The J-E-T Press Looks Back and Ahead:Roundtable Discussion Part I
By Alan Schechter
Oct 28, 2012; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan before the game against the Miami Dolphins at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Debby Wong-US PRESSWIRE
It’s Friday afternoon of the bye week, and it is time to take stock of where we are. We look back on the first half of the season, and look ahead to the second half, as a roundtable discussion. Today we run part I of our group’s thoughts, leading off with:
The first 8 weeks of the 2012 season are in the books, and sadly the first number is smaller than the second. Looking at the schedule I thought to myself, “Sydney, they can pull away at .500. They can go into their bye at 4-4, maybe even 5-3 if they play smart. And the remainder of the schedule swings largely in their favor.” What I didn’t anticipate was the Jets losing the game to the Dolphins on Sunday, not at the beginning of the season at least. As I watched their games and noted their improvements after the week 3 meeting, I began to see that the Jets were not guaranteed that win. The Dolphins, a team that I’d made fun of for their dumb moves in the off season, had slowly but surely built a more competent team week in and week out. What I also didn’t expect was the Patriots game being in the grasp that it was. So here’s what it boils down to for me, my feelings on the first 8 weeks of the Jets 2012 season: A rollercoaster. A constant swaying that provided us as a fanbase multiple reasons for hope in the first week only to see them disappear in week 2. Week 3 showed a resurgence, some fight among the horror that was losing Revis midway through the game. The ability for the offense to come together, be accurate and efficient. And then it was erased in week 4. From that point on only one of the following three games was won, but the thing that stuck out to me was that a team that was assumed to be dead in the water was showing it still had plenty left in the tank. The two losses were within the reach and grasp instead of being the blowout that the Dolphins game ended up being. We saw Shonn Greene have a solid game. We saw protection and game-planning on the offense, creativity and motor on special teams and urgency on the defense. I know people say that you don’t win Super Bowls with moral victories, but for me it was about showing that they can do it if they just put the right plan together and execute as a team. On the whole, I can’t recall a time that I’ve seen four solid quarters of football on both sides of the ball in at least three years, so not seeing any now is just not new to me. Not to say that it’s right, because it’s not, but at least it was working for awhile. Can it again? I really don’t know. There are factors at play here that give me far too many moments of pause in saying that I think it can. I’m not here to point fingers, place blame or say who needs to go or who needs a bigger chance. I’m here to say that just when we’ve counted them down, these Jets have given us reason to give them another chance. And another. And another. Hopefully after this bye, the supposed “easier” schedule will not hold many surprises. That is up to them as a team.
Oct 14, 2012; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets offensive coordinator Tony Sparano on the sidelines against the Indianapolis Colts during the second half at MetLife Stadium. Jets won 35-9. Mandatory Credit: Debby Wong-US PRESSWIRE
And now for what I look for in the second half, outside of the brief mentions I made above. Do you know what I’d love to see happen, Jet Nation? I’d love to see capable coaching. I’d love to see the OC call plays that don’t leave us all scratching out head or saying “this again?”. I’d love to see the coaches on D get in the collective backside of their guys and get them to realize they need to wrap up on a tackle, put their hands up more often to get in the face of the quarterback, and most importantly… stop taking stupid penalties. Stop the trash talking. It’s great when you can back it up but it makes you look foolish when you can’t. I want to see Mike Westhoff screaming and emotional on the sideline, not sitting on the bench with his head in his hands after standing bewildered as yet again the offense gets pinned back within its own 5 because of the lack of an attempt to run the ball on kick return (if it’s not muffed). I want to see Rex Ryan do more than say “BOOM!” when a play goes well or stand there looking like he doesn’t understand what’s going on. I’m a big Rex fan but when he said he lost the pulse of the team after the implosion in Miami on New Year’s Day I wanted to believe he was going to fight to get at it again as if it was the last turkey leg on the table at Thanksgiving. I don’t think I can confidently say that he has. I hear a lot of company talk from him and the other coaches. I sit and wonder exactly what they do in their meetings. If they watch the tape of the other teams’ games, because it’s entirely evident that the opposing team they’ll face that Sunday spent the week watching the Jets’ previous games so their weaknesses could be exploited and their (few) strengths can be minimized if not capped completely. I want to see smarter clock management to go with the smarter and more aggressive playcalling. In both the Houston and New England games I feel that the coaches lost the game more than the guys suited up on the field did. Essentially, I’m looking for more coach awareness. Not more lip service, and definitely not more of the same old thing. It’s not working. Get together and find out what will. This team is pieced together and those pieces barely fit, but the games against Buffalo and Indianapolis, the ending of the Miami game, and even the good we saw in the meetings with Houston and New England weren’t flukes. I just hope they weren’t teases, either.
And now, we hear from Debbie Schechter:
Oct 21, 2012; Foxboro, Massachusetts, USA; New York Jets wide receiver Jeremy Kerley (11) makes a fair catch during the fourth quarter against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium. The New England Patriots won 29-26. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-US PRESSWIRE
The biggest positive from the first half of the New York Jets 2012 campaign has been the emergence of second year wide receiver Jeremy Kerley. Kerley showed right off the batthat he would be a key asset for Mike Westhoff and the special teams unit, But in his first year, he hadn’t really shown anything special offensively. Last year, in 14 games played; Kerley had 29 catches for 314 yards and one touchdown. As we head into the bye week, Kerley has already surpassed all of those numbers. Kerley, through eight games played, has 30 catches for 478 yards and has scored twice. With injury to Santonio Holmes, Kerley has really emerged as a first option for quarterback Mark Sanchez. He’s becoming right before our very eyes, a really good slot receiver who’s not afraid to go over the middle. Doesn’t this sound a little bit familar?
There are a lot of things that the Jets need to improve on in the second half. To me, one of the biggest keys is better play on the offensive and defensive lines, especially in the run game (it’s really two things but just go with me on this). They are 16th overall in the league offensively in the rebuilding of Ground and Pound with 28.5 attempts for 878 yards total, which is an average of 3.9 yards per carry. This is obviously nowhere near good enough. The offensive line absolutely needs to get better push upfront to get the holes necessary for Shonn Greene to power through. They proved they could during the week 6 game against the Colts. Defensively, they are 29th in the league in stopping the run. They’ve allowed 1,131 yards through eight games allowjng the opponents ground game to amass 141.4 yards per game, which is not even close to good enough. They need to set the edge a HELL OF A LOT BETTER and that will allow Mike DeVito, Sione Pohua and the rest of the front four/three (depending on the formation) to stop the run.