We’re less than 90 minutes away from the next great Jets-Patriots battle. And all of Jets Nations hopes, prays, expects — knows — that this game’s outcome will be different than the teams’ Dec. 6 unclose shave at Gillette Stadium.
The Jets have done everything they can to turn that night’s 45-3 embarrassment into a wonderful playoff win in what head coach Rex Ryan has called “the second biggest game in Jets history.”
There is tough injury news contained in the Jets’ just released inactive list, however: Brad Smith has been deactivated. The very valuable kickoff returner, special teams standout and Seminole pointman suffered a groin pull last Saturday night at Indianapolis, was limited in practice and will not be on the field to take on the Patriots.
That’s a difficult loss, but the Jets will carry on. Antonio Cromartie was seen moments ago warming up by tearing down the left sideline, each stride just inches inbounds. Perhaps he’s preparing for the hoped-for few kickoff returns the Jets will have to field today.
As for the Seminole, which Ryan and OC Brian Schottenheimer have said is an important part of what the Jets do on offense, there’s no indication if that won’t be used today or if there is a new wrinkle to take its place.
But Drew Coleman, the other injured player whose availability wasn’t certain on Friday, will be active, as will 28-year-old rookie Isaiah Trufant, who could be making his NFL debut. With the Jets again playing light on the DL, it would appear the defensive approach vs. Tom Brady and company will be heavy in the coverage area.
As Ryan has said, the week was spent implementing a game plan for both sides of the ball that “removed the gray” from responsibilities, something Ryan felt he and his staff didn’t do enough of back in December, and will enable the Jets to play with maximum aggressiveness.
And the coach as always did a few things that may not make a huge difference, but taken together may have helped provide the right atmosphere for the team to enter this game. Ryan brought in Jets icon Dennis Byrd to speak to the team last night and to attend the game today. WR Braylon Edwards among others noted how inspirational his message was and perhaps helped the Jets get that extra little edge in focus.
The detail work perhaps has even extended to the selection of today’s game uniforms. Because the Patriots are wearing their home blue jerseys, the Jets have to wear white tops. But their pants today will be green.
White and green may not sound weird, but it is Ryan’s least favorite sartorial combo for his team — the Jets have worn it only once before in his two years at the helm, for last year’s Game 5 loss at Miami.
However, the last time the Jets won at New England, on Thursday night in 2008, their uniforms that night were white jerseys and green pants. Does it mean anything? Probably not. Probably not.
A Weather Eye
At the moment, the weather appears to be rather benign for Foxboro, Mass., on a Sunday afternoon in mid-January. Temps are in the low to mid 30s and it’s been mostly sunny all afternoon. However, the winds, now calm, could whip up to 20 mph, and the wind chill will definitely drop as late afternoon turns into evening.
Nick Folk seemed to be hitting his long field goals well, even into the closed end of Gillette Stadium, toward which he missed back on Dec. 6.
Besides Smith, these are the Jets inactives: FB John Conner, DE Vernon Gholston, TEs Matt Mulligan and Jeff Cumberland, and DTs Jarron Gilbert and Marcus Dixon. Kellen Clemens is again the third QB.
Among the 45 Jets active players, then, are RB Joe McKnight and Trufant. Both were inactive for the Colts game last week.
The Patriots’ inactives: WR Taylor Price, RBs Fred Taylor and Thomas Clayton, CB Tony Carter, LB Marques Murrell (the former Jet), OL Rich Ohrnberger, T Mark LeVoir and DL Myron Pryor. The Pats do not list a third QB. All six of the players listed as limited in Friday’s practice and questionable for this game are in fact active.
Today’s gameday captains: RB LaDainian Tomlinson, S James Ihedigbo, FB Tony Richardson, LB David Harris, DT Mike DeVito and C Nick Mangold. A nice mix of big names and Massachusetts connections.
Today’s referee is Bill Leavy. This is Leavy’s 12th Jets game as ref since his first in 2001, “the Shrek Game” at Carolina. Leavy also worked this year’s Bills game at Buffalo. And he’s presided over two Jets playoff games — the 2004 AFC Divisional Round overtime loss at Pittsburgh and the 2009 Wild Card Game at Cincinnati.
Tags: Bill Leavy, Brad Smith, Dennis Byrd, Drew Coleman, New England Patriots, Rex Ryan
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