By Danny Cox
New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan said that the team may be counted out, but they’re “not dead.” At 1-5, the Jets are sitting in the cellar of the AFC East and heading in a direction that is nowhere near the playoffs. Now, they are heading into a “Thursday Night Football” game with the New England Patriots, who are leading the division at 4-2. Both teams are dealing with injuries, but they are currently having exact opposite seasons.
Former NFL quarterback and CBS Sports’ analyst Trent Green took some time to speak on the game and what could possibly come from the two teams on Thursday night. The two-time All-Pro and Super Bowl champion know what it’s like to win in the league, and he had some great insight as to what the future could hold for both the Patriots and the Jets in 2014.
Is it time for the Jets to stop the Geno Smith experiment and turn to Michael Vick on a full-time basis?
Trent Green: “I think because of the commitment they gave to Geno last year and the fact that Rex (Ryan) has shown to be a very loyal head coach…I think they will continue with Geno. That’s not necessarily the most popular answer, but based on his development and where the team is right now, I think that’s most probably the thing that they Jets will do.”
A few times this season, the Patriots looked quite vulnerable – against Miami, Oakland, and KC – do you believe they are still one of the AFC’s super teams?
TG: “You always have to consider the Patriots that way, especially the way they’ve looked the past couple of weeks. Tom Brady is looking back more like himself after that Monday night game in Kansas City. The last couple of weeks, he’s gotten better and I think a lot of that help comes from his receivers. Gronkowski is getting healthier so he’s becoming more and more a part of the game plan.
I think (Brandon) Lafell is getting more comfortable in the system and showing more of what is expected of him. I think overall that is going to help. Now, the injury to (Stevan) Ridley this past week is not going to help. The think that frustrated them the most in the first weeks of the season is their offensive line play. I don’t know if it was the overpopulation of where Logan Mankins was since they traded him, but the offensive line didn’t play that well in the first half of the season. Now, they are giving Brady more time.”
The loss of cornerback Dee Milliner for the season is really going to hurt a Jets’ defense that is already giving up a lot of points. How they make up for his absence?
TG: “He’s missed some time already this year so they have several guys that they have been rotating through there. I think it still puts them in a tough place as Rex likes to rely so heavily on his corners and what he likes his corners to do. It makes it more difficult to play that aggressive style when you’re missing one of your top guys.
Rex has such an aggressive approach defensively, it’s hard to make adjustments when you’re trying to deal with those kinds of injuries.”
Speaking of injuries, how do the Patriots compensate for the losses of linebacker Jerod Mayo and running back Stevan Ridley?
TG: “Well, I think if you ask them, they will say, ‘You know what, let’s go to the next guy.’ Remember a year ago, they made it all the way to the AFC Championship Game, and it was with a bunch of guys that were injury replacements. (Julian) Edelman was never supposed to be a 100-catch guy. He was a punt returned and a spot-guy on offense, but then last year, because of injuries, all of a sudden, he’s the leading receiver.
I think for them, that it’s a really big deal. Everyone else wants to talk about it, and that’s fine. For Bill Belichick and the organization…I hate to say it’s a cruel business, but it is a cruel business. Everyone needs to be ready. It’s why they’re here. It’s why they prepare every week. For me, that stood out more last year.”
In your professional opinion, do you believe that the Jets can still get back into this year’s playoff race or is it a lost season?
TG: “Well, the only thing we can reflect back on recently because otherwise I’d have to go through the record books…is the Carolina Panthers from last year. They started off 1-3 and everyone wanted Ron Rivera fired and run out of town and bring in something else, and then they win 11 of their last 12. They went rolling into the playoffs and it’s possible.
Saying they are completely dead? No. Is it going to be very difficult for them? Yes, and history proves that. Because of what happened just a year ago, I’m not ready to write them off yet.”
Do you have a prediction for Thursday night’s game?
TG: “No, I don’t. To be completely honest with you, I need to break the game and teams down more before it actually happens.”
Danny Cox knows a little something about the NFL, whether it means letting you know what penalty will come from the flag just thrown on the field or quickly spouting off who the Chicago Bears drafted in the first round of the 1987 draft (Jim Harbaugh). He plans on bringing you the best news, previews, recaps, and anything else that may come along with the exciting world of the National Football League. Danny is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. His work can be found on Examiner.com.