Several wrinkles went into the Jets’ necessary Sunday triumph over the Redskins. Some were familiar friends such as another Mark Sanchez fourth-quarter rally and Santonio Holmes game-winning grab and another strong defensive rebound after giving up 10 points on their first two series.
One was a long-lost relative we hadn’t seen for a while: the Wildcat.
“I think it’s tough to defend some of that if you’re not really focused on it,” head coach Rex Ryan said today in a conference call with reporters. “This was a good team, really good against the run, and we thought we could challenge them by putting in some of those things. That was my feeling on it and Schotty said, ‘Yeah, that sounds like a great idea, let’s go for it” and Bill Callahan did a good job putting in the blocking schemes for it. I thought it was successful.”
Ryan, a defensive coach born and bred, downplayed the idea that he contributed a main component of the offensive game plan to coordinator Brian Schottenheimer.
“We’re just trying to help. We’re all on the same page. If there’s something I see that might be decent for us, whether it’s a play or something like that, we’ll mention it,” he said. “We’ll have our defensive coaches sometimes come up with suggestions for the offense and vice versa. We don’t care where we get it from — even though I wanted credit after the touchdown … no, I’m kidding.”
The TD in question was Shonn Greene’s second scoring run to make it 27-16, coming with 3:42 to play, two plays after the Aaron Maybin/Calvin Pace strip sack and recovery against Rex Grossman 9 yards from a big shovelful of paydirt on the Redskins’ grave for this game.
It was the seventh and last direct snap of the game and it was the most successful of the bunch. On the first six ‘Cats, three snaps went to Greene, two to Jeremy Kerley and one to LaDainian Tomlinson, the Jets gained only 17 yards and no first downs. But three of them were used on the Jets’ first opening-drive TD in 10 games, which also was their longest scoring drive of the season in plays (17) and time (9:06).
And LT’s 5-yard gain was the play immediately preceding the dam-breaker, Sanchez’s and Holmes’ 30-yard pump-fake Sluggo (slant-and-go) TD play that gave the Jets’ their first lead at 20-16 with 4:49 to play.
So it’s hard to say definitively that the Wildcat turned the tide for the Green & White, but perhaps it worked just enough for things to loosen up when they did. But after Brad Smith ran the TurDucKen, er, the Wildcat/Seminole/Tiger more than 35 times last year, often to great effect, and after Ryan and Schottenheimer talked about working Tomlinson and Kerley into that role this preseason, the Jets may have called for the ‘Cat maybe twice in the first 11 games?
And considering the lack of use of the formation for most of the year, perhaps it will go back in mothballs for the final four-game push toward the playoffs. But it was a good example of the Jets coaches’ and players’ reliance on one another now that there’s no more wiggle left in the room they’ve left for themselves.
“We all want the same thing. We built this team, Mike Tannenbaum and myself and everybody else, on respect, about building people up. That’s who we are,” Ryan said. “We have a great deal of confidence in the people we have in this building. When we pull in the same direction, we’re tough to beat, no doubt about it. Are we perfect? No. Green Bay’s got a perfect record but even they’re not perfect. We recognize that. But we’ve just got to be true to ourselves and stay the course. We know what works for us and that’s basically what we do.”
Ryan gave an early preview of the injury questions that could be facing the Jets this week as they attempt to get to 8-5 at MetLife Stadium against the Chiefs on Sunday.
Tomlinson came away with his aggravated knee, but he did return to the game after twisting the knee on the Redskins sideline.
“I thought he got hurt because of a horsecollar tackle,” Ryan said, “but really, when he was getting up, he slipped on that little carpet or whatever they put on the sideline. He kind of slipped. I think he’ll be OK.
“He was able to finish, did a great job protecting the quarterback on third down. … In typical LT fashion, he said, ‘I can block. I’ll be fine.’ Here’s one of the greatest running backs in the history of the game — ‘I’ll go in and block.’ “
Joe McKnight was limited due to a hyperextended elbow. Ryan wasn’t sure today about the MRI results. “We’ll see how it is,” the coach said. “I probably don’t anticipate him practicing Wednesday. His status for the game, I’m not sure.”
And DT Mike DeVito, who sat out with his new knee injury, “was out jogging today” at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center, Ryan said. “I think his status is probably uncertain. I know DeVito’s going to do whatever he can to get back and play.”
In Search of Happier Returns
Ryan said that Kerley, who suffered his third punt fumble of the season, his second muff and his first lost fumble late in the second quarter, was at the complex today fielding punts. The coach is impressed with his rookie’s work habits and his athleticism, but that may not prevent him and ST coordinator Mike Westhoff from turning to Jim Leonhard in that role down the home stretch.
“I feel really comfortable with having Jim Leonhard back there,” Ryan said. “I know Westy and I feel the same way. I think that’s how we’re going to go.”
Mighty Red Zone Machine
RZ juggernaut might be overdoing it, but the Jets, with their two TDs in two opportunities vs. the ‘Skins, are now the No. 1 red zone offense in the NFL.
Sanchez and the Jets have now converted seven consecutive drives inside the opponents’ 20 into touchdowns — their longest streak since the end of the 2002 season, when they went 9-for-9 — and are 25-for-37 on the season, a 67.6 TD-drive percentage that tops No. 2 Tennessee (18-for-27, 66.7 percent) and No. 3 New England (35-for-53, 66.0 percent). And it is likely the Jets will retain the top spot once San Diego and Jacksonville are finished tonight and Week 13 is in the books.
The Jets are also 6-for-6 in their last two games, the first time they’ve been 6-for-6 or better in back-to-back games since the start of the 1993 season.
Tags: Bill Callahan, Brad Smith, Brian Schottenheimer, Jeremy Kerley, joe McKnight, LaDainian Tomlinson, Mike DeVito, Rex Ryan, Shonn Greene, Washington Redskins
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