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Mike's Mid-Week Chat: What's the difference in this year's Jets?

Senior writer Mike Spofford answered fan questions in his live chat

New York Jets head coach Robert Saleh
New York Jets head coach Robert Saleh

Hey everybody. Thanks for logging on today. Rainy one in GB today. Go ahead and start sending in your questions, and I'll get rolling here.

Being on the team plane, did they make customs and passport control and security checks easier for you all than the general public? Any surprising things happen in these regards?

When we left, they checked all our bags here at the stadium so it didn't have to be done at the airport. That way the buses took us right out to the plane. On the way back, the customs/border patrol officers came onto the plane to check our passports as we departed. So it all worked pretty smoothly.

Morning Mike. Has your body adjusted back to central time yet?

I never really adjusted to London time to be honest. Didn't sleep all that well the whole time I was over there, but plowed through all the work and got decent sleep at home the last two nights so I'm pretty much feeling back to normal now.

I must confess, I'm not really knowledgeable of the Jets. With their coaching hires, I knew they wouldn't be 'great immediately' because of the situation that Saleh was walking into. Defense has been good, young players - and the offense is starting it. I just look at how Zach Wilson has taken his 'gamer' mentality to be gritty and make the throws that are there rather than trying to push it downfield like he did last year. Defensively, Saleh is great at what he does. How much does the scheme mirror what SF has done, versus what do you think is different since he doesn't have the 'star cast' that he had at SF?

I can't say I've watched a lot of Jets football, but I'm sure Saleh is implementing some of the defensive principles from SF with the Jets. But your point about personnel is really the key. Those Niners defenses were loaded. The Jets are getting there as they build under Saleh. They have a bunch of QB hits and INTs this year, but they haven't been great against the run. That's what I see on the stat sheets.

Welcome back! What do you see as having the greatest sense of urgency for the team this week? The Jets certainly don't look like a pushover.

No, they are not a pushover by any means. It's a team that has pulled out a couple of fourth-quarter comebacks on that road, and those go a long way with belief and confidence. I think the Packers feel more urgency on defense than on offense this week, just because the offense had a darn good first half, same as the TB game, and just needs to sustain it. The defense had its worst showing of the year, points-wise, third downs, all of it. Regardless, everyone knows they need a win before hitting the road for three straight games. The urgency is just to get a win.

How was the beer in London? Any particular favorites? It's a place I still need to cross off my beer list

I visited a local pub in Watford on Friday night and had some sort of roasted nuts ale as well as a cider. Both were great. Very different in texture, taste, temperature, everything from American beverages. But very enjoyable.

Pardon the pun, but when you have 5.1 YPC, isn't running the ball a run solution in search of a problem?

Sure, but the run solution throws were working well and keeping the offense efficient through the first half and opening drive of the third quarter. They got away from those options on the three-and-out, and those run solution throws aren't as readily available the closer you get to the goal line.

I saw Aaron Rodgers on McAfee yesterday say the players prefer the noon start times. Why is that?

Because they like to get out of bed and just get to the stadium in the morning to get ready to play, not have to wait around all day.

Do you think we will see any tangible changes Sunday or will it all be more behind the scenes?

I don't know. I'm not expecting wholesale changes coming off of one bad loss. You still have to game plan for your opponent and be prepared for what it might throw at you. After five games, the Packers are learning what they do well and not so well, and I think their play moving forward will reflect those.

Mike...thanks for the chats. With all the chatter surrounding the Davante Adams saga from Monday night, I've sensed a lot less talk about the Packers missing him from their offense. But even with that factored in-have you noticed some "maturation" in our young receivers?

Romeo Doubs continues to prove the game isn't too big for him as a rookie. I've also like Christian Watson's contributions, but he can't seem to stay healthy right now, which is unfortunate, because he's missing opportunities. He's the jet motion guy and opposing defenses have to honor that when he's out there, and his absence was felt in the second half in my opinion.

So you think the trip was hard on David Bakhtiari and hence the reduced snaps and sitting on the bench a lot in London?

I don't know. Maybe the surface at Tottenham had something to do with it as well. The final snap numbers ended up getting skewed a bit because Bakhtiari was on the field for the three-and-out in the fourth quarter and then the long drive at the end was Yosh Nijman. Just how the rotation worked out.

Any thoughts on Barry's zone defense scheme handcuffing the packers top two cover corners which is creating the massive openings for opponents receivers on crossing routes? Every team left on the schedule is dialing up plays to exploit this glaring flaw

Then the Packers will have to fix it and be prepared for it. I'm not an X's and O's expert, but other teams are going to press your weaknesses until you prove it's not a weakness anymore.

Obviously you don't really want to run into a stacked box. But on really short yardage situations, might it be important to try? After all, it's not like we're trying to get 5-6 yards.

There's an argument to be made for that, especially when you have two cracks at it. And it's easy to say after the fact when the decisions don't work out. I understand the thought process that went into the decisions. You live with the results and learn what you can for when it comes up again, because it will.

Mike, not writing off the packers by any means but wanted your opinion. Based on the first 5 games, are the Vikings the team to beat in the north and the most complete team?

They're 4-1 with a win over the Packers, so yeah, they're the team to beat in the division now. I'm not convinced they're the most complete team in the division, but I don't think the Vikings have played "great" football, just as the Packers haven't played "great" football. There's a long way to go.

If Watson has to miss this game, who is our next best jet sweep option? And will RB Kylin Hill practice this week?

I think Aaron Jones could be a jet sweep option but we haven't seen him used in that fashion much, if at all, this season. We'll see on Hill later today.

What are the Jets offensive weaknesses we need to exploit? The D needs a statement game IMHO and will be looking for impact plays.

The Jets are not a high-percentage passing team. Both Flacco and Wilson are under 60 percent this season. They've turned the ball over nine times in five games. Hall looks like a handful in the backfield, running and receiving, and Davis is averaging 17.6 yards per catch this season, so that's where most of the danger lies.

My kingdom for some turnovers

And how. Four takeaways in five games for the defense is a paltry sum. I like the pressure the Packers get up front on QBs for the most part, but that's got to start translating into some turnovers.

I am less disappointed about the passes inside the 10 on the last drive than I am the three and out. As Rodgers has gotten older he seems to press a bit more in situations like that. Those long heaves were prayers, somewhat reminiscent of the throw to Adams when he was double covered in the 49ers game.

I don't disagree. The Giants were fine playing single-high on that drive and letting the Packers attack with their receivers. The missed illegal contact on first down on Lazard was ridiculous. A defender guarding another receiver just ran right into Allen about 15 yards downfield. But stuff happens. Second down was pretty good coverage over the middle on Randall Cobb, but the ball looked catchable too. Rodgers wished he hadn't thrown it so high. Third down was just a prayer.

What's been your biggest surprise (in a good way) so far? Biggest disappointment?

The special teams have gotten straightened out rather quickly, all things considered, though if Amari's fumble on that punt is recovered by the Giants we aren't saying that. I think the biggest disappointment is the wild inconsistency of the defense. I expected a lot of ups and downs on offense with the transition, but all the starters on defense except Walker are back from last year, yet the unit hasn't settled in and really found itself yet.

I attended the Raiders - Chiefs game Monday night. Adams enjoyed a lot of single coverage and was continually open all night. Yet he was only targeted once other than the two deep balls. His frustration at being ignored was palpable. What happened afterwards was an extension of three hours of frustration, IMO.

I'm sure it was. As well as the catch at the end of the game that got overturned because he juggled it just a touch along the sideline, negating what he thought was his first foot being down. That grab puts them in Carlson's range for a game-winner. Then the collision with Renfrow on fourth down that wrecked whatever the play was, and that was it. Adams can't react the way he did to someone cutting in front of him at the tunnel, and credentialed individuals in those areas need to be more respectful of the players and their space.

When can Sammy Watkins come back?

This week will be his fourth game missed, and then he's eligible to return from IR.

Opponents know Rodgers has freedom at the line. Is it a possibility that by showing a stacked box the defense will actually know it will be a pass and defend accordingly?

They don't know that. They might be trying to bait him into doing something, but they don't know for sure if he'll do what they're aiming for. Both sides are doing some guessing there.

What was the players attitude on the plane back home?

Couldn't tell you. I was sitting nowhere near them and mostly doing work.

To me the play call in those short yardage, gotta have it crucial situations come down to faith in the run game and the coaches/QB don't appear to have that faith. Thoughts?

I wouldn't put it that way. It's a choice of blocking 6 on 8, or having someone win a one-on-one outside. We didn't really get to see if they could win the one-on-ones because the Giants got the deflections at the line. They deserve credit for that.

The match ups within the game seem to be overthought. Hearing Coach and Aaron speak about the Giants 'tempting' them to throw in the second half took away the run game without physically stopping the run game. The Packers beat themselves without trying to beat 8 men up How can a team make adjustments to realize that sometimes they need to just beat the person in front of them during the pace of play and not after the game?

As I said in Inbox this morning, that's a hard thing for a four-time MVP to just turn off. He's made this offense successful for a lot of years because of the way he plays. There's an argument to be made for trying to wear down a defense with the run. I'm not discounting that. But if wearing them down means you're in third-and-6 all day, that can get tiring for a QB, too. I honestly don't care how much the Packers run it or throw it. I just think Jones and AJ Dillon are their most dynamic offensive players and need to get the ball more, however they can get it to them. I think the offense is better with the ball in their hands more -- run, pass, jet motion, screen, whatever.

How big of a lead do the Pack need before you feel comfortable?

I'm never comfortable watching games in this league unless it's a three-score margin in the fourth quarter. Otherwise, I always feel like it's anybody's game at any time.

Would stacking the box be a good option for our defense? We definitely have enough talented big guys to put up there.

The Packers didn't have to stack the box and they handled Barkley just fine. He broke the one run out of wildcat but otherwise had 30 yards on 12 carries. You'll take that. I don't know whether the answer on the back end is different coverages, or play the called coverages better. Probably some of both. But this defense is better than it has shown. We all know that.

Mike, I was able to "call" run or pass play to my wife before a half dozen plays Sunday after looking at the defense and hearing Rodgers yell "can" and I'm not the sharpest tool in the shed...

If the tendency when he yells "can" and/or puts his hands up to his ears for that signal is that he's throwing the ball, then it's on the offense to break that tendency. Maybe reverse the "can" calls so the can goes to the run instead. That's a self-scouting thing, and I know they do a lot of that.

I feel like this team is the one of the most balanced (offensively and defensively talented and now maybe even special teams), experienced teams we've had. I'm sure that's why we all feel so frustrated. Still a long way to go but I sense Packerland will go into psychotic rage if they don't play well this weekend.

Yeah, it's pretty much to that point for a lot of fans. I agree there's still a long way to go, but as I said in Inbox after the game, it's not early season anymore. A lot of wrinkles should have been worked out by now, so I get the angst. No team gets on a roll with such big swings up and down in its quality of play. I think in a lot of ways it didn't feel like a three-game winning streak because they barely survived that Patriots game against a rookie third string QB who was taking his first real snaps. Blowing a 17-3 lead in front of a "home" crowd doesn't feel good. But the Packers can't put together a winning streak this week. All they can do is win one game and go from there.

Our RBs only had 2 receptions last weekend. Getting the ball in the hands of the best play makers needs to be not just running the ball.

That's my point.


Are you aware of the Giants Punter being stuck in England due to a Passport/Visa issue? Who do you attribute the problem to?

Great question. I heard about that. We had no issues in that regard. After we had our passports scanned in London, team officials gathered them up and then gave them back to us when we got back to the airport after the game.

Why are run solutions less available the closer you get to scoring? DBs don't give as much cushion when there's not as much room to defend?

Right. Rodgers got one for the TD to Lazard early in the game when they were off to far. The Giants didn't play it like that inside the 10 later on.

I imagine noon home games are your favorite from a work perspective, maybe even get home before sunset? At least have supper at home, eh?

Definitely the best from a work perspective. After a noon home game, I'm usually home in time to watch at least the second half of the SNF game and get to bed at a decent hour. The 3:25 and 7:30 games, not so much.

Should we expect to see a rotation at LT again this week?

I don't know. The coaches aren't revealing any of those plans to the media in advance.

All right folks, I think I'm going to call it a chat. Thanks for all the participation and we'll talk again next week. Take care, Mike.

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