It’s the day after Buffalo, but it’s also the first day of Brett Favre Week at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. So reporters didn’t wait until Wednesday or Thursday to start asking head coach Rex Ryan about the matchup a week from tonight between the Jets’ refortified defense and Favre’s Vikings.
And Ryan didn’t wait to tell reporters of the respect he still has for old No. 4.
Rex was asked if he thought it’s true that he had no interest in keeping Favre in Jets green once he arrived on the scene in January 2009.
“No I don’t,” Ryan said poignantly. “When he announced his retirement, that would be a true statement. But if we never drafted Mark Sanchez, there would’ve been some major recruiting done. Absolutely, absolutely. If we didn’t get Mark Sanchez in the draft, we would’ve recruited him. That’s how I was feeling.”
Now just so there’s no confusion, Ryan was not saying anything but good things about the QB the Jets wound up with when they traded up with Cleveland for the fifth overall pick in that draft. He said initially he and the Jets had interest in Josh Freeman of Kansas State, who ultimately was picked by Tampa Bay. But once the predraft process began, he had no doubt which way he wanted to go.
“I was hoping we’d be able to draft Sanchez,” he said, “and we did.”
But Ryan is not about to lose his decades of respect for Favre, who had a phenomenal season last year in his first with Minnesota up until his last throw but this year has struggled out of the gate, as has the Vikings offense.
“I thought he was one of the best in the history of the game — I still do,” Rex said. “He makes all the throws — at any arm angle. That guy’s amazing. And he takes shots and he keeps getting up. He’s an ultimate competitor. I think I was part of one of his best games he ever had and probably one of his worst. He had a bad Monday night or Sunday night game against Baltimore, then we went to Green Bay and he might’ve thrown two incompletions out of 35 throws.”
Despite his thoughts of “recruiting” Favre, Ryan said he never talked with the legendary QB, “just for a few minutes” the night of his retirement announcement. So call it all a wish that never came true. But Ryan thinks if it had ever entered the recruiting phase, Favre wouldn’t have left for Minnesota.
“He would’ve seen how sincere I was, the kind of passion I have. I’m not going to say it’s equal to his but maybe it is. We both want to win, I know that,” Ryan said. “The guy’s a once-in-a-lifetime quarterback.”
And in seven days, Ryan’s and Mike Pettine’s defense, fresh off its strong effort at Buffalo, will try to add to Favre’s and the Vikings’ issues.
Ryan also was high on the late supporting role that Joe McKnight provided at Buffalo. McKnight, the fourth-round rookie out of Southern Cal, made his pro debut with some fourth-quarter work that included four carries for 12 yards. That sounds tame but his first two carries went for 6 and 5 yards to notch his first pro first down shortly before the two-minute warning.
And was that No. 25 flashing through the air to almost reject a Brian Moorman punt? Yes, it was.
“He was flying down the field, first guy down on kickoffs, almost blocked a punt. That’s what we’ve been seeing, that kind of improvement on the practice field,” Ryan said, touting McKnight’s athleticism and his enthusiasm.
Of the latter, Ryan said that had to come from within after McKnight’s sometimes struggle in the preseason.
“He’s the guy who had to make himself a better player,” the coach said. “His enthusiasm and everything else when he hits the practice field has been different. I don’t know why that is. I don’t want to say it’s pressure. He decided he knew the way to get myself back on this team and be active, and that’s to do it himself.”
And for the athleticism part, which we knew about out of USC and saw flashes of in the summer, Rex said someday that could enable him to line up on defense as well as offense.
“I think he can play corner. I don’t think there’s any doubt. Dennis Thurman, I think, would love to have that opportunity to coach him,” Ryan said. “I was told when we took him out of SC that he was the best receiver and the best corner on their campus the day he showed up.”
Many would be more than happy to see McKnight producing with some runs, receptions and returns before he jumps any opposing routes. But all contributions are welcome.
Ryan said Shaun Ellis, who tweaked his left knee on his third-quarter sack of Ryan Fitzpatrick and didn’t return to the game, will undergo an MRI today. “We don’t anticipate any ligament damage or anything like that,” the coach said. “Hopefully he’ll be fine.” Also, CB Darrelle Revis and LB Calvin Pace worked out lightly today at the training center and “hopefully we’ll get to see them play Monday night.”
Ryan confirmed the announcement earlier that NT Howard Green has been re-signed, WR Santonio Holmes’ activation is imminent and both David Clowney and Patrick Turner have been waived from the active roster.
Stinginess to an Extreme
Sanchez said the formula is simple.
“We don’t want to get ahead of ourselves. We’re doing all right. We’re doing well,” the Jets quarterback said after Sunday’s 38-14 triumph at Buffalo. “As long as we take care of the football, we give ourselves a chance.”
If the Jets can take care of the ball as well as they have the first four games, they’ll be golden. Their plus-8 turnover margin now leads the NFL, just ahead of Pittsburgh’s plus-7, with neither of tonight’s combatants, the Dolphins (plus-1) or the Patriots (zero), a threat to take over the lead for Week 4.
And their one giveaway in the first four games? Incredible. Not only does that lead the league as well but it is also the best total for the first four games of any season in franchise history and is one of the best for any four-game stretch. Only the zero turnovers from Games 2-5 of the 2001 season are a better quarter-season of stinginess.
Rush to Judgment
Ground & Pound returned at Buffalo on Sunday, and here’s one measure of how forcefully: The Jets’ 273 rushing yards were the fifth-most in a road game in franchise history.
Of the top five games on this list, three came in the early Seventies and two have come on the watch of Rex Ryan and Brian Schottenheimer. Here’s the list:
1972 — Jets 41, NEW ENGLAND 13, 333 yards
2009 — Jets 37, OAKLAND 0, 316 yards
1975 — Jets 30, KANSAS CITY 24, 291 yards
1973 — PHILADELPHIA 24, Jets 23, 276 yards
2010 — Jets 38, BUFFALO 14, 273 yards
“Inside the Jets”
Tonight’s “Inside the Jets” radio show from Grasshopper Off The Green in Morristown, N.J., will feature TE Dustin Keller and LB Bryan Thomas. Bob Wischusen will host. Catch the show on 1050 ESPN New York.
Tags: Brett Favre, joe McKnight, Mark Sanchez, Rex Ryan
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