Dan Leberfeld's Blog

Jets should be able to take advantage of this in Minnesota 12.01.22

There is an old saying in sports – “It’s not who you play, but when you play them.”

The 9-2 Minnesota Vikings are obviously a very good team, but have some injuries that could impact them against the Jets.

Two key cornerbacks will be out, starter Cam Dantzler, and 2022 second-round pick Andrew Booth, who started some this year, will both miss the Jets game.

They do have Patrick Peterson, but after him a lot of question marks.

The Vikings’ injuries at cornerback have clearly hurt their defense. On Thanksgiving, New England’s Mac Jones was 28 of 39 for 382 yards and two touchdowns in a loss to Minnesota.

The game before that, in a Vikings 40-3 loss to Dallas, Cowboys QB Dak Prescott was 22-25 for 276 yards and two touchdowns.

So the Jets coming off a strong passing performance against Chicago, could be set for another big day against Minnesota.

Now stopping Minnesota’s offense isn’t easy, so this could be a high-scoring game.

But the Jets’ slew of weapons in the passing game, like Garrett Wilson, Elijah Moore and Corey Davis, going against a team thin at cornerback, could lead to plenty of points for Gang Green.

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While it’s important, the Jets can’t make it too big 11.30.22

This could be the biggest Jets moment in December in a number of years . . .

Talking about the 7-4 Jets going to Minnesota on Sunday to play the 9-2 Vikings.

Not only are they playing a top-shelf opponent on the road, but the Jets are in playoff contention, so stacking wins down the stretch is important.

While this is a big game, the Jets know they can’t make this game TOO big.

“Next week will be the biggest game, and the week after will be the biggest game and it’s just going to keep (going), when you’re playing for something, every game is the biggest game,” Jets coach Robert Saleh said.

To Saleh, every moment is a “championship moment.”

“You have to have that mindset to treat every moment like a championship moment, so when you get to these moments, it’s not bigger than it needs to be, it’s normal,” Saleh said.

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Is this a quick fix for the Jets, or could it take a while? 11.29.22

Is it really possible to fix him that fast?

After Robert Saleh announced that Mike White would replace Zach Wilson at QB last week, he said, “The intent, the full intent, is to make sure Zach gets back on the football field at some point this year.”

So the day after Mike White went 22-28 for 315 yards, three touchdowns and a 149.3 QB rating in a win over the Chicago Bears in a rainstorm, Saleh was asked if that would make him reconsider his plan to, “make sure Zach gets back on the football field at some point this year.”

“No, like I said, we’re going to go week to week,” Saleh said. “There’s things that we’d love to see Zach accomplish over the course of, we’ll call it a reset, and this is Mike White’s opportunity, that doesn’t change. So, Mike’s got an opportunity to go stack another great day up this week and when we feel like Zach is ready to roll, he’s going to roll.”

Is it possible, for a QB, who needs a lot of work on his throwing mechanics and footwork, to have those things fixed over the next month, allowing him to take the field again this season, without those issues?

That might seem a like a pipe dream to some. Often, when it comes to issues with footwork and throwing mechanics, it takes months to reverse the bad habits, because they are entrenched in a player’s muscle memory.

This might take the rest of this season, and an off-season.

Did you ever try to change your golf swing? That doesn’t happen overnight.

And also, how much time does the OC and QB coach have to work on fixing Wilson’s mechanical issues, when they have to prepare the current starting QB for big games coming up with playoff implications?

Is it possible for Wilson to fix things like throwing off his back foot too much? Of course.

But it might be a long shot for that to happen fast enough for him to come back minus these issues late in the season.

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Mike White – ‘It’s awesome playing football with your friends’ 11.27.22

Here are some excerpts from QB Mike White’s post-game press conference following the Jets’ win over the Chicago Bears . . .

Q: How did it feel to get out there again?

White: It’s awesome, just going out there and playing football with your friends and guys you’ve been with for a couple years now. When it wasn’t my time to play, obviously I’m super supportive of them and I’m having fun with them, too, but just to be out there and be a part of it and help the team win is always fun.

Q: What is it like to hear people chanting your name?

White: It’s always cool. I’m not going to sit here and give you some quarterback cliché that I’m not focusing on that, which, there are times I’m not. But towards the end of the game, I think it would be a lot cooler if they didn’t do it while we were trying to snap the ball, but no, I’m not going to complain too much about that.

Q: How strange is it for a quarterback to try to quiet the crowd down from chanting his name?

White: It is very unique and I’m not going to complain because every time they’re chanting, things are going right for us and we usually end with a win, so I don’t want to give them too much grief.

Q: What is the key to spreading the ball around to 10 different receivers?

White: I think it’s just going through your progressions as a quarterback and taking what’s there. When you get man coverage, then you might be picky to your matchups, but it’s just playing within the offense and executing the play that’s called and guys stepping up. That just shows the confidence that those guys have and we have in them. It’s not so much who, but what route.

Q: Where is your confidence at now after that performance?

White: I feel good, obviously. It was a good game for the offense, but I’ll enjoy this one with my friends and family and then tomorrow it turns into Minnesota prep and turn the page and keep going to where we’re trying to go.

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Jets facing a defense that is far from complete 11.25.22

The New York Jets will be facing a Chicago Bears defense that might have some issues.

Before the trade deadline, they had a firesale on defense, trading perhaps their two best players – DE Robert Quinn to the Philadelphia Eagles and LB Roquan Smith to the Baltimore Ravens.

And facing the Jets on Sunday, they will be without two starting defensive backs – CB Kyler Gordon and S Jaquan Brisker.

So this is truly an undermanned unit, and the Jets should be able to take advantage of that.

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Former NFL QB – ‘Settle this guy down’ 11.23.22

Early in the second half of the Jets’ loss to New England on Sunday, this comment spoke volumes about what is going on:

On the first pass of the second half, Jets QB Zach Wilson sailed a pass over the head of receiver Braxton Berrios on a bubble screen to the left side.

“Set your feet and stop throwing sidearm,” said Pats radio analyst Scott Zolak after the play. “Who do you think you are? You’re not Patrick Mahomes. He’s the only guy who can do that kind of stuff. Talk about streetball. Settle this guy down!”

“Settle this guy down!” That is what the Jets will now attempt to do with Wilson. They have decided to sit their starting QB for a while, and work on his inconsistent throwing mechanics with Jets coaches. Mike White will start in Wilson’s place.

A big focus will be on not throwing off his backfoot as much.

“The young man needs a reset,” said Jets coach Robert Saleh on Wilson.

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Former NFL player – ‘He’s got talent, but . . . 11.22.22

A former first-round pick wide receiver, now in broadcasting, gave his take on Zach Wilson

“Zach Wilson has not gotten better,” Mike Pritchard said on the gambling channel, VSIN, where he works as an analyst.

Pritchard, the 13th pick overall in the 1991 draft by Atlanta, feels that Wilson needs to develop a stronger understanding of how the QB position is played on the NFL level.

“I don’t know if he understands how to play QB in the NFL,” Pritchard said. “Clearly he’s got the talent to do it, but I don’t know if he understands how to do it. You have a winnable situation [with the Jets], but you’re not elevating yourself, you’re not making a difference, you’re not performing at the level you need to.”

Pritchard feels that too many young QB prospects these days act entitled, and he mentioned former first-round pick, Josh Rosen, as an example.

“There is an entitlement thing with these young quarterbacks these days that rubs me the wrong way, like Drew Lock” said Pritchard. “There are a lot of quarterbacks like this. We get it Zach, you’ve got great arm talent and confidence, but college is different than the NFL, players are better, these are grown men. It’s surprising he doesn’t understand that yet. He’s too far into the process, and you are losing patience with helping him understand, and waiting for him to understand it.”

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Not the best guys for the Jets to have in these roles 11.22.22

Putting the QB talk aside for a second, this is another important Jets personnel issue that needs to go under the microscope.

And that is who they had on their punt coverage team on the game-winning return by New England’s Marcus Jones that gave the Patriots the 10-3 win on Sunday.

Three of the guys that ran down to stop Jones, and he got by all of them, were players that aren’t ideal punt cover guys – tight ends C.J. Uzomah and Tyler Conklin and defensive end Michael Clemons.

And don’t take this as a shot at those players, who all do solid jobs handling their regular positions, but their skill sets aren’t necessarily ideal for punt coverage.

Having two large tight ends, and a long-legged defensive end, running down on punt coverage, and expecting them to deal with a quick, speedy returner in space, is probably asking too much of them.

Granted, there are personnel restrictions on game day with just 46 guys dressed, but still, to have this trio, as some of the first people down the field to deal with a 5-8 waterbug like Jones, who is electrifying in the open field, is asking for trouble.

Moving forward, the Jets clearly need to tweak their personnel approach on punt returns.

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This Jets play call surprised Pats radio analyst 11.21.22

In the second quarter of the Jets’ 10-3 loss to New England, they had the ball 3rd-and-three at the Patriots’ 18, down 3-0.

They called a running play to Ty Johnson off left guard, and the tailback was stopped for a loss of four by Patriots defensive end Deatrich Wise.

Patriots radio analyst Scott Zolak, a former NFL QB who had a stint with the Jets, didn’t like this play call.

“Terrible call,” Zolak said. “They are here to kick field goals. If you are a Jets fan, you should be pissed at that call.”

Some might argue that was a good place for a short pass.

The Jets ended up kicking a field goal after being flagged for delay of the game.

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This injury news should help Pats 11.17.22

He didn’t play in the first New England-New York Jets game, and it created issues for the Patriots.

Talking about the Patriots starting center David Andrews. He missed the Jets-Patriots game on October 28 with a concussion.

And while New England won the game, they missed Andrews, as the Jets’ talented defensive front took advantage of undersized backup center James Ferentz.

So getting Andrews back for this game, should help New England, to perhaps protect a little better than the first game.

“I think David’s a great leader on our team,” New England QB Mac Jones said Wednesday. “He’s played against a lot of different defenses, played on some really good teams, so he provides that positive energy and obviously is a great football player, but it’s a lot of the other things too. He’s kind of the bell cow of that whole deal. He does a great job.”

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The new issue of Jets Confidential Magazine is out and you don’t want to miss it! Loaded with the good stuff about Gang Green. To subscribe, click below, or call 1-800-932-4557 (M-F, 12-4). A JC subscription makes the perfect holiday gift for a Jets fan!

 


Saleh asked an important question about Zach 11.15.22

Robert Saleh was asked an intriguing question on Monday during his press conference coming off the bye week.

Q: Robert, with regards to Zach (Wilson), when you look at his numbers, he only has a handful of touchdown passes. You guys have had a terrific formula with the defense playing so well and the running game. What is the confidence level, there’s going to be a game, whether it’s this Sunday or whatever where somebody’s going to shut your running game down, maybe your defense is not going to have its A game, where you may need to win a shootout and have Zach sling it around. Can you address what the confidence is to be able to do that with him?

Saleh: I think we’ve got confidence in him. He’s shown, you know we talk about touchdown passes, like I’ve said before he is a yard away from having two touchdown passes against Miami, he had an unbelievable fourth quarter. He played really well last week against a really good football team. We’re kind of holding him hostage to four, five plays that he had against New England, in my opinion, at least externally. Internally, I think everybody’s got a lot of faith in Zach to be able to run this offense and get the ball where it needs to get to and do it in an efficient manner and I do think that if we do need to put it on his back and put it on our receivers backs and put it on the o-line to protect, I think we’re capable of doing that. 

Interesting question, interesting answer.

It’s likely we’ll find out down the stretch of the season if Wilson can win a shootout, especially with road games in Minnesota, Buffalo and Miami, three teams with high-powered passing offenses.

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The new issue of Jets Confidential Magazine comes out in a couple of days. Page after page of the good stuff on the 6-3 Jets. To subscribe to this must-read for Jets fans, click below, or call 1-800-932-4557 (M-F, 12-4). A JC subscription makes a great holiday gift for Jets fans. It’s the gift that keeps on giving!

 


Bills weaker up middle? 11.06.22

There is an old sports cliche – “You need to be strong up the middle.”

If you believe in that, the Bills could be impacted a little today by being without both starting safeties, Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer, and middle linebacker Matt Milano.

Hyde is on IR, Poyer was ruled out earlier this week, and NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport announced this morning that Milano would be out with an oblique injury. Milano is represented by Joel Segal of Lagardere Unlimited.

So the Bills will be very young up the middle with safeties Damar Hamlin and Jaquan Johnson starting, along with rookie inside linebacker Terrel Bernard.

It might not make any difference. After all, the Bills have had defensive injuries all year, and it hasn’t seemed to impact their defensive performance very much, consistently being ranked at the top of the league.

But it’s certainly something to keep in mind in today’s matchup, how young the Bills will be up the middle.

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To subscribe to the monthly Jets Confidential Magazine, click below, or call 1-800-932-4557 (M-F, 12-4). A must-read for Jets fans with so much stuff about Gang Green you won’t read anywhere else. A JC subscription makes a great holiday gift for a Jets fan.

 

 


Will same narrative exist again this week with Jets QB? 11.03.22

After the Jets lost to New England, on Sunday, Jets head coach Robert Saleh was asked why the team’s quarterback “hasn’t taken the second-year jump” in a question from a reporter.

He responded:  “The last three weeks, we’ve played three really, really good defenses. Obviously, we have to perform against good defenses. Denver did it again to Trevor Lawrence today. He’s been playing some really good defenses.”

Well, Zach Wilson is about to play another really good defense, one that might be better than the previous three opponents, Green Bay, Denver and New England, and that is the Buffalo Bills, the NFL’s best defense.

Since 2021, the Buffalo defense is #1 in the completion percentage, passing yards and passer rater allowed to opposing quarterbacks.

So if the narrative existed after the previous three games, why wouldn’t it be the case if the QB struggles this Sunday against Buffalo? Not saying Wilson will struggle, just saying, if he does, will it be because of the defense he faced?

Because Buffalo is the best of the bunch.

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To subscribe to Jets Confidential Magazine, click below, or call 1-800-932-4557 (M-F, 12-4). A must-read for Jets fans, and a subscription is a wonderful holiday gift for a Jets fan. It’s the gift that keeps on giving.

 


Former NFL QB message to Zach 11.02.22

A former NFL QB has a message for Zach Wilson.

In the Jets’ loss to New England on Sunday, Wilson threw three costly interceptions, in a 22-17 loss. Two of the picks led to six points (two field goals) without New England even getting a first down after the turnover.

Former NFL QB David Carr, a former first-pick overall, who has been in Wilson’s shoes, has some advice for the Jet signal-caller.

“From QB-to-QB, you gotta take care of the football,” Carr said on NFL Network. “Just throw it away, it’s okay to punt in this league.”

Carr thinks the 5-3 Jets are “too good” for the QB to throw reckless picks.

“Some of the coaches I played for would not stand for this, man,” Carr said. “Your team is too good.”

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Jets did right thing with no blockbuster at deadline and here is why 11.01.22

Some teams made some big deals at the trade deadline, like Miami, but the Jets did the right thing staying away from that.

In most sports, when a team makes a big deal at the deadline, it’s often to give them that one piece they might be missing to help spearhead a championship run.

However, when a big focus of a season is seemingly to develop the young quarterback, why mortgage future premium draft picks for a star player at the deadline?

Miami obviously feels they are a pass rusher away from making a Super Bowl run, so they made a blockbuster deal to acquire Denver OLB Bradley Chubb.

That wouldn’t have made a ton of sense for the Jets, since letting the developmental QB learn on the job is perhaps a main focus this year.

Maybe a blockbuster deal at the trade deadline will make more sense next year.

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Curious answer from Saleh 10.31.22

After the Jets’ loss to New England, Jets head coach Robert Saleh was asked why dismayed wide receiver Elijah Moore didn’t play more.

“With Corey (Davis) being out, just a chance to get Garrett (Wilson) on the field a little more,” Saleh said.

Some were perplexed by this answer because Wilson was already playing a lot.

Saleh said Moore’s recent trade request had nothing to do with his diminished playing time.

Moore complained recently about his role in the offense, leading to the player being deactivated for the Jets game in Denver.

After the New England game, Moore explained one reason he’s up upset with his lack of touches is “I’ve got a family to feed, too.” Clearly, he feels not getting the ball will hurt him in his next contract. He’s under contract for the next two-and-half years with the Jets.

It will be interesting to see where this goes.

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