawn Lynch to carry the load. But if Wilson can sneak a few deep balls over an aggressive Jets defense coupled with a few more plays on his feet that will prove to be a difference maker.

THE PICK: It’s a tough game for the Jets to win, who’ve shown inconsistencies scoring on offense, against the Seahawks who have given up 15.5 points per game at home playing offensive-minded teams such as Dallas, Green Bay and New England. The Jets are not offensive-minded. SEAHAWKS 27 – NY JETS 14.

SECRET’S OUT: Keep Wilson in the Pocket

Thursday, November 8th, 2012

A MORNING SHOW CHAT & A PRACTICE SQUAD CALL-UP LEAVES NO QUESTION TO HOW JETS ARE PREPARING FOR THE SEAHAWKS’ MOBILE QB.

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. – It’s no secret at this point. And it didn’t take Antonio Cromartie letting the cat out of the bag on NFL AM for everyone to already know.

The Jets cornerback appeared on the NFL Network’s morning show and while his “definitive” stance on the 3-5 team making the playoffs stole headlines it was his game analysis that’s worthy of note.

“He’s a guy who can extend a play,” Cromartie said to NFL Network when talking about Seattle’s rookie quarterback Russell Wilson.  ”When you have a quarterback who can extend the play and get outside the pocket and make plays with his legs and his arms, it’s kind of hard to defend. The biggest thing for us is to try and keep him in the pocket, and make him make throws that he can’t see over [the offensive line].”

When it comes to stopping the Seahawks’ aerial attack, it starts with keeping the short-in-stature Wilson behind (and below) his offensive line. Listed at a generous five-feet 11-inches, Wilson has found success through the air when rolling out of the pocket on designed rollouts, bootlegs and play-actions — where he doesn’t have to look over his tall offensive line. With no starting Seahawk lineman under six-foot-four, the passing lanes are much more visible outside the pocket for the dwarfed Wilson.

Antonio Cromartie not only said the Jets would make the playoffs, but shed some light on how to stop QB Russell Wilson. (JetsInsider.com Photo).

To keep Wilson inside the pocket will take a healthy balance of edge containment and execution of gap assignments in the middle by the Jets front seven. It also doesn’t hurt to have speed on the outside either.

That’s where Ricky Sapp comes in. The Clemson product was signed to the active roster Thursday, while safety Antonio Allen — who was waived on Tuesday — took Sapp’s place on the practice squad with Eric Smith coming back from a knee injury. A pass-rushing specialist on the outside, Sapp had an impressive camp before suffering a high ankle sprain and missing the preseason. With speed being one of his biggest tools, Sapp could provide a big play or, better yet, prevent a big play from happening.

“The way he has been practicing, he has been a handful for us to block. The young man is a guy that just keeps going. We’ll watch him chase the passer [this week],” Rex Ryan said.

He’s not the only one who can have an impact on Wilson’s pocket presence, as Muhammed Wilkerson, Quinton Coples and Calvin Pace have got to carry the load. But Sapp’s first NFL game could be one where he’s put in the position to succeed.

For the whole story on Ricky Sapp and his road to the NFL, read my piece on him from July 31st.

Corralling Carroll’s thoughts on Sanchez

Thursday, November 8th, 2012

SANCHEZ’S COLLEGE COACH SAID HE WASN’T READY FOR THE NFL PRIOR TO THE 2009 DRAFT. FOUR YEARS LATER, DID CARROLL HAVE A POINT?

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Mark Sanchez was riding high at a 400-yard/5 TD, Heisman-like game for the USC Trojans in 2009 as he led them to a Rose Bowl victory. It was his first, and only year, as a starter for Southern Cal — as he chose to leave the college game for the NFL Draft.

Pete Carroll, Sanchez’s then-collegiate coach and current head coach of this week’s opponent — the Seattle Seahawks, expressed his doubts about Sanchez’s transition to the NFL — something Carroll had first-hand experience in. As a coach of the Jets in 1994 and the Patriots in 1997, the success Carroll had in college translated to nothing more than mediocrity in the NFL.

Questioning the young Mission Viejo QB’s game experience and maturity, Carroll advised Sanchez to stay the extra year — trading the top-5 dollars for professional longevity.

Sanchez disagreed, respectfully.

In the early goings, Sanchez looked to have the last laugh on the topic. He was drafted fifth overall to be the franchise quarterback in New York and led his team to back-to-back AFC Championship games. All the while Carroll began to look like a bitter coach who was going to say or do anything to retain his top offensive player.

Oh, how quickly perception can change in a few years.

Mark Sanchez was publically questioned by then-head coach Pete Carroll for his decision to leave USC early. Did Carroll have a point? (JetsInsider.com Photo).

By most accounts Sanchez has regressed in the two years since the last AFC Championship game appearance leading many to re-examine Carroll’s pre-NFL advice for his former quarterback. Carroll did retreat on his comments made before the 2009 NFL Draft, saying that Sanchez has since proved him wrong, however the proof may be in the pudding that Carroll was on to something.

Sanchez has seen an increase in turnovers and a decrease in completion percentage and QB rating since 2010. Anonymous sources, team personnel, players and media alike all have, at one point or another, publicly questioned his mental make-up in handling the pressure of being a quarterback under New York’s bright lights.

What exactly would have an extra year at USC done for Sanchez? The positives are quite obvious:

  • Southern Cal is the professional football team in the Los Angeles area, getting another year in a major media spotlight could have done wonders for his demeanor on camera and in front of the microphone.
  • It could have been bigger sample size to see how Sanchez responds to adversity. It’s easy to be upbeat and confident when things are going well, but how about when times are tough? Sometimes, as Sanchez has shown, simply saying the right thing isn’t enough. It’s how you say it.
  • Sanchez’s 59 interceptions and 15 lost fumbles are both areas that could be improved with better amateur-level seasoning.

Sanchez, however, chose to take the big pay day — signing a 5-year deal worth upwards of $50 million ($28 million guaranteed), easily the highest contract in Jets history. On top of that he received a three-year extension that jumped his five-year salary the seventh highest for QB in the NFL at $58 million.

His decision paid off, literally.

His decision to leave USC early was calculated business decision. Put simply, Sanchez was the second-best QB on the board in 2009 — his only first-round competition at quarterback was Matthew Stafford and Josh Freeman. To wait for 2010 to enter the draft would most likely see a slip in his stock with healthy competition for college-dominant quarterbacks like Tim Tebow, Sam Bradford and Colt McCoy.

With hindsight at 20/20 Sanchez could have easily been the first quarterback taken given improvement on an impressive junior campaign — giving opportunity to fine tune of some the rough spots of his game that continues to plague him.

As Sanchez-supporters hold on to his two trips to an AFC title game with a tiger-like grip, memories of those teams are fading fast in the distance — with the future offering a bleaker outlook. Now facing the Carroll-coached Seahawks in Seattle, where they are 4-0 and giving up 15.5 points per game, the former coach of Sanchez is looking forward to proving just how right he was four years ago.

“It’ll be cool. The people I love the most I love to beat the most,” Carroll said.

While Jets fans begin to ask the question if it was right taking a chance on the quarterback from USC, Sanchez has $58 million answers to the very same question. It’s not, however, a question he must answer himself, rather one he must answer to the fans who are so emotionally invested in his success and failure.