Saturday, November 13, 2010

Welcome Back, Braylon!: JETS at. Browns Preview

Jets wide receiver Braylon Edwards makes his return to Cleveland as the Jets visit the Browns. It has apparently been a big story this week that Braylon Edwards expects to hear only boos from the Cleveland crowd on Sunday. I am not sure why this would be newsworthy. It is obvious that he will get booed and more. This story is almost as significant as Tom Brady admitting that he hates the Jets.

On to the real story. The Cleveland Browns are coming off two big wins against the New Orleans Saints and the New England Patriots. Neither game looked close, as the Browns defense dominated in both games, and running back Peyton Hillis lighting up the scoreboard against the Pats. It is no question that the Jets will need to stop Peyton Hillis to keep them in this game, and that is no easy task. The Jets defense is 4th in rushing this season, and will need to be as good as their ranking to stop Hillis. Rookie quarterback Colt McCoy has played well in his three starts this season, but he has not played a pass defense like the Jets have. Head coach Eric Mangini has not announced if McCoy will be starting though. Seneca Wallace, now practicing after being injured for three games, may be the surprise start on Sunday. Either way, the Jets will need to stop a quarterback that can run as well as pass the ball.

The Jets looked great last week running the no-huddle offense toward the end of the game. There has been talk of increased use of the no-huddle offense for Sunday’s game. I believe this is a good idea for this week because it can lessen the effectiveness of the “amoeba” defense that the Browns run occasionally. The amoeba defense consists of at least five defensive players in the box with one or fewer down linemen. This creates confusion for the quarterback in assigning protection and makes the defense more versatile in pass-coverage schemes. A hurry up offense will prevent the Browns from running these plays because they will not have time to set it up and execute it. Looking forward though, the increased use of the no-huddle offense does not seem like the best idea for the Jets. The idea of a ground and pound offense is to keep the clock moving and take off chunks of time on each drive. A no-huddle offense will do the opposite of this and will shorten the amount of time the Jets offense will take up on each drive. This also prevents the defense from getting as much rest as it may need. If they can pull off the no-huddle well, expect big plays to come from Santonio Holmes, Dustin Keller, and Braylon Edwards. I can guarantee that Edwards will be thrown the deep ball a few times this weekend, and Sanchez has shown the ability to hit him in stride. If the Jets can come out strong this weekend with the no-huddle and score some points early, they can transition to the ground and pound to hold the lead and win the game. If the Jets fail to score early, this game will come down to the wire like last week’s game in Detroit.

The Jets’ defense will have a tough time getting to the quarterback on Sunday. The Browns have only allowed 14 sacks this season, and the Jets already have a tough enough time getting sacks. The Browns’ offensive line looks better than it actually is because they have had mobile quarterbacks playing under center for most of the season. I would expect the Jets to play a QB Spy on occasion this Sunday to prevent either Colt McCoy or Seneca Wallace from taking off running. I do not expect Darrelle Revis to stick with the Browns’ top receiver on Sunday, because they do not have a clear-cut number one receiver. I expect the Jets to keep Revis to one side on Sunday and Antonio Cromartie opposite of him. Chansi Stuckey is the Browns’ top receiver with 23 receptions, but he is listed as the third receiver on the Browns’ depth chart. I am not worried about Revis and Cromartie’s abilities to cover whoever they must cover. I am more concerned with the slot receiver because rookie Kyle Wilson is starting at nickel back this week. Wilson was benched after being ineffective and for being penalized multiple times after starting in the nickel. Since his benching, he has only played about 3 snaps per game, including punt returns. Hopefully he has worked hard in practice and will be able to cover whoever the Jets need him to.

Eric Mangini knows many of these Jets players and with the help of defensive coordinator, Rob Ryan, will write up a game plan that can certainly stop a Jets offense that has not been impressive the last few games. If the Jets can come out with a fresh offensive game plan and get those early points, they will have a great advantage. If the Browns are able to execute their amoeba defense, Mark Sanchez will need to be smart and safe with his decisions. LaDainian Tomlinson will play a significant role in stopping that amoeba defense by picking up blitzes and making big blocks, which is one of his fortes. The Jets are 4-0 on the road this season, making them the last team to be undefeated on the road. Let’s hope they can keep this record perfect by ending the Browns’ impressive win streak and show why the Jets are the team to beat in the NFL this season. 

Friday, November 12, 2010

New York Jets Mid-Season Report

Eight games into the 2010 NFL regular season, the New York Jets are 6-2 and are tied for first place in the AFC East with the New England Patriots. The Jets hold the tiebreaker over the Patriots after defeating them 28-14 in week 2 at New Meadowlands Stadium, and by having a 3-0 record versus the division. So far, so good. If the Jets can keep this pace, they will surely be rewarded with a spot in the postseason. The only question is if they can keep this pace the way they have been playing as of late. Play calling has been questionable in almost every game this season. Mark Sanchez has been shaky at times, but brilliant at others. Darrelle Revis has played some games unhealthy and has had to sit a couple as well, but is finally starting to look like his 2009 self. The ground game is not the best in the league at the moment, but the Jets offense is slowly transitioning into a passing offense, whether it is the correct move or not.

A Look Back:
Two tough losses: The Jets’ two losses this season were very ugly. The first, a 10-9 loss in week 1 to the Baltimore Ravens. Ground and pound was the plan going into the game, and pound they did. Unfortunately, the Jets did not have enough carries to make a big impact in the game. Mark Sanchez’s passing plays seemed to be very conservative and were not good play calls at all. The following week against the Patriots, Sanchez and the passing play calls were the complete opposite, making fans wonder why they hadn’t thrown the ball like that in the previous game. The Jets offense failed to move the chains much in this game, only producing 6 first downs in the entire game.

In week 8, coming off a bye, the Jets failed to score once at home against the Green Bay Packers. The Jets actually put up more yards and first downs than the visiting Packers, but costly turnovers and a failed fake punt cost them opportunities and field position. The officiating in this game was debatable, especially on the two Sanchez “interceptions,” but there’s nothing anyone can do about that now. Rex Ryan was sloppy with his use of Challenges and timeouts and could not challenge some plays when he really needed to.

Positives from these losses: The defense gave up a total of 19 points and only gave up an average of 259.5 total yards in the two losses. Opposing quarterbacks Joe Flacco and Aaron Rodgers had very low quarterback ratings of 62.2 and 59.7 respectively. The defense has played well, but has not been the deciding factor in most of the games this season.

Summary of the Wins:
The Jets have averaged 28.8 points scored per game in the 6 victories, and 18.5 points against per game. This means that they are giving up almost as many points in each win as they did in both losses combined. It is clear at this point that the defense will not be winning games for the Jets, aside from Dwight Lowery’s interception return touchdown to ice the game against the Vikings. This season will be determined by the play of the offense and thus, on the right arm of Mark Sanchez. Sanchez has looked much better this year in the two-minute and no huddle offense and he has helped drive the Jets down the field late in a few games for important scores. The defense has shown plenty of closing power too. They had crucial late stops against Miami, Minnesota, Denver, and Detroit to help close games or give the offense a chance to tie/win the game. The ground game is ranked 4th in the league, but has definitely had better games than their last few. LaDainian Tomlinson seems to have struggled a bit of late, but he still plays an important role in the passing game. Darrelle Revis finally looked like himself in the most recent win at Detroit, holding Calvin Johnson to 1 reception for 13 yards.

Mid-Season Recap:
LaDainian Tomlinson has been a benefit to both the running and passing game. His 4.9 yards per carry are no secret this season, but he also has 5 touchdowns and is also tied for the team lead with 30 receptions. His ability to pick up blitzes and block bigger linebackers has given Mark Sanchez more chances to throw from the pocket.

Dustin Keller has been one of the better tight ends in the NFL, but has not seen as many targets in the last few games. He has 5 touchdowns, which is third among tight ends and 447 yards, which is fourth among tight ends.

Braylon Edwards also has 5 touchdowns, 2 of which are for 67 yards and 74 yards. He has been the deep threat that the Jets needed this season, and he has not dropped as many passes as one would have expected thus far.

Santonio Holmes had not been effective in the passing game for the Jets until the win in Detroit, in which he had 5 receptions for 114 yards.

Jerricho Cotchery has 5 dropped passes this season, but it seems like he has had more. Jet fans would describe Cotchery as a sure-handed receiver, but this season he seems to be in a slump. He says he is working through it and will come back strong the rest of the season.

Mark Sanchez has 10 touchdowns and 5 interceptions through 8 games. This is a much-improved ratio when compared to this point last season. If he can keep up his pace this season, he will have 20 touchdowns, 10 interceptions, and close to 3400 yards. With the defense playing well and the ground game waiting to get going again, these numbers can definitely lead this team into the playoffs. He needs to improve his 53.5% completion rate. He has shown the ability to lead the late drive down the field this season, something that was non-existent in 2009.

Darrelle Revis missed two games and was limited in more with a hamstring injury, most likely caused by his absence in training camp. Last week in Detroit, he took Calvin Johnson completely out of the game, as I expect to see from him throughout the rest of the season. Antonio Cromartie has played well and has 11 passes defended this season along with 2 interceptions.

The special teams units have been solid through the first 8 games. Brad Smith is always a threat to take a kickoff to the house. Steve Weatherford, aside from his bad decision on the fake punt against the Packers, has punted very well and stopped opponents from having good field position. Nick Folk was one of the best signings the Jets made this offseason. He has hit the clutch kicks and is the power kicker the Jets have needed for years.

Looking Forward:
I’d like to see Shonn Greene start getting more carries. It is time to let LT rest up for some crucial December games. Shonn Greene has carried well of late and is averaging 4.5 yards per carry. I believe he is just getting started. Given more carries, he will shine in the second half of the season and help in the playoff push.

With Revis now looking 100%, I would expect the pass defense to be much improved from 18th in the league. After being the best pass defense in the league in 2009, this defense is much better than they have played and I think it starts with Revis. They’ll be top 10 in no time. Hopefully top 5.

They has been talk of the no huddle offense being used more often. Mark Sanchez has executed it well this season, but using it for a larger part of the game will not make more sense for this team. I believe it could help beat the Browns in this Sunday’s game, but for an offense that is supposed to be based on the ground and pound, trying to speed the game up does not make much sense.

I would like to see better play calling, but I cannot see this happening. Brian Schottenheimer has admitted that his play calling has been predictable and has criticized himself publicly, but he has not done anything noticeable to change this. They will just need to execute the plays that are called better than they have so far.

Santonio Holmes will become Sanchez’s primary receiver. Sanchez and Braylon Edwards have seemed to have a connection all season long, but Holmes is the better route runner and will catch more important balls. Braylon will continue to be the primary deep threat.

My Mid-Season Grades:


Compared to expectations before the season, Mark Sanchez has performed way above what was expected of him. After his start, he has shown some inconsistency, only earning him a B. He can be better.
Running Backs

LaDainian Tomlinson was supposed to be done. He wasn’t supposed to be as good as he has been. Having Shonn Greene in their back pocket leaves the Jets with a great running tandem.
Wide Receivers

Braylon Edwards has performed very well this season. Santonio Holmes is only starting to carry his own weight. Cotchery has dropped many more passes than usual for him.

Tight Ends

Dustin Keller is 3rd in TDs and 4th in yards for tight ends. He is a weapon in the slot and something not to be taken for granted.

Offensive Line

The offensive line has done a fantastic job protecting Mark Sanchez and creating seams for LT and Greene to run through. A few penalties here and there but overall a great job. Matt Slauson has exceeded expectations.
Defensive Line
Sure they have not recorded many sacks, but they are 4th in the league in run defense, even without DT Kris Jenkins. Only two teams have broken 100 rushing yards against them.


David Harris has been outstanding as usual. Bart Scott has played well, but costs this team some important yardage by running his mouth and getting penalties. Jason Taylor has started to fade and Calvin Pace does not seem up to speed yet. They lack a speed rusher, which can account for the lack of sacks.


Only ranked 18th in the league? Unacceptable from the top ranked pass defense last season. Only reason they get a B- is because Darrelle Revis is starting to look like himself again, which means wonders for the second half. They are not deep at cornerback though, especially with top draft pick Kyle Wilson not performing at all.

Special Teams

Nick Folk has been a gift to this team. Steve Weatherford has pushed opponents deep into their own territory. Brad Smith is always dangerous. Can’t go wrong with a Westhoff squad.


The defense has been outstanding when it matters. The offensive play calling has been awful and is causing the star-studded offense to underachieve. Rex Ryan is doing what he wanted though, leading the league in wins. When a team is 6-2, coaching cannot be criticized too much.

Overall, I give the Jets a B+ through the first 8 weeks of the season. They definitely have played well, but look like there is plenty of room to improve. This team has a lot more potential than they are living up to right now, and I believe that the sky is the limit for them.

Offensive MVP: LaDainian Tomlinson

Defensive MVP: David Harris/Antonio Cromartie

Special Teams MVP: Nick Folk

Rookie of the (Half) Year: John Conner

Most Improved: Mark Sanchez

Second Half Breakout in Waiting: Shonn Greene

Thursday, November 11, 2010

My NFL Week 10 Picks

Had to get this done today because of the Thursday night game. All of Sunday’s picks are subject to change, but this is how I feel for now.

My picks for this week (with the spreads from’s Pigskin Pick ’em):

(6-2) Atlanta Falcons -1.5**
Both teams are very talented, but Atlanta is undefeated at home this season and rarely loses home games since drafting Matt Ryan.

(2-6) Detroit Lions at
(0-8) Buffalo Bills -2.5**
Could this be it? A battle of two teams struggling on defense, but playing well on offense. The Bills have the superior ground game and now passing game because of the absence of Matthew Stafford for the Lions. This should be the one they take.

(3-5) Minnesota Vikings** at
(5-3) Chicago Bears +1.5
As I always say, this one could really depend on how Jay Cutler plays. Brett Favre and Adrian Peterson always find ways to succeed though, and with Sidney Rice possibly playing in this one, the Vikings may be able to put up some big points again.

(6-2) New York Jets** at
(3-5) Cleveland Browns +3.5
I will elaborate more on this game in the coming days.

(2-6) Cincinnati Bengals** at
I feel that the Bengals offense can definitely keep them in this one. If they lose, it will be close. Willing to bet that Terrell Owens will catch another touchdown pass.

(5-3) Tennessee Titans** at
(4-4) Miami Dolphins +0.5
Vince Young is one of the highest rated quarterbacks in the NFL this season, and the addition of Randy Moss this week forces Miami to focus even more on the passing game and not just Chris Johnson. Nate Washington can benefit from Moss taking away defenders as well.

Carolina does not have enough going for them to take them in this game. Matt Moore is done for the season and DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart are both likely to sit. Expect the Bucs to run away with this one.

(4-4) Houston Texans at
As good as Arian Foster has been this season, Matt Schaub and Andre Johnson have not been themselves and along with the league’s worst passing defense, the Texans make it hard on themselves to win games. The Jaguars already beat the Texans once this season too.

(5-3) Kansas City Chiefs** at
(2-6) Denver Broncos +0.5
Maybe the bye week fixed a few things for the Broncos, but they weren’t winning when they were playing well. The Chiefs needs to redeem themselves after blowing the game against Oakland last week.

(1-7) Dallas Cowboys** at
(6-2) New York Giants -13.5
Who knows how Jason Garrett will run the Cowboys this week. The Giants should still win, but the lack of game film on how Garrett runs a team could either make this one close, or a disaster for the ‘Boys.

(4-4) Seattle Seahawks** at
Seattle already took one from the Cardinals this season, and Hasselbeck’s return should make them more competitive than last week. Arizona lacks closing power and can easily blow a small lead in the 4th quarter. I’ll take the Seahawks in this battle of two weak offenses and defenses.

(4-4) St. Louis Rams at
(2-6) San Francisco 49ers -5.5**
Sam Bradford has not played well in his first three road games. With Troy Smith at the helm, they 49ers may have the change they need to get them going. Frank Gore makes them contenders in any game.

(6-2) Pittsburgh Steelers -4.5**
The Browns exposed New England last week and the Steelers will look to do the same. Tom Brady has completed fewer than 60% of his passes in each of his last 3 games and is apparently battling a foot injury. The Steelers defense will be too much for the Pats.

Michael Vick has been on fire this season. He’s playing better for the Eagles than he ever did for Atlanta. The NFL’s highest rated passer should put up another impressive win against the Redskins and their out of shape quarterback.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

My NFL Power Rankings: Week 10


Big Ben is 3-1. They have reestablished themselves as the team to beat in the AFC, but not by much.

By far the best team in the NFC at the moment. No team has a defensive force like the Giants.

Look for resurgence in the pass defense in the second half with a fully recovered Darrelle Revis.

Ray Rice is looking like himself again, something that will get this offense flourishing in the second half.

They looked vulnerable against the Browns. They will have to play better to win in the East.

My preseason NFC favorite, the Packers look strong on both sides of the football again.

Defense isn’t giving up many yards. Offense is putting up points. That’s how teams win, right?

Peyton Manning can make mistakes, but you won’t see them as often as we did against the Eagles.

If he isn’t a distraction, Randy Moss can put up big numbers in this offense.

Put up big numbers this week, but still not looking like that Super Bowl winning team, yet.

Michael Vick is the recipe for success for the Eagles. They look like they may be able to contend with the Giants.

Showed us this week that they can win the big game. They are undefeated in their division.

Lost an important matchup with the Raiders, but hold onto first place with some easier matchups upcoming.

Definitely a better team than many perceived before the season, but they will not be making the playoffs if they can’t win division games.

The pass defense is going to lose many more games for this team.

Typical. Start cold, finish hot. The AFC West race is about to become very exciting.

This team is completely dependent on Jay Cutler. When he’s good, they will win. Too bad it’s hard to predict when he will be.

Their once great running game is missing this season. The wildcat isn’t fooling anybody anymore.

As good a choice as any to win the NFC West. They need that first road win first.

Charlie Whitehurst does not look like the answer for their future. They need Hasselbeck for a chance.

After their bye week, will Donovan McNabb have the energy to run a 2-minute offense?

Tough to compete in their division, but David Garrard has been playing well enough to keep them alive.

Another big win? Probably too late to make a playoff run, but they can play spoiler to many teams.

Brett Favre will never die. He put up the biggest passing game of his career…with broken bones in his leg and foot.

The Cards have more return touchdowns than passing touchdowns. Kurt Warner where are you?

T.O. is having one of the best seasons of his career, but he’ll soon get frustrated with all of the losses.

With Drew Stanton at the helm, don’t expect the impressive offensive numbers we saw in the first half.

Troy Smith could be the change this team needs to get its season going. In the NFC West, they still have a shot.

Knowshon Moreno needs to stay healthy and establish a running game for this team for them to win games.

Wade Phillips gone. Tony Romo out. This team has nothing to build on.

Now without Matt Moore and two hurt running backs, this team becomes good competition for worst record in the NFL with the Bills.

Ryan Fitzpatrick and Steve Johnson saving fantasy teams around the nation, but not their own.