You may not have heard with all the news about one Tim Tebow this week, but the New York Jets are playing a game of football this weekend against the St. Louis Rams. It should be a good game against so many former Jets. I asked our sister SB Nation site Turf Show Times five questions about the game, and here are Managing Editor Joe McAtee's (known as 3k) responses. Oh, also, before I forget, I currently have a bet with TST over the outcome of the game, which you can read about and contribute here. Anyway, here are the questions.
1. Tell me the truth. Nobody likes Dougie, do they? (I'm referring to Douglas M, a writer over at TST that I'm currently feuding with)
Here's the mind-blowing truth: there is no Douglas M. He was created by DARPA at White Sands Missile Range as a human-like autonoid. Over the last 8 years after gaining sentience, he has developed language skills, motion range and can even make some digestible foods, though his preferred dinner of "monophisotiptic protein patties and deoxygenated sucrose glaze" would kill most humans in very small doses. What scientists are concerned about is that he decided to become a Rams fan. They're currently investigating the initial programming to find out what went wrong...s o very, very wrong...
In short - pretty dang good. I don't think anyone's looking at Schottenheimer with as much disdain as we did with former OCs Pat Shurmur and Josh McDaniels. The difference for Schottey though is that Shurmur and McDaniels were forced to try to come up with offensive gameplans for some really bad offenses. This one's climbing out of the basement, so his job (especially if he's the OC for at least a few more years) is more about coordinating mediocre and (gasp!) even good offenses to make sure they meet their potential over 16-game (or more...) seasons. Hunter and Turner have been part of OL Coach Paul Boudreau's Amazin' Spit 'N Nod Adventure. You guys saw Wayne Hunter play. You know he's not good. But somehow, Boudreau has found a way to make the Rams' offensive line serviceable with an average talent level well below most NFL teams. The name for the tour comes from the only possible reaction you can have when the line actually protects Sam or opens a hole in the running game - spit 'n nod. It's the most offensive line thing I could think of, and I can't believe I've done it as much as I have this year.
3. Your offense seems to be, statistically, middle-of-the-pack. What's holding them back from being a top-tier offense? As a corollary, what are the weaknesses that the Jets can exploit?
Not having Danny Amendola for three games was tough; I don't think it's much of a coincidence that the Rams lost those three...in any case, he's a key component and not having him stifled the offensive output. Even with him, though, the Rams don't have anyone on the roster who can consistently work between 10-25 yards either inside the numbers or down the sidelines. Amendola's great in the short game, and rookie Chris Givens has the speed to burn any defense. But between Brandon Gibson, rookie Brian Quick, Austin Pettis, Steve Smith and TE Lance Kendricks, nobody's established the confidence of a true go-to guy the same way Amendola has underneath. And while I praised Boudreau's work for making the line not look terrible, they're not a top 10 line either. The real key to stopping the Rams is pretty much your modern NFL boilerplate strategy - rush the QB, force the passing game away from the top option, limit the running game and win on 3rd down.
4. Tell me about your defense and how it's stacked up so far this season. What are its weaknesses?
It's still the strength of the team, though the loss to the Patriots in London didn't show it. The DE combo of Chris Long and Robert Quinn is, as a Rams fan, a wonderful pair to watch in action. Jo-Lonn Dunbar has been one of the best FA pickups for the Rams in a long time, and has been a great complement to MLB James Laurinaitis on the outside. I say "one of the best FA pickups" and not "the best" because CB Cortland Finnegan is very good at what he does. Does he relish the opportunity to play as many mental games as possible? Absolutely. Does this piss off fans of the teams he plays against? No doubt. Do I want him on the Rams? Heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeell yes. The weakest unit for the defense, though, is the safeties. Craig Dahl is a huge liability in coverage and Quintin Mikell just isn't a fit for this defense. It's a position Rams fans expect changes at this offseason. So if you're looking for obvious holes, it's DT (thought rookie Michael Brockers is coming on quickly after missing a few games at the beginning of the year) and safety.
5. Steven Jackson has obviously been a great running back through his career. However, he's nearing 30 years old, which is generally "the wall" for running backs. Has there been a decline in his play lately?
I certainly don't think so. He looked the part last week. I think it's more the combination of his age and his work rate the last few years that you have to expect he's coming down. Is he as quick as he was back in 2006? No. Is he still a beast? Indeed.