A Guest Blog by Matt Loonam of nyjroadtothesuperbowl.tumblr.com
Jets fans, did we think it would be easy? Did we think we would win every game and have the Lombardi trophy handed to us because we wanted it so bad? All the talk and the bravado can take a team only so far. Every win in the NFL is earned. No success in this league is accomplished without some bumps in the road.
Today we sit at the halfway mark at 5-2. If after week one someone had told me this would be their record at this point in the season I think we would all be happy with it. It is tough to realize when you are stuck in the moment of a loss that there will be games that the team doesn’t play their best, where they look nothing like the dominating team they were the week before. But this is the beauty of the NFL. On any given Sunday any team has a chance to win a game. There are no “locks” and “sure things.” Just look around the league the last couple of weeks. The Browns destroyed the Super Bowl Champion Saints, the Raiders ran all over the Broncos, and the Chiefs are 5-2. Who could predict any of that?
Let’s take a look at the team to see the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Quarterback: Mark Sanchez- Grade: B
I was completely terrified and disheartened after the week 1 loss with Sanchez. I thought he was showing what he would be like all year. The more I read about quarterbacks and “sophomore year” slumps the more I worried. Luckily, Mark got it together in week 2 against the Patriots and led the team on a 5 game win streak. Year to date he has thrown 9 TD’s, 4 INT’s, 1,356 yards and has a passer rating of 78.8.
He has thrown 4 INT’s in the last 2 games. The 2 thrown in the game against the Packers were completely suspect. I think they were more mistakes of the officials than of his decision-making. He has many weapons on this offense but I think he performs better when the game plan is simple. Any time offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer builds a plan around him throwing multiple times, mistakes happen. He is young and will get better but this year is far too important for the team to over-complicate the game schemes. Let’s see how he bounces back after this week’s loss.
Wide Receivers & Tight Ends: Braylon Edwards, Santonio Holmes, Jerricho Cotchery, Dustin Keller, and Brad Smith- Grade B +
Braylon Edwards – 22 Receptions, 4 TD’s, O Fumbles, 375 yards receiving, AVG 17 yards per catch
Going into the season everyone knew that this part of the offense had some major talent at the WR position. Thus far this year, Edwards and Keller have been Sanchez’ go to target for big plays. Since Holmes was not on the roster for the first 4 games, Edwards and Keller were the play makers that Sanchez has had to rely on. I feel like Edwards has looked as good as he ever has in his career- no sign of the brick hands he was known for in his tenure with the Browns. He needs to remain a focus for this offense in order for them to be a well-rounded threat. When he gets in an open space it is hard to catch him. I have been very pleased.
Santonio Holmes – 10 receptions, 0 TD’s, 1 Fumble, 131 yards receiving, AVG 13 yards per catch
Since Holmes has been back I feel like Sanchez and he have not fully gotten their mojo working. This will obviously change as we move along. A good friend who was at the Packers game pointed out that it seems all Holmes does is convert for first downs. And if he doesn’t drop the ball against the Packers he would have had his first touchdown as a New York Jet. A lot of football left and lot of time to build up this QB/WR relationship.
Jericho Cotchery – 24 Receptions, 1 TD, 0 Fumbles, 154 yards receiving, AVG 7.7 yards per catch
I usually refer to Cotchery as mister reliable but the name may now be on the shelf after his performance against Green Bay. However, since becoming a Jet, he has always made plays. It seems like every time he plays the Patriots he pulls off catches that seem completely impossible. In this receiving corps I feared he would be completely overshadowed but he has been holding his own. I won’t hold the Packer game against him because he is human. He wasn’t able to make plays when we needed it but it happens.
Dustin Keller – TE – 26 Receptions, 5 TD’S, 388 yards
For any young quarterback is there anything better than a reliable tight end? Dustin Keller has been a playmaker ever since he was drafted by the Jets three years ago but the way he started off this season I was thinking he was making an early run at a pro-bowl appearance. His performance has slowed the past two games. The injury during the game in Denver had him leave the game and I honestly hardly noticed him at the Packers game besides the 40-yard catch he made. Schottenheimer needs to keep him involved in the game plan. Strong run game and Keller across the middle is all this team needs to win.
Brad Smith – 1 Reception, 0 TD, 1 Fumble, 11 yards
Brad Smith has not really been in the fold with all of these other options for Sanchez but he is an integral part to this team. Check out some of my older posts to see a great write- up of his contributions to the Jets here: http://nyjroadtothesuperbowl.tumblr.com/post/1320453260/its-a-running-back-its-a-quarterback-its-a#disqus_thread
Running Backs: Ladanian Tomlinson and Shonn Greene- Grade: B +
Ladanian Tomlinson: 108 carries, 544 yards, 5 yards per carry, 5 TD’s
Shonn Greene: 77 carries, 345 yards, 4.5 yards per carry, 1 TD
Leading up to the season I expressed some concern about this unit. I loved the move to get LT but thought he would emerge later on in the season after Greene’s powerful running caught up to him. Instead, LT has emerged from the beginning as the starter at RB for the Jets this season. He has turned back the clock and has looked as good he did for San Diego in 2006.
I do think Schottenheimer and head coach Rex Ryan need to look into using Greene more often in the next few games. We need LT to be ready for the final push in the playoffs. It would be a complete disaster to have either one of them sustain in injury at any point. What would be their option? Scary to think about. Right now they are ranked number 3 in total rushing yards. Instead of having Sanchez worry about all the weapons at his disposal, they need to refocus on the “ground and pound” offense that made this team a success in the playoffs.
Defense Unit- Grade: B +
No one can complain up to this point but I do have to say that I have not been wowed. The group was making claims before the season that they were going to be the best defense in NFL history. Have they been great? Of course. Rex and Mike Pettine have been doing a great job with the “controlled chaos” defense but I have not seen enough pressure on QB’s. They did a great job against Tom Brady and that is why we were so dominating against them but otherwise QB’s have not had too much trouble from this unit.
They have been plagued with injuries since game 1. I thought losing Kris Jenkins in the first game would have a much more major impact on stopping the run. Luckily, Sihou Pouha and Mike Devito have done a great job filling in his absence. No team has successfully run against us all year.
Antonio Cromartie and David Harris need to be showered with praise for the performance up to this point in the season. Cromartie was excellent when Darrelle Revis went out with a hamstring injury and Harris seems to be a tackling machine. He currently has 49 on the year.
What Can We Expect: The Rest of the Way
So let’s all take a deep breath and realize the Jets still have their goal on the horizon. They weren’t going to win every game this year so if they throw out the occasional stinker like they did on Sunday, it doesn’t mean the backs of the Post should read “Same Ol Jets.” At least not yet! I did not give an A to any group on the Jets because I don’t think they are as good as they are going to be by the time they get to the end of the regular season. I take the Packers loss as a blessing. Teams get cocky when they go on winning streaks. They occasionally need a shin shot to bring them back to earth and being shut out at home by a beatable team will make them refocus and get ready for the Lions.
My call for my season preview was 11-5. They can still meet that goal.
Jets fans remember: this team is something special. You can feel it, can’t you? This isn’t your father’s Jets. It’s Rex Ryan’s Jets and he wants to “Lead the League in f*cking wins!”
Let’s put our faith in him and let him get the job done.
How much are flights to Dallas?
- Matt Loonam
Follow the Jets all season long and check out Matt’s blog at nyjroadtothesuperbowl.tumblr.com. And to see Matt’s Preseason Predictions, check out: http://www.localbozo.com/?p=277