Monday, November 30, 2009

Jets' Playoff Picture: Week 13

Even though week 12 is over, with the Jets winning last week, I'm finally willing to talk about the playoff picture. I was waiting for the team to win first, and it took them a while, but after beating Carolina, the Jets are just a game back of a Wild Card spot. The tiebreaker situation is complicated, and the race is completely muddled right now, but let's take a look at things.

The leaders
Denver: 7-4 (5-3 conference)
Jacksonville: 6-5 (5-2)

The main contenders
Baltimore: 6-5 (6-4)
Pittsburgh: 6-5 (4-4)

Still kicking
Miami: 5-6, (3-4)
NY Jets: 5-6 (4-5)
Houston: 5-6 (4-5)
Tennessee: 5-6 (3-6)

Here's the games these teams will play this coming Sunday. All of these hypotheticals are if the Jets win on Thursday because if they don't, they're done. Still, there are a lot of tight games this week that wild card contenders could easily lose. A week or two from now, the Jets could actually be looking a whole lot better, until the at Indy-vs Cincy gauntlet to end the season.

Denver at Kansas City
Kansas City is not the ideal team you want to be rooting for, but they did beat the Steelers, and stranger things have happened at Arrowhead in division rivalries. Denver's schedule the rest of the way looks easy, so if they fall, they have to lose a game they shouldn't.

Houston at Jacksonville
This is a big one. Root for Houston. If they win, both teams would be tied with the Jets. Gang Green owns the tiebreaker over Houston, but not Jacksonville. The Jaguars might not be taken seriously by a lot of the NFL, and 20-3 losses to San Francisco won't help, but they're still above .500, and that means they need to start losing!

Baltimore at Green Bay
This is even bigger. Baltimore and Pittsburgh play one more time the rest of the year, in Pittsburgh in week 16. Other than that, both team's schedules are pretty easy, except for matchups against Green Bay. Pittsburgh plays them at home, but the Ravens need to travel to Lambeau. Baltimore wins, and they probably become the favorites to win the 2nd wild card spot behind Denver.

Oakland at Pittsburgh
Ugh. You have to root for the Raiders. Still, before you abandon all hope of an upset, remember that the Raiders have been able to pressure the opposing quarterback at times, and they did beat Cincinatti (who swept Pittsburgh) and Philadelphia. This time, they're on the road. On the bright side, Dennis Dixon might be starting again for Ben Roethlisberger, so if that is the case, the Raiders may have a long shot.

New England at Miami

It's best to root for the Patriots. The Dolphins own the tiebreaker over the Jets, so it would help to get them out of the way. Even if New England loses to New Orleans, the division is a pipe dream at this point, so hope the Patriots can knock down the Dolphins. Miami plays Jacksonville, Tennessee, Houston, and Pittsburgh the next four weeks, so if the Dolphins lose to New England, you'll probably be rooting for them to win three of the next four, as unappealing as that sounds.

Tennessee at Indianapolis
Root for Indy big. If the Titans win this one, they deserve to be taken very seriously to win their last four. If not, they have 7 conference losses, and you can stick a fork in them.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Jets Finally Get a Win: Sedate Panthers 17-6

It's about time!

The defense showed up and played like they've been supposed to all year, and the offense played well enough to win. Sure, it wasn't the prettiest win, but who cares at this point? They needed a win, and they got it, and it was pretty convincing. They aren't back in the playoff picture, but one game wasn't going to do that. They probably need to win the next five as well and get some help, but either way, if the Jets can play well down the stretch, they can see a glimpse of what they can be next year with a year more experienced quarterback, and hopefully gain some more confidence.

*What can you say about Darrelle Revis? The guy is simply the best cornerback in the NFL. He had two interceptions, including one returned for a touchdown on a fluky play where the ball was deflected to him off Steve Smith's foot. Smith was a non-factor all game long. Yes, he was hurt, but this was almost all Revis. He also had a QB pressure on one of Kerry Rhodes's picks, and he made a nice tackle on DeAngelo Williams near the sideline. What a player.

*Rhodes wishes (and might think) he is as good as Revis, but he certainly hadn't proven it thus far, leading to Rex Ryan to bench him in favor of harder hitting Eric Smith. Smith played well enough to probably earn himself another start, but Rhodes came up with two interceptions, and definitely will stay a key part of the defensive rotation. He needs to make more impact plays like that in the future, but it's always good seeing "Hollywood" living up to his reputation on the field.

*Mark Sanchez did a good job, only turning the ball over once. His one interception came when he barely underthrew Braylon Edwards. Chris Gamble had decent coverage underneath, but if Sanchez leads Edwards, he has a big gain. Overall, however, he did a good job managing the game. The Jets didn't ask him to do much, but he made plays when he needed to, and did everything the Jets asked of him.

*The Jets continue to shoot themselves in the foot with stupid turnovers. This time, it wasn't Sanchez, but Dustin Keller and Shonn Greene. Keller fumbled stretching for the goalline in the 3rd quarter. If he just goes down, the Jets have 1st and goal from the 1 and probably ice the game at 21-3, but that fumble gave the Panthers some life. Greene's fumble wasn't as costly as the one he had against Miami at home, but it still ended a drive the Jets were likely going to at least kick a field goal on. They need to play smarter.

*Shaun Ellis was an animal on the defensive line, making a number of plays. He's a bit underappreciated as far as Jets go, but games like this remind you of how valuable he is to this team. He was a key factor why DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart had very few running lanes, other than the two 3rd and longs Williams converted on the first drive of the game.

*Kudos to Brian Schottenheimer. He didn't get cute and try to throw on the Panthers, who have a decent secondary. He ran and ran and ran some more, and most impressively, he stuck with it when it wasn't working. He followed the offensive recipe to beat the Panthers. The defense gave him a lead, and he was able to play a ball-control offense, not putting his offense at risk of too many turnovers. You can't predict fumbles.

Next up is Buffalo on Thursday up in Toronto. The Bills beat the Dolphins 31-14, putting the Jets and Dolphins into a tie at 5-6 with the Bills a game behind. The Jets surely want revenge for the Bills' victory in Giants Stadium earlier this year, and hopefully Mark Sanchez throws less than five interceptions.

Week 12 NFL Picks

1-2 last week
18-15 overall

Bears +11 over Vikings
The Bears are an ugly team to pick at this point, but in a divisional game, 11 points is a lot to give. If Minnesota has a weakness, it's pass defense, particularly against the tight end. Greg Olsen has developed a better chemistry with Jay Cutler, and he will play a key role if the Bears have a shot. It also doesn't hurt that Adrian Peterson is ill and is questionable. He should play, but his illness combined with a minor ankle injury could slow him down enough to make the Vikings mortal.
Minnesota 27, Chicago 20

Texans +3.5 over Colts

What better way to come off a 1-2 week by picking a slumping Bears team, and by picking against a 10-0 team? The Texans' season is on the line this Sunday. They've lost two heartbreakers this season, one to Indianapolis, and one last week, and I expect them to be right there to the end in this one. The Colts secondary is banged up, and the Texans can take advantage of that. The Texans are coming off a short week, but I think they come out angry behind a raucous crowd to try to save their season. Will it be enough to beat Peyton Manning? I don't know, but it's a field goal game I think.
Houston 27, Indianapolis 24

Falcons -12 over Buccaneers
The Falcons are coming off two straight losses, but this is a great spot for them. A rookie quarterback in a hostile environment on the road is never easy. Just ask Matt Ryan. Ryan has been a much better at home than on the road in his two seasons. How good has he been? Try 11-1. I don't think the Buccaneers can stop Roddy White, Tony Gonzalez, and Michael Jenkins. I must say, I probably don't make this pick. However, I expect the Falcons to keep up the momentum and put up some points this week for a nice win.
Atlanta 31, Tampa Bay 13

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Mark Sanchez and Rex Ryan play Red Light/Green Light

Rich Cimini of the Daily News found out how exactly Rex Ryan will be involved with the offense.

When a pass play is called from the sideline, Sanchez will receive a code word from Rex Ryan, the new, self-appointed chief of ball security. Ryan devised a method to help improve his rookie quarterback's awareness of game situations. The coach wouldn't divulge the specifics, but the Daily News learned that it's a simple red-yellow-green system, with each color telling Sanchez how cautious (red) or aggressive (green) he should be with a particular pass play. Down and distance, combined with the score, will dictate the calls.


It looks good on the surface. It sounds like a practical way for the coach to dictate how aggressive he wants his quarterback to be in particular situations. But if Sanchez forces interceptions on some of these "green light" situations, he'll be open to second-guessing.

Carolina Panthers at New York Jets Preview

Carolina Panthers (4-6) at New York Jets (4-6)
11/28/09, 1:00 PM – FOX

After losing to New England, the Jets’ focus is no longer on the playoffs, but simply winning a football game and developing Mark Sanchez. The rookie quarterback has been up and down, with far more valleys than peaks recently. Carolina, like New York, lost what they considered a must-win last week and now must regroup. However, in the NFC, the Panthers have a little more hope for the playoffs and may have more motivation. This is a matchup of the #2 and #3 rushing offenses in the NFL with inconsistent at best passing games.

When the Jets have the ball…

The Jets’ offense continuously shoots itself in the foot with turnovers every week. Mark Sanchez has been very turnover-prone, and it’s been a big reason why the Jets are 1-6 in their last seven games. Carolina’s defense is not that good, but it’s not the secondary’s fault. They have 11 interceptions on the season and have been strong all year against opposing quarterbacks. Braylon Edwards remains a deep threat, but he really hasn’t had a big statistical impact at all yet. He needs to be more consistent, like his counterpart Jerricho Cotchery, who is the true Jets #1 receiver.

Sanchez must protect the ball because the Jets will get their yards on the ground in this game. The Panthers lost their starting nose tackle in the preseason and have been gashed on the ground most of the year. Brian Schottenheimer must take advantage of that and call a conservative gameplan, at least early in the game. Give the ball to Thomas Jones and Shonn Greene. Don’t get cute. Stick with your strengths and attack the opponent’s main weakness.

While I’d like to give the Jets the edge here because they should be able to run the ball at will, Sanchez’s play is such a wild card at this point that it’s impossible to give the Jets an edge except against hopeless defenses.

Edge: Push

When the Panthers have the ball…

The Panthers are just like the Jets in that they want to run the ball and hide their quarterback. Jake Delhomme had 13 interceptions in his first six games, but he has improved since then. Still, the Panthers don’t want to be throwing the ball that much with the runningbacks they have. Also, Steve Smith was added late in the week to the injury report with sore ribs. It’s sort of a mystery injury, likely suffered in practice this week, so no one knows outside of Carolina how serious the injury is. Questionable could mean anything.

Smith’s injury means that the Jets picked a good week to bench Kerry Rhodes. Eric Smith is a much bigger hitter than Rhodes, and he could make the receiver think twice about going over the middle. Rhodes will still play, and how much and how well will be big stories throughout the game.

However, the Panthers’ bread and butter is handing the ball off to DeAngelo Williams and watching him run. Even though their LT Jordan Gross is out, Williams and Stewart had no trouble running behind RT Jeff Otah against Miami. The loss of Kris Jenkins will be felt most in this game, as he would be playing against his former team, who would love to run right by him. The Jets have started off slowly defensively the past few weeks. Carolina is the one team you do not want to start slowly against, as their entire team is built around getting ahead early, running the football, and hiding their quarterback and run defense as much as possible.

Even if Smith plays, he’ll be blanketed by Darrelle Revis all game. Delhomme’s other weapons have not stepped up, so the Jets’ shaky cornerback depth won’t be tested that much. Dwight Lowery and Donald Strickland will not play. The Jets will load the box, blitz and run blitz like crazy, put Revis on Smith, and dare the Panthers to beat them on offense. My guess is the Jets win this battle, but if this is a game where they inexplicably forget how to tackle, Williams will kill them. He’s a big play waiting to happen.

Edge: Jets

Special Teams

The Jets will be using Brad Smith and David Clowney on kick returns, after Leon Washington and Dwight Lowery got hurt and Justin Miller was released after missing a team meeting. Jim Leonhard’s injury is forcing Jerricho Cotchery to return punts. Rookie Tyrell Sutton recently got the return duties in Carolina, but in his first game as kick returner, all five kicks were touchbacks. John Kasay has had his worst season of his career so far. Both he and Jay Feely don’t have big legs, so they struggle from 50+ yards, though to be fair, the Jets don’t give Feely many chances.

Edge: Push

Prediction

Hard to get a feel on either one of these teams. The Jets are in a serious slump and desperately need a win to improve morale, and just to show they can still do it. Carolina has faint playoff hopes still, but if they fall behind in this game, they could struggle. Both teams want to run the football. The Jets will be better at stopping it, and they should pull off a tight victory.

New York 17, Carolina 13

Justin Miller Released - Smith/Clowney to return kicks

The Jets released CB/KR Justin Miller today, not too surprisingly. He was brought into return kicks, and he lost that privilege after just one week, so he's gone. The timing is slightly strange because it's the day before a game, but it is what it is. No word on who will replace Miller, and I doubt there will be until after the game.

The game preview should be up in about an hour. As for the Sanchez videos, the Jacksonville video is done, but I had a few problems with copyrights with YouTube last week, so I'm working on a different way to provide that content.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Kerry Rhodes Benched for Eric Smith

Jay Glazer reports that Jets players are telling him that the team is benching safety Kerry Rhodes this week in favor of Eric Smith. Smith almost got the start last week in favor of the injured Jim Leonhard, but Leonhard gutted it out and tackled more soundly with one arm than Rhodes did with two.

Rhodes has talked a big game for years, and he has a $33.5 million dollar contract from two seasons ago to back it up. Unfortunately, that hasn't manifested itself on the field. He's 6-2, 215 and athletic, but he hasn't made a single big play all season. He's been outplayed by Leonhard and hasn't lived up to either his mouth or his contract.

Smith was almost cut by Ryan when he arrived, but he worked his way into becoming a Ryan favorite, buoyed by a strong performance in minicamp. It's unlikely that he holds onto the job for the rest of the year, but if he plays well, who knows?

This team needed to have a message sent to it. While they haven't quit, there are a number of players on the team who are self-promoters, with Rhodes being the primary one. The defense is still a playmaker or two away from being great. Rhodes has the ability to be that playmaker, but he hasn't shown it in a while. It's unfair to Ed Reed to use that comparison anymore because Rhodes hasn't been involved in a sack or turnover all year, and he only had 1 sack and 2 interceptions last season.

Whether it's because of "Hollywood's" off-field interests or certain on-field factors, Rhodes has been a relative non-factor for two seasons now under two different coaching staffs. Last year, Rhodes threw Eric Mangini under the bus for keeping him in deep help too often. This year, Rhodes said he would make more plays, but he has yet to make a single difference-making play. If benching him sends a message to him that he needs to work harder, or if it makes a difference in any way, it's a good move.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Sanchez Turnovers Doom Jets: 31-14 Loss to New England

Chalk another loss up to the quarterback.

It's always something with this team, and for the third time this year, it was the quarterback taking the lion's share of the blame. Five turnovers doomed the Jets. He helped dig a 24-0 hole in the first half, and then he couldn't make plays down the stretch. Hell, he couldn't even keep the ball!

I'm not saying bench Mark Sanchez because at this point in the season, there is no point to bringing in Kellen Clemens. Let Sanchez get his run. But clearly this is a pretty good football team completely hamstrung by a lack of a passing game.

The defense allowed 24 points (7 were on a Leigh Bodden interception), but they struggled early in the football game yet again, digging the offense into a hole that they simply could not come out of.

Wes Welker is still running wide open. Darrelle Revis shut down Randy Moss as expected, but the Jets had no answer for Welker. 15 catches for 192 yards. He killed the Jets on 1st down, 2nd down, 3rd down, and if the Jets want to consistently beat New England in the future, they need to find an answer for him.

Thomas Jones ran for 100 yards, but most of it was late in the game when the Patriots were playing pass. In the first half, Sanchez had 15 yards passing, and the Jets had no hope offensively. Sanchez was making bad reads and inaccurate throws, and his receivers weren't making plays for him (looking at you, Braylon), and the running game was struggling.

The pass rush struggled early in the game, giving Brady all day to find Welker. Brady threw for 310 yards, and Welker was on the receiving end of most of them.

Now, the season is all about watching Sanchez, trying to get some wins, and trying to get some confidence under the belts of this team. They are now 1-6 in the last 7 games. This team is in a tailspin, and they need a win badly. If they lose next week, they would be on a 2-14 pace for a full season.

The defense played alright, but without Kris Jenkins, and without a #2 cornerback, it's hard for them to beat a team as good as the Patriots. And they definitely missed Leon Washington as a guy who could break a big play and be respected offensively.

But that can't be an excuse anymore. The Jets are what they are: a 4-6 team. They are not going to the playoffs, and now the focus needs to be on winning games now and evaluating which players can help the Jets win games next year.

Jets vs Patriots Preview

New York Jets at New England Patriots
Week 11 - 11/22/09, 4:15 PM: CBS.

9 weeks ago, the Jets made a statement saying that they were here to stay in the AFC East. Today, the Jets sit a 4-5 team having completely choked away the momentum they earned from their 3-0 start. However, that win over the Patriots is also the reason why there is reason to have some optimism as a Jets fan. Beat New England Sunday, and the Jets would be just one game out of 1st with the tiebreaker in hand. Of course, that is no easy task, and a loss, and the Jets can pretty much kiss their season goodbye. Las Vegas seems to think they are done, as the Patriots are 11.5 point favorites. Can New York prove everybody wrong and finally win a close game?

When the Jets have the ball...
The Jets want to be a run-first team with Thomas Jones, and against a Bill Bellichick-led defense, they will definitely want to try to run the football and limit the opportunities Mark Sanchez has to lose them the game with turnovers. Jones and Shonn Greene have been a terrific tandem since Leon Washington was hurt against Oakland, but the Patriots are much better than any of the defenses the Jets have played recently.

But does Bellichick feel that way about his defense? His call to go for it on 4th and 2 against Indianapolis at their own 28 yard line says otherwise. Still, they've been a very effective run defense all season long, and Jerod Mayo did not play in the first matchup.

In the first game between these two teams, Washington and Jones each had 14 carries for 58 and 54 yards respectively. Greene didn't get a carry in the first matchup, but he's been just as effective running the ball as Washington. He's nowhere near the receiving threat Washington is though.

Ideally, the Jets would get ahead early and hide the passing game as much as possible. But against a strong Patriots team on the road, that's unlikely, so Mark Sanchez will need to play mistake-free football. He has another weapon this time around in Braylon Edwards, who should keep Bellichick honest and open up the middle of the field a little more.

Still, Jerricho Cotchery and Dustin Keller will probably receive the bulk of the targets, as they're the better short receivers. Cotchery has been consistently good all season, and has had some amazing plays against New England over the years. Keller has been a poor blocker, but he's been coming on lately as a receiver, making some very nice plays against Miami and Jacksonville. However, he has to hang onto the football, as he's had some problems with drops over the past two years, just like Edwards.

Sanchez threw well in the first game, but with more tape on him, opposing teams have adjusted more and more to his tendencies. Look for Brian Schottenheimer to get Sanchez rolling out and on the move a little bit to try to make things easier on him. Still, even though the Jets have weapons on offense, it's hard to predict too many points. The keys will be scoring touchdowns instead of field goals, and not turning the football over. If the Jets can do that, they should have enough to win. The offense has shown flashes of putting it all together, as Sanchez has had his ups and downs. It's going to be a tough atmosphere for Sanchez, but the Patriots' defense could still be reeling from last week, and the Jets have the weapons to put up points.

Edge: Push

When the Patriots have the ball...
In the first game, the Jets completely clamped down on the Patriots' offense because they kept hitting Tom Brady over and over again. He came out bruised, battered, and rattled, as he was misfiring on receivers that he normally hits, even in the face of pass rushers. The Jets deserve a lot of credit for hitting Brady a lot, but keep in mind that was his second game back from missing almost all of 2008, and he was missing Wes Welker.

Welker is probably the key to this game. Darrelle Revis could shadow Randy Moss for a lot of the game, preventing big plays, but the Brady to Welker combination will be nearly impossible to stop. Lito Sheppard and Dwight Lowery have not been effective recently, and Welker should abuse them. Julian Edelman had 8 catches for 98 yards in the first game, but he was thrown to a startling 16 times. Welker would have made more of the plays that the rookie Edelman couldn't.

As for the Jets, they lose Kris Jenkins from the first matchup, but Calvin Pace is back. Pace might be the Jets' best pass rusher, and he has the ability to be a difference maker. Unfortunately, Jenkins's absence means the Jets have to prove every week they can stop the run. The Patriots ran 19 times for 81 yards in the first game, but Fred Taylor was the leading rusher. He's not playing this time around, as Laurence Maroney and Kevin Faulk will take the lion's share of carries.

The Jets probably won't worry a whole lot about the run, worrying more about Tom Brady and the passing game, but it's going to be important that they don't give Brady easy 2nd and 3rd downs. Putting Brady in 3rd and long situations will allow the Jets more free reign to blitz and get off the field.

Also, in the first game, the defense held twice in the red zone and didn't allow the Patriots to score a touchdown. The margin for error for this game and for this season are very slim, and the Jets can't afford to let the Patriots walk into the endzone when they get into the redzone. They've been good at that department for most of the season, but the Patriots are the Patriots.

Last week the Jets didn't show up on defense until the 2nd half. If they do that again, they will get slaughtered. As it is, there has been so little consistency out of this defense in recent weeks that it's hard to give them the edge. If Chad Henne and David Garrard can march right down the field to score the game winning points, what do you think will happen when Tom Brady gets the ball?

Edge: Pats

Intangibles
New England hasn't lost two straight under Bill Bellichick in a long time. The Jets have the desperation factor behind them, but hasn't that been the case the past couple weeks as well? They've already lost "must-win" games against Buffalo, Miami, and Jacksonville. Still, they always show up against the Patriots, and they should again in this one.

Edge: Push

Prediction
It's always something with this team. One week, Sanchez plays like a rookie and can't throw the ball to the right jersey. One week, the special teams break down. One week, the defense can't stop the run. One week, the defense can't stop the pass. New England is the type of team to take advantage of any mental lapses by the Jets, and while I think they will put together a big effort, Wes Welker will prove deadly on third downs, and late in the game, do you trust Mark Sanchez in a hostile environment, or Tom Brady in his friendly confines? Patriots win a tight one that has everyone looking for more excuses.
New England 23, New York 20

UPDATE (1:40 AM): Apparently, the fire alarm just went off in the Jets building. Dustin Keller and Justin Miller both tweeted about it. Good thing it's a 4:15 game! The Jets have been terrible at 4:15 starts in recent years, so maybe this puts them on the right schedule? I don't know.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

NFL Picks - Week 11

2-1 last week
17-13 on the year

3 straight winning weeks.

New Orleans -11.5 over Tampa Bay
New Orleans isn't at home, but Tampa will make them feel right at home. After two straight weeks against average teams, the Bucs now will meet their match against an offense that will be able to pick apart an overmatched defense. I'd be shocked if the Saints didn't score at least 4-5 touchdowns offensively, and an aggressive defense against Josh Freeman should be able to force an interception and score defensively. Tamps will score a little, but not nearly enough.
Saints 42, Buccaneers 21

New York Jets +11.5 over New England
I have no idea what I expect from the Jets in this game in terms of whether or not they win. I do know that they are being completely disrespected in this game. 1-5 in the last 6 is ugly, but as Rex Ryan likes to tell people, they were all close games. The Jets have won 2 straight against the Patriots, and they match up well against their northern rivals. Whether or not they can make the plays late in the game to win, no one knows, but the defense should be good enough to at least make it a single digit game.

Jacksonville -9 over Buffalo
I trust Jacksonville a lot more at home than on the road. They played well against the Jets last week, and now they face a Buffalo team that can't beat anyone through the air. The Bills are tailor-made for the Jaguars. Maurice Jones-Drew should have 125 yards, Mike Sims-Walker should make a big play or two, and the Bills don't have the firepower to keep up.
Jaguars 31, Bills 16

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Jets Decide on Punt Returner

With Jim Leonhard not expected to play after thumb surgery on Monday, the Jets need a new punt returner. Leonhard, Dwight Lowery, and Darrelle Revis took reps back there last game, but Jerricho Cotchery will get the job against New England because he had the surest hands in practice.

No argument here. Cotchery is the Jets' #1 receiver (sorry, Braylon), but the season is still too much in jeopardy to risk putting a lesser player back there. And putting Revis back there is different than Cotchery because at this point, Revis is the player the Jets can most ill-afford to lose.

As for Leonhard, while he hasn't been expected to play all week, Rex Ryan has stressed how tough he is all week, so Leonhard is listed as questionable and even went through limited practice Friday. If he can't go, David Harris will call the defensive signals.

Someone who will not play is LB Vernon Gholston who is out with a hamstring injury. About time the Jets had an excuse to sit him down. Let's face it, the guy hasn't even shown flashes in a year and a half. I hate calling guys busts so early in their careers, and Gholston could still one day turn out to be a decent NFL player, but there is no way he will ever live up to the #6 draft pick.

Eric Mangini gets the blame for the Gholston pick, and while he may have been Gholston's main proponent, the Jets can't lay all the blame for the pick on him. It's fashionable to blame Mangini right now. He's done a bad job in Cleveland, though the complete dearth of talent at the skill positions haven't helped him out. Tacking Gholston on Mangini is the easy thing to do, and I'm not totally buying it.

As for the Patriots game, it's eerie how quiet things have been from both sides. The Jets can't do much talking after a going 1-5 in their last 6 games against poor opposition. Rex Ryan is still the same guy, but it's nice to not hear so much out of this team before the game. Actually, they can talk all week, they can shut up all week, I don't care, just show up on Sunday and get the job done. The time for excuses ended a while ago, yet they keep coming.

Monday, November 16, 2009

LB Cummings Promoted, CB Carroll Cut, DL Coach Locklin Out

Some small changes are coming to a defense that took some more ego blows .

*DL coach Kerry Locklin is out. Whether he was quit or fired isn't the issue, apparently his relationship with Rex Ryan had deteriorated, and he's the first scapegoat for the problems with the defense. The term "mutual decision" was used by the team, which gives credence to that. Defensive assistant Chuck Weeks and pass-rush instructor Chuck Smith will take an expanded role. What does this mean? Probably nothing, but hopefully it will help shore up any communication issues, if it's true that Ryan and Locklin weren't on the same page.

*LB Kenwyn Cummings has been promoted from the practice squad to the active roster, and CB Ahmad Carroll was let go. Ryan says he wanted to give Cummings a chance, and the linebacker probably deserved it. Every time he's played, albeit mostly in preseason, he's shown a great motor. Still, the bigger story is "Batman's" release. Carroll was a core special teamer, but he had been inactive the past two weeks. He has a reputation for not being the best locker room guy in terms of on-field focus, and he apparently did not take a quiz given to him by the defensive backs coach. The Jets kept an extra cornerback on the roster, and now Marquice Cole's role is more cemented on special teams and in the secondary.

*Brian Schottenheimer claimed responsibility for the time out call on 1st and goal from the 1, saying he didn't have a second play called when the referees wouldn't let the Jets quick snap with a QB sneak. Just another notch in the belt of Schottenheimer who had a bad day all around. Between that and the double reverse pass on the final drive, and you have to wonder about the job he's doing at offensive coordinator.

*Jim Leonhard had surgery on a broken thumb he suffered during the Jaguars' game. He had it wrapped up and kept playing the rest of the game, even sacking David Garrard, but he could be out a couple weeks. That's a blow to the secondary, as Leonhard is the defensive signal caller, and he has played well. Eric Smith would replace him.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Same Old Jets Lose Again: 24-22 to Jacksonville

Whether or not you believe in the curse of Same Old Jets, it certainly exists within this season.

The Jets lost for the 5th time in 6 games, this time to the Jacksonville Jaguars 24-22. This time, they found yet another way to lose. This time, it wasn't Mark Sanchez (entirely), or the special teams (that much): it was the defense. But it is the way in which the defense blew the game that makes things especially frustrating.

First of all, they came into the game not ready to play at all. They missed tackles, and allowed Maurice Jones-Drew to score a touchdown on the opening drive without David Garrard needing to throw a single pass.

In fact the defense didn't even force a punt the entire first half! They allowed 21 points in a half that they didn't bother to show up in. The only drives that didn't end up in points ended in a missed field goal and a clock run-out. Garrard had not thrown a touchdown pass on the road all year; that is, until he faced the Jets.

Sure, they played great in the 3rd quarter and most of the 4th. 5 straight 3-and-outs is impressive, no doubt about it. But when it counted, they inexplicably bro, allowing the Jaguars to move down the field for the game winning field goal.

Somehow, the Jets simply cannot come up with big stops in big spots. Some of the first half problems can be chalked up to post-bye week rust, but that needs to end after a drive or two, and rust doesn't need to yield touchdowns. They turned it around, but some communication breakdowns led to some huge first down pass plays, and as a result, the Jets lost the game. The defense is way too talented to play like a sieve as often as it did.

The mental breakdowns and communication errors have a lot to do with the players, but they have just as much to do with the coaching. I bought a lot of the Rex Ryan hype, and on defense, I still think that he has the goods to mold a great defense. But can he coach a whole team? And the defense has had far too many missed assignments and mental errors this season. A lot of that is on coaching.

The Jets just aren't a good enough team to show up flat on either side of the ball, much less on defense. They can't give the Dolphins 21 points. They can't spot the Jaguars 21 points. And unfortunately, they can't close against either team when handed the lead and a chance to win.

Every loss this season, you can point to a few plays, or a single unit as the main culprit of the loss, and it's no different in this game. It's always something. Offense, defense, and special teams. Good teams get the three to complement each other. The Jets can't. The Jaguars keep the Jets in the game by Quinton Groves falling stumbling flat on his face at the 2-yard line after an interception, and then fumbling the possession away. How do the Jets respond? With a big pass play...only to have Braylon Edwards fumble the ball right back to Jacksonville.

Jacksonville is a Jekyll and Hyde team, but on the road, they've been pretty bad. But if the Jets are a playoff team as Rex Ryan and Woody Johnson have both said, they need to beat this team.

Edwards, Thomas Jones, and Dustin Keller had big drops, and Mark Sanchez was spotty. Edwards needs to catch that 2-point conversion, and Sanchez needs to make a better throw. Jones needs to catch that screen pass in the red zone with a clear path for a touchdown, and Sanchez needs to make a better throw. Not enough drives are ending in touchdowns, and everything seems just a tad off offensively, but much of that is to be expected with a rookie quarterback. Still, when all is said and done, 22 points should be enough to beat the Jaguars.

Thanks to the defense and the coaching, that was not the case. What's with all the trick plays? A reverse pass in the 4th quarter with Edwards? The Jets were moving the ball just fine, what is the point of that? And why are there still too many men on the field penalties in week 10? Rex Ryan should have fixed that problem weeks ago.

And a time out with 1st and goal from the 1? Are you kidding me? There were 20 seconds left on the play clock. Even if they were thwarted from running a quick snap, they need to run a play there. Run it up the middle. Sneak it. Spike it. Do something. I don't care what. Don't waste a time out. Not in the 2nd half.

Playoffs? Playoffs??? I just want to win a game. But next week's New England game is this team's last stand. They need to win that if they have any hope of doing anything this season. And even then, it's going to take a miracle for this team to put together the type of consistency needed to go 6-1 down the stretch.

If there's anything the Jets have proven this year, it's that you never know what you're going to get from them from game to game. Sure, they want to run the ball, and they usually play good pass defense, but the only team the Jets have beaten in the last 6 games is Oakland. Buffalo, Miami, and Jacksonville are not playoff teams. The fact that they went 0-4 against them, with three of the games having huge build-up, is a terrible sign for future big games, nullifying the 3-0 start.

The season is not over yet, but it's close. Watching Sanchez's development will be the main key for the rest of the season barring a miracle. I'll try to have the video up in the next couple days, definitely this week.

Then again, at least the Jets didn't call two time outs and then go for it at their own 28 yard-line. Now THAT would be stupid...

Jets vs Jaguars Preview

Jacksonville Jaguars at New York Jets
November 15, 2009: CBS, 1:00 PM.

Rex Ryan and the New York Jets sit at a disappointing 4-4. Not necessarily disappointing to preseason projections, but certainly going 1-4 after a 3-0 start is a let-down. But if they want to get things turned around, the Jaguars are ripe to be beaten. David Garrard has lost the magic of his 2007 season, but WR Mike Sims-Walker has emerged as a #1 receiver, and RB Maurice Jones-Drew is one of the best in the league. The Jaguars are also 4-4, so they sit at a similar crossroads as the Jets.

Injuries

New York Jets
DOUBTFUL
LB Vernon Gholston (hamstring)

PROBABLE
DE Shaun Ellis (knee)
CB Lito Sheppard (quadriceps, will play, but Dwight Lowery will probably start)
WR Brad Smith (quadriceps)
CB Donald Strickland (ankle)
OT Damien Woody (back)
WR Wallace Wright (knee)

Jacksonville Jaguars
OUT
WR/TE Ernest Wilford (ankle)

QUESTIONABLE
S Gerald Alexander (shoulder)

PROBABLE
DT John Henderson (ankle)
RB Maurice Jones-Drew (knee)

When the Jets have the ball...
The Jets want to be a run-first team, but this may be a week where giving Sanchez a little longer leash would be smart. The Jaguars have struggled against the pass all year long, with just five interceptions all year, and they allow quarterbacks to throw to a 100.2 QB rating, third worst in the NFL.

This is also the first game where Braylon Edwards and Jerricho Cotchery are both completely healthy, and Edwards has been in town more than a few days. Those two and TE Dustin Keller should see a lot of targets their way, especially on third downs, and they will need to make some plays against the Jaguars' weakest link.

The primary reason teams have been able to throw all over the Jaguars is because they simply have had no pass rush all year. The Jets have been good at giving Sanchez time for most of the season. The Jaguars average just one sack per game, so there's a very good chance that Sanchez makes it three consecutive games without turning the football over.

But make no mistake about it, the Jets want to run. Thomas Jones is on pace for another big year, and he and Shonn Greene will see the ball early and often. The Jaguars' run defense had looked pretty stout for most of the year, but DT John Henderson may be wearing down. The Titans' Chris Johnson ran for 220 yards against this defense, so it can be done. Jones is no Johnson, but he will be able to make a few plays.

The Jaguars' defense is also in a state of transition, too. After playing seven games in the 3-4, they switched to the 4-3 against Kansas City after the Titans shredded them. It worked against the Chiefs, but they're not exactly the best judge. The Jets could hit a few big plays either in the running game or the passing game as a result.

The addition of Edwards becomes huge in games like this one. The Jaguars can't simply sell out against the run now, and the Jets have another weapon to get the ball down the field if they do. Edwards and Clowney can work deep sideline; Cotchery and Keller can work short middle, and Jones and Greene should find enough holes for the Jets to put up enough points to win.

Edge: Jets

When the Jaguars have the ball...
Maurice Jones-Drew is the total package. He averages 5.1 yards-per-carry and is 6th in the NFL in rushing yards. He also leads the NFL with 11 touchdowns, and he might be the best closer in the NFL around the goal-line.

Bringing down Drew will be the Jets' main focus. The New York defense has been stout all season (minus the first Dolphins game), and they hold opposing backs to 4.0 yards-per-carry. While the pass defense carries the Jets, the run defense is certainly solid. But Drew is the best all-around back the Jets have faced since Chris Johnson in week two. Johnson, who tore up the Jags for 220 yards two weeks ago as mentioned earlier, had 97 yards against the Jets, but it took him 22 carries, and he did not score. If MoJo has the same numbers as Johnson did, Rex Ryan and co. will be thrilled.

David Garrard has been two different quarterbacks. In four games at home, he has a 65.3% completion percentage, six touchdowns, three interceptions, and a 95.0 QB rating. On the road, he's been awful, with a 55.2% completion percentage and a 64.7 QB rating. More importantly, he has yet to throw a touchdown. Luckily for the Jets, this is a home game. Maybe that's why Rex Ryan implored the crowd to get loud again.

While the Jaguars signed former Ram Torry Holt to be their number one receiver, it's Mike Sims-Walker that has stepped up. Sims-Walker has at least 80 yards in five of his six games, and at 6-2, 214, with good speed, he's tough for any defense to defend. Any defense that doesn't have Darrelle Revis that is. Revis has made Andre Johnson, Randy Moss, and Marques Colston look bad, and Sims-Walker isn't any of them just yet. Revis should have his way, and the Jaguars don't have enough other weapons for Garrard to have that great a day. One name to watch out for, however, is Mike Thomas, the Jags' slot receiver who could be matched up against Lito Sheppard. Sheppard might not be all the way back from injury, and Thomas has quickness.

Still, the Jets' defense one of the best in the league all season long. The main thing that has been missing is defensive touchdowns, something the Ravens pride themselves on. Garrard is pretty careful with the ball for the most part, but if the Jets can get ahead early, they should be able to force him into some mistakes. Garrard has been sacked 20 times this year and has lost four fumbles. The Jets will throw everything they can at him to increase those totals.

Edge: Jets

Intangibles
Both teams desperately need a win, but the Jets get an advantage with an extra week to prepare. Teams typically come out better after the bye week, but there also could be some rust. In a game where getting ahead early will be vital, there can't afford to be any.

The Jets are also coming off a special teams meltdown. The Jaguars are an above average returning team, but they lack a difference-maker like Ted Ginn Jr. Justin Miller looked like he may have lost a step last week, but it's not fair to judge him after just one game. The Jets have the edge in the kicking game with Jay Feely over Josh Scobee, though Scobee has the bigger leg. Neither punter is anything special.

Edge: Push

Prediction
The Jets' defense may take a quarter to get back to their pre-bye form, but the Jets match up very well with the Jaguars. Revis should be able to take out Sims-Walker. Drew should get some yards, but they need to limit the huge plays. This is where it helps that the Jets' defensive backs are good tacklers. The offense should be able to put up points and control the football, and coming off the bye, it looks like the Jets are the better, fresher team with good matchups at home.
Jets 24, Jaguars 13

Saturday, November 14, 2009

NFL Picks: Week 10

2-1 last week, 15-12 on the year. Back-to-back winning weeks, let's keep it going. I like a lot of games this week, but I have to narrow it down to three, so here's what's left.

Cowboys -3 over Packers
I love Aaron Rodgers. I think he's a very good quarterback who is stuck with a putrid offensive line and a shoddy defense. And it's precisely those two reasons why the Packers will lose again. The Cowboys are simply the better team. Their pass rush should swallow up Rodgers, while they certainly have the offense to put some points on the board. Dallas is the better team playing well, and they'll beat the Packers.
Dallas 24, Green Bay 17

Chargers -1 over Eagles
San Diego is following the script. Play poorly early on, figure it out in the middle of the year, and go on a run late. Every year they start slowly, and every year they figure it out later. I learned my lesson picking an overrated NFC East team over the Chargers last week. This week, I'm doing the opposite. Remember what happened last time Philly traveled west? They lost to the Raiders. How do you beat the Chargers? You run down their throats. What does Andy Reid hate to do? Run the football. I rest my case.
San Diego 21, Philadelphia 16

Bengals +7 over Steelers
I love picking these Bengals games. This week, I'm back on Cincinnati to cover on the road in Pittsburgh. The Bengals can play with the Steelers and even beat them as they proved in the first matchup. Now they are 7 point underdogs? In a way, it reminds me of the disrespect they got being underdogs to Baltimore after having beaten them. Now, Troy Polamalu is playing in this game after missing the first matchup. That and home-field are enough to give the Steelers the win probably. But by double digits like they probably need? The Bengals are too balanced both offensively and defensively for that.
Pittsburgh 20, Cincinnati 16

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

How many Super Bowls can one team play?

Maybe the Jacksonville game isn't being looked as a Super Bowl, like the New England game was, but this is being treated as a playoff game.

So if the first Patriots game was the Super Bowl, and a game against the middle-of-the-pack Jaguars is a playoff game, where does next week's showdown with the Patriots fit in? Not to mention the intensity of the two Dolphins games.

Either way, it's all just words, and the Jets know what they have to do. They need to start turning their running game and good defense into more than just stats. They have to win, and it starts against Jacksonville.

They should be an angry and fresh team, and Jacksonville is the type of the team the Jets need to beat at home to separate themselves. A loss, and they need a miracle to make the playoffs.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Week 9 NFL Picks

13-11 on the year after going 2-1 last week. I like all three of these picks, so let's keep it going.

Houston +8 over Indianapolis
Even without Owen Daniels, Houston can still score with anyone, including Indianapolis. Without Bob Sanders, Ryan Moats and Steve Slaton will find some running room, and without Donald Brown, the Colts will struggle a little on the ground. The Colts struggled with San Francisco last week, and the Texans will keep it close
Colts 27, Texans 21

New York -5 over San Diego

Last week, I went against San Diego because they were getting too much credit. This time it's all aout the situatio The Chargers can't stop the run so the Giants will make them pay Plus if you've followed my picks i the past you would know I love picking home teams in these east-west games. This is not a 1:00 start, which I normally like, but the Giants need to win this game and they are better at both running the ball and stopping the run. I like them in this spot.
Giants 31, Chargers 24

Carolina +13.5 over New Orleans
The Panthers were impressive beating Arizona last week in a divisional game 13.5 is way too may points arolia will ru the all against the Saints. Deangelo Williams and Jo Stewart will keep them in the game for a while and the Panthers secondary is pretty good. Carolina usually keeps these games close. Jake Delhomme just needs to not singlehandedly lose the game himself, and I feel confident about this one.
Saints 24, Panthers 17

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Mark Sanchez Video - Every Pass vs Miami



Sorry for the bad quality this week. I also had to cut out a few replays because of the sheer number of throws and big plays in this game. Despite the bad quality, I hope you enjoy it.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Jets find another way to lose, fall 30-25 to Miami

Being 4-4 wouldn't be so bad if it weren't filled with so many glimmers of hope and if it didn't begin with a 3-0 start.

I think this game review would best be formatted in a little segment called "The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly"

The Good
In this ugly loss, you can't blame the defense very much. They allowed 104 total net yards. It wasn't its fault the Dolphins scored 30 points. The Jets stuffed the Miami offense, holding it to just 9 of those 30 points. The best news was the return of the pass rush. The Jets tallied 6 sacks, some of which came in big situations.

Chad Henne didn't have many throwing lanes to throw to all day, and his receivers didn't make many plays for him. The Wildcat was a non-factor, gaining only 6 yards on 9 carries. Sione Pouha and Shaun Ellis among others performed admirably up front in the absence of Kris Jenkins, and Darrelle Revis and the pass defense was stout as usual.

On the offensive side, Dustin Keller came out of hiding to record 8 catches for 76 yards and a touchdown. He made two clutch receptions in the 4th quarter, one on a 4th-and-1o on the Jets' final drive, and another on the touchdown before that. His quarterback Mark Sanchez recovered from a mediocre first half to post good numbers and lead the Jets to a few scoring drives, and Braylon Edwards and Jerricho Cotchery both made plays for him. Thomas Jones also managed a solid but unspectacular 102 yards on the ground on 27 carries against a solid run defense.

If the defense brings out this effort the rest of the season, there's no reason the Jets can't be in every single game the rest of the season. They will feel the loss of Jenkins at some point, but this was a big step in showing they can survive and even thrive without the big man in the middle. As for this game, the Jets rose to the challenge on defense. Ronnie Brown said the Dolphins were the tougher team in the first game. The Jets were the tougher team today. Unfortunately, that didn't matter in the end. Which leads to...

The Bad

The Jets can make fun of the Dolphins all they want, but they've beaten them twice now. There are no moral victories. The Jets now can finish no better than .500 in the division, and Miami is absolutely a factor in the playoff and division race now, at least as far as the Jets are concerned. A win would have been huge, and they played well enough on two sides of the ball to get it. Now, the New England game in three weeks is basically a must-win.

The Ugly

The way in which the Jets lost is hard to script. In the third quarter, Shonn Greene fumbled the football, which Jason Taylor took the other way for a touchdown. Ted Ginn Jr. added two touchdowns on back-to-back kick returns for touchdowns. Danny Woodhead made a poor play allowing Ginn to break outside on the first return, and he was one of many Jets, including Larry Izzo, to miss Ginn on the second one.

Those mistakes forced the Jets to be climbing uphill the entire time, and once the absurdity stopped, the defense let up its only touchdown of the game. Mark Sanchez and the passing game looked much better in the 4th quarter as they tried to throw the ball down the field, but when he needed to do it one last time in the end, he was sacked on third down, and there was nothing there on 4th down.

The coaching staff certainly doesn't go blameless either. Why go for 2 points in the 3rd quarter? The Jets were chasing points the rest of the game, and with their final drive stalling in the red zone, it makes it hurt even more. Plus, not only did they go for the conversion, but they also had to call a time out to think of a play. One more time out would have meant one more chance for the Jets. Did they really need that extra time to think of a fade route?

And Brian Schottenheimer certainly wanted to establish the run, but at what cost? While Mark Sanchez struggled a little bit early, he worked through it pretty quickly, and he played very well down the stretch. The Dolphins' secondary was very inexperienced, and it showed late. Plus, in the last 2 point conversion, in which Wallace Wright's catch was nullified due to an illegal shift penalty, it seemed like Schottenheimer didn't get the play in quickly enough, forcing a rushed shift and a key penalty.

Bart Scott's comments after the game have to go in the ugly category, too. I admit, it cracked me up, but you have to give your opponent at least a little credit. The egg on the Jets' face after talking trash all week also has to fit into the ugly category.

This is going to be a long bye week.

Jets vs Dolphins Preview

Miami Dolphins at New York Jets
November 1, 2009: 1:00 PM. CBS.

The New York Jets and the Miami Dolphins clash this week in a huge football game in week 8 can be for reasons listed here. The Jets took out their anger of losing three straight games on a dysfunctional Oakland Raiders team last week. But that game means nothing compared to this game. New York embarrassed after losing to the Dolphins three weeks ago. The Jets have talked a ton of trash, and the Dolphins have followed suit, and both teams really need this game. If Miami sweeps the Jets, they will have two weeks to absorb the punch to their gut. If the Dolphins fall, they can all but kiss their playoff chances good bye. Let's get to the preview.

When the Jets have the ball...
After back to back 300+ yard rushing outputs, the Jets have finally established their ground-and-pound offense. Brian Schottenheimer is going to try to establish the run first as usual, but the Dolphins' run defense is leaps and bounds better than Oakland and Buffalo's. Their front seven has been pretty strong stopping the run all season long.

Leon Washington is gone, but luckily for the Jets, runningback is the one place on the roster where they actually have quality depth. Shonn Greene stepped in and ran for 144 yards last week. He lacks Washington's versatility, but he adds power and fresh legs. Still, Thomas Jones will be the primary ball carrier. He's coming off back-to-back 100+ yard games, including a franchise record 210-yard performance two weeks ago.

Jones, Washington, and Greene combined for 26 carries for 94 yards against Miami in the first one. They have to do better this time around. Dolphins LB Channing Crowder is unlikely to play, so their run defense takes a slight hit. The running game finally gained a groove in the past two weeks, so it should do a little better in this matchup, but Miami will put up a good fight.

But where the Jets nearly won the game the first time around was in the passing game. Even though Mark Sanchez only completed 50% of his passes, he made big plays when the Jets needed them, with Braylon Edwards making two big plays down field. Jerricho Cotchery also was limited in that game. He's expected to play Sunday, and he expects to play well.

Miami is missing their top cornerback Will Allen, so they will be starting two rookie cornerbacks in Sean Smith and Vontae Davis against two talented and savvy receivers. If the Jets can keep the Dolphins' pass rushers like Joey Porter and Jason Taylor away from Sanchez, he should be able to make some plays. Assuming, of course, he doesn't self-destruct. He rebuilt some confidence against Oakland, so he should play well enough against Miami.

Both units have their holes. The Jets should be able to run the ball pretty well, and their receivers will make enough big plays. On the other hand, there's too much pride and talent on Miami's side to let a rookie quarterback who hasn't been playing that well to put up that many points. The Jets put up 27 in the first game, but two fake punts prolonged dead drives, and a borderline pass interference call helped them out greatly.

Edge: Push

When the Dolphins have the ball...

Most people point to the Wildcat as the reason the Dolphins won the first game. While it was certainly successful, the bottom line was that Miami's offensive line was able to shove the Jets' front seven around, and the Dolphins were 9-14 on 3rd down. The Jets have talked all week about how things will be different this time. Well, for that to happen, they need to put Chad Henne in third-and-long situations.

Henne was the unsung hero of the Monday night game. He went 20-26 for 241 yards and 2 touchdowns, by far the best performance by an opposing quarterback so far. 9 different Dolphins caught passes in the first game, showing how much the Dolphins rely on unpredictability and how well Henne can spread the ball around in the right situation. Still, don't look for Darrelle Revis to be burned again.

The Jets need to put Henne in tough situations, and to do that, they need to stuff the run. Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown ran well in the first match, both from the Wildcat and from normal formations. The Jets will miss Kris Jenkins a lot inside, but there's still too much talent at linebacker for them to run completely wild.

CB Donald Strickland should be back again, so the Jets will have more depth at cornerback than they did initially. But in reality, the defense just needs to disengage blocks and not blow assignments like they did before. Whether it's not controlling a gap in the running game or letting Ted Ginn Jr. run deep for a touchdown, the Jets had mental breakdowns in this game that they simply have not shown in any other game.

There's reason to think the first game was just an aberration defensively, but without Jenkins, the Dolphins still will generate yards and points on the running game. Still, the pass defense should be much improved as Calvin Pace, the team's best pass rusher is acclimated back to the defense after terrorizing JaMarcus Russell last week. Henne played almost flawlessly in the first game, and in his first road game in the NFL, he is bound to come back to earth.

Edge: Push

Intangibles

The Jets have been looking forward to this game for weeks, but the Dolphins would like nothing more than to shut the Jets up and possibly save their own season. Still, playing back at home should be a big help in this rivalry game, as the fans should be revved up to provide a raucous atmosphere for Henne to deal with. The Jets also have a big advantage on special teams, as they burned the Dolphins for two fake punts last week, and Justin Miller is just as talented a return man as Leon Washington.

Edge: Jets

Prediction


This should be a close game. These two teams in many ways are pretty evenly matched. Both have strong running games and young quarterbacks behind good offensive lines. The Jets have better weapons offensively and a better pass defense, while the Dolphins offer a better run defense. This game will come down to which team makes fewer mistakes, and it's easier to trust Sanchez at home than Henne on the road for the first time. Both quarterbacks played well in the first game, but the Jets barely touched Henne. That should change, and so should the final result.

Jets 24, Dolphins 20