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TO Margin Trumped Defense at Tennessee

Posted by Randy Lange on December 18, 2012 – 6:41 pm

The shame of Monday night is that the defense continued to play at a high level in keeping the Jets in these games down the stretch. Here are several measures:

■ The Titans went 0-for-their-last-10 on third-down plays. That extends the defense’s streaks of third-down dominance to 4-for-46 for opponents since late vs. New England, and 1-for-23 in the second half since Thanksgiving night.

■ Because of that third-down dominance, opponents in the last three games have punted 28 times and have gone 3-and-out 21 times. Both are the best three-game totals for the Jets since the advent of 16-game schedules in 1978.

■ With the four-sack pressure combined with the back end coverage that held WR Kenny Britt to one catch for 7 yards, Jake Locker and the Tennessee passing offense managed 127 net yards, a total that lowered the Jets’ pass defense rating to second in the NFL behind top-ranked Pittsburgh. The last time the Jets were No. 2 was after Week 4 in 2011.

■ Perhaps most impressive, the Jets have turned the ball over 11 times in these last three games, and opponents have managed six points total, two thin field goals, after those giveaways. The last time the Green & White had a similar streak was six points allowed after 11 giveaways over the final 11 games in 1999. The last time they a better stretch: 1977, when they yielded just one field goal after 12 consecutive giveaways over a six-game span.

“That’ll tell you about the kind of pride and how resilient our defense has been playing,” head coach Rex Ryan told reporters on today’s late-afternoon conference call. “I think they’ve been doing an outstanding job. A lot of that credit goes to Mike Pettine and his staff as well as the players. I’m happy with that.”

Flags Still Favoring Jets

At least the Jets’ second-half penalty surplus continued. They were called for only four penalties for 23 yards on the night. The Titans, on the other hand, were hit with 14 penalties for 111 yards. The 14 flags is the most against an opponent since Oakland got 14 in 2008. The last time an opponent had more penalties was the Jaguars’ 15 at Jacksonville in 1996. The 111 yards is the 10th-most marked off against an opponent since 1978.

Turnover Aftermath

The Jets’ five turnovers and minus-5 TO margin had much to do with Ryan’s decision to shift from Mark Sanchez to Greg McElroy as his starting QB on Sunday against San Diego.

“Has Mark had better days than that? Absolutely,” Ryan said of Sanchez. “He had, obviously, a poor day, but you know, he wasn’t alone with that. But obviously, we can’t turn the ball over five times and expect to win.”

Absolutely true, that. It was the Jets’ 10th minus-5 game in franchise history and their record is 0-10 (and it’s 0-14 with a margin of minus-5 or larger). In the NFL, the record for minus-5 teams since 2002 is 3-65. The three winners: Dallas (with then-rookie K Nick Folk) by 25-24 at Buffalo in ’07, Jacksonville by 24-20 over Cleveland in ’10, and Atlanta by 23-19 over Arizona four weeks ago.

The average score of those 68 teams that go minus-5 in TO margin: a 33-11 loss. That the Jets had a chance to pull Monday’s game out with 47 seconds to go speaks to how well some parts of their operation (third-down defense, rush defense except for one small 94-yard Chris Johnson run, penalties, punt rush) played in Nashville less than 24 hours ago. But that’s cold comfort for all of us tonight.


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Ryan’s Every Bit as Good at +/– as Ravens

Posted by Randy Lange on September 12, 2010 – 10:21 am

Takeaways vs. giveaways. Turnover margin. The old plus-minus. It’s been a touchstone for football coaches for a while in explaining why a given opponent is so dangerous or how their own teams managed to lose particular win-worthy games.

Rex Ryan brought the subject up this past week when he was delving into why the Baltimore Ravens are such a tough out. He mentioned about how strong the Birds’ front seven is in stopping the run and getting after the QB.

“It’s not going to be easy, that’s for sure. This is a team that, over the years, when they win the turnover battle, they generally win, like, 45 out of 47 times since 2003. I’m just throwing a number out there,” Ryan said with a smile. “We have to do a great job of protecting the football.

That figure didn’t include postseason games. With the playoffs thrown in, Baltimore since ’03 has won 48 of 51 games (.941 winning percentage) in which it had at least a plus-1 turnover differential. Since ’04 the record is 39-2 (.951). Since ’05 it’s 32-1 (.970), with the only loss coming last season at home when the Ravens took a 15-14 fourth-quarter lead on Indianapolis, only to lose to the Colts, 17-15. That’s how close that mark is to being perfect over the past five years.

You can see where I’m going with this.

Ryan didn’t mention it, either out of modesty or because he wanted us all to connect the dots on our own. But his coaching was a major contributor to the Ravens’ record in plus turnover games from ’03, when he became the D-line coach, through ’08, his fourth season as D-coordinator.

Then add in his first year as the Jets’ head coach. Of the 19 games the Green & White played last season, they had a plus turnover margin in 10 of them. They won all 10.

So let’s use the ’05 opening day as the jumping-off point. Since then, the Ravens are the aforementioned 32-1 in plus games.

Ryan’s teams are 34-0.

The lesson: Don’t give a turnover to Rex or to the Ravens. Each may take a victory along with it.

The NFL’s TO Record

The league, heading into today’s 13-game Kickoff Weekend slate, isn’t quite as good as Rex or the Ravens when it comes to winning plus games, but the record illustrates the wisdom of taking care of the ball.

Since 2003, including playoffs, NFL teams that register at least a plus-1 takeaway margin won nearly 80 percent of their games (1,161-296-1, .797). The rule of thumb is that roughly a team that goes plus-1 will win 70 percent of the time, plus-2, 80 percent, plus-3, 90 percent, and plus-4-plus, nearly 100 percent.

Opening Night Reminders

Two points we wanted to stress again for fans planning on attending Monday night’s opener. Everyone’s heard Green Day will be performing at halftime, but you also don’t want to miss the concerts on the New Meadowlands Stadium plaza before the game.

From 5:30-6:30 p.m. outside the Jets Shop Flagship Store powered by Reebok, be sure to take in Slash, former lead guitarist of Guns N’ Roses, performing alongside lead singer Myles Kennedy and special guests Nicole Scherzinger, lead singer of the Pussycat Dolls and “Dancing with the Stars” champion, and Jason Bonham.

And for the folks at home near the Meadowlands as well as the thousands in the NMS stands right before kickoff, be advised that the U.S. Air Force is supporting the Jets’ pregame activities with a B-2 Spirit Stealth bomber flyover. The mission will be supported by Air Force Global Strike Command’s 509th Bomb Wing, flying out of Whiteman AFB in Missouri.

The aircraft is scheduled to be directly over the stadium at 7:08 p.m., which means it will be directly over the ceremonial full-field American flag unfurled by members of all five uniformed services.


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