The Jets are in the middle of a daunting stretch with three of four contests against the NFL's elite. They opened up a three-game homestand in discouraging fashion with a 34-0 loss to the 49ers and the 4-0 Texans come to town in Week 5. Then after a visit from Andrew Luck's 1-2 Colts, the Jets have to travel north to meet the AFC East favorite — the Patriots.
Injuries have become an issue too, but the Jets can't use that as an excuse because they know no team is going to be sending sympathy cards anytime soon. Please send in your questions for our Thursday "Q&A" and I want your "Fan Friday" entries with matchup breakdown of Jets, Texans and prediction.
LuisLong Island, NY
Q: Why is (Quinton) Coples being taken out of the game after making big plays against the 49ers? I don't get it?
EA: The rookie from North Carolina actually totaled a career-high 41 defensive snaps in Week 4, so he was on the field 57% of the time. Both of his tackles were solo stops behind the line of scrimmage. Coples logged only 15 plays in both the Week 3 OT win at Miami and the Week 2 loss at Pittsburgh. He also participated in eight special teams play against the Niners, so that's close to 50 plays. His defensive time is on the rise and the more he produces — the more Q will be on the field. The coaching staff raved about the way he practiced last week.
ThomasSacramento, CAQ: Can the Jets' recapture their defensive explosiveness and hard-hitting style of 2009 and return to the "Ground & Pound" running attack on offense in 2012? When will Tim Tebow replace Mark Sanchez as starting quarterback?
EA: This is a different team than 2009, so we could go in a number of directions with this one. The Jets have to improve in a number of areas and it's hard to believe this defense is 31st in the NFL against the run (172.8 yards per game) while the offense ranks 30th in yards per carry (3.2 yards/attempt).
I do anticipate the defense getting better against the run as there are too many good coaches and too many veteran players here not to improve in that category. I know fans hate terms like run fits, getting off blocks, alignment and assignment, but sometimes there is no magic formula. They just have to play sounder and the tackling has to improve.
On offense, I think the Jets will continue to attempt to have balance. It's a passing league and Mark Sanchez is a very good play-action QB. The Jets have to figure out what works for them and get some confidence. The passing game has really been hampered by Dustin Keller's absence and now it looks like Santonio Holmes could be out a couple of weeks. Those are extremely difficult losses and rookie WR Stephen Hill missed action Sunday with a hamstring issue.
Rex Ryan feels like Sanchez gives his team the best shot to win right now. The next few weeks could be tough, but the Jets have to do little things like take care of the football and capitalize on field position if they hope to win.
Andrew J.Long Island, NY
Q: Eric — first of all thanks you for the opportunity to share my thoughts with you. As a lifelong Jets fan, I really appreciate it… What's going on with the new offense that Coach Ryan and offensive coordinator Tony Sparano have created? It doesn't seem to be clicking... I'm not blaming any one person of course, but what needs to happen differently?
EA: As I've stated before, it would be huge for this offense to get DK back into the lineup. Stephen Hill is still raw, but teams would have to make note of his return because the rookie can fly. The offensive line needs more of a push up front and when Mark Sanchez has time — his accuracy has to be better. It would also help if they could spring a long-gainer in the run game because it's tough to be perfect in the short game all the way down the field. Ball security goes both ways and the Jets just had four turnovers and the defense had zero takeaways against the 49ers.
Just wanted to throw this stat at you guys too that I thought was very interesting. Last week, the Texans ran 31 times for 95 yards (3.1-yard average) against Tennessee and The Titans amassed 158 ground yards on 29 carries (5.4-yard average).
Robert H.Stuart, FL
Q: Why do we see so many 3rd down completions that do not result in a 1st down? Isn't that just a waste?
EA: The Jets actually rank 15th in third down effectiveness, converting 39% of the time. But the 2-of-13 effort against the 49ers was poor and the Green & White will have to be better against the Texans on Monday night. The bad news here is Houston is No. 1 in the NFL on third down, holding opponents to just a 25% conversion rate.
Receivers are taught to find the sticks, but sometimes you have to check down because the rush is bearing down on you. If it's 3rd-and-7 and J.J. Watt has the QB in his sights, you might have to dump it off for Bilal Powell after he releases from his block and see if the RB can make it happen with his legs.
Q: Have the Jets had a trainer/medical staff switch this year? They never had this many hamstring issues in the previous few years.
EA: No major changes. John Mellody heads the training department and his staff is /is one of the best in the National Football League. Mellody has been with the Jets 17 seasons and Dave Zuffelato and Josh Koch are seven-year assistants. Look at the track history of this team with injuries. They don't beat their own drum, but year-in and year-out — they've been fantastic.
Everyone is frustrated with the hamstring issues, but you can't rush players on the field before they're ready to return.
Len P.Barefoot Bay, FL
Q: Canceling the season is a simple solution. They all need to return their paychecks — a total disgrace!
EA: Damn Len. Four games in? I don't think quitting is in anyone's DNA around here. These people take their work seriously — from the scouts on the road away from their families, to the coaches spending endless hours watching film, to the players coming in for extra treatment and more work in the weight room. The NFL provides entertainment (albeit sometimes there are horror movies like Week 4 for the Jets), but these men are paid to perform. If they don't, there will be changes.