Tag Archive: Jets


Fast Fifteen: Wide Receivers

Welcome to the First and Fifteen Fast Fifteen.  It will take in various things as the offseason and (hopefully) subsequent season roll on.  The first series will focus on five teams with the best and worst situations at each position group, plus five that could break either way.  Today we’ll take a look at the best and worst receiving corps in the NFL.  Note that this takes in tight ends, running backs and wide receivers.

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Conference Championship Thoughts

  • Bizarre finishes to both games.  The eventual losers were down and nearly out at halftime; both staged rallies that fell just short.  Thankfully for the viewers, it made the second half of games interesting, because the first halves were not.
  • There is reason for optimism in the offseason for both teams.  I have long held that it’s better to lose in the Conference Championship than the Super Bowl.  The Bears uncovered a gem in Caleb Hanie, and now face an interesting choice in the offseason (although, if both Cutler and Hanie are under contract in 2011, expect them to keep both, a la the Eagles this year), while the Jets get a little closer each year.
  • The Jets need to win the division to get to the Super Bowl.  This is a strong team, but they need to beat New England in the standings AND in the playoffs.  Road trips to New England, Pittsburgh and/or Baltimore are the road the AFC playoffs go- and that’s not a gauntlet any team can run.  They need at least one home game in there to get over the hump.
  • Rodgers had a small meltdown in the second half.  He will need to turn in a strong 60 minutes in the Super Bowl for them to win.
  • Pittsburgh got away with mistakes it won’t against Green Bay.  They need to play cleaner if they’re going to win.
  • Defense still wins championships.

So the AFC comes down to this- The New York Jets in their second AFC Championship in as many years and the Pittsburgh Steelers, overcoming the four-game suspension of their starting QB to have yet another quality season.

The Jets put together a stellar defensive game plan to stop Tom Brady and 10 other guys, but now they face almost the polar opposite- a strong running game and a rock-solid defense.  They will have to pound the ball at least somewhat effectively to set up play action for Sanchez- a tall order.  Passing on the Steelers defense is no easy task, either, and both safeties have been playing very well lately.  Sanchez will need to be mistake free all game for them to make it further than last year.

For Pittsburgh, they can expect to face something other than 11 active DBs for the AFC Championship.  Expect them to run hard and often, before getting safeties to bite on play action on second- and third-and-short.  They will have to honor it, and Mike Wallace will make them pay.  On the defensive side of the ball, they will have to shut down Greene and Tomlinson, which is not easy task, but if they can force them into passing situations early and often, they will force Sanchez into making bad passes or holding the ball to long.  Look for Polamalu to line up in the box and drop into coverage, and blitz from deep.  Sanchez has a lot of upside, but is young and can be rattled and tricked into making mistakes.  A veteran Steeler secondary will take advantage.

The Line: Steelers by 3.5

My Pick: Steelers 24, Jets 17

Divsion Round Thoughts- Sunday

Another great weekend of football is past- but the Championship games look awesome.  Let’s hope the trend holds.  Here are my thoughts, observations, and whatnot from yesterdays games:

  • Can we be done with the ‘Quarterback wins’ metric?  Matt Ryan has played in TWO playoff games, and lost both.  Aaron Rodgers caught a lot of flack coming into this postseason for his supposed inability to win playoff games.  But what about Tom Brady?  He has lost three in a row- does that mean he’s a bad quarterback?  What about Mark Sanchez, since he’s won a bunch, but isn’t really that great?  It’s stupid to tie a handful of games to a quarterbacks legacy, especially when they’ve only been playing/starting for a few years.
  • The playoffs do not need to be reseeded.  Sure, the Seahawks went 7-9 in the regular season, and won the division, and yes, I see how that is kind of lame, but when is that going to happen again?  Let’s keep it the way it is and in 20 years or so, when it happens again, we can all be mad about it (it won’t matter, there will be an 18 game season), but if the playoffs are reseeded now, it’s closing the barn door after the horse is out.
  • Excellent game plan by the Jets.  I don’t have to say anything that has been said a hundred times already, but I will add this- you should come up with a game plan because of your quarterback, not in spite of him.  The defense was spectacular, but the offense (Sanchez) still made mistakes, and if the defense was anything but stellar, we’d be previewing a Patriots/Steelers championship.  Sanchez is still to hot and cold to be effective over two more game against better defenses than he saw Sunday.
  • I won’t say much about the Seahawks here- I have a whole post about that- but they should be proud.  They got as far as they did winning when they needed to, in the face of a lot of doubters.  Good teams need to do that, and they can be proud of that.
  • The Bears will have to play much better than they did yesterday when they play Green Bay.  Green Bay has a potent offense and and incredible secondary.   They will make Chicago pay for any mistakes, and Seattle let them get away with quite a few.
  • That being said, Cutler was spot on all day.  He didn’t make many of the mistakes he usually does, and showed why Chicago gave up a kings ransom for him.

The Line: New England by 8.5

New England’s Key to Victory: As usual, Tom Brady.  The jets have a potent secondary, but if Brady is on, he will light them up.  And Tom Brady doesn’t have off days, so look for him to have a big day.

New York’s Keys to Victory: Predictably, stopping Tom Brady.  More accurately, slowing down Brady.  On top of that, they need Mark Sanchez to play like Brady, and he’s struggled with any kind of consistency all year.  With that said, he has good receivers around him, and New England has a young defense that can be tricked and exploited.  If Rex Ryan and the rest of the Jets coaching staff put together a solid game plan, they can pull off the upset.  However, they can’t afford the mistakes they made against a banged-up Colts squad.  They will have to play mistake-free ball in order to keep this from being another blowout.

My Pick: Patriots 35, Jets 21

Wild Card Weekend Thoughts

Here are my knee-jerk observations from a great first week of the playoffs:

  • One of the best seasons of football I’ve seen.  It had tons of ups and downs, and no clear-cut ‘best team in the NFL’.  Ok, on to the actual playoffs:
  • Awesome job by the Seahawks of showing that they deserved to be there.  I think that’s a universal opinion at this point, but still.  The real trick will be going out and winning in a much more competitive NFC West next season.
  • What the heck, New Orleans?  I expected much more out of their defense after a fantastic regular season, that was a much underrated improvement over their super bowl squad of a year ago.  They didn’t do enough to keep their offense in it, and the amazing Lynch run only punctuated that.
  • The Chiefs showed they- not the Seahawks- are the worst team to make the playoffs.  Overall, the AFC West was as unimpressive as their NFC counterparts, but it was more competitive, so that got lost.  The Chargers have been overrated for years, and the Chiefs picked up the pieces.  Don’t mistake them for a bad team, though.  Pioli and Haley are building a long term winner.
  • The Ravens need to make up their mind before that planes lands back in Baltimore if they are a good football team or not.  The team we saw today is, but that’s not the team we’ve seen all year.  They need to bring that a week from now to stand a chance against the Steelers.
  • The Packers can run the ball.  Watch out, Falcons.
  • The Colts were doomed from the start.  They might have won against the Jets, but they weren’t headed to the Super Bowl.  Too many injuries, and it showed.  It will be very interesting to see what happens with this team, and if the wheels start to come off.
  • The Jets/Pats rematch will get a lot of hype, and rightly so.  It could go either way, and most likely will be a lot of fun to watch.  It could also be a blowout, but hey, I’m optimistic.
  • The Eagles have a lot to address.  They have issues to address on the defensive side of the ball, and while they got lucky with their QB situation this year, they won’t two years in a row.  This will be two years in a row a QB is traded out of Philly, and that won’t be a bad thing for them, unless the one they keep gets hurt (or in trouble).
  • Along those lines, Vick fell back to earth, and no one should be surprised.  I will be the first to say he had a hell of season, and is better than he ever was, but as nearly always happens after a few games of a new QB, teams figure out how to beat him.  The new and improved Vick will need to study and practice hard this offseason in order to be equally potent next year.

 

Hello, all, and welcome to First and Fifteen, a blog about all things football!  The middle of the playoffs might seem like an odd time to get started, but hey, why not?  We’ll be here through the rest of the playoffs and the offseason with observations, analysis and opinions.  Hopefully you enjoy the ride!