Feet of clay and beads of sweat? Not for the Green & White men of steel this week. Outside the locker room the Jets may be seen as underdogs in their Monday night road test at New England, but inside they’re ready to rock and roll and enjoy.
“It’s going to be fun,” said linebacker Calvin Pace following today’s back-to-work practice at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. “We know them well, they know us well. We’re not the best of friends, but I always enjoy playing against them.”
And head coach Rex Ryan said the same, not just about going up against the Pats but against Bill Belichick. He opened his news conference this afternoon with a sincere take on how he feels about BB.
“I admire Bill Belichick,” Ryan said. “The reason I do is I think he’s the No. 1 coach in this league, and that’s undisputable. He’s smart, every single year he gets his team going, he’s a great evaluator of talent, he’s the son of a coach, all that kind of stuff.
“Do I want to be like him? No, I want to be like myself, but I want to have the success he’s had over the years. You like to compete against the best and that’s why I like going against him. I know it’s a huge challenge. I try to give my best shot every time out and I know he gives his best shot.”
Rex had a mild tweak for reporters in response to a question about the Jets’ perceived role as underdogs in this game.
“The way you guys report it, I thought we had the worst defense,” he said. “I don’t know where we’re ranked but it’s embarrassing. We’re ranked third or something. It’s not up to our standards, that’s true, but our season ain’t over, either.”
The significance of that statement is that this is the same point in the schedule at which the Jets defense put on its powerful closing kick in 2009. After Week 11 last year (or after the game at New England), the D was fifth in the NFL in yards allowed. After Carolina the next week, the Jets rose to second overall and of course finished first.
This year after Week 11, the Houston game, they were seventh in the NFL. After yielding 163 yards to the Bengals on Thanksgiving night (and before tonight’s Arizona-San Fran game, which shouldn’t change the rankings), the Jets are third in the league, their highest ranking since last year’s Week 12 rank.
The lesser known but perhaps more telling stat is yards allowed per play. The Jets defense at 4.7 yards allowed per play is second overall, trailing only San Diego.
“It’s hard to get to this point, and now the guys feel confident,” Pace said especially of him and his fellow defenders but also for the team as a whole. “We’re 9-2, we got some time off, and we’re playing a very good team in New England. That being said, it’s going to come down to who executes best. We’ve got to be ready.”
Job one, of course, is defending Tom Brady, which we’ll get into as the week goes along. Ryan’s summary of the Patriots QB’s game: “There’s no weakness in Brady’s game. He’s poised, he’s competitive, he’s a leader, and by the way, he can make every throw. He’s great underneath, he’s smart, he’s got 199 straight throws without a pick, he throws the deep ball with touch, he stands in there and faces pressure. … He’s just a heck of a football player.”
One other stat note this week: Brad Smith, after his 89-yard kickoff-return TD vs. the Bengals, leads all qualifying kickoff returners in the NFL with a 29.2-yard average on his 34 returns. Second is the Lions’ Stefan Logan (28.1). Third is Leon Washington with Seattle, also at 28.1.
Ryan gave his bonus injury list (he doesn’t have to list any injured players until Thursday for the Monday night game. T Damien Woody did not practice. Jerricho Cotchery, Dwight Lowery, Marquice Cole and Shaun Ellis were all limited. Nine players were listed as injured but full participants.
Nick Gallo checked in with Woody, Cotchery, Lowery and Cole in today’s locker room session to see how they’re feeling. His story will be posted later in the afternoon.
In the latest of many odd-week schedules for this much-in-demand Jets team, the Green & White will practice Tuesday as well but that practice will be closed to media. They won’t practice Wednesday, then will go Thursday through Saturday before traveling to Massachusetts on Sunday for Monday night’s game.
For any who wondered if the Jets have ever played games in two consecutive weeks on days other than Sunday, the answer is in primetime, no, but not in primetime, yes. In 1993 the Jets played consecutive Saturday afternoon games, the windblown 3-0 win at Washington followed by the 28-7 home loss to Dallas. And they ended the ’83 season with a Saturday afternoon 34-7 loss to Pittsburgh followed by a Friday night 34-14 defeat at Miami.
“Inside the Jets”
The first “Inside the Jets” show of the push into the homestretch and toward the playoffs begins tonight at Grasshopper Off The Green in Morristown, N.J. The show is live beginning at 7 p.m. with a call-in from Pro Football Hall of Fame semifinalist Curtis Martin at 7:45 and two Jets players to be determined, and Jets radio play-by-play man Bob Wischusen hosting.
If you can’t make it to the Grasshopper, tonight’s show will be aired tape-delayed on 1050 ESPN New York but you can also listen to it live on http://espn.go.com/newyork/
For those who are interested in the tracks that were played at New Meadowlands Stadium during the Thanksgiving triumph over the Bengals — and we know you’re out there — here is the playlist:
Tonight Tonight — Smashing Pumpkins
I Don’t Wanna Lose Your Love Tonight — The Outfield
Immigrant Song — Led Zeppelin
Give It All — Rise Against
Flashing Lights — Kanye West
Where the Green Grass Grows — Tim McGraw
Show Me How To Live — Audioslave
Should I Stay or Should I Go — The Clash
Get Off My Cloud — Rolling Stones
Blow Me Away — Breaking Benjamin
Give It Away Now — Red Hot Chili Peppers
Don’t Stop Believin’ — Journey
In The End — Linkin Park
Bang Your Head — Quiet Riot
More — Usher
Have A Drink On Me — AC/DC
On To The Next One — Jay Z
Break — Three Days Grace
All Of The Lights — Kanye West
Victory — Puff Daddy featuring Notorious B.I.G. & Busta Rhymes
Hey Bulldog — Beatles
Only — Nine Inch Nails
Can’t Be Touched — Roy Jones Jr.
I Gotta Feeling — Black Eyed Peas
Peg — Steely Dan
Rock N’ Roll All Night — KISS
Rock That Body — Black Eyed Peas
Shout — James Brown
Sweet Caroline — Neil Diamond
C’mon C’mon — Von Bondies
Till I Collapse — Eminem featuring Nate Dogg
Requiem For A Dream — Clint Mansell
Shut It Down — Pitbull featuring Akon
300 Violin Orchestra — Jorge Quintero
No Love — Eminem
Bang Your Head — Quiet Riot
It’s A Fight — Three 6 Mafia
A Cut Above — Avery Watts
Headstrong — Trapt
Desire — U2
Tags: Bill Belichick, Brad Smith, New England Patriots, Rex Ryan, Tom Brady
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