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Baker Moved the Chains at NE

Posted by Randy Lange on December 21, 2007 – 4:48 pm

Tennesseean Chad Pennington isn’t the only one who will enjoy this weekend’s business trip to Nashville. Chris Baker also loves the city, in part because the Titans fans love their football and in part because Baker helped beat them when he gathered in Pennington’s 12-yard pass for the winning score with 2:10 to play in last season’s opener.

"I really enjoy playing on the road," Baker told me after today’s practice, the last of the week before this year’s meeting with the Titans. "That’s because it’s a you-against-the-world type of thing. To be behind or tied and to be able to win a game like that, that’s pretty cool."

Baker has always been one of my favorite Jets, just enough of a kid to think things like game-winning catches are still "cool," yet a man who keeps taking his game steadily to new heights each season and isn’t afraid once in a while to remind people he can be a force for their offense.

Take last Sunday’s game at New England. Baker’s game could have been phenomenal if not for the fumbled red zone reception, but let’s put that aside for a second. His eight receptions were a career high. And six of those went for first downs.

Doesn’t that sound like a lot for a Jets TE? Yes, actually, it is. Baker is the first Green & White tight to register six receiving first downs in a game since Johnny Mitchell in 1995.

"When something like that occurs, it’s always cool," C-Bake said. "Honestly, that’s what I think the tight end should be. A big part of the tight end’s job is to work the middle of the field and move the chains. That’s what I did in college."

Coordinator Brian Schottenheimer is well aware of Baker’s skills, since he’s asked about them almost every other week, most recently at today’s informal news conference.

"No matter who the quarterback is, the ball tends to continue to find its way to Chris’ hands," Schottenheimer said. "That’s because he’s getting open, he’s doing a lot of really good things. He’s always had excellent hands, but he’s really worked on his route-running skills, the ability to get open in tight space, his top-of-the-route skills."

Then Coach Schott mentioned the 13-yard completion fourth-quarter completion down the boundary, over LB Eric Alexander, when Baker looked up, saw the ball at the last split-second, and seemed to drop it into his hip pocket. It was an example, he said, of Baker’s "great hand-eye coordination."

Now back to the Adalius Thomas strip fumble in the middle of the third quarter. It likely cost the Jets three points, and Baker wasn’t happy that it happened. Maybe some coaches would agree with CBS analyst Phil Simms that his grip on the ball wasn’t classic.

On the other hand, Baker’s grip has been good enough for six seasons that he has fumbled only twice before, once on a reception in 2004 and once on a muffed kickoff in ’05.

"Even my dad’s telling me the same thing: ‘Oh, you gotta hold the ball tighter there,’ " Baker said. "I think I fumbled the ball three times in my career. I had the ball in right spot and the guy made a good play. It’s in the rain. You know what I’m saying?"

Yeah, I think I do. I think Baker likely won’t fumble for another year or more. And maybe he’s ready to stop the music at LP Field with a big catch or three against the Titans on Sunday.

Here are the five Jets non-WRs with six receiving first downs in a game in the last 15 seasons:

 Year Player Opponent Rec-Yds-TD-FD
 1993 TE Johnny Mitchell vs. Philadelphia 7-146-3-6
 1995 TE Johnny Mitchell at New England 9-108-1-6
 2000 FB Richie Anderson vs. New England 6-88-0-6
 2000 FB Richie Anderson vs. Miami 12-109-0-6
 2007 TE Chris Baker at New England 8-64-0-6

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Posted in Randy Lange | 12 Comments »

12 Responses to “Baker Moved the Chains at NE”

  1. By Ira on Dec 21, 2007 | Reply

    Randy, What we saw of Baker last week is what i expect from him except for that fumble of course. He should have had 2 hands on the ball down there. But i thought he could have close to 50 catches this year with 4 TD’s. He is at 37 catches and 3 Td’s with 2 games to go. He could reach those #’s if they continue to use him. He is an excellent TE and has the best hands on the team.

  2. By Drew on Dec 21, 2007 | Reply

    Baker has continued to get better every year. He was whipping the LB’s and R Harrision… but that fumble was a killer. Hey Randy speaking of Johnny Mitchell…How was he in the locker room? Was he an easy guy to get along with? I thought that he was a star and we could get some headlines with him. Especially when the Giants drafted D Brown. Keep up the great work.

  3. By Ira on Dec 21, 2007 | Reply

    Randy, That J.Mitchell game vs the Eagles had to be the best game ever played by a TE for the Jets. Didn’t he have all 3 TD’s in the 1st half? What a waste of talent. He could have been so good.

  4. By Randy Lange on Dec 21, 2007 | Reply

    Ira, on Oct. 3, 1993 at the Meadowlands, J.Mitch caught one touchdown pass from Boomer Esiason in each of the first three quarters. Extra credit if you remember what QB got the “relief win” for the Eagles that day.

  5. By Randy Lange on Dec 21, 2007 | Reply

    Drew, I actually covered Mitchell for two years. He was friendly and loquacious but could be a loose cannon, offering opinions about his team and opponents that the more veteran Jets didn’t appreciate.

  6. By Drew on Dec 22, 2007 | Reply

    Hey Randy.. You know I love extra credit. I am not sure on this one but wasn’t Kenny Obrien on that Eagle team?? Or Bubby Brister?? I was a kid so maybe I am confused but wasn’t that also the game Eric Allen had that ridiculous INT return for a TD and then handed the ball to Cunningham who was on crutches in the endzone? It was tough years in school with Giants and Eagles fans around in the 90’s.

  7. By Randy Lange on Dec 22, 2007 | Reply

    Drew, you are correct, sir (although you hedged your bets with O’Brien). Bubby Brister replaced the injured Randall Cunningham and led the Eagles back from a 21-0 deficit, although the winning TD came on Eric Allen’s east-west-north-south 94-yard INT-return TD.

  8. By GIOVANNI LEONE on Dec 22, 2007 | Reply


  9. By Tanner on Dec 22, 2007 | Reply

    Bakers a good TE, the fumble hurt last week but i think hes still got great hands. Do you guys think Chad will be back next year?

  10. By Charlie on Dec 22, 2007 | Reply

    Good extra credit question. I would have guessed Jim McMahon. Drew I hear you about the hardships of being a jets fan while in school in the 90’s. There were only a handful of us jets fan while the rest of the school bled blue. Most Monday’s were not very fun.

  11. By Wayne on Dec 22, 2007 | Reply

    Randy, love reading your stories and wanted to wish you a very Happy New Year and thanks for a great year of coverage! Baker has been strong and seems to be getting better each year. He’s got great hands & an excellent blocker. Wish he was used more when we get into the RED zone. Randy, used to love watching Richie Anderson. What’s he up to these days?

  12. By Charlie on Dec 23, 2007 | Reply

    Wayne, last I heard from Richie Anderson wasn’t his finest moment. He was an assistant coach for the Cardinals and got caught up in a sting for solicitation. Not sure what happened after that, if he is still a coach with the Cards or what. Happy Holiday’s all. Go Green!

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