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STS*: McKnight’s Patience Paid Off in Primetime

Posted by Randy Lange on October 13, 2012 – 9:08 am

With his second kickoff-return TD as a pro and with his average again inching upward toward 30.0 yards per return, Joe McKnight was asked this week how good he can be as an NFL return man.

“Devin Hester’s the best now. Hopefully I can have my name next to his or around his somewhere. That’d be great,” McKnight said. He went on to explain that when he was an eighth-grader in River Ridge, La., he already had some notion that he’d like to follow in Hester’s fast footsteps some day.

“I used to look up to him. He wore No. 4 and I wore No. 4,” Joe recalled. “I always wanted to go to the University of Miami. I was a big Clinton Portis fan and a big Devin Hester fan.”

Interesting that McKnight knew at that tender age that he wanted to be like a top UM return man and a top ‘Canes RB. The storyline a few weeks back was that he was being made into a (temporary) defensive back and that he thought Rex Ryan and the Jets were saying he might not be wanted as a back.

Not true, said Rex. For the time being, McKnight is back at RB and got his most plays (9) and touches (4) of the season on offense on Monday night. And he made like a superback on his 100-yard return down the left sideline to juice up the Jets and the fans for their close-but-no-cigar 23-17 loss.

In fact, ST coordinator Mike Westhoff is serious in saying that he thinks in terms of running the ball when he draws up those now famous kickoff returns of his.

“All of our plays are based off of running plays,” Westhoff said. “That’s what they look like and what they should look like, where we’re going to try to double and trap and wall and run a counter off of that. It’s very similar to what an offense would run on an off-tackle play. We blocked it well. We blocked it very well. And we hit it.”

Indeed, McKnight took the “handoff” from Houston kickoff man Shayne Graham at his goal line and proceeded to use his speed and cuts to get the Jets back in the game. First game the double team by his two-man wedge, Garrett McIntyre and Konrad Reuland, on the Texans’ Bryan Braman, with McIntyre then sliding up and taking out Troy Nolan. Downfield a little further, Nick Bellore and Bilal Powell applied the second double-team, boxing up Jesse Nading.

Simultaneously, to McKnight’s right, Ellis Lankster neutralized Shiloh Keo and new signee Lex Hilliard continued his impressive first night in green and white by delaying Mister Alexander’s outside rush toward the ball.

McKnight slalomed past through the “gate” opened by Reuland and Lankster, then exploded past the diving Alexander and stiff-armed Graham. Suddenly it was a footrace with rookie safety DeVier Posey. McKnight won, squeezing past Posey along the left sideline and curling the ball inside the pylon as he dived into the end zone.

“I felt like I had to make some plays. The first couple of games I was disappointed that I didn’t get to break anything,” he said. “But I didn’t want to try to press the issue and go out and look for stuff. I just had to be patient and wait till they came to me.”

And while he was waiting, he was making a few things happen elsewhere on teams. He also is a part of the Jets’ kickoff cover team that also features Lankster and ‘Zaiah Trufant as their advance team. It was No. 25 you saw blurring by on your TV screen, in part because of his speed and in part because of a shove in the back from Braman that started the Texans out at their 4-yard line late in the opening period.

McKnight’s always gives his blockers their props — “It’s a give-and-take,” he said. “You give me something, I give you something.”

He means that literally. Last year he dished out an iPad and some high-end headphones. For this return, he said he’s planning on presenting a 50″ TV from a recent interview to either Reuland or Bellore.

And he wouldn’t mind continuing to play early Santa in the weeks ahead. Might the Colts’ cover team be in danger? They’re 25th in opponents’ kickoff-return average.

“We got some good double-teams this week,” he said, respectfully but confidently, “and next week we’re going to try to do the same.”

*Special Teams Saturday

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Posted in Randy Lange | 37 Comments »

37 Responses to “STS*: McKnight’s Patience Paid Off in Primetime”

  1. By Drewser on Oct 13, 2012 | Reply

    He’s only going to get better. I hope the JETS give hiim a long term contract!

  2. By SCfromNY on Oct 13, 2012 | Reply

    I’ve been on a McKnight bandwagon for a long time. He is fast, elusive, can break tackles, and can avoid tackles. He could be a very good RB. But wait! We have Greene who if he gains 3 yards it goes on his highlight reel. He should be the #3 back based on his performance. It is not 2010 and LT is not here to take up the slack.

  3. By scjoe on Oct 13, 2012 | Reply

    Sorry SCNY, sorry guys, there is a reason McKnight is not on the field. I don’t know exactly what that reason is, ball handling, ball security, injury, blocking ability, picking up the blitz, grasp of the system? I don’t know which or how many of these come into play, but under the circumstances, with Greene and Powell vastly under performing the way they are, there is a reason. No one, and I mean NO ONE, or no GM and HC could possibly be that clueless on this issue. Remember, we see things on the surface, not below it.

  4. By Ron Alexander on Oct 13, 2012 | Reply

    SC fm NY, I wish I could join you on that bandwagon. Mcknights been an enigma everywhere he has been. At USC he was supposed to be the next Reggie Bush. Since being drafted he has continued to struggle with issues like focus, concentration,condidioning, and most glaringly,holding on to the football. At USC he struggled with these very same issues and was eventually demoted to like 3rd string. While its great to see him do well in the kick return game we need to keep in mind that this is not a posisition that requires a whole lot of study. You simply catch the ball, follow the wedge and run like hell. For that job he is perfect. When you ask him pass block or run specific plays or pass patterns, that is where the problems come into play.

  5. By Jet Fan Since '64 Tom on Oct 13, 2012 | Reply

    McKnight is one of the major bright spots of last season and this and until he’s given the ball at RB 10 or 15 times a game and can’t perform, I’m not writing him off. Right now Greene is carrying 10 or 15 times a game for 30 or 40 yrds, so we’ve got nothing to lose.

  6. By scjoe on Oct 13, 2012 | Reply

    Looking ahead at the Indy game, with Donald Brown having just 10-12 more yards then our very own Shonn Greene (although Brown has16 less attempts) it would be safe to say the Colts will not win it with the run. Unless of course, the Jets make Brown into the new Arian Foster. If they can neutralize Reggie Wayne I see no reason they lose to the Colts, that said, they may again lose to themselves..

  7. By Byrdman on Oct 13, 2012 | Reply

    Jets need to get Joe-Mac 10 -15 touches a game. Any other team in the NFL would line him up in the slot, motion, HB screen passes, wide-out, reverses etc. Its an indictment on O coordinator (Sparano) and his inability to get a guy like this involved. You see the other team load all 11 in the box when Greene’s in the backfield, as if to say “We got this” SG doesn’t scare anyone, and wears the O-line down in my opinion. Think about it, when Mangold, Moore or Slauson drive the D-line back with the bone crushing block of the game… Greene gets 3 yards. Need 3 yards he gets 2, third and goal at the 1, Greene gets tackled at the 3 yard line ! Hey TONY… its Joe-MAC time :!

  8. By Mike Jet Vet on Oct 13, 2012 | Reply

    Sorry, McKnight is the Sanchez of RB’s .Hate to say at least Sanchez doesn’t get sick every time he faces the fact he may start, Mac does, he ran one back in 3 seasons that’s his whole claim to frame, any good team would have experimented with 3 or 4 backs by now while getting production from D-Woodhead

  9. By Jet Fan Since '64 Tom on Oct 13, 2012 | Reply

    scjoe, any GM and HC clueless enough to make the kinds of claims for Sanchez that Mr T and Rex have made are clueless enough to do anything!

  10. By Jet Fan Since '64 Tom on Oct 14, 2012 | Reply

    “Luck is big, strong and athletic, capable of escaping pressure — a league-high nine scrambles for first downs, according to ESPN Stats & Information. He reminds the Jets of Ben Roethlisberger, and they will employ the same coverage principles they use against Big Ben. They can’t let down against Luck, who already has two game-winning drives in the fourth quarter. They can’t do what the Packers did, which was allow Luck to play pitch-and-catch with WR Reggie Wayne [who leads the league in catches].” Talk about Mark’s playoff wins all you want, folks, but until we can talk this way about our QB, we’re going nowhere.

  11. By Jet Fan Since '64 Tom on Oct 14, 2012 | Reply

    “Mac” has run two KO’s back for TDs in 2 yrs as our KR guy, MJV, and he plays for a coach who doesn’t think RBs can survive outside the tackles, either on run or pass plays. So I’d wait a little longer before giving up on him. Actually, as soon as Mr T and Rex are the heck outta here, the radical reworking of the roster that will follow under a new GM and HC will surely turn up a lot of surprises, both good and bad. I have a feeling that McKnight, whose speed in the backfield is desperately needed, will be one of the good ones. And don’t tell me about him fumbling when Greene — and Adrian Peterson! — still have fumbling problems. Anyway, the biggest fumbling on this team takes place in the FO and the HC’s office.

  12. By Bitter Blinka on Oct 14, 2012 | Reply

    Mr. Alexander:

    Hard to argue with what you said. As a matter of fact he seems to be a typical Jets pick. I posted before about the Syracuse kid the He Who Cheats picked after us.
    I’ve seen him interviewd and without seeing him play I could tell you he will be a much better player than Couples. Let me tell you about players like Couples and Gholston and many others like them. They can excell in college on their talent alone, but when it comes to the NFL, if they do not have the heart to learn, improve and compete against talent as good as themselves than they will not make it.
    Woodhead is not as talented as McKnight but he is making it because of his mind.

    What makes me SICK, is why do the Jets discount this trait. WHY!!!???

  13. By SCfromNY on Oct 14, 2012 | Reply

    I am not aware of McKnights record in college so perhaps there is a reason he is being held back. BUT the few times he carries the ball he seems quick and sure with it. Any other coaching staff and I would blindly assume there is something wrong. Unfortunately I have no faith on this coaching staff to evaluate players. Let me see McKinght with 15-20 carries and if his faults rear their heads so be it and myself and others can shut up. Also is McKnight the next Reggie Bush? Probably not. BUT how can we do worse than Greene and Rex’s refusal to see what is in front of me. A decent showing by Greene against the Colts is not a barometer of where he is. A poor performance will speak volumes against a porus run D.

  14. By Bitter Blinka on Oct 14, 2012 | Reply


    How will Wilkerson and Couples, our last two #1 drafts picks perfom today? Will we hear their names called?

    What’s going on here!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Bitter Blinka

  15. By ELI RODRIGUEZ on Oct 14, 2012 | Reply

    According to Pro Football Focus, here are the worst quarterbacks this year in adjusted passing accuracy, which counts drops as completions and doesn’t penalize quarterback for attempts that could not have been caught:


    Mark Sanchez NYJ 159 77 10 4 5 1 4 60%

    Andrew Luck IND 177 96 10 3 3 4 5 65.4%

    Josh Freeman TB 119 65 7 5 3 0 3 66.7%

    Ryan Fitzpatrick BU 152 88 10 3 3 0 0 66.7%

    Joe Flacco BAL 183 112 6 4 1 0 2 67%
    * (Completions + Drops) / (Attempts – Throw Aways – Spikes – Batted Passes – Hit As Thrown))——-LET’S START McELROY—–


  16. By kw65Fan on Oct 14, 2012 | Reply

    Typical of you Mikevet…not knowing the facts. This Joe Mac 2nd return for a TD..one last year and last week. He also led the league last year in KO return average. Be perfect set up for screens…but then how many have we run with them this year…last year…year before…I think you can count them all on one hand. But then problem is Sanchez trying to throw the ball over on rushing linemen. Tip balls…LINEMEN intercepting balls….He has NO perception at all.

    START Mac….enuf already…lets see what we have with this kid. A winner…played 3 years at Alabama…not one like MS…was at 2 championship Bowl games…won one…has the experience…just wasting on the bench.

  17. By Mike Jet Vet on Oct 14, 2012 | Reply

    Kw65Fan never questions his kick return ability it’s him RB skills that are in question , gets sick way to often on and off the field to carry any serious load on any NFL team .Where are your stats on him as a RB ? oh right you have none So it’s typical you apologists never stop the spin , Especially about the actually subject you’re trying to debate .. If he was what you say he is why would we not at least use him in a more active backup role,

  18. By Mike Jet Vet on Oct 14, 2012 | Reply

    Cont. and BTW KW65 even if Rex and TS missed this great talent at RB we’ve had here for over 3 seasons,I’m sure at the very least our RB coach would have picked up on it don’t you .. come on

  19. By Byrdman on Oct 14, 2012 | Reply

    For the last time… McElroy was drafted in the 7th round for a REASON. ALL the 32 teams in the league saw his name up on that board and passed on Greg 6 times until Jets grabbed him. Read ANY pre-draft scouting report – he simply doesn’t have an NFL caliber arm. NO we didn’t hit the jackpot with a Tom Brady type QB that somehow slipped – I live in Michigan and watched Brady play – was STUNNED Brady didn’t go by the 3rd round. McElroy was surrounded by off the charts talent and had a bad habit of staring Julio Jones down (I Would TOO) Jones is a beast. No Greg isn’t another Pennington ! Chad had incredible anticipation and frequently threw receivers open, G-Mac has not shown that ability – GIVE IT UP ALREADY WITH THE G-MAC HYSTERIA!

  20. By Byrdman on Oct 14, 2012 | Reply

    It’s one of the oldest, worn down to death cliche’s in all Football ! The back-up QB is the fans favorite player on any team. Fans elevate this poor guy to lofty (almost Godlike) status… UNTIL we actually see him play and (GROAN) then the 3rd string QB starts looking like Peyton Manning. It’s funny! Happens in every NFL city. Worst of all with NY JET fans on this discussion board – Remember Brett Ratliff ?? G-Mac is this years Ratliff! Looked like Elway in a preseason game once then…. Pretty sure Brett is selling insurance, cars or hamburgers somewhere :D

  21. By scjoe on Oct 14, 2012 | Reply

    Byrdman, where and when was Tom Brady selected in the draft? A lot of teams passed his name up 5 or 6 times as well. It is not an exact science. Opportunity my friend, THAT is all it takes sometimes. Sure, he could be this years Brett Ratliff, but he also has a chance to be this years Tom Brady. Opportunity!!!!

  22. By ELI RODRIGUEZ on Oct 15, 2012 | Reply

    [edit]College caree

    Michigan University A three-year letterman and two-year starter at wide receiver, David Terrell played in 37 games and made 21 starts before declaring for the NFL draft as junior. A two-time All-Big Ten Conference selection, Terrell was named to the 2000 College Football News and CNN/Sports Illustrated All-America first team squads. He became the first player in Michigan history to have multiple 1000-yard receiving seasons (1,130 yards in 2000 and 1,038 in 1999). Terrell finished is career with a school record 1,130 receiving yards on 67 receptions and scored 14 touchdowns in 2000. He capped an out

  23. By Byrdman on Oct 15, 2012 | Reply

    SCJOE and Eli – you guys are making my point. It was stunning and one of those unexplained head-scratchers of NFL draft history that Brady wasn’t drafted much higher. He had the classic size, quick release and could make ALL the throws NFL scouts look for. Only thing I could point to was his weak combine performance, he sort of mailed it in. McElroy (think Elroy Jetson) however, read the scouting reports on him – 100% of em spotted problems: Lacks NFL fastball, Stares receivers down, Cant make all the NFL throws, Average arm strength, 6th round talent, possible back-up QB, just some of the comments. I loved Pennington but the elite defenses could shut Chad down. McElroy’s arm makes Chad’s look like a Brett Favre cannon.

  24. By GaryC on Oct 15, 2012 | Reply

    byrdman, we don’t have to go any further then Matt Flynn,who jet fans wanted because he threw for 500 yards in a game,Now,he cannot beat out Russell Wilson.

  25. By Mike Jet Vet on Oct 15, 2012 | Reply

    Byrdman, where were these scouting reports on Bad Sanchez,not to Mention the good Brady give me a BREAK..

  26. By scjoe on Oct 15, 2012 | Reply

    Byrdman, I hear ya, BUT…. Jamarcus Russell had all the scouting reports behind him, ditto Ryan Leaf, Carr, Akili Smith, David Klingler, etc. the list goes on and on and on. They also could make all the throws and showed everything NFL scouts are looking for. At the other end of the spectrum are the late round finds that those same NFL scouts missed on. Why? Because the draft and everything that goes along with it is not an exact science. Often times there are those who fall through the cracks, often times there are those who are “a can’t miss” Who miss! Me? I try not to put to much stock on draft position, only on results. Problem is, no opportunity, no results.

  27. By Byrdman on Oct 15, 2012 | Reply

    MJV – not sure I get your point but… by all means take a break from posting here if you want:D Scouting reports I looked at on Sanchez did not justify the Jets trading up to grab him at #5. Its not the physical ability MS lacks, I think he’d thrive with a real QB coach. who the heck is Matt Cavanaugh ?? Wouldn’t Chad Pennington be a NATURAL for this job? Not sure if he’d come back where fans cheered when he got hurt, that was possibly the dirtiest, low class act I’ve ever witnessed. Pennington is statistically the best QB Jets ever had! Brady is in QB heaven playing behind the best O-line in the game, under the “genius” BB, LOOK what happened to Matt Cassell once he left NE – Chief fans will get look at career backup BRADY mcelroy QUINN

  28. By scjoe on Oct 16, 2012 | Reply

    Byrdman, Chad Pennington’s stats as a NYJ will not matter one bit in a tutoring roll for Mark Sanchez. Heck, Joe Montana, a top 5 all time QB would not make a difference in that roll. Neither will give Mark Sanchez the pocket presence he is lacking, the situational awareness he is lacking, the ability to read defenses he is lacking, they may be able to help with his foot work and his technique, but the former is the real problem. You do make a good point about the “system” based philosophy in NE though. That may be the only place a guy like Sanchez would succeed.

  29. By Byrdman on Oct 16, 2012 | Reply

    SCJOE – I tend to agree that “pocket presence” might be a gift like speed or arm strength that you can’t teach. Was watching Manning last night surgically dissecting SD in the second half. ESPN had a brief video of Manning doing pocket drills: sliding right/left, quick hops, stepping up, rolling out – I couldn’t help but wonder if Sanchez would benefit from some of those same drills that Peyton (first ballot HOF) is STILL doing at 38. It’s uncanny how guys like Big Ben seem to have a rear view mirror and take a quick diagonal step, miss a diving DE, fire a strike down-field. Mark seems to run INTO the pass rush:D Yeah NE has sort of a “blueprint” for QB’s, grooming the next BRADY – Mallet will punish Jet fans for the next 10 years :(

  30. By scjoe on Oct 16, 2012 | Reply

    Byrdman, funny thing, while I was watching Peyton take apart that SD defense, and watch him reading the D and changing plays at the line of scrimmige and at lightining quick speed besides, I thought, WOW! how nice would it be for our offense to not only set a pace like that, but to actually get those same results, it would be beyond dreaming. But no one ever said life is fair. ;(

  31. By ELI RODRIGUEZ on Oct 16, 2012 | Reply


  32. By Byrdman on Oct 17, 2012 | Reply

    SCJOE – wow I was thinking exactly the same thing in the second half. Funny but it seems like when the Jets run no-huddle they move the ball (somewhat)
    Eli R. – That’s a good theory but – When I see a college team like Alabama completely dismantle one of the local teams here either, U M or MSU as a Jet fan I’m thinking “Man I hope Rex or TBomb is watching this and drafts some of these guys” know what I mean? I really wanted to like the McElroy pick until I went online and read all the pre-draft scouting reports on him The NFL defenses have evolved to the point that – Your QB needs an accurate canon arm or has RG3 speed/skills to make plays – sadly for us Jet fans G-Mac,MS and Tebow don’t have have EITHER of those gifts.

  33. By Byrdman on Oct 17, 2012 | Reply

    Eli – Where did you hear Elway wanted McElroy ? He’s got Manning and they drafted Brock Oswieler (spelling?) Don’t you think he views G-Mac as an emergency backup? Looks like they are grooming that kid Brock, he’s 6’8″ and throws the ball threw brick walls. Remember the abuse Pennington went through from Jet fans? On this site every week for his whole career as a Jet all I heard was “Chad’s got a rag arm, throws like a girl etc” Football experts were all over ESPN saying stuff like ” The problem is: Teams don’t have to defend the WHOLE field against Chad and can sit on those short timing routes” I had a Pennington jersey, but even I could understand how big a handicap an 80mph fastball is in a 95mph game. Follow me?

  34. By scjoe on Oct 18, 2012 | Reply

    Byrdman, Eli is correct in that the Broncos did want McElroy to be included in the package for Tebow, but that was before the draft. I guess that is the reason they went after Brock. I was a big fan of Pennington, I heard the disparaging remarks all the time about his “noodle arm” etc. I think it would be safe to say that if (and that is a big if) his arm strength hurt him at all it was because of where he played (The Meadowlands) It certainly didn’t effect him his one full season in Miami. I believe if he had gone to a warm weather site right out of school he may have had a HOF career. It is no easy task playing in the elements in the NE and the Midwest,that is where the rocket arm is most needed.

  35. By Byrdman on Oct 18, 2012 | Reply

    Thanks SCJOE – Denver would be smart to have an emergency back-up QB. I know you’re not suggesting Fox was planning a competition between Manning and McElroy for the starting job.Chad Pennington, may actually be a great analogy to the current Jets situation. Chad could get a team to the play-offs, as he did with NY and Miami but, the ELITE level defenses he faced, had the speed to stop his passing game. Boomer Esiason said during the Jet/Raider playoff “Chad needs to put a little more steam on those passes or he’s going to get his receivers killed” It happened again when Chad’s Fins got destroyed by the Ravens. In 2012 a team can’t win the SB without a BIG-TIME gun playing QB or a D that can pitch a shut-out. Jets have neither !

  36. By ELI RODRIGUEZ on Oct 19, 2012 | Reply


  37. By Byrdman on Oct 20, 2012 | Reply

    Eli – its more logical to speculate on who Elway (Denver) plans to develop as their future #1 QB based upon what type of players they draft. The Bronco’s did not take a 6’2″ player with an average arm ( like McElroy) – they got a guy on the other end of the scale, look up Brock Osweiler, currently #2 on their depth chart. 6’7″ (taller than many linemen) with a HUGE arm, and very good athletic skills/speed for his size. They’re developing a guy who can easily make any throw you could ask a QB to make in the NFL. Lets move on from all this G-Mac talk, he’s #3 on Jets QB depth chart, right where he belongs IMHO – the comments made about the guy are getting redundant.

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