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Second Half of Mo’s Rookie Year Starts Sunday

Posted by Andrew LeRay on November 11, 2011 – 3:44 pm

Updated, 4 p.m. ET

At 5-3, the Jets are halfway through the 2011 campaign. The final eight games will determine the outcome of their season, and it starts with Sunday’s highly anticipated primetime matchup with the New England Patriots.

The halfway point also seems to be a good time to catch up with this year’s first-round draft pick, DL Muhammad Wilkerson. He has started every game in his rookie year, totaling 23 tackles, one sack that produced the safety vs. Jacksonville, and one pass defense. The transition from college to the NFL can be a galactic leap for some, but Wilkerson is becoming increasingly more comfortable in his role.

“For me, I’m trying to stay positive,” said Wilkerson. “I’ve been having ups and downs. I’m trying to stay focused on mentally preparing for what I need to do with my alignment and technique so I can finish this year strong.”

The numbers don’t jump off the page, but his impact cannot always be understood through statistics. While the Green & White rush defense struggled earlier in the season to contain the outside runs, a rallying cry of “Set the Edge” rang through the locker room. Wilkerson takes pride in that role.

“I have to make sure everything bounces inside to the great linebackers we have, or just letting Sione [Pouha] and [Mike] DeVito clean it up,” he said.

His job description is akin to that of a point guard, setting up his teammates to make the impact play. After a rough 60-minute stretch against the Pats in Week 5, Wilkerson and his linemates were challenged by head coach Rex Ryan this week.

“Looking back on the first time we played them, there were a lot of ups and downs in that game,” he said. “More downs than ups. We were watching a lot of that film this week, and you really don’t want to watch it, but we have to face the facts. We have to put that aside and show what we’re capable of doing.”

Speaking of capability, Wilkerson feels he still has plenty to prove over the final eight games:

“In every game, there are things that I do good, and some things that, not that I do bad, but that I can do better. I’m just trying to do everything to the best of my ability.”

The transition will continue, but he knows what lies ahead.

“Nothing is easy,” Wilkerson said. “I just take the coaching, and I’m learning. I’ll go from there.”

Wilson Making Strides

As a rookie, CB Kyle Wilson made the same transition that Wilkerson is making right now. Wilson’s struggles were well-documented, leading him to lose confidence and playing time. This year he’s a new player with a fresh outlook.

“Personally, I feel a lot better,” said Wilson. “Having last year to use as experience, I‘ve just been putting in a lot of work. I learn from the guys in the room that I’m working with, like Cro [Antonio Cromartie] and Darrelle [Revis] and continue to accept the coaching.”

“We liked Kyle when we took him,” said Ryan. “We thought he might have been the top corner in the draft when he came out. I’m not surprised at the kind of year he’s having. He’s having as good a year as any nickel in the league.”

It’s high praise for Wilson, who is arguably the most improved player on the Jets’ roster. After logging five tackles in increased action against the Buffalo Bills last week, it’s safe to say he will be on the field early and often against the pass-happy Pats.

Taming Tom

With New England having dropped their last two games, QB Tom Brady has found himself under the microscope.

“I love hearing that Tom Brady is struggling,” Ryan said sarcastically. “Based on what? Last year was a once-in-a-lifetime season — four picks, a zillion touchdowns. That’s going to be hard to match. He’s as good as it gets right now.”

As usual, the focus for the Jets defense will be on pressuring Brady, and taking him out of his comfort zone.

“If you can’t get pressure on Brady, you’re going to get destroyed,” Ryan said. “We’ve got to find ways of getting in there. Whether it’s a four-man rush or something creative, I don’t know. We have to get pressure on him.”

Injury Update

TE Shawn Nelson (illness) and S Brodney Pool (knee) did not practice this afternoon and have been listed as questionable for Sunday’s game.

All the other injured Jets practiced full and are listed as probable for the game, including WR Plaxico Burress (back), DT Mike DeVito (knee), RB-KR Joe McKnight (toe) and CB Isaiah Trufant (hamstring). The Jets’ full injury report can be found here.

The Patriots have declared LBs Brandon Spikes and Dane Fletcher out of the game. WR Wes Welker (rib) practiced full after two limited practices and is probable for the Jets. All 10 other injured Patriots were limited in today’s team drills and are questionable for the game: CB Kyle Arrington, S Patrick Chung, DE Shaun Ellis, RBs Kevin Faulk and BenJarvus Green-Ellis, LB Gary Guyton and Jerod Mayo, WR Taylor Price, T Sebastian Vollmer and OL Ryan Wendell.

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Posted in Andrew LeRay | 19 Comments »

19 Responses to “Second Half of Mo’s Rookie Year Starts Sunday”

  1. By Hans on Nov 11, 2011 | Reply

    All I’m gonna say is the best people better play. No excuses “oh we didn’t have x in”, I hate when people whine like that.

  2. By scjoe on Nov 11, 2011 | Reply

    I think we need to realize what a 3-4 DE job description is. If one or two of them draw double teams on a consistent basis you will see that defense excel. That will not show up on any stat page, but I would be willing to bet everything I own those LBs behind them who reap all the benefits know exactly what is going on up front. Keep up the good work Mo.

  3. By scjoe on Nov 11, 2011 | Reply

    Lets not draw to much into NE recent two game losing streak. First of all they lost to a couple of pretty good teams. Secondly they have no major injuries and Brady is still Brady, like it or not. I see a very competitive game going down to the wire and the team that makes the least mistakes will win this game. What concerns me even more is next weeks game on Thursday night which will give the Jets no more then one full day of preparation for the Bronco’s. Someone please tell me how the schedule makers, who ever they are, can be so inept. A Sunday night game followed by a Thursday game half way across the country? C’mon man!

  4. By davetharave on Nov 11, 2011 | Reply

    When pats have third and long and everybody in the world knows it’s going to a pass to Gronkowski or Welker could we have a LB and a DB get up all in their faces and keep them from running their routes the way they want to ? Those are the 2 guys who are going to get the ball 87% of the time. Take them away and Brady’s choices drop way off.

  5. By Tom Spicer on Nov 11, 2011 | Reply

    Can we all agree to drop the talk about the QB until at least Monday. Lets talk Jets Pats & what you think we have to do to win this game.

  6. By 38 year fan on Nov 11, 2011 | Reply

    We are going to attack brady like never before …Their time is done ,…Let’s put the final nails in the Patriots coffin …

  7. By cgb on Nov 12, 2011 | Reply

    spicer i agree. here is what i think More of the same of what we did to buffalo. D- line needs to get a push. disrupt the running lanes ,and tackle, good fundamental tackling. definately get pool in there to cover at least one of their big TE ‘s. If we get close to brady make him uncomfortable, our back end will make plays. At times i disagree philosophically what we do on offense. I like though the run aspect, with a well executed balanced offense. this type of play will keep the ball in our hands for most of the game. providing we dont TO the football. JETS football.

  8. By cgb on Nov 12, 2011 | Reply

    scjoe i also dont like that thursday game with denver right after the sunday night game at met-life. I was at that denver – jet game last year they barely won that game.A late penalty on denver set up the winning score late in the game. Although i think they will not play as well this year with tebow in there.

  9. By paul pgfig01 on Nov 12, 2011 | Reply

    To win play like last week except no turnovers and score in the red zone. Game Jets thats it, lights out D and the Offense play like the second half of the bills game and there is no stoping the Jets.

  10. By Jet Fan Since '64 Tom on Nov 12, 2011 | Reply

    Sounds good to me, Spicer, though I’ll start with another complaint — about Goodell, who seems enamored of the Thursday night game idea, one of the worst in NFL history. You’d think if we must have these games the teams playing would get the Sunday before and after off, but no, these are the guys who can play 18 games, retire with only 5 yrs’ health insurance, and die crippled. I like what Mo is doing and I particularly like that it shows that this team can start rookies and live with their 1st-yr problems. Sometimes Rex’s own unrealistic expectations seem to get the better of him, like when during the Revis holdout he said that Wilson was ready to step right into Revis’ shoes and then he didn’t have the guts to stick with him past Game 3.

  11. By wayne on Nov 12, 2011 | Reply

    Expecting big game from Maybin. Need lots of bodies on DL for a QB that’s gonna put it in air close to 40 times. Rex has made it very obvious he wants everything thrown at Brady, including the fans in the stadium……Don’t know if they have enough bodies on DL to sustain rush throughout game, so I see Maybin getting far more snaps than in any game so far and deployed all over the place to give him best oppty to get at QB………………………Pats are pretty beat up…More so than Jets……………….Jets game to lose. Not typical wishful Jet fan thinking. Just the way I see it.

  12. By Jet Fan Since '64 Tom on Nov 12, 2011 | Reply

    I’m also gonna blow my own horn on something else about Wilson, though I’m doing it for his sake and that of the scouting guys. Remember last yr when so many folks on this site (and elsewhere) were saying McCourty was God and Wilson was a bust? Remember me saying that the main reason McCourty, who got torched his 1st 6 or 7 games, seemed to be getting better and had time to ballhawk for INTS was because NE was always up 3 TDs at the half? Didn’t think so. But that’s what I kept saying last yr and look at Wilson and McCourty now. Tell me now which one’s the bust and which one you’d rather have picked. Of course, it helps to have Rex, Pettine, Thurman, and especially Revis tutoring you…

  13. By Justice on Nov 12, 2011 | Reply

    This is our time! Winning this game gives us the opportunity at a 1st round bye as Houston and Oakland will lose enough to allow the AFC East division winner to be at least a #2 seed. I mean, it’s not changing of the guard material yet (even though Brady is 34), but this week’s matchup is a good start! Let’s handle our business against this all of a sudden one dimensional no defense having patsies!

  14. By GaryC on Nov 12, 2011 | Reply

    jet fan tom, do not be so presumtuous,on the wilson edge over mccourty,first of all he was selected ahead of mccourty so he needs to be better unless the jets screwed up another pick.First of all seeing that Mccourty starts and wilson is a nickel,you will admit mccourty sees the best receivers on the other team,Revis and Cromartie see those on jets.will we ever see wilson on the opposing teams best receivers,remember can’t judge a book by its cover,or coverage, ha, ha.

  15. By 38 year fan on Nov 12, 2011 | Reply

    64 Tom , good points on Wilson , he’s looking alot better . I don’t know what they did ? Because last year he looked awefull .

  16. By Gabriel on Nov 13, 2011 | Reply

    well last year he was a rookie still finding his way, but after clinging on revis during the offseason it sure helped alot!

  17. By Charliejet on Nov 13, 2011 | Reply

    38 year fan – there is a good article in pro-sports daily on Wilson. Revis took Wilson under his wing for 6 weeks in the off season with training and lessons. Wilson has become a notorious note taker and he was looking at the QB too often and not keeping his eyes on the receivers. Good article.

  18. By Jet Fan Since '64 Tom on Nov 13, 2011 | Reply

    GaryC, didn’t we pick Wilson 31st and the Pats picked McCourty 32nd? That barely qualifies as “selected ahead,” pal. But I get your pt. I’m not saying that Wilson is automatically better, though with Revis and Cro at CB McCourty wouldn’t start on the Jets either. I’m just saying a lot of McCourty’s alleged great rookie yr was smoke and mirrors, he’s getting exposed as way overrated this yr on the worst passing D in the league, and Wilson is becoming an important part of one of the best passing D’s in the league. So like with McKnight this yr and, I’ll predict, Ducasse next yr, people should think twice before throwing around that word “bust.” Thanks, 38, one thing they did with Wilson was get Revis to help him, the other was to play him.

  19. By GaryC on Nov 13, 2011 | Reply

    as much as this game is important to win, the jets better be ready to board the plane the minute the game ends, to get acclimated to the mile high climate and possible blizzards in colorado,I would rather be sitting in my hotel room monday morning then having to fight snowstorms say on tuesday trying to get there and then play a game.

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