EA Q&A: Jets Showcasing Creative Blitz Packages


As the Jets prepare for a football game Monday night, there was a cloud of sadness here in Florham Park this afternoon.  The news of 20 schoolchildren and six adults murdered at a Connecticut elementary school is just so overwhelmingly sad.

Special teams coordinator Mike Westhoff got up to the podium Friday and fought back tears and then both defensive coordinator Mike Pettine and offensive coordinator Tony Sparano said their thoughts and prayers were with the grieving people affected by another senseless American tragedy.

Our hearts are filled with grief, but it pales into comparison to the parents who lost their child today or the young kids who had to witness unspeakable violence.   No words, no answers.  Please no more.

Oliver R.Cliffside Park, NJUnlike everyone else I am enthusiastic about the Jets. If they don't put the defense in tough situations, the Jets stand a chance in every game. That said, what is your opinion of the Jets chances of making it to the playoffs?

Eleanya U.Plainfield, NJWhat is the chance of the Jets going to the playoffs?

EA:Not likely, but much more likely than Thanksgiving night.

Despite the Jets having collected wins in three of the past four games, the lack of early point production is a big-time concern.   Over the past six games, the Jets offense has scored a combined 13 points in the first half.  That puts a lot of pressure on the defense and the Green & White aren't built to play from behind.  The margin for error is thin and this team may need a return TD here down the stretch.

With that being said, I believe this team has a hell of a shot of winning out if they can beat the Titans on Monday Night.  Although the Titans are not an elite team, they are going to bring emotion and they repeatedly got after Andrew Luck in Indianapolis.  Chris Johnson can be a problem if everyone on that defensive unit isn't disciplined in their respective gaps.  The Jets need a clean game and they can't play with fire like they just did in J-Ville with those two first half turnovers.

This team has a decent shot of winning their final three contests, but they need a large amount of help.  Improbable but not impossible.

Anthony M.Cedar Grove, New JerseyQ: Hey Eric, how much of Sanchez's struggles could you attribute to the lack of talent around him to throw to?

EA:Fair question.

Santonio Holmes was off to a good start this season and was lost in Week 4 with a Lisfranc injury.  His 272 yards receiving still rank third on the team entering Week 15.  Dustin Keller has been slowed by injuries throughout the year and his ankle could keep him out of the lineup a sixth time Monday night.

Jeremy Kerley has stepped up (52-728-14.0-2TD) and he has accounted for 12 of the Jets' 34 receptions of 20 yards.  The Jets like JK best in the slot (that is why it's been difficult for Jordan White to see action) and they figure to be set there for the foreseeable future.  Stephen Hill exploded on to the professional scene in the Week 1 route of the Bills and he has great talent, but he is still learning the game and will probably miss his fourth game this Monday night due to injury.  Clyde Gates is working his way back from a concussion and Mardy Gilyard is learning on the run.  Chaz Schilens, who has played a possession role and is a willing blocker, needs four catches to set a personal-best.

The Jets claimed Braylon Edwards off of waivers on Monday and hopefully he and Sanchez can pick up where they left off back in 2010.

This season hasn't been ideal for any quarterback with the juggling.  Sanchez is a professional and takes a diligent approach, getting in overtime with receivers and coaches alike.  But ultimately he has to secure the football (even when protection breaks down and players aren't open) and that has been a problem.  The Jets have the run game going on offense, but there will be a time down the stretch here when Sanchez might be depended on to make a big throw or lead a critical drive.

Mike F.Peru, NYI want nothing but the best for this team and enjoy reading what you post after reading all the negative posts about this team. I hope this team can make the playoffs and show everyone. I will always be a fan and each game brings new hope.

EA: Thanks Mike.   I appreciate the kind words.

Since I'm in the car a lot, I listen to the radio quite a bit.  And this week, I found Jon Gruden's breakdown of the Jets noteworthy.  Considered one of football's top offensive minds, Gruden's praise of the Jets defensive staff jumped out at me.

"You have to give Rex Ryan, Bob Sutton, Mike Pettine and this defensive staff a lot of credit," Gruden said during his appearance "Mike and Mike" on ESPN radio.  "They have done an excellent job — I don't care who you play, but they've done an excellent job the last couple of weeks playing great defense:  0-for-15 they hold Arizona to on third-down and they don't give up anything against Jacksonville.

"It looks like they take the game out of the quarterback's (Sanchez) hands. They don't have a go-to receiver, they do struggle in the passing game for a lot of reasons, but they're playing great defense and with that said — they have a great chance to make the playoffs given the rest of their schedule.

"And I don't want to play against this defense — I don't know what it is.  They have every look known to man and if they get you behind in the down and distance, Rex Ryan has the most creative blitz package I have ever seen.  I'm looking for a defensive struggle Monday night and Jake Locker is a guy they have to keep in the pocket because he can hurt you when he scrambles."

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