Bates Says Darnold Could be Week 1 Starter

Just last night on our latest episode of JetNation radio, we asked Kristian Dyer of Metro if there was a real chance that rookie quarterback Sam Darnold could be under center when week 1 rolls around, and today, Jets offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates addressed the very same question.

“We’re throwing everything at him” said Bates, who didn’t rule out the possibility of the third overall pick starting the team’s Monday night opener in Detroit on September 10th.  A possibility that many fans seem to be at odds with.

While some may wonder why risk starting Darnold when you’ve got a pair of veterans to lean on while he sits back and learns in Josh McCown and Teddy Bridgewater, the fact of the matter is that plenty of quarterbacks have had success early on in recent years.

Carson Wentz of the Philadelphia Eagles, Dak Prescott of the Dallas Cowboys, and going back a few years, Andrew Luck of the Indianapolis Colts, have all put up some gaudy numbers after stepping in to take the starting jobs for their respective teams from day one.

Is Darnold next in line to take the reins in hopes of never looking back?  According to Bates, it’s not out of the question.

 

Adding QB may Have Just Gotten Harder for Gang Green

While the Jets are expected to put on a full court press to sign free agent quarterback Kirk Cousins, there’s obviously no guarantee he’ll take his talents to 1 Jets drive.  Should the Jets fail to land the quarterback, they’ll likely turn their attention to the draft where it appears that landing a quarterback may have just become a bit more complicated.

With the Cleveland Browns and New York Giants picking first and second respectively, the third team on the clock, the Indianapolis Colts were viewed as a possible trade partner for Gang Green, or at least a team that wouldn’t be interested in taking a signal caller with their pick.  However, in light of reports questioning the health of Andrew Luck, you can no longer assume the Colts won’t stay put and take the best QB on the board.

With Luck’s future now in doubt, there’s a good chance that the top three picks in the draft will be quarterbacks with the Denver Broncos also seeking a new quarterback after GM John Elway bombed on first and second round picks Paxton Lynch and Brock Osweiller.

No matter the circumstance, there are no excuses for GM Mike Maccagnan as he enters his fourth year as the team’s GM without a legitimate option at quarterback.  Whether it’s a first round rookie or a veteran such as Nick Foles or Tyrod Taylor, JetNation will be calling for Maccagnan’s head if the team goes to battle with another 35+ year-old journeyman under center in 2018.

Jets Trampled By Colts, 41-10

Tis the season for the New York Jets to embarrass themselves on Monday Night Football, crushed by the Colts, 41-10, falling to 3-9 and officially out of playoff contention.

New York opened the game with a three and out, then allowed an Indianapolis touchdown. The Jets then went three and out again, and allowed another easy Colts touchdown. It was 14-0 Indy before most fans got to their seats.

The Jets finally slowed the Colts down, preventing another score on Indy’s third possession. That brought us to the end of the first quarter.

The Jets finally broke through with a field goal, after a third personal foul and a series of poor offensive play calls stalled another drive in the redzone. Colts led the game 14-3 with 10 minutes to go in the first half, and they got the field goal right back on the following drive, leading 17-3.

Indy scored again on their ensuing drive, and led at the half 24-3. Tight end Dwayne Allen caught all three first half touchdowns for the Colts from quarterback Andrew Luck. It’d have been worse if, after Ryan Fitzpatrick threw an interception, tight end Jack Doyle hadn’t fumbled at the goal line and safety Rontez Miles hadn’t recovered.

Indianapolis deferred in the first half, so received the ball to start the second half. They immediately went down the field for another touchdown, and led 31-3 with 8:54 remaining in the third.

It was so brutally awful up to that point that head coach Todd Bowles finally pulled Fitzpatrick in favor of backup quarterback Bryce Petty. His first drive didn’t end in any points either. Indy’s next drive did though. With less than two minutes to go in the third quarter, the Colts led 34-3.

Two plays into New York’s next possession, Petty did his best Fitzpatrick impersonation, throwing an interception that wasn’t a pick 6 but really could have been. Luck and the Colts made the Jets pay for it at the start of the fourth quarter. Running back Robert Turbin made quick work of the one yard to the endzone, and the Colts led 41-3.

In truly miraculous fashion, the Jets managed to score a touchdown. After several near turnovers and completely bad throws that made you wonder if Petty had ever seen the playbook, he managed to connect with wide receiver Robby Anderson for a 40 yard touchdown. It was 41-10 with 11:19 to go.

It was all over but the crying, mostly from the beginning. After the Colts pulled Luck, the score didn’t change again, and so Jets fans just had to ride it out until the end.

Ryan Fitzpatrick was 5/12 for 81 yards with 1 interception, 0 touchdowns, and a rating of 30.2.

Bryce Petty was 11/25 for 135 yards with 2 interceptions, 1 touchdown, and a 41.3 rating.

Matt Forte led Jets rushers with 9 carries for 25 yards. Robby Anderson had 4 receptions for 61 yards to lead Jets rushers. Forte followed with 3 receptions for 54 yards.

Marcus Gilchrist and Leonard Williams led the team with 8 tackles each. They were followed by Darron Lee, David Harris, and Muhammad Wilkerson, each with 7 tackles. Williams had the only sack of Andrew Luck.

With this loss, the Jets were officially eliminated from playoff contention for the sixth straight season, and so the countdown officially begins on 2017.

To run out the clock on 2016, the Jets still have to face 49ers, Dolphins, Patriots, and Bills. They visit San Francisco next week. Kickoff is at 4:05.

Monday Notes: Schedule Breakdown, Predictions

A Quick Recap of Last Week in JetNation:

 

Jets are Handed a Difficult 2016 Schedule

 

The 2016 NFL schedule was released on Thursday, and the Jets’ schedule is a daunting one. In 2015 the Jets were given a relatively average SoS (strength of schedule) rating at .488, ranked 18th most difficult schedule in the league. This season they weren’t as lucky, getting a .531 rating, good enough to tie for the seventh most difficult schedule in the league. The SoS rating is based on all 16 opponent’s combined overall records from the previous season. The Jets will play six of their first nine games on the road. Five of their first six opponents are playoff teams from last season, the exception being the Buffalo Bills. The season will end with back-to-back short weeks and three games in the span of 13 days. The Jets will have five prime-time games for only the third time in franchise history: two Monday night games, two Thursday night games (one on Saturday), and a Sunday night game. Here’s some thoughts and predictions on each game:

 

  • Week 1: 9/11, Sunday, 1:00 p.m., vs. Cincinnati Bengals – The Jets will open the season at home against the Bengals on the fifteenth anniversary of September 11th. It will be an emotional atmosphere, and a difficult game for Todd Bowles and the Jets to start the season with. The Bengals will be without linebacker Vontaze Burfict, giving the Jets a slight advantage. It will be difficult for the Jets to contain Andy Dalton and a diverse offense, but the Jets get it done at home. Score: 27-21, Record: 1-0

 

  • Week 2: 9/15, Thursday, 8:25 p.m., at Buffalo Bills – The Jets will take a trip back to where their season ended in dismal fashion last year. Rex Ryan will be eager to keep his undefeated streak alive against his former team, and will have his players fired up for the early prime-time match up. If Ryan Fitzpatrick is the quarterback for the Jets this coming season, the outlook is bleak for this game. Fitzpatrick has a 1-8 record against Rex Ryan coached teams. The trip back to where their season ended will be too much for the Jets, and Rex will keep his streak against the Jets alive. Score: 28-10, Record: 1-1

 

  • Week 3: 9/25, Sunday, 4:25 p.m., at Kansas City Chiefs – The Jets will head into one of the most difficult stadiums to visit in the NFL, Arrowhead Stadium. They will get a few extra days to prepare for the contest after a Thursday night game. Although Arrowhead and Andy Reid will give the Jets some troubles, they will pull off the upset. Score: 21-14, Record: 2-1

 

  • Week 4: 10/2, Sunday, 1:00 p.m., vs. Seattle Seahawks – Pete Carroll and the Seahawks will visit MetLife Stadium for the first time since their Super Bowl XLVIII victory. The last time the Jets played the Seahawks they were crushed 28-7, although that was at Century Link Field in Seattle. This will be the only home game in a five game span, but the Seahawks and Russell Wilson will overpower the Jets. Score: 35-13, Record: 2-2

 

  • Week 5: 10/9, Sunday, 1:00 p.m., at Pittsburgh Steelers – The Jets are historically bad against the Steelers, only winning five of the 24 match ups since 1970. The offense will need to be firing on all cylinders to keep up with Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown at home. The trend will continue and the Jets won’t be able to stop the Steelers. Score: 21-20, Record: 2-3

 

  • Week 6: 10/17, Monday, 8:30 p.m., at Arizona Cardinals – This will be one of the most interesting games of the season as Todd Bowles faces off against his mentor in Bruce Arians. Bowles and Arians have a long history together. Bowles played for Arians at Temple, and most recently Bowles served as the defensive coordinator for Arians in Arizona. It will be a great clash between two great coaches out in the desert. The pupil will defeat the mentor this time, with the defense making enough plays to take the day for the Jets. Score: 16-14, Record: 3-3

 

  • Week 7: 10/23, Sunday, 1:00 p.m., vs. Baltimore Ravens – In recent history the Jets have had a difficult time against the Ravens as well, with the last win coming in 1997. Joe Flacco and the Ravens had some serious struggles last season with injuries, and will definitely have a better season than their 5-11 record from a year ago. With a healthier roster the Ravens will give the Jets a run for their money at home, but the Jets will clinch it late in the game. Score: 28-24, Record: 4-3

 

  • Week 8: 10/30, Sunday, 1:00 p.m., at Cleveland Browns – The Browns are in full rebuild mode with new head coach Hue Jackson. The Browns have been pushovers in the league for a long time now, and that won’t change any time soon. The Jets will beat up on the Browns’ mediocre roster. Score: 38-6, Record: 5-3

 

  • Week 9: 11/6, Sunday, 1:00 p.m., at Miami Dolphins – The Jets have won four out of the last six games against the Dolphins, including two last season. This should be a go ahead win for the Jets, but they will fall to their rivals in Miami. Score: 17-14, Record: 5-4

 

  • Week 10: 11/13, Sunday, 1:00 p.m., vs. Los Angeles Rams – The newly relocated Rams will have a rookie quarterback at the helm after trading up for the first pick in the upcoming draft. In all likelihood the Rams will have either Jared Goff or Carson Wentz at the helm. The rookie quarterback will have a tough game against Todd Bowles’ blitz-happy defense. The Jets take it in a low-scoring affair. Score: 13-3, Record: 6-4

 

  • Week 11: The Jets get a break with a bye week.

 

  • Week 12: 11/27, Sunday, 8:30 p.m., vs. New England Patriots – Recent match ups between the Jets and Patriots have been very close games. The Jets haven’t won against the Patriots twice in a row since 2008-2009. Todd Bowles will end that streak with a big victory in a prime-time match up with the Jets’ biggest rival. Score: 30-23, Record: 7-4

 

  •  Week 13: 12/5, Monday, 8:30 p.m., vs. Indianapolis Colts – Last season the Jets took Andrew Luck and the Colts behind the woodshed in a 20-7 victory. Andrew Luck hasn’t beaten the Jets since entering the NFL, including the most recent 20-7 loss, and another 35-9 loss in 2012. This time Luck and the Colts will get the better of the Jets. Score: 35-28, Record: 7-5

 

  • Week 14: 12/11, Sunday, 4:25 p.m., at San Francisco 49ers – After playing on Monday night, the Jets will take a trip out west to San Francisco on Sunday. It will be difficult to fly west after having a short week, but the Jets will be able to handle Chip Kelly’s new team. Colin Kaepernick will get benched for Blaine Gabbert after throwing three interceptions to seal the win for the Jets. Score: 24-17, Record: 8-5

 

  • Week 15: 12/17, Saturday, 8:25 p.m., vs. Miami Dolphins – The Jets will be playing Saturday night after two short weeks in a row. The Dolphins have a new head coach in Adam Gase after firing Joe Philbin. Although Miami will have a new head coach, the tough schedule will catch up to the Jets as they let another close game slip away. Score: 20-17, Record: 8-6

 

  • Week 16: 12/24, Saturday, 1:00 p.m., at New England Patriots – The Jets will play the Patriots on Christmas eve. The last time the Jets squared off against the Patriots during a holiday was on Thanksgiving in 2012. That game was one of the Jets’ worst in recent memory, a 49-19 trouncing. As much as the Jets would like to make it a three game win streak, Tom Brady and the Patriots’ offense will get the better of the Jets in New England. Score: 38-24, Record: 8-7

 

  • Week 17: 1/1, Sunday, 1:00 p.m., vs. Buffalo Bills – For the second year in a row, the Jets will end the season against their former head coach Rex Ryan. Rex would love nothing more than ending the Jets’ season with a defeat twice in a row. This time the Jets will prevail at home against their former head coach and end the season on a high note. Score: 28-21, Final Record: 9-7

 

With a significantly tougher schedule it’s possible the Jets could take a step back. Play makers such as Brandon Marshall, Matt Forte, and Eric Decker will keep the Jets in contention, but it might not be enough. It would be tough to say whether or not a 9-7 record will be good enough to earn a playoff berth, but in the competitive AFC conference it might be a stretch. Last season the Jets were kept out of the playoffs with a 10-6 record. At this point it’s difficult to make accurate predictions seeing as the Jets starting quarterback spot is still up in the air. The Jets’ playoff chances could vary greatly depending on who they have starting under center.

 

Other Notes

 

Other than the schedule release it was quiet week for the Jets. The Jets announced the signing of backup tackle Ben Ijalana who will likely retake his spot at left tackle behind newly acquired Ryan Clady. Paxton Lynch visited with the Jets during the week. Lynch is the only quarterback out of the top three in the draft that has a realistic chance of being on the board at 20 when the Jets are on the clock. There have been rumors that the Jets inquired about moving up to the #1 spot in the draft before the Rams made the move. This has fueled speculation that not only are the Jets trying to move up to draft a quarterback, but also that Muhammad Wilkerson was a part of the deal. It will be interesting to see whether or not the Jets move Muhammad Wilkerson before the draft, and if so, for what price. News broke Sunday that the Houston Texans are releasing Brian Hoyer. Hoyer was targeted by the Jets last off-season before they traded for Ryan Fitzpatrick. Hoyer could be a fallback option for the Jets, or at the very least a means to try to gain more leverage in negotiations with Fitzpatrick. According to the NFLPA the Jets have $3.8 million in cap space, enough to sign all six of their current draft picks.

 

Jets Tackle Colts, Win 20-7 In Week 2

The Jets visited the Indianapolis Colts on Monday Night Football. The Colts were looking to enter the win column after struggling last week against the Bills, and the Jets were looking to build off their own win against the Browns.  On national television, the Jets defense made plays and the offense sputtered but recovered, and the team managed to pull out a 20-7 win in Week 02.

New York’s first offensive drive stalled and the Jets had to punt, but they got the ball back when Indy quarterback Andrew Luck’s pass was tipped to safety Calvin Pryor and intercepted.

It looked like the Jets might have to settle for a field goal, but it has been a long time since the Jets had a wide receiver of Brandon Marshall’s caliber on the team, and his presence is already being felt, even when he isn’t catching the ball. He drew a holding penalty to give the Jets an extra set of downs in the red zone, which the Jets were able to take advantage of, taking a 7-0 lead on a Ryan Fitzpatrick pass to receiver Eric Decker.

The Colts came back up the field, but Darrelle Revis, continuing his homecoming tour, was able to prevent a touchdown, and Indianapolis kicker Adam Vinatieri missed a field goal off the upright. The second quarter started with the Jets driving and up by a touchdown.

Things went back and forth slowly in the second until Colts’ safety Mike Adams intercepted Fitzpatrick in the second, but nothing came of it, as the Colts ended up punting again. Fitzpatrick and Decker got into a rhythm in the second quarter, but nothing really came of that either, except improved statistics, although kicker Nick Folk nailed a 35 yard field goal to pad the Jets lead after a stalled drive.  The Jets managed a strip sack of Andew Luck late in the half, which Revis recovered, but Folk then also missed a field goal off the upright.

New York led at the half 10-0.

At the start of the second half, the Colts took ten minutes to get down the field. The Jets defense couldn’t stop Indy on third down, after holding them to 0-6 on third down conversions in the first half. On one carry, the ball came out at the goal line and the Jets challenged, but the call was upheld as down by contact. The Colts tried again, but this time running back Frank Gore really did fumble. Revis recovered his second fumble of the game for a touchback, and after an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Jets linebacker Damario Davis, the Jets still led 10-0 and had the ball on their own ten yard line.

Anticlimactically, they went three and out. After an absolutely atrocious punt by Ryan Quigley, the Colts got the ball back at midfield. Luck was picked off by Revis on third down, and the offense, though sputtering, went back to work to start the fourth quarter.

It started the way the third did – with the Jets up 10-0.  The Colts finally broke through in the middle of the fourth, a touchdown pass from Luck to Donte Moncrief for the score, but the Jets offense, which had reverted to 2014 form, responded beautifully. Fitzpatrick, Marshall, Chris Ivory, and Quincy Enunwa all had big plays on the drive. Marshall, even though he was held, caught a pass from Fitzpatrick and fought his way into the endzone.

It looked like the Colts were going to be allowed to stay in the game after a ridiculous roughing the passer call when Quentin Coples took down Luck gave the Colts 15 yards and a new set of downs, but after one more first down pass, Luck was intercepted for a third time, this time by safety Marcus Gilchrist.

The Jets took over and it looked for a moment as if the Colts may still get one last chance when running back Bilal Powell fumbled, but the Jets came out of the pile with possession and nothing left to do but run out the clock. Folk padded the lead, 20-7, with about 60 ticks left.

Ryan Fitzpatrick finished 22/34 for 244 yards with two touchdowns, one interception, and a quarterback rating of 93.3. He was sacked once.

Chris Ivory led the Jets in rushing yards, with 14 carries for 57 yards. Brandon Marshall led the Jets in receiving yards with 101 on seven catches. Eric Decker followed with eight catches for 97 yards. It’s worth noting that Decker left the game in the fourth quarter to be evaluated for a knee injury and didn’t return.

The Jets defense forced five turnovers – three interceptions and two fumble recoveries. Darrelle Revis had the two fumble recoveries and an interception. Buster Skrine led the Jets in tackles with eight.

The Philadelphia Eagles come to town to play the Jets next Sunday. Kickoff is at 1:00.

Inactives Report: Devin Smith Out, Cromartie In

In a surprise move the Jets have chosen to make Antonio Cromartie active, while keeping rookie Devin Smith on the sidelines for the Monday night game against the Colts. It’s a risky move by the Jets, Cromartie was diagnosed with a sprained knee. The average recovery time for a sprained knee is two to three weeks. Devin Smith practiced fully this week, and was looking to make his debut. Even if Smith had played, he would have likely seen a condensed amount of time on the field. Smith will have to work his way up the depth chart after missing almost all of training camp, and the entire preseason.

Other inactives include: Geno Smith, Darrin Walls, Lorenzo Mauldin, Deon Simon, Ben Ijalana, and Jarvis Harrison

Geno Smith is expected to be healthy, and eligible by week four. Even once Geno is healthy, he isn’t guaranteed the starting position. Todd Bowles has made it clear that if Ryan Fitzpatrick is leading the team, and minimizing any mistakes he will remain the starting quarterback. It’s a smart philosophy, why change a winning formula? It’ll be interesting to see what happens if Fitzpatrick begins to falter though. Will the Jets turn back to Smith, or possibly rookie Bryce Petty?

Darrin Walls was doubtful for the game with a hamstring injury. If Cromartie wasn’t able to go for today’s game, Walls and Marcus Williams would have likely alternated at the second cornerback position with Buster Skrine in the slot if Walls was healthy. It’s highly likely we could still see Williams in certain packages to relieve Cromartie with his injury, and Williams’ impressive week one performance.

Lorenzo Mauldin is out for today’s game, and he’s likely okay with that. It’s essentially the best case scenario for the rookie who suffered a concussion in last week’s game against the Browns. The injury initially seemed much worse, and with the good news that Mauldin will be okay the Jets can ease him back into the lineup.

Rookie Deon Simon will also be inactive for today’s game. Simon had an impressive finish to the preseason, but will likely receive a “redshirt” season with so much depth on the defensive line. As of now, T.J. Barnes is backing up nose tackle Damon Harrison.

Both Ben Ijalana and Jarvis Harrison will be inactive again in today’s game. It will be good news for Jets fans if they don’t have to see either Ijalana or Harrison getting any playing time this season. If that were the case, it’d likely mean there were multiple injuries or one of the starters was doing their best Wayne Hunter impression.

Facing the Colts on Monday Night Football will be a true test of where Todd Bowles’ Jets are. If they can come away with a win, it’ll be the first time in four years that the Jets have started 2-0. Many believe the Jets’ win against the Browns came against a push-over opponent. This will be a chance for the Jets to prove they’re the real deal in front of the nation on Monday Night Football in Indianapolis.

 

 

Monday Notes: Cromartie, Mauldin Avoid Serious Injuries, Jets Ready for Monday Night Football

A Quick Recap of Last Week in JetNation:

 

Jets Fans can Share a Sigh of Relief Following Good News on the Injury Front

 

Both Antonio Cromartie and Lorenzo Mauldin had gruesome injuries in last Sunday’s game against the Browns. The worst was feared when both players were carted off the field, and didn’t return. Initially it seemed that both players had suffered season, if not career ending injuries. Cromartie suffered a knee injury, while Mauldin had suffered a head injury. There were a couple of other injuries as well, but they were obviously minor. Nick Mangold was replaced by Dakota Dozier for one play but came back on the next drive, and David Harris left the field for a play with a poked eye but returned later.

Cromartie’s injury was an awkward one in the fact that it was a non-contact injury. Cromartie’s knee buckled while he was turning around in coverage and he went straight to the turf, clearly in pain. Trainers assisted him to the sidelines, and worked on his leg for a couple of minutes before bringing the cart over and taking him to the locker room. It was initially thought that Cromartie had torn his ACL. Monday it was revealed through an MRI that Cromartie had no ligament damage and had only suffered a sprain in his knee. Todd Bowles said Cromartie is week-to-week with his injury and is considered questionable for the game against the Colts.

During his first regular season game of his career, Lorenzo Mauldin looked like he suffered an injury that could have ended his career just as quickly as it began. It wasn’t exactly clear how Mauldin sustained his injury during the play, but it was clear something was wrong as he fell to the turf face first after he attempted to get up. Mauldin laid on the turf, motionless, until he was strapped down to the spinal board by the medical staff and then subsequently taken to the local hospital via ambulance. It was then later made clear that Mauldin had only suffered a concussion and not a neck injury as initially thought. Mauldin took to twitter to let everyone know he was alright: “I will be perfectly fine. The lord was with me.” Mauldin was ruled out for the game against the Colts.

Both Chris Ivory and Darrin Walls suffered injures during practice throughout the week. Chris Ivory is listed as questionable with a groin injury, but is expected to suit up against the Colts for Monday Night Football. Darrin Walls is dealing with a hamstring injury and is doubtful for the game against the Colts. Geno Smith is still recovering, and will also be out for the game against the Colts.

 

Jets Will Look to Upset the Colts on Monday Night

 

The Jets are on the losing end of a rivalry that stretches back to Super Bowl III, the last and only Super Bowl win for them. The Jets are behind the Colts in the rivalry 40-27 all-time. Although recently the rivalry has been kinder to the Jets, who have won six of the last 10 match ups with the Colts. Arguably, the most important one in that 10 game span was the Jets’ 2010 Wild Card victory over the Colts. Most recently the Jets trounced the Colts 35-9 in the 2012 regular season match up. During that game the Jets and Rex Ryan’s defense wreaked havoc on Andrew Luck, which will likely be the key to success for Todd Bowles’ Jets as well. Ryan’s defense recorded two interceptions and four sacks on Luck. The Jets have 21 points off of turnovers so far this season, more than the 20 they had all last season. If the Jets can produce similar numbers against the Colts, a victory is highly likely.

There will be a couple of key match ups to watch in the Monday Night tilt, both at wide receiver/cornerback. Brandon Marshall will be going up against Vontae Davis for most, if not all of the game. Marshall has the size advantage at 6′ 4″ while Davis is 5′ 11″ but Davis is a renowned lock-down corner. Davis hasn’t given up a touchdown reception since December 2013, a truly impressive statistic. Marshall will try to use his height to his advantage in the red zone, an area the Jets have excelled in so far. Another key match up will be Darrelle Revis against either T.Y. Hilton or Andre Johnson. Both are exceptional receivers, and Revis will face a tough challenge regardless. Hilton is dealing with a knee injury and hasn’t practiced all week, although Colts’ head coach Chuck Pagano believes Hilton will play.

 

Other Notes

 

Second round pick Devin Smith will likely make his debut against the Colts. Smith suffered broken ribs early in training camp and didn’t participate in any preseason games or practices until recently. Smith began practicing fully this week and looks to be a full go Monday Night. It’s not clear exactly how much the Jets will incorporate Smith into the game plan since he’s missed the entire preseason and most of training camp. Most likely the Jets will work Smith into the lineup slowly, using him in certain packages. Offensive Coordinator Chan Gailey said Smith’s role will be condensed earlier on in the season: “Put him at a spot and try to leave him there in order to keep it as simple as possible for him early in the year.”

It will be interesting to see whether or not Jeremy Kerley is on the field at all with the return of Devin Smith. It’s highly likely that Kerley could be restricted to a punt returner role. In the game against the Browns Kerley only had one offensive snap the entire game. This doesn’t bode well for Kerley’s chances of remaining a Jet after the season. When asked if he had considered asking for a trade, Kerley responded: “It hadn’t crossed my mind.” Kerley is making $3.5 million dollars this year, and it’s hard to see the Jets keeping a punt returner for that kind of money.

Antonio Cromartie is listed as questionable for the game against the Colts, but it would be smart for the Jets to sit him for two reasons. The first reason is we’ve seen how Cromartie performs when he isn’t 100 percent, he struggled most of the 2013 season with a nagging hip injury. Besides, it’d just be reckless to rush a 31-year-old cornerback back into the lineup when the average recovery time is two to three weeks for a sprained knee. The second reason is that Marcus Williams has been surprisingly impressive so far. Williams had three total tackles, three passes defended, and an interception against the Browns. It will be interesting to see how Williams performs if Cromartie does sit against the Colts.

If the Jets manage to go 2-0, it will be the first time they’ve done so in four years and only the 11th time in franchise history. It could be perceived as either a good or bad thing that the Colts were beaten 27-14 by the Buffalo Bills last week. It could either mean they’re demoralized, and in turmoil or it could mean they’re angry and motivated. Either way, the Jets will head into the Lion’s den Monday Night looking for a second victory on the road for rookie head coach Todd Bowles.

 

 

Preview: Jets at Colts

gamepreviewNew York hits the big stage when the Jets (1-0) travel to Indianapolis to take on the Colts (0-1) on Monday Night Football. This showdown will begin at 8:30 p.m. and will be broadcasted on ESPN. Mike Tirico and Jon Gruden are on the call.

The Jets are coming off a 21-point dismantling of the Browns in week one. Yes, both sides of the ball started slow, but the Jets were able to bend instead of break and did a great job forcing turnovers.

Meanwhile, Indianapolis entered this year with Super Bowl-or-bust expectations. Obviously, the season is still very young, but things got off to a rocky start. The Colts were dominated in every aspect of their game, losing in Buffalo 27-14.

Love him or hate him, the Jets could learn a lot about how to attack Indianapolis from former head coach Rex Ryan, who put together a really solid gameplan in his first game as coach of the Bills. Let’s dive into the matchup:

All about Indy

As you may or may not have heard, the Colts have a pro bowl quarterback named Andrew Luck. Andrew Luck is very good at football. He’s got a rocket arm, a high football IQ and tons of athleticism. Last year, Luck threw for 4,761 yards with 40 touchdowns to 16 interceptions. He also rushed for 273 yards and three touchdowns.

Andrew Luck’s offensive line… not so good. The Colts haven’t had a running back reach the 100 yard plateau since December of 2012 (Vick Ballard at Houston). That’s as much of a reflection (if not more) on the offensive line as it is any running back in Indy’s backfield.

When Luck is provided the time, he has a lot of playmakers to get the ball to. Former Texans wide out Andre Johnson joins T.Y. Hilton (more on him later), Dwayne Allen, Coby Fleener and Donte Moncrief as weapons. Former 49ers running back Frank Gore is expected to help the previously-reported porous Indianapolis running game.

Indy has an unspectacular but solid defense. The strength of the unit comes from the secondary, led by cornerback Vontae Davis. Davis, a former Miami Dolphins first round draft pick, was traded to the Colts in 2012 for a second round pick and has morphed into one of the best cornerbacks in the league.

Last year, the Colts ranked 12th in pass defense and 18th in run defense. They don’t get to the quarterback much, but the hope is the addition of outside linebacker Trent Cole, a solid veteran presence, will help the Colts disturb the quarterback more.

Big loss?

Wide receiver T.Y. Hilton will be a game-time decision for the Colts with a knee injury. Hilton has developed into one of the most dangerous and explosive wideouts in the league, and the Jets could hold a huge advantage with Hilton out, especially with cornerback Antonio Cromartie also out with a knee injury

If Hilton does play, I would expect Darrelle Revis to see him for the majority of the game. The Jets would also be wise to always have safety help over the top with such an explosive offense. New York got burnt deep in week one and can’t afford that luxury against a team with more talent.

Dominate the line

The old adage is games are won in the trenches. With about 90 years of evidence, it’s hard to disagree; the team that can dominate the line usually wins.

The Bills were able to whoop the Colts offensive and defensive line last week. On offense, Buffalo ran effectively. On defense, they used exotic blitz packages. Buffalo blitzed on 49 percent of Indy’s offensive plays last week, and it forced Andrew Luck into two interceptions, two sacks and a ton of uncomfortable moments.

Todd Bowles loves to blitz. The Jets have a tough front seven and should get their chances at knocking around Luck. The blueprint has been set, let’s see if the Jets can follow.

Red zone madness

The early returns on Chan Gailey’s new offense were solid last week. After a slow start, the offense turned into high gear towards the end of the first half. The biggest difference? Punching it in inside the 20.

The Jets scored four touchdowns and kicked a field goal in their five red zone possessions. Without looking at the numbers, I could still tell you the Jets were miserable at scoring touchdowns last year. I love Nick Folk as much as the next guy, but you have to score touchdowns in this league.

I loved how Gailey used Chris Ivory inside the 20. He spread things out and let Ivory bounce off of tacklers everywhere. Ivory is a horse, and he should get a lot of chances to score on that end of the field.

Another one?

Last week, wide receiver Brandon Marshall abused Joe Haden, regarded as one of the top cornerbacks in the league. He was just bigger, stronger and better than Haden. If Marshall can beat up on Vontae Davis, and demand extra attention in the process, it opens things up for the likes of Eric Decker and Chris Owusu.

Special teams

Last week, the Colts average starting field position was their own 17 yard line. They trotted out four different return men and rookie wide out Phillip Dorsett muffed two punts. Pinning Indy deep in their own territory for the second straight game would be fantastic news for the Jets. Let’s see if they can execute.

Jets Should Emulate Colts And Dolphins

We often hear the Jets should try to emulate successful organizations around the NFL, Packers, Giants, Steelers, and Patriots when it comes to building their team.  It makes sense to look at other franchises building strategies but doesn’t mean they need to copy others to have positive results.  Maybe just this year the Jets should duplicate the philosophy of two organizations, the Indianapolis Colts and Miami Dolphins, as both teams had poor 2011 seasons and decided to set up their finances for the long-term in 2012.

The Colts had a $90 million payroll last year, while the Jets spent $121 million, and finished 11-5 making the playoffs.  Yes 2012 first overall pick quarterback Andrew Luck helped but they purged their roster having almost $39 million in “dead money” salary which counts on a team’s cap for players no longer there.

The Dolphins had a similar purging as receiver Brandon Marshall was traded to the Chicago Bears for a pair of third round draft picks (2012-13) and cornerback Vontae Davis was sent to the Colts for a 2013 second round pick.  They also released offensive linemen Vernon Carey and safety Yeremiah Bell, who ended up a Jet, leaving the Dolphins with $13 million in dead money on the 2012 books.  The team did finish with a 7-9 record but broke in a rookie quarterback and coach while looking far more competitive than they did the season before starting 0-7.

The benefit of using this strategy has been the salary cap space these two teams now have heading into 2013, $44 million (Dolphins) and $43 million (Colts).  By clearing out salary from high priced veterans while acquiring draft picks, whether by trade or potential compensatory picks via the NFL, they have set themselves up for the long-term at least in a financial sense.

These organizations will still have to make smart personnel moves as just having your finances in order does not guarantee success, see the Cleveland Browns $45 million in 2013 cap space, but financial flexibility allows a team options to retain players they want and acquire players they need.

The Jets built in an aggressive manner over the past few years signing free agents, trading draft picks for players who required large contracts and often trading up in drafts to obtain more ready-made players rather than developmental ones.

This aggressive philosophy has left the Jets $23 million over the 2013 salary cap.  They can release some players out of their contracts to improve the overall cap situation, Calvin Pace $8.56 (in millions), Bart Scott $7.15, Jason Smith $12.0, Tim Tebow $1.055, and Eric Smith $3.0, Sione Po’uha $3.835, total $35.6 million, but even after you save this salary the team will not have much space for free agency.

The Jets will likely tender two current restricted free agents, offensive tackle Austin Howard and tight end Jeff Cumberland, costing $2.65 million and replacing the other four roster spots will be $1.6 million at minimum.  So the Jets $23 million over, minus $35.6 puts them $12.6 million under, then add the 6 new players salaries $4.25 million and the Jets end up $8.35 million under the salary cap after these likely moves.

Thinking long term the team will need about $2.5 million in cap space for the 2013 draft class and another $1.5 million when the season starts as only 51 players count on your salary cap during the off-season while 53 and the practice squad salaries count during the year.  That leaves about $4 million to spend on free agents.

Of course there are many ways to restructure contracts to create cap space.  Just look at the wonderful contract extension the Jets gave Mark Sanchez that saved $6.4 million on the 2012 cap, which the team is now choking on.  The Jets need to “bite the bullet” for their lack of financial discipline and hold money in 2013 grabbing control of these high priced player’s contracts and open up cap room for the future.  How about being $10-15 million under the cap before the start of a new league year instead of $20 million over?

The Jets don’t need to completely gut the team instead take a fiscally responsible approach as artificially creating cap space in a “Sanchez like manner” will only lead to year-in year-out financial issues.  Simple pushing money forward, worrying about it later, is not currently a prudent choice but getting younger, cheaper and hungry players, underpaid overachievers rather than overpaid underachieves, will actually provide better results this season and stability moving forward, just look at the Colts and Dolphins.  Bet the fans of those two teams thought they’d be terrible given the difficult decisions made but now their futures are bright.

If Mark Sanchez and Darrelle Revis move on after the 2013 season, assuming Revis is not traded before June 1st, the Jets will be looking at $13.8 million in dead money putting the team behind before next season even starts.  This is only one of many reasons why the Jets need to start cleaning their finances now.

There is no one strategy which guarantees success otherwise certain team won’t be consistent winners while others struggle but it will be up to general manager John Idzik to have a budget, stick to it and make tough long-run financial decisions.  Hopefully through Idzik’s leadership the Jets will regain control of their finances allowing the flexibility to build a long-term winner.

Jets Vs. Colts-Week 6 Preview

After facing two of the best all around teams in the league, the Indianapolis Colts led by rookie phenom Andrew Luck, are coming to Metlife Stadium this weekend. With the media in a frenzy about Mark Sanchez vs. Tim Tebow, Rex’s accountability, and Tannenbaum’s lack of knowledge as a scout, the Jets have had many distractions the past few weeks. In order to quiet these distractions, Mark Sanchez and the offense have to start to look like a well-oiled machine. They can’t be successful averaging 87 yards per game on the ground. They can’t afford for miscommunications between offensive line and quarterback, and quarterback and his receivers. In order to silence the critics, the Jets will have to put together a solid game against the Colts.

The Colts hold the overall lead in the series 40-26, but lost the last time the two teams played in 2011 playoffs.

Offense

Andrew Luck has shown that picking him #1 overall will be well worth it in the future for the Colts. He is surprisingly agile, has excellent poise in the pocket, makes tremendously smart decisions for a rookie and has a very good arm. He can make all the throws and with Reggie Wayne, Donnie Avery, and deep threat. T.Y. Hilton. His tight ends are Dwayne Allen and Luck’s college classmate Coby Fleener.

Running the ball is Vick Ballard (21 rush, 42 yards). Ballard will now be taking the majority of the plays at running back because Donald Brown is out 2-3 weeks with a knee injury.

This could be a good week for the defensive line of the Jets. With a lack of a running game, and the fact that Luck has been sacked 9 times so far this season, it could be a breakout game for the Jet’s defensive line.

Colts Offense vs. Jets Defense ADVANTAGE: Jets

Defense

The defensive line of the Colts is mediocre at best. However, they make up for it with perennial Pro-Bowler Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis. Teams have accounted for Freeney which has helped Mathis get 5 sacks so far this season, as well as, defensive end Cory Redding get to the quarterback twice.

Jerrell Freeman(LB) leads the Colts with 22 tackles this season and one interception. The defensive backs are very athletic. The corners are Vontae Davis (traded from Dolphins in offseason), and Jerraud Powers (6 pass deflections). Tom Zbikowski and Antoine Bethea bring a veteran presence to the defensive backfield.

With the Jets struggling to run the ball, they need to get a run game established early and often against the Colts. They need to sustain drives to keep Luck and the big play capability of the Colts offense off the field. A bounce back game is a necessity from Sanchez as the media is already calling for him to be replaced, traded, or released. Rex Ryan has made it clear that Mark is the starting quarterback, but a bad game against the Colts can lead to even more speculation. Sanchez and the Jets will need to take advantage of the aggressive nature of the Colts defensive backs and take what the defense gives them, which this week, can be a 300 yard passing day.

Colts Defense vs Jets Offense ADVANTAGE: Colts

Special Teams

Indianapolis has Adam Vinatieri as their place kicker.  A 40 year old veteran who has been a big game kicker his entire career. This year he is 7-10 on field goals with a long of 53 yards.

Their punter is Pat McAfee who’s averaging 49 yards per punt.

Returning kicks for the Colts are Lavon Brazill and T.Y. Hilton who are speedsters and can change the course of a game with one long return.

You can find Jets tickets here.