Friday, December 31, 2010

The Current NFL Playoff Picture

Happy New Year everybody! As we go into a New Year, I thought I would try and help everyone understand the situation in the NFL that comes with the New Year.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Sanchez to Go? Or No?

So it seems that New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan still has not decided whether quarterback Mark Sanchez will be playing this Sunday against the Buffalo Bills. I think it depends on if his shoulder is really hurt or not. After Sunday’s game, Sanchez said he did not have a tear, but was a bit sore.

If the kid is hurt, no question he should sit. He may not have a good track record after long breaks, but a healthy Sanchez is better than a hurt Sanchez. No need to risk him getting sacked and making whatever injury he has worse.

If he is healthy, then I’d say play him at least a quarter, but at most a half. Let him get a score and stay hot and maybe raise his stats a bit, but after that just let Mark Brunell and other backups take over and lead them to a win over the Bills. Although the Jets can climb to the fifth seed in the AFC Playoffs, it’s not worth risking any injuries. The Jets are already banged up enough (Leonhard, Eric Smith, Ihedigbo, Pryce, Woody) and more guys seem to be going down each week. Give the guys a week or two to get healthy and ready for the playoffs. We know we’re going to need these guys to make a push.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Wait, We Made It? WE MADE IT!!!

In an up and down season filled with scandals and drama, it’s fitting that the Jets would find an out of the ordinary way to grab a playoff spot. The Jets lost a very entertaining game Sunday to the Chicago Bears 38-34, but the lining was silver as the Jets clinched a playoff berth thanks to the Washington Redskins knocking off the Jacksonville Jaguars in overtime. Graham Gano’s game winning field goal to knock off the Jaguars came just minutes after the Jets’ loss to the Bears while Rex Ryan was starting his post game press conference. Naturally, he was relieved and full of joy.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Win and We're In: JETS at Bears

The New York Jets fly into the Windy City to face the NFC North champion Chicago Bears this week. The Jets can clinch a wildcard spot with a win or a tie, and can also clinch if the Colts or Jaguars lose. The Bears have clinched the NFC North title, but can still earn a first round bye in the NFC Playoffs, so don’t expect them to go easy in this one.

Mark Sanchez will be starting on Sunday. He believes his shoulder is back to normal and he can give the Jets the best chance to win.

I see this game being extremely similar to last week’s against the Steelers. Both the Steelers’ and Bears’ defenses give up very little points and both are very strong against the run. The Bears are actually ranked lower than the Steelers in both categories. The point I am trying to make is that Brian Schottenheimer stepped his game up last week and beat one of the best defenses in the league, why can’t he do it again this week?

Friday, December 24, 2010

Sanchez Ready to Go

Jets’ quarterback Mark Sanchez has officially been listed as probable for Sunday’s game against the Chicago Bears. Sanchez has been limited in practice all week with a cartilage tear in his throwing shoulder. The second year quarterback had more zip behind his throws in Friday’s practice and he says there is no question that he will be out there leading this team. Sanchez told reporters that his shoulder felt the way it did going into last Sunday’s game in Pittsburgh and the way it felt the rest of the season.

Sanchez will start on Sunday. It is possible that the Jets tried to play the media by overhyping this story to make everyone forget about Rex Ryan’s foot fetish video. Whether he is in pain or not, I fully expect Sanchez to be out there playing. He knows how important this game is and knows he needs to be out there to give the Jets the best chance to win.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Jets in the News

It has been another crazy week in the news for the Jets. Here’s what I think of some of the top stories.

Tripgate is still being talked about. Moving on.

Rex Ryan’s foot fetish video has gone viral this week. Despite what everyone else thinks of it, Jet fans know that the head coach is a character. I would really love to know the video of him and his wife got leaked. Anyway, the Jets have won 10 games this season under Coach Ryan. 10 games. Let the man have his fun. I will not judge him as long as we keep winning games.

Mark Sanchez has some torn cartilage in his throwing shoulder. What originally seemed like something he could play through has now become a concern. Rex and company are calling Sanchez a game time decision and have Mark Brunell preparing to start if necessary. If Sanchez is a no-go, the defense and ground game will need to step up big time. Mark Brunell has plenty of experience, but at his age we are unsure if he can lead a team to victory against one of the top defenses in the NFL.
EDIT: Sanchez will definitely start on Sunday barring any setback on Saturday or before the game on Sunday. He looked close to 100% in practice on Friday.

Santonio Holmes has a case of turf toe. The Jets say there is no question he will be playing and there is nothing to be concerned about. Let’s just hope it isn’t a lingering injury that may hurt him during a playoff run.

That seems to be it for now. If anyone has heard anything else worth talking about, please leave a comment.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

What I Saw: JETS at Steelers

I decided to try something new this week. This will not be long, but just some things I noticed, whether good or bad, from the Jets in their week 15 game.

Schotty redeemed himself this week, coming up with a brilliant game plan that kept one of the most feared defenses in the league on edge every time the Jets had the ball. The only questionable parts of his game were at the ends of each half, but otherwise he did a fantastic job and makes Jet fans more confident in him going forward toward the playoffs.

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Green Machine is Alive: JETS 22 - Steelers 17

The Jets went into Pittsburgh and did what they had never done before in franchise history; they won. Gang Green pulled out a much needed win over the Steelers and are now one win away from clinching a playoff spot. Mark Sanchez stood strong and got his team back on track with some big help from his defense.

The Jets finally did what they had been saying they needed to do for weeks. They started hot and came out with a bang on the opening kickoff. Brad Smith found a big hole and returned the opening kickoff 97 yards to give the Jets an early 7-0 lead. Smith scored the last Jets touchdown on a kickoff return 3 weeks ago against the Bengals, but was able to keep both of his shoes on this time.

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger got off to a slow start, but found his rhythm late in the first quarter, which led to three straight scoring drives ending with a touchdown on the first possession of the second half. From that point on, Big Ben could not get anything going. On the ensuing drive, Sanchez led the Jets 66 yards down the field and scored on a 4th and 1 bootleg in which Sanchez faked the hand off and ran the ball into the end zone himself to tie the game. At this point, the defense stepped in and gave the Jets a chance to take the lead, which they did on a field goal on their next drive. Two series later, after a Jets punt forced the Steelers to start a drive at their own 3-yard line, Jason Taylor powered past the offensive line untouched and tackled Steelers’ back Mewelde Moore in the end zone for a safety to give a Jets a safer 22-17 lead. The Jets only managed to kill 25 seconds after getting the ball back, leaving a little over two minutes for the Steelers to try and drive 92 yards for a game winning touchdown. Ben Roethlisberger picked apart the Jets’ secondary and drove the Steelers 82 yards to the Jets’ 10-yard line with nine seconds left. On the next two plays, the Jets sent only three men to rush the quarterback and dropped eight back in coverage. This proved to be the winning strategy as Roethlisberger’s two attempts at the end zone fell to the ground incomplete leaving the Jets with the victory.

This was the most complete game the Jets have played since their week two victory over the Patriots. Mark Sanchez protected the ball well and ended an eight game interception streak. The Jets took advantage of Troy Polamalu being inactive. His presence creates a different atmosphere on the field and his absence was a huge reason the Jets were able to protect the ball. Sanchez did not throw for any touchdowns, but did produce his third rushing touchdown of the season, the Jets’ first offensive touchdown in 11 quarters of football. Looking at the numbers, the Jets ground game does not look very impressive. The Steelers are the top ranked rush defense in the NFL and only allowed 60 yards per game on the ground going into the game. The Jets rushed for 106 yards, the most the Steelers have given up all season. LaDainian Tomlinson and Shonn Greene proved to be a nice one-two punch and came up big when they needed to. Braylon Edwards had his biggest game of the season, making eight catches for 100 yards.

The Jets defense gave up an ugly 378 yards of offense and the Steelers had two receivers with seven catches. Rashard Mendenhall became the first running back to rush for 100 yards on the Jets this season. As bad as that may look, the defense stepped up big time in the second half and is a huge reason for this Jets’ victory. 

Just wanted to throw this video in. Rex Ryan showing lots of respect for Mike Tomlin and the Steelers. You can hear him say "We'll see you in there. We'll play again."

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Quick Preview: JETS at Steelers

The Jets visit the Steelers at Heinz Field today looking to avoid a 3-game losing streak. The Jets’ offense has only managed nine points in their last two games and has many wondering if they are in the midst of a breakdown. They have a difficult task today, trying to beat the Steelers in Pittsburgh, something the Jets have never done in franchise history. The Jets are 0-7 playing in Pittsburgh, and 0-11 in the state of Pennsylvania. Of course, all streaks have to end at some point, so why not today?

Neither team gives up many points, and both teams are in the middle of the pack in points scored. Expect a lower scoring affair and not many yards for either side. Both teams are in the top 3 in rush defense, so most of today’s yards will come through the air. Troy Polamalu will not be playing today for the Steelers due to an ankle injury. Polamalu missed most of the 2009 season and the Steelers defense was not the same without him. He creates big plays every time he is on the field and makes the Pittsburgh defense that much scarier. With this help, it is still a mystery if quarterback Mark Sanchez will be able to take advantage of the NFL’s 23rd ranked pass defense. Sanchez’s play has been very shaky in the last few weeks and he has not proven to be a competent quarterback in cold weather. In sub-freezing temperatures in Pittsburgh today, Sanchez will be tested once again and will need to show up for the Jets to win.

Santonio Holmes makes his return to Pittsburgh after being traded away for a fifth round pick during the offseason. He expects a standing ovation, which he will probably get after being a Super Bowl MVP for the Steelers after making the game winning touchdown catch against the Cardinals two seasons ago.

Every week the Jets say they need to start fast if they want to win, but each time they have failed to do so. They are the lowest scoring first quarter team in the NFL. As much as it would help to start fast, they don’t necessarily need it to win the game. The defense will have to do what it does best and stop the Steelers from scoring and having long drives. If the offense can make a few big plays, the Jets can pull off the much needed win. It will be a very long game for both teams.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Long Road to Pittsburgh

Out of all the wild and newsworthy weeks this season in Jet Nation, this may be one of the craziest we have seen. The Jets have been getting more than enough media attention since before HBO’s Hard Knocks started in the summer, but the talk is turning bitter and the criticism is coming from all directions.

The top story is the Tripgate scandal, which has been blown way out of proportion. This went from an isolated internal affair to an NFL-wide matter. I could write this entire post about Tripgate, but I think we can all agree we have heard enough of it.

Every NFL fan and their grandmother knows about the Jets’ offensive woes over the last two weeks. Gang Green scored a total of 9 points against their division rivals The New England Patriots and the Miami Dolphins, and has not scored a touchdown in nine consecutive quarters. It is clear that quarterback Mark Sanchez is having his struggles, but he is not alone. The Jets’ talented wide receiver core has been dropping a lot of Sanchez’s passes, as well as failing to get open. Dustin Keller was a perfect example of a receiver letting Sanchez down last Sunday when he stopped running his route as Sanchez tried to hit him in stride, almost leading to an interception. Santonio Holmes had a huge drop in the end zone that may have been the difference between a win and a loss against the Dolphins. That’s not to say that none of the blame belongs to Sanchez. One of his biggest issues is that he still stares down his receivers throughout the play, making it easy for some of the better defensive backs to jump a receiver’s route or be ready for a play to come their way. After having an outstanding start to the season, Sanchez is reverting back to some of his rookie instincts, something that needs to change if the Jets want to find their way into the playoffs.

The Jets’ ground game is not what it was last season, but I also feel that much of the reason for this is because the Jets’ talented backs are not being used the correct way. Offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer seems to be trying to use LaDainian Tomlinson and Shonn Greene like the Jets used their backs season, just pounding the ball up the middle and hoping something will break. The offensive line has had its struggles this season, especially with Damien Woody battling, and now out, with a knee injury. It has allowed defenses to pressure Mark Sanchez a lot more than last season and is not creating many holes for the running game. Tomlinson is an excellent outside runner and receiver, but the majority of his runs (actually almost all of them) have been up the gut. Shonn Greene has also had some of his best runs go to the outside this season even though he is usually a great off-tackle runner. The offensive play calling has become so predictable that defenses can stack seven or eight men in the box and easily stop any attempt at running through the line, and yet, the Jets’ game plan still has not changed to get around this.

After taking much criticism this week, Schottenheimer fired back saying, "I know I'm a damn good football coach. I'm good at what I do." This statement surely won’t change my opinion. Schottenheimer has not proven that he is capable of handling an offensive coordinator job. It is evident that Mark Sanchez has not progressed much under his teaching and as I said before, his play calling is very predictable. He admitted to having a predictable game plan earlier in the season, but has not done anything to change that. He attempts unnecessary and risky trick plays, one of which being the Wildcat in crucial third down situations. It has proven to be ineffective and, again, predictable, and is a formation that ruins the offensive rhythm rather than boosting momentum. Schotty needs to make a significant change in his game plan soon; otherwise, it may cost the Jets a playoff spot, and more likely, his job.

In the last two games, the Jets seem like they have given up. Last season this team was 4-6 before catching lightning in a bottle and making an unlikely and unexpected playoff run. There are three games left and the Jets can control their own destiny. Jet fans would like to see a better effort out of the players and coaching staff than what we have seen recently. Once they clinch a playoff spot, that’s when I and other Jet fans will be confident again.

My Week 15 NFL Picks

Again, did not have a lot of time this week, but trying to get back in my rhythm. Next week will be back to normal. Here's a screenshot for my picks this week.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Which Way Did Lee Go?

The biggest name of the 2010/2011 Major League Baseball offseason has found himself a new home; or should I say an old home? Former Cy Young award winner Cliff Lee was being courted by the New York Yankees and Texas Rangers ever since the season ended, and most experts believed that one of these two clubs would sign the all-star to a long-term deal. That was, until a mystery team stepped in.

Sometime Monday afternoon, word had gone around that a third team had entered the sweepstakes as a serious contender. By Monday night, Lee had agreed to a five-year deal with the Philadelphia Phillies. This will be Lee’s second go-round with the Phillies. He was traded to Philadelphia at the trade deadline during the 2009 season. Lee was the Phillies’ ace throughout their playoff run, and won two games in the World Series before the Phillies inevitably lost to the Yankees.

Lee will receive about $120 million in guaranteed salary from the Phillies over the next five seasons with a player option for a sixth season. The Yankees’ offer would have totaled close to $30 million more over seven seasons. Lee expressed some disappointment after the Phillies traded him to the Seattle Mariners before the 2010 season, a trade that led to the Phillies acquiring Roy Halladay from the Toronto Blue Jays. Lee was then traded near the trade deadline to the Texas Rangers, who he led to the World Series before they lost to the San Francisco Giants. Cliff Lee’s signing now gives the Phillies the most feared rotation in the Major Leagues. Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt, and Cliff Lee have three of the top eight winning percentages of current major league pitchers, and Cole Hamels is a former World Series MVP. Half of the teams in the MLB would kill to have one pitcher like these four.

One has to wonder if the heckling of Cliff Lee’s wife at Yankee Stadium during the postseason had something to do with his decision to turn down the Yankees’ offer. Is it that ridiculous to think that some drunken fools may have cost the Yankees an ace pitcher? If it turns out that this was the case, these guys could become as notorious to Yankee fans as Steve Bartman is to Cub fans. Whatever the reason may be, Lee joining the Phillies makes them serious contenders, if not, World Series favorites.

Monday, December 13, 2010

We Wanted It Less: Dolphins 10 – Jets 6

I believe the title says it all here. The Jets knew they needed to start fast and score points this week, and again they came out cold. Some may say it was the rain that was to blame for this pitiful effort, but there was a much deeper reason for the Jets’ defeat.

Mark Sanchez had his third bad game in a row on Sunday. This time, he fumbled 4 times (losing 1), threw an interception, and completed only 37% of his passes. Both Sanchez turnovers occurred in the 1st quarter in Jets territory and led to all of Miami’s 10 points. He also got very lucky on about 3 or 4 more passes that could have also been intercepted. The Jets recovered 3 fumbles from the Dolphins, 2 of them from quarterback Chad Henne. However, all 3 of Miami’s turnovers took place in Jets territory as well, and turned out to be the difference in the game.

The Jets failed to drive from wherever they started on the field. Sanchez may have been terrible, but he sure was not given any help. It was very evident that offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer’s play calling was horrendous. The offense has been very predictable for a while, and it was made clear on Sunday. The Jets scored 31 points in their last meeting with the Dolphins, but could barely get into Miami territory in the loss. They ran on the majority of their first downs and rarely ran to the outside. With Sanchez’s struggles, the Dolphins took the opportunity to stack the box and stop the run, and they made it look easy. The Jets managed a dismal 2.8 yards per carry and failed once again to use the Wildcat formation effectively. The Jets called for the Wildcat on a 4th and 1 in the 2nd quarter and failed to convert on the trick play. The Jets were 0/3 on 4th down conversions and only 6/21 on 3rd down conversions.

The Jets receiving core also let Sanchez down. The most obvious instance was Santonio Holmes’ wide-open drop in the end zone in the 2nd quarter. Jerricho Cotchery and LaDainian Tomlinson also had a couple drops of their own. Braylon Edwards was only targeted twice and made only 1 reception. On one play, tight end Dustin Keller paused in his route, almost causing Sanchez to throw an interception to a defender that kept running after Keller had stopped.

Believe it or not, there are some positives to take out of this game. The Jets’ defense played extremely well, only giving up points off turnovers by the offense. The Jets outgained the Dolphins 280 to 131 yards and also had the ball for about 7.5 minutes longer. Chad Henne went 5/18 for only 55 yards and was sacked 5 times. No Dolphin receiver made more than 2 receptions, including Brandon Marshall who had 10 of them for 166 yards in the week 3 matchup. Safety Brodney Pool had his best game as a Jet, recording a sack and recovering a fumble along with 4 tackles. Kicker Nick Folk, who has struggled lately, made both of his field goal attempts from 35 and 42 yards, accounting for all of the Jets’ points.

It is clear that something needs to change with the Jets if they want to avoid a late season meltdown. Head coach Rex Ryan admitted after the game that he is worried and that they even considered benching Sanchez at one point, but felt that it was not his fault. The Jets are now 9-4 and fall 2 games back of the New England Patriots in the AFC East.

Note: Player of the game goes to Dolphins’ punter, Brandon Fields. Fields averaged 56.4 yards on 10 punts with a long of 69 yards. He made a huge difference in the field position game and the Jets slumping offense never started closer than midfield, which occurred after a fumble recovery.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Quick Preview: JETS vs. Dolphins

Monday night’s miserable performance is now buried and forgotten. The Jets are ready to redeem themselves against another division rival, the Miami Dolphins. The Jets won the week 3 matchup in Miami by a score of 31-23.

After being swept by the Dolphins last season, the Jets look to do the same right back this season. The Jets may be coming off their worst game of the season, but the Dolphins may be coming off their worst as well, at least with Chad Henne at quarterback. Miami will have to make due with a number of injuries. Wide receiver Brian Hartline, who had 5 catches for 84 yards in the previous meeting, was placed on IR this weekend with a finger injury and tackle Vernon Carey has also been ruled out with a knee injury. The Dolphins also have a number of questionable starters including receiver Brandon Marshall who has sat out the last two games with a hamstring injury that he suffered in Miami’s 16-0 loss to the Bears. Marshall had 166 receiving yards and a touchdown the last time he faced the Jets, but was lucky that Darrelle Revis was out with his own hamstring injury for that one. The forecast is calling for showers throughout the game, so Marshall will be a risky play for the Dolphins in sloppy conditions.

The Jets were able to run all day on the Dolphins in week 3, including some strong runs by Brad Smith out of the Seminole formation, the Jets’ version of the Wildcat. LaDainian Tomlinson scored his first touchdown of the season against Miami, and will look to be very involved again with the rainy weather imminent. Shonn Greene may get more carries than Tomlinson as he has recently, but LT will also be very involved in the passing game.

Mark Sanchez is coming off his worst performance of the season, but threw for 3 touchdowns against the Dolphins earlier this season. Dustin Keller led the way in that game with 98 yards and 2 touchdowns, but Keller has not seen many targets as of late. Braylon Edwards, fresh off an arrest for a DUI and being benched for the first quarter, had a 67-yard touchdown catch in the 2nd half. Sanchez’s new favorite receiver, Santonio Holmes, will look to take over the workload for the Jets’ receiving core on Sunday. After sitting out the first 4 games of the season due to suspension, Holmes now has 2 more receptions than Edwards (39 to 37) and is less than 100 yards behind him. Holmes also has 5 or more receptions in each of the Jets’ last 5 games.

I do not expect the Jets to have any trouble defending the pass this week, even with some key injuries at the safety position. If Marshall sits, Revis will move around again, covering Davone Bess and probably tight end Anthony Fasano from time to time. Miami’s ground game has been a disappointment all season and should not give the Jets much trouble. As long as the offense can get going again, the Jets SHOULDN’T have trouble beating the Dolphins again, but as we have seen this season, anything can happen. Chad Henne always has his best games against the Jets, but without any receivers, we would hope he would struggle to make a big impact. In the rain, the Jets ground game needs to show up and power the Jets to victory. They will need to show Mark Sanchez that he has plenty of support around him to get his confidence back up. 

Thursday, December 9, 2010

My Week 14 NFL Picks

As a college student, I have these important things called finals coming up this week. Due to the need to study, I do not have much time to write stuff up this weekend. Therefore, here are my picks in screenshot form, but no comments. Please comment if you would like to know my reasoning behind some of the picks.

My NFL Power Rankings: Week 14

They play the Panthers in 2 of their last 4 games. They’re basically a lock to win the South and probably #1 in the NFC.
The Patriots now control the AFC East and the conference is theirs for the taking.
Troy Polamalu’s presence this season is a huge improvement from how their defense performed last year. Defensive MVP candidate for sure.
Coaching errors cost them the game against Pittsburgh. They get a chance to bounce back against the struggling Texans.
They got stomped in New England, but they can still clinch a playoff spot this weekend if things fall into place.
They seem to be back in championship form, but it will be tough to catch the Falcons from this point.
Had a tough time fending off Detroit. They’ll need to disrupt Tom Brady if they want a chance this week.
Shocking that they don’t have a playoff spot right now. That should change soon with Aaron Rodgers playing like an MVP.
Sunday night in Dallas is anything but a gimme. Vick will need to be on his game again to stop the reborn Cowboys.
They look to avenge last year’s beat down at the hands of the Vikings. It’s safe to say these teams are entirely different than when they played last year though.
Matt Cassel’s appendectomy can cost them a huge game against the Chargers this week.
They have a tough matchup with the Raiders this week. MJD gives them a huge advantage every week.
They proved that they are tough enough to keep up with some of the best in the league. Some key injuries may hurt them in the final stretch.
They could not afford to lose that game against Oakland. A loss this week means they can no longer win the AFC West.
Peyton will need to right the ship and get this team going soon or their playoff hopes will quickly disappear.
A big win over the Chargers keeps them alive. They can’t afford to lose any more games even with an undefeated division record.
2 straight road wins have the Rams atop the NFC West for the time being. They CAN afford to lose a couple more games.
They put a beat down on the Panthers. They’ll need that confidence boost to get them through the last 4 games.
They really stunk it up against the Browns. Their fans should stop wasting their money on home games, as the Phins are 1-5 in Miami.
They can surge and pull out a playoff spot, but one loss will ruin that chance.
They have become one of the highest scoring teams in the league since Jason Garrett’s takeover. Jerry Jones should have pulled the trigger months ago.
Their defense has helped them get these 5 wins. 7 or 8 wins aren’t completely out of the question.
A lack of talent around McNabb makes it very tough to win in a very competitive division.
Chris Johnson is quietly having another stellar season. He has nothing to show for it though.
Maybe Tarvaris Jackson was the answer all along? Or maybe it was Leslie Frazier.
Technically they can still win the NFC West, but who can’t at this point?
They are way too injured to expect many more close games from them. It was a nice run though.
They are obviously still competitive, but their season is an overall failure.
McDaniels is finally gone. It’s time for another interim coach to start winning games.
They still have a little fight in them, but they are bound for another high pick in next year’s draft.
They haven’t scored a touchdown in 2 weeks. They need to start getting ready to draft a QB next year.
Had a nice lead early, but couldn’t hold off Seattle’s comeback. Next season can’t come soon enough for them.