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Using McKnight, Sayers in the Same Factoid

Posted by Randy Lange on February 12, 2013 – 4:21 pm

This is the time of year that tries Jets fans’ souls. It’s dark out, not just outside my window at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center but for the short-term future. The improvements will get made, but they’ll be made slowly, often beneath the radar, with no competitive evidence until the games begin again in August and September.

Until then, we’ll get you the information we can as soon while we go about the other business we do on the business side of the Jets’ operations. That means covering free agency and the draft as we can, introducing you to the new coaches as we will in the coming weeks, providing player stories before and after they return to the complex in April.

All the while we’ll be working on the 2013 Yearbook. This provides the opportunities to dig up some things that were hidden during the ’12 season or to give more credit — and more hope for the future — than might have been given out during the 6-10 campaign past.

One of those early amazing notes has to do with Joe McKnight’s kickoff returning. This was a hot topic after the 2011 season’s 31.6-yard average, the best by a qualifying returner in the last quarter of a century. McKnight didn’t have quite as explosive a ’12, but his 27.5 average was still third in the league.

“Devin Hester’s the best now. Hopefully I can have my name next to his or around his somewhere. That’d be great,” McKnight told me earnestly back in November in the middle of that second season as the Jets’ prime kick returner. “I used to look up to him. He wore No. 4 and I wore No. 4 [in high school]. I always wanted to go to the University of Miami. I was a big Clinton Portis fan and a big Devin Hester fan.”

McKnight may want to readjust his sites because while Hester’s excellent, Gale Sayers is historic. Joe accomplished something that hadn’t been done in the NFL since “the Kansas Comet” hit the scene in 1965-66.

McKnight’s 29.4-yard kickoff-return average in ’11-12 combined is the best average in back-to-back seasons in the NFL (minimum of 40 total returns) since Sayers’ 31.3 mark in those first two years of his too-short Pro Football Hall of Fame career. Here are the top six returners’ numbers in this category in the last 50 seasons:

Player, Team Seasons Rets Yds Avg TDs
Gale Sayers, CHI 1965-66 44 1378 31.3 3
Abe Woodson, SF 1963-64 61 1815 29.8 3
Joe McKnight, NYJ 2011-12 73 2145 29.4 2
Travis Williams, GB 1967-68 46 1338 29.1 4
Jerry Azumah, CHI 2002-03 41 1191 29.05 2
Brad Smith, NYJ 2009-10 60 1742 29.03 3

One question might well arise in regard to this factoid: Was Joe helped by the new rule that placed kickoffs on the kicking team’s 35 again with the 2011 season? In fact, that could be argued. The average return in the NFL in ’11 was 23.8, the average in ’12 was 23.6. Those are two of the best three season averages for the league since 1960. A high tide lifts all boats and surely McKnight’s average benefited.

Yet on the other hand, where are all the other 29-yard returners in 2011-12? McKnight’s the only one, so while his 29.4 isn’t as impressive compared to the league as even Brad Smith’s 29.03 for the Jets in 2009-10, it still stands on its own merits as one of the best two-season kickoff-return efforts since the birth of the AFL.

Now if Joe can avoid injury and avoid putting the ball on the turf better — and the NFL doesn’t legislate kickoffs out of existence — he’ll start to build his rep as one of pro football’s best return men over a three-year period as the 2013 season unfolds.

We Hardly Knew Ye

A few ex-Jets sightings on the transaction wire: DL Marcus Dixon and WR Mardy Gilyard both signed with Kansas City on Monday. In case anyone missed it, LB Aaron Maybin signed with Cincinnati on Jan. 25.


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Tebow as QB Dominates Rex News Conference

Posted by Randy Lange on November 14, 2012 – 4:01 pm

Update, 5:59 p.m. ET

Rex Ryan could have spoken at length about the St. Louis Rams, the waiving of LB Aaron Maybin or the signing of RB Kahlil Bell. But he wasn’t asked about the Rams and mentioned the transactions only late in today’s news conference.

Mostly reporters wanted to probe the coach’s reactions to a story of named and anonymous team sources in the Daily News on the theme of the quality of Tim Tebow’s play as Mark Sanchez’s backup at QB.

Ryan didn’t deviate from his position on Tebow that he offered back when the Jets traded for him with the Broncos on March 21.

“I’ve said that from day one. We never brought Tim in here to be the starting quarterback,” Ryan said. “We’ve used him in the Wildcat and you saw him throwing the ball [Sunday at Seattle]. Two snaps, 20 snaps, he has done that for us. I recognize the fact that he’s a tremendous football player.

Soon after the trade, Ryan introduced the idea of Tebow working on the punt team. ” ‘You know what? We’d like you to be our personal protector. We think that’s going to give us an advantage in the punting game,’ ” he reformed the statement he made to Tebow at the time. “This might be the best net punting we’ve ever had here, and a lot of that can be attributed to having Tim Tebow as our personal protector.”

As the PP, Tebow has taken three fake-punt snaps, all for first downs. And Robert Malone’s 39.3-yard net punting average, while only 20th among this season’s strong group of NFL punters, would be the best in 47 seasons, or since Curley Johnson registered a 39.7 net for the 1965 Jets that is still the franchise best.

Another main topic was if the anonymous sources quoted in the story indicated that the ’12 Jets were starting to fray as the ’11 Jets did in the second half of the season.

“Did I address it with the team? I absolutely addressed it,” Ryan said. “If you’re not going to put your name on it, I think that’s about as cowardly a thing as there is.

“I don’t think we have the same problem. Even back then I thought it was a little over-exaggerated about the rift in the whole locker room. I do recognize there was something wrong there and I’ve made it my personal agenda to go out and fix it. You can say what you want, but if I’m going to be judged by this team coming together, that’s fine, I’ll be here a long time.”

We’ll post the transcripts of Ryan’s news conference as well as the informal newsers by Sanchez and Tebow at their lockers as they become available early this evening.

The Transactions

On Kahlil Bell and Maybin, Rex said both moves were related to current personnel needs.

“When you look at this roster, I’m not saying [Maybin] won’t be back or anything else,” the coach said. “But you have to do what we always say is in the best interests of our football team. With us having two backs who are questionable injury-wise in Bilal Powell with a concussion and Joe McKnight with an ankle, we felt we needed to bring somebody else in.

“I like Aaron. I love the way he plays. He flies around and does a tremendous job on the practice field. The numbers haven’t been there for him this year. I’m encouraged with the way Ricky Sapp played on Sunday, and I think he showed it on the practice field too.”

Sapp was on the CenturyLink turf for 19 plays, 13 on defense. Maybin got 116 snaps on defense in the first eight games and totaled four tackles, no sacks and nine QB hits, unofficially fourth on the team. He was also in for 90 plays on special teams.

As for Bell, he’s the 6’0″, 219-pound RB out of UCLA who has a healthy 4.5-yard average per carry in his career, but the sample is limited: 131 carries for 589 yards, all in 22 games (three starts) with Chicago in 2009, ’11 and this season. He has one career touchdown, on a 25-yard reception in the Bears’ fall-from-ahead loss to the Seahawks last season. And he had his career-long 72-yard run in his first game as a pro for the Bears vs. the Eagles in 2009.

John Holt, our reporter, will join the locker room scrum to talk with K.Bell following today’s practice for, in case anyone forgot, the Rams game on Sunday in St. Louis.

CB Isaiah Trufant was placed on injured reserve Tuesday after his short-lived reunion with his brothers at CenturyLink Field. Trufant injured his left knee as he and Garrett McIntyre were going for the tackle of Leon Washington at the end of Leon’s opening punt return in the first quarter of Sunday’s game.

Injury Picture Update

The Jets’ injury report after Wednesday’s first full practice of the week:

Did Not Practice — WR Stephen Hill (illness), RB Bilal Powell (concussion). Ryan said Hill was sent home today.

Limited — RB-KR Joe McKnight (ankle), DT Sione Po‘uha (low back/ankle), LB Bart Scott (toe).

Full — TE Jeff Cumberland (wrist), DT Mike DeVito (finger), DT Kenrick Ellis (knee), WR Clyde Gates (shoulder), DT Damon Harrison (thumb), WR Jeremy Kerley (heel), S LaRon Landry (heel), C Nick Mangold (ankle/thumb), G Brandon Moore (hip), LB Calvin Pace (shoulder), QB Mark Sanchez (back), G Matt Slauson (knee), S Eric Smith (knee), QB Tim Tebow (ribs)

Click here for the Jets’ updated injury report each day after 4 p.m. ET.

The Jets have had a longer injury list than any opponent on any day this season, but no foe has had a shorter list than the Rams today. They list only three players, all as limited at today’s workouts near the Arch: WR Austin Pettis (toe), DE Eugene Sims (knee) and S Darian Stewart (knee). All three are backups and only Pettis played in last week’s tie at San Francisco.


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Jets-Seahawks: Pregame Tweets

Posted by Randy Lange on November 11, 2012 – 3:08 pm

Here are today’s pregame tweets for Jets-Seahawks at CenturyLink Field, in case you missed them on Twitter. Follow Bob Wischusen, Eric Allen and me for our tweets during each Jets game on https://twitter.com/nyjets.

#RL Weather for Jets @ Seattle won’t be snow as it was in ’08, but almost as bad: rain expected all afternoon, temps in mid-40s, light wind.

#RL Jets are 8-9 all-time vs Seahawks, 3-4 @ SEA, 0-1 @ CenturyLink, but they’ve won 8 of the last 10 meetings, 3 of last 5 @ SEA.

#RL Jets have scored first in eight of the last nine games in this series (7-2), have scored first in last five games at Seattle.

#RL Jets QB Mark Sanchez last 2 games: 95 atts, 56 comps, 611 yds. Atts, comps most in back-to-back games in his career, yds 2nd most.

#RL SEA rookie QB Russell Wilson in 4 home games this yr: 92 atts, 57 comps, 747 yds, 9 TDs, 0 INTs, 1 lost FUM, 120.2 rating, 4-0 record.

#RL Jets RB Shonn Greene: 139 carries, 509 yds (3.7 avg), 5 TDs. In his last 3 games Greene is averaging 97.3 yds/game, 4.6 per carry.

#RL SEA RB Marshawn Lynch w/BUF vs Jets 2007-10: 7 games, 103 carries, 431 yds (4.2 per carry, 61.6 per game), 2 TDs.

#RL Today’s referee: Ed Hochuli. It’s Ed’s 17th Jets game as ref since ’93, incl ’04 PO win @ SD, ’09 season opener @ HOU, ’10 win vs NE

#RL NYJ inactives: QB Greg McElroy RB Joe McKnight LB Aaron Maybin G Caleb Schlauderaff G Hayworth Hicks TE Hayden Smith NT Kenrick Ellis

#RL S Eric Smith (knee) active first time in 4 games, LB Bart Scott (toe) active after sitting vs MIA, ending 119-game RS appearance streak.

#RL With Jets LB Aaron Maybin deactivated, LB Ricky Sapp is active and could make his NFL debut today.

#RL Jets in white jerseys, white pants, green trim. 23rd time u/ Rex Ryan Jets are in white/white. Record is 12-10 but 1-7 in last 8 games in w/w.

#RL Marv Albert, Rich Gannon in the CBS booth for Jets-Seahawks. It’s the 100th career Jets game that Marv has called for network TV.


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Areas of Focus for an Upward 2nd-Half Trend

Posted by Randy Lange on November 5, 2012 – 4:23 pm

Florham Park, the home of the Jets’ Atlantic Health Training Center, was battered around a bit by last week’s superstorm, but the borough is now almost back to full power.

Rex Ryan posited today that his players in several ways are trying to do the same.

“We know we’re in a bottom-line business and that’s wins and losses. For football, that’s really all that matters,” the Jets head coach said at today’s welcome-back news conference. “Our focus is strictly on improving as a football team and getting ready to go compete and do what we can to win against Seattle.”

On special teams, the Jets have committed “things that we really don’t do.” His run defense, he said, “has been poor, but it’s getting better. The last 100 rushes, I think we’ve given up 3.1 a carry. We’re getting better but we’re still not where we want to be.”

Same thing in the running game: “Our last 100 carries we’re averaging 4.3 a carry, something like that. We’re getting better, not exactly where we want it to be but we’re making strides.”

Takeaways and giveaways have been spotty (minus-1 overall in TO margin, a costly minus-2 in the red zone). “These are things that we’ve challenged our team, to make us successful,” he said. “Those are the main areas we have to improve.”

His players mostly left the area last week in different directions from Sandy’s path across New Jersey and into Pennsylvania. Mike DeVito went northeast to his Maine home, LaRon Landry (Virginia) and Aaron Maybin (Maryland) went to the southwest. Others hung in the area.

But it seems all worked during their time away, as would be expected.

CB Antonio Cromartie watched two football games while he was away — Alabama-LSU and Seattle-Minnesota. A special focus of the Seahawks’ win over the Vikings was the play of rookie QB Russell Wilson, who threw three first-half touchdowns. S LaRon Landry religiously worked out every day and kept up the long-term rehab on his heel, neither unexpected. LB Aaron Maybin, another workout monster, kept up with Seattle and with the defense’s first-half video cut-ups on his iPad. The stories in all other corners of the locker room were the same.

And in the coaches’ offices as well.

“It’s almost like ‘Hey, everybody stay out of the building … except coaches, of course,” Ryan said. “A lot of coaches would take their work stations, their computers home with them. A lot of preparation was that way. You’re never too far away from your work, that’s for sure. And obviously, you want to make sure that they’re protecting their families and that they’re there with their families in these trying circumstances.”

Ryan was asked what the coaches came up with.

“We got a bunch of suggestions, so I hope they’re good,” he said with a laugh. “We’re certainly looking at them.” Any hints of radical new concepts, plays, personnel for the second half? “I don’t want to get into specific things,” he said, “but I guess we’ll see.”

Will any of it make a difference? Last week we broke out the performances of the NFL’s 3-5 teams since 2002, and the prognosis is not good, although by no means hopeless, and that’s how some of the Jets’ defenders see it.

“The months of November and December, that’s when most teams are made anyway,” Cro said. “I think the biggest thing for us is just to make sure we take care of the things we need to take care of one week at a time.”

“We definitely have the resources to get back into this thing,” said S Yeremiah Bell. “We have the players, we have the coaching staff and we have the want-to. The thing is going to be just us on Sundays, just going out there and executing.”

Ryan said the first thoughts and prayers last week and early this week are for all affected by the hurricane, and then the next thoughts are only for that next game on the schedule, not the scenarios for any playoff stretch run (even though the Jets weren’t hurt at all by Buffalo’s loss, which drops them into a third-place tie in the AFC East at 3-5, and Miami’s loss at Indy to go to 3-4).

But Rex also had an energy about him to get back to the grind and see what these Jets with their backs to the wall and their noses to the grindstone can do.

“I know we’re not where we want to be, we’re not even close. We’re not sniffing the playoffs, we’re not sniffing anything right now,” he said. “But I want to get there. I’m excited about the prospects in front of us.”

First things first: A great week of work is needed, then a win at formidable CenturyLink (formerly Qwest) Field, before anyone outside the Green & White base of operations will be jumping back on the bandwagon.

How Big a Homefield Advantage?

All Jets asked today vouched for the advantage the Seahawks enjoy in CenturyLink Field, previously known as Qwest Field, née Seahawks Stadium. It’s loud and proud and the 12th Man is ready to rock its ‘Hawks on to victory.

But how does the advantage stack up in the league? By home winning percentage alone, pretty good. Since ’03, one year after they moved into the place, when they went 8-0 at home, Seattle’s regular-season home percentage is .684 (52-24), tied for fifth in the NFL over that span.

But another way to measure HFA is how much better a team plays at home than on the road, as measured by winning percentage margin. In that same span, the Seahawks’ home percentage of .684 (52-24) compared to their road percentage of .351 (27-50) is plus-.333. That margin is second-best in the NFL over that span, trailing only the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium (plus-.382).

The Health Picture

Ryan said LB Bart Scott (toe), NT Kenrick Ellis (knee) and RB-KR Joe McKnight (ankle) would sit out today’s practice but wasn’t ruling them out of practices the rest of this week. Additionally, some of the banged-up Jets such as NT Sione Po‘uha, S Eric Smith, TE Jeff Cumberland, C Nick Mangold, G Brandon Moore and RB Bilal Powell were limited but involved in today’s practice.

Rex: “I’m excited to get the team healthy and make this push the second half of the season.”

The Seahawks went into Sunday’s 30-20 win over Minnesota with an eight-player injury list and in the game starting OLB K.J. Wright reportedly suffered a concussion. The teams’ official injury reports won’t be filed until Wednesday afternoon.


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Maybin: Coples ‘Deserves’ That Extra Half-Sack

Posted by Randy Lange on October 17, 2012 – 6:43 pm

Quinton Coples assured reporters today that he’s not in a first-round D-line competition with the Patriots’ Chandler Jones.

“We’re cool. I’m cool with all the defensive linemen who came out in my class,” said Coples. “I’m definitely good friends with him. It’s not about keeping track of stats or anything like that. Before the game we’re going to shake hands and then at the end of the game we’re going to shake hands again. It’s not a comparison thing.”

That being said, it helps if Coples can push two full stacks of chips instead of 1½ stacks into the middle of the table next to Jones’ five stacks for the Patriots.

Did I say stacks? I meant sacks, of course. A scoring change by the Elias Sports Bureau credited Coples with a full sack of Andrew Luck late in Sunday’s game, taking away the half sack originally credited to LB Aaron Maybin on the play. For the game and for his pro career, the Jets’ first-round DT has two full sacks.

On some other team, this could occasion some frazzled feelings, or at the very least a little trash talk. But that’s not the way Coples rolls.

“That’s not important to me. At the end of the day, we got him on the ground. That’s all that matters,” he said. “Whether I get 1½ or two for the game, it was a win.”

And Maybin, who’s been searching for his first sack of the season after racking up six sacks in his third NFL season last year, was also upbeat despite having lost that half sack that he had for about three days.

“Quinton had a hell of a game. He deserved it,” Maybin said. “But hey, that was the kind of game that, while I can’t necessarily be satisfied with it, if you asked me if I was pleased who how the defense played and my involvement in the grand scheme of things, I was.”

Maybin in fact was flying around like he did last season. Before almost sneaking in for that late half-sack, he had back-to-back QB hits on Luck at the top of the fourth quarter. Both resulted in incompletions from the Jets 29. And as Bob Wischusen, the radio voice of the Jets, and I were discussing in the locker room, Coples doesn’t get a sack for his heavy pressure of Luck that resulted in the third-quarter intentional grounding, but perhaps he should.

All of this talk is a roundabout way of saying that maybe the Jets’ pass rush is finally coming to life. Coples, Maybin and DE Muhammad Wilkerson, who also had a very fine game, kept Luck on the move all game, and rookie safety Antonio Allen showed that he could get to the QB as well with his first pro sack in his first pro game — and start — as part of a nickel package.

“Quinton, he’s head over heels better than he was at the start of the season. He’s moving faster, progressing faster,” Maybin said. “I’m excited to see him, a young guy, starting to flash. That opens up things for the rest of us. It’s exciting for all of us.”

And that brings us back to the Patriots. It’s never more exciting than to take No. 12 to the turf, be it at Gillette or MetLife. And Tom Brady’s been sacked 13 times in six games already. But then again, he’s been hurrying up, taking those short drops and flicking the ball to Wes Welker, Brandon Lloyd and Rob Gronkowski with amazing frequency.

“I’m just studying Brady, his moves, his offensive tendencies. It’s just a matter of us getting as many details as possible,” Coples said. “This is a rivalry game and we want to make sure we come out on top.”

“At this point,” added Maybin, “I’m trying not to internalize the game so much to where it’s just about him. The game starts and ends with Tom, but there’s so much more that you have to keep track of with their offense. You can’t zone in on Brady alone.”

But at the end of the day, Coples and Maybin wouldn’t mind if the Jets can go into Foxboro and come out with an AFC East victory and if, in the process, they and their defensive mates can rack up some hurries, hits and sacks on Tom Terrific.

Getting in His Face(mask)?

Coples was asked about grasping Luck’s facemask rather blatantly in the third quarter. Some speculated that Luck had a few choice words for Coples at the end of the play, but Coples said the former Stanford QB was quite gracious.

“He just said to me, ‘I know you didn’t mean it,’ ” Q recalled. “We were both in ‘game mode’ at the time, but we talked about it after the game. He wasn’t sweating it at all. We got to know each other before the draft. I definitely think my draft class was very open. The bonds of friendship were there. Regardless of where we went, when we see each other we definitely recognize each other and make sure we speak to each other.”

More civility on the field of battle? What’s the NFL coming to?

Another Roster Move

Rex Ryan announced at his news conference that FB John Conner, the Jets’ fifth-round pick in 2010 who answered to the nickname of “The Terminator,” was terminated, although perhaps only temporarily. Conner, who’s had knee and hamstring injuries that have limited him to 50 offensive snaps over three games, was waived/injured.

Taking his roster spot, the Jets signed free-agent rookie LB Marcus Dowtin from the practice squad. Ryan said re-signing Conner “down the road could be a possibility.” If he’s still available at that time, needless to say.

Injury Reports

The Jets take two steps forward, then one step back in their team health. In the step-back area, RBs Joe McKnight (ankle) and Bilal Powell (shoulder), injured on the same third-quarter series Sunday, both did not participate at today’s practice. Ryan wasn’t tipping his hand on either player: “We’ll see about their availability as the week goes on.”

Five other Jets DNPs were DT Kenrick Ellis (knee), WR Clyde Gates (shoulder), C Nick Mangold (ankle), DT Sione Po‘uha (back) and S Eric Smith (knee). And there were four limited players: WR Stephen Hill (hamstring), TE Dustin Keller (hamstring), LB Bart Scott (toe) and LB Bryan Thomas (hamstring).

The steps forward were the departure of six Jets from the injury list altogether: LBs Nick Bellore and David Harris, CBs Antonio Cromartie and Aaron Berry, TE Jeff Cumberland and T Austin Howard.

The Jets’ 17–player injury list, the shortest it’s been in five weeks, is now available here on newyorkjets.com.

For the Patriots, two players were DNPs up in Foxboro, Mass., today: RB Brandon Bolden (knee) and LB Tracy White (foot).

And 11 Pats were limited: S Patrick Chung (shoulder), WR Julian Edelman (hand), S Steve Gregory (hip), TEs Rob Gronkowski (hip) and Aaron Hernandez (ankle), LB Dont’a Hightower (hamstring), G Logan Mankins (calf/hip), C Nick McDonald (shoulder), CB Sterling Moore (knee), T Sebastian Vollmer (back/knee) and WR West Welker (ankle).


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Moving Forward from SF; Holmes X-Rays Negative

Posted by Randy Lange on October 1, 2012 – 3:24 pm

Updated, 5:45 p.m. ET

For some games, there are no silver linings. It’s all just dark clouds.

Hopefully for the day only, though. Now is there a chance that the Jets’ 34-0 loss to the 49ers on Sunday is a harbinger for the season?

Well, there is a chance. But the Jets are hardly throwing in the towel. Today and tomorrow are off days for the players, yet many will be at the Atlantic Health Training Center searching for mirrors and solutions. And the coaches are closeted here over the next two days doing the same from their end of the operation.

“I think it was pretty evident after the game,” head coach Rex Ryan said at today’s midday news conference of these coaches-only sessions. “Once you win, sometimes it’s harder to look, sometimes you don’t take as close a look at yourself as you need to. After you get beat like this, it’s not hard to. It’s something I just felt we needed to do.

“We have to come up with solutions. If we keep repeating the same things, how can we expect the results to change? That’s the challenge to the coaching staff. We’ve got to put our guys in the best positions to be successful and move forward.”

What gives Rex and the players confidence that they can right the ship?

“Because you have to,” guard Brandon Moore said on a conference call with reporters today. “There’s no other option.”

I think it was Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy who put it elegantly in an interview that aired Saturday on Sirius/XM NFL Radio. With the Packers coming off a difficult setback of their own (the last-second defeat at Seattle, which admittedly was not a 34-point home loss), McCarthy was asked about the mindset of his team.

“We welcome the opportunity to show how much we appreciate this game and how well we respond to adversity,” he said, or words to that effect.

There’s another reason not to raise the white flag for the Jets, even with the undefeated Texans riding into town for a primetime showdown with the Jets a week from tonight. History says things will get a lot closer in a week’s time.

Since 2000, for example, 25 teams lost home games by 34 or more points, by an average score of 42-6. Ooof. Their composite record in their next weeks’ games: 10-15 and an average score of 22-18, still in favor of the opponents but a lot

The success stories: The 2011 Tim Tebow Broncos lost at home to Detroit, 45-10 in Week 8, then went to Oakland and pillaged the Raiders, 38-24. The 2007 non-Tebow Broncos lost at Mile High to San Diego, 41-3, in Week 5, then hosted Pittsburgh and prevailed, 31-28. The ’05 Browns were smelted by the Steelers at home, 41-0, in Week 16, the finished up by beating Ryan’s former team, the Ravens, 20-16.

The Jets’ record in similar situations — 34-point home loss — showed no wins in five tries but with improved play the following week and the weeks after that. In 2002 they were crushed at home by the Patriots, 44-7, but overcame their 1-4 start to finish 9-7 and in the playoffs.

Open it up to performance after difficult defeats on the road and we have the ’06 playoff team that lost at Jacksonville, 41-0, and Rex’s ’10 model, which suffered their post-Jim Leonhard-injury letdown in the 45-3 rout at New England, then won four of their next six, including two road playoff games.

Of course, history reveals failures to bounce back from such adversity as well. It’s up to Ryan, his coaches and his players to show what it’s going to be in 2012.

“We have to challenge ourselves, and that’s what I think our team will do,” he said. “That’s why I needed the time away for the players. We can focus on the game, obviously, and focus on the solutions. By Wednesday we have to have some solutions ready to go.”

Holmes: Good News, No Break

Ryan said WR Santonio Holmes had X-rays on his left foot, injured early in the fourth quarter Sunday, and the results were negative, no break. He understands it’s not an Achilles injury but had no other details while the team doctors and trainers wait for the MRI results to return. How soon could Tone return? “Obviously, it looks doubtful for this week,” the coach said. “Further than that, I’m not sure.”

He didn’t rule out signing a wideout or a player at another position but said he and GM Mike Tannenbaum “will certainly look at those possibilities” that give the Jets the best chance to be successful.

Berry Juice?

One of those possibilities is CB Aaron Berry. The Jets hadn’t announced this addition but Ryan confirmed that Berry is coming aboard.

“We feel Aaron has a chance to be successful on and off the field here, and if we didn’t believe that, we wouldn’t bring him here,” Ryan said. “As a player, he has the physical skillset we look for in our corners, and No. 1 is man cover skills. He has that.”

But the 5’11″, 180-pound third-year man out of Pitt also comes with baggage, two arrests in a month that led the Lions to cut him July 23 and the NFL to suspend him for three games for violating the league’s personal-conduct policy.

“Everybody’s made mistakes in our lives. I’ve always talked about it, and certainly I’ve made more than my share,” the coach said. “But we do background checks, Matt Cavanaugh was on the staff at Pitt when he was there. We feel good about Aaron.”

Rex had no timetable for how quickly Berry can get up to speed, but one result of the signing is that “We can put Joe McKnight back full-time at running back.” McKnight was pressed into potential emergency duty as a cornerback and who knows, may still pop up there down the road. He was in on two first-quarter plays against the Niners, blitzing from the slot both times.

McKnight also got in two kickoff returns vs. SF for 73 yards and the NFL’s defending KOR leader moved up to 10th in the current rankings with a 27.1-yard average on 10 returns.

Update: The Jets announced the signing of Berry, while TE Dedrick Epps was waived/injured. Berry will wear uniform No. 22.

Inside the Jets

Tonight’s guests on the weekly “Inside the Jets” show on ESPN 98.7 FM will be LB Aaron Maybin and DT Kenrick Ellis. As usual, the show will air from 7-8 p.m. ET and will be hosted by voice of the Jets Bob Wischusen from The Grasshopper Off the Green in Morristown, N.J.


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Preparing for the Heat as Well as the Dolphins

Posted by Randy Lange on September 21, 2012 – 3:19 pm

The Jets will be playing a doubleheader this weekend as they attempt to topple the Miami Dolphins in part by triumphing over the Miami heat.

Not as in LeBron-Dwyane-Chris but rather as in hot-hot-hot. The forecast for Sunday in Miami Gardens, Fla., at the 1 p.m. ET kickoff is expected to be around 85°, with a heat-index reading close to 100°. As new Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin reminded Dolfans this week after beating the Raiders last week (and the Jets perhaps subliminally), “Obviously, establishing a presence on your own home field is important, and September 1 o’clock games historically have been successful for this team.”

The Jets are mindful of the heat ahead and have been taking steps to be ready for the blast of South Florida air inside the now aptly named Sun Life Stadium.

“We definitely practiced it all week long,” head coach Rex Ryan said at today’s post-practice news conference at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center, adding that one major component was in simulating the Dolphins’ up-tempo offensive pace. “This team is averaging snapping the football probably with more than 15 seconds on the [play]clock, 20 seconds maybe. They’re super-quick, unlike really any team in the league.

“We challenged our guys during the week, every team period. Our scout team and our coaches did a tremendous job getting lined up and ready to roll.”

Ryan and his trainers also stressed optimum hydration and rest. And you don’t have to tell a player like LB Aaron Maybin twice about hydration.

“I’ve been taking extra Gatorade, Pedialyte and water. I’ll probably have a couple of extra IVs the night before,” Maybin said. “I sweat a lot. And the heat can wear on your defense especially as the game goes on.”

Some Jets wore extra layers of clothing and did extra cardio work this week outside in the mid-70s temps around Florham Park, N.J. It’s all done with an eye toward leveling the playing field somewhat against those heat-tempered Dolphins.

“It’s definitely an advantage because it is hot and humid,” said S Yeremiah Bell, who knows the situation well since he played for Miami his first eight seasons in the NFL. “Why wouldn’t you want to play in the same place you practice? It’s kind of like a cold-weather team playing in the snow.”

But, Bell counseled, “You know what’s coming. All these guys in here know what they’re in for. It’s only an advantage if you let it be.”

It’s also maybe less of an advantage than the Dolphins would like opponents to believe. Their win over the Raiders actually was their first “September 1 o’clock” game in four years, since from 2009-11 their early home games all kicked off either shortly after 4 p.m. or at night. Before last Sunday, the last time they played at home in September at 1 p.m. was against the Jets in the 2008 opener. And the Jets, with Brett Favre in his first game at QB, prevailed, 20-14.

The point being, the Miami heat is an edge but hardly an insurmountable one.

“Most of us have been playing football our whole lives, and we’ve played in hot weather before,” Maybin said.

“Obviously we’ll see when we get out there,” Ryan said. “We feel pretty good about it.”

Final Health Report

The Jets’ injury report grew by one to 21 names today, yet their health should be OK for Miami.

CB Darrelle Revis, after declaring on Thursday that “I’m going to play,” practiced full-contact today and is listed as probable for the Dolphins. And Ryan when asked about Revis specifically, pointed to the 16 probables and said, “I’d say every one of those guys I expect to play.”

LB Bryan Thomas (hamstring) and FB John Conner (knee) are doubtful. It looks as if Garrett McIntyre will start again at OLB and Konrad Reuland will add his increasing number of plays. “Konrad’s got fullback reps, tight end reps, U reps at the other tight end,” Ryan said. “It’s a good thing he’s got that Stanford education. He’s had to use it these past couple of weeks.”

Two more are questionable: TE Dustin Keller (hamstring) and CB Ellis Lankster (low back). Keller, despite his opinion that he’s ready to roll again, is iffy, with Ryan saying Dedrick Epps could be active again, especially if Keller is deactivated but possibly even if DK is active.

As for the probable list, it includes QB Mark Sanchez (low back) and the newest listee, DT Kenrick Ellis (illness). But all the probables practiced full today and appear ready to roll at Miami.

We’ll wrap up Miami’s Friday injury report here when it comes in.

When Flags Flew

Pittsburgh wasn’t a game that will go in WR Santonio Holmes’ time capsule. But say what you want about the flags, Tone caused a bunch of them to fly.

The four penalties for 52 yards called against Steelers Ike Taylor and Keenan Lewis in covering Holmes were the most marked off due to one Jets player since at least the mid-Nineties. The only other time in that span that a Jet drew four penalties in a game was last year when Plaxico Burress forced four penalties on the Raiders, primarily Stanford Routt, but only three were marked off with one declined.

Prior to that, just six other Jets have caused three major penalties by opponents since 1995. WR Keyshawn Johnson did it in ’99 at Denver. WR Wayne Chrebet followed suit the next year at home vs. the Broncos. Keller as a rookie TE got a trifecta at Tennessee in 2008, and Holmes coaxed three penalties out of the Chargers (two on Quentin Jammer) last season.

DE John Abraham is the only Jets defender to get a trio of penalties thrown at his opponents in a game. Abe did it twice — three holds vs. Kansas City in 2002 (one against Hall of Famer-to-be Willie Roaf), and three more holds at Buffalo in 2005.


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Revis, Keller, Thomas Ruled Out for Pittsburgh

Posted by Randy Lange on September 14, 2012 – 2:47 pm

Rex Ryan didn’t wait until gametime Sunday, or Saturday before the team’s flight, or for the first question to be asked today. The Jets head coach said at the top of his afternoon news conference that CB Darrelle Revis, along with TE Dustin Keller and LB Bryan Thomas, will not travel with the team and so those three starters will not play Sunday when the Jets take on the Steelers at Heinz Field.

“We’re just following NFL protocol,” Ryan said about Revis’ mild concussion suffered late in the opener against Buffalo. “Darrelle’s been cleared for non-contact, but he hasn’t been cleared for contact.

“We say it all the time. It’s really about the decal on the side of the helmet. We say guys who step up to replace a guy, they have to play as well, maybe a little better. In this case, we’ll take a little less.”

Kyle Wilson, the Jets’ first-round draft choice in 2010, is the player who will be stepping into Revis’ shoes as a starting corner opposite Antonio Cromartie. Wilson, who made the third interception of his career vs. the Bills, has started 12 games as a pro, but in 10 of them he was a slot corner. In only two games in 2010, in Game 3 at Miami and Game 16 vs. Buffalo, did he start on the outside.

Ryan said the Jets have faith in him to handle this next starting assignment against the heavy hitters in the Pittsburgh wideout corps.

“We have a lot of confidence that Kyle will step up in the starting role,” the coach said. “He’s a guy who over the last two years spent time with Darrelle in the offseason, training with him, learning football from him. I think that tells you about Kyle’s commitment. He wants to be a great player. Why not learn from the best?”

For the first time this week, Revis participated in practice, putting on his helmet and jogging out to participate in position drills and also getting in limited work during team drills.

At TE, Ryan said of Keller’s sore hamstring that “he kind of tweaked it a little bit Wednesday. It’s just best that he sit out, miss this game, and be ready to go next week.”\

Jeff Cumberland, the third-year man who had career highs of three catches and 33 yards off the bench on Sunday, is in line to make his first NFL start for Keller, the Jets’ leading pass-catcher the previous two seasons. Konrad Reuland, the first-year waiver pickup who saw action in more than 20 plays vs. the Bills, also will play, and the Jets re-signed Dedrick Epps off the Bears practice squad to their active roster to also help with the TE depth.

Reporter John Holt will have a Q&A with Cumberland that will be posted a little later this afternoon.

Thomas, who started vs. Buffalo after missing the final 12 games last season with a torn left Achilles tendon, suffered a left ankle injury vs. the Bills that he said is unrelated to the Achilles issue. But he was rehabbing furiously this week to get on the field for the Steelers.

“I’ve been in there getting treatment four times a day to give them the confidence to say that I can go out there and play,” he said. “At the end of the day, it’s a trainers decision, a doctors decision, but I want to prove to them that I can go out there and do it, no matter what. Especially coming off the injury from last year. I missed some games and that was tough last year. I don’t want to miss any this year.”

However, B.T. will miss at least one, with Garrett McIntyre, who started three consecutive games last season at Denver, vs. Buffalo and at Washington, in line to get this start. Aaron Maybin may also see his snaps go up.

The Rest of the Report

On the flip side of the injury list, Ryan did report that 11 of his listed players practiced full during team drills today and are all probable for the Steelers, including DT Sione Po‘uha and S Eric Smith, who both sat out the Jets’ opener against the Bills. Also full/probable were Cromartie, DT Mike DeVito, WR Stephen Hill, WR Jeremy Kerley, S LaRon Landry, LB Josh Mauga, G Brandon Moore and WR Chaz Schilens. Limited in practice and questionable for the game are FB John Conner (knee) and CB Isaiah Trufant (ankle).

The Steelers’ Friday report lists LB James Harrison (knee) and S Troy Polamalu (calf) as questionable after not participating in team drills today, while RB Rashard Mendenhall (knee) is listed as doubtful.

Another Tebow Rumor Put to Rest

Tim Tebow spoke with reporters again today and predictably, he was asked about a story early in the week in which an unnamed NFL source said the backup QB will be looking to move on from the Jets after this season if he doesn’t become a starter. Tebow found the report amusing.

“That’s what these guys told me about a little bit ago. I find that pretty funny,” he said. “It’s about as true as me living in Hoboken, I think. I guess it’s just part of what you have to deal with, rumors and stuff like that, I don’t know. All I can say is I love being here as a Jet, I’m thankful for it and I want to be here for a long time. I guess you just have to put up with stuff like that.”

That was an earlier rumor, that Tebow had set up shopt in the New Jersey city of Hoboken. He was asked if he had anything against the town.

“Nothing,” he replied, “except everybody says I live there, still to this day.”


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Maybin Still Gets a Charge out of Playing the Bills

Posted by Randy Lange on September 6, 2012 – 5:41 pm

Almost enough time has passed now for Sunday’s Jets-Bills game to be just another season-opener for Aaron Maybin.

Almost.

“It’s not necessarily over. Something like that ‘s never over,” Maybin told me this afternoon in the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center locker room about being cut by the Bills less than 13 months ago. “As a player you never … give me a minute to say this the right way … you never forget the way you felt when a team let you go, when you feel like you had an opportunity taken away from you.”

But let’s not push the revenge angle too hard for Maybin’s third meeting against the team that took him 11th overall in the 2009 draft. It’s not exactly like that.

“Do I hold any contempt or resentment towards that organization? No,” he said, in fact without any seeming contempt or resentment. “They drafted me. A part of the reason my life is what it is right now, they gave me an opportunity to play the game I love at the highest level you can reach in this profession.

“I don’t think I’m ever really going to get over how the whole situation out there transpired because that wasn’t how I wanted it to work out. I wanted things to go well. But it was what it was. Me being in the position I am now with this team, I’m just excited to be blessed enough to still have the opportunity to do what I love on an every-day basis and it’s to go out and compete against the team I started at.”

In other words, no hard feelings, but here comes No. 51 at you again.

That’s kind of how Maybin played the Bills last season. In his first encounter, back up at Ralph Wilson Stadium, which he called home his first two NFL seasons, he pressured Ryan Fitzpatrick into an interception late in the first half and forced LT Andy Levitre into a holding penalty in the fourth quarter.

Then three weeks later at MetLife Stadium, Maybin picked up some of the gold currency of his pass-rushing trade, two sacks of Fitzpatrick to force three-and-outs, plus a half-tackle for loss of C.J. Spiller and a 15-yard penalty on RT Erik Pears for unnecessary roughness.

But Maybin is still mindful of trying to not turn Sunday’s third rematch with the Bills into a personal crusade.

“The games against Buffalo have never been about me. I never wanted myself to be a distraction. I didn’t want the attention to be centered on me just because of the storyline,” he said. “I think that’s doing a disservice to my teammates and my coaching staff because it makes all the work we’ve been putting in, not just for this game but for the start of this season, seem like it’s less important than it really is.”

Maybin remains a dangerous component to the Jets defense, not because of who the opponent is but because of who he is, a guy who wants to make big plays, as a pass-rusher, a punt-rusher or elsewhere, to help his team win and launch them past all the offseason and preseason blah-blah-blah and headlong into the 2012 season.

But as he reminds in case we forgot, “This game is always going to be a game I get charged up for. I don’t think that’s ever going to go away.”

Thursday I-Report

Similar to DT Sione Po‘uha’s self-prognosis earlier in the week, TE Dustin Keller today left no doubt he thinks he’ll be ready to rock and roll vs. Buffalo despite his hamstring. “If everything keeps going the way it’s been going, I’ll be fine for the game,” Keller said today. “It’s getting better.”

Head coach Rex Ryan sounded cautiously optimistic regarding QB Mark Sanchez’s favorite target for the last two seasons combined (averaging 6.7 targets and 3.8 catches a game for the Jets’ 35 games in 2010-11). “Dustin looked decent running yesterday. I don’t think he was ready to play and run 100 percent,” Ryan said. “I’m still hopeful he’ll play against Buffalo. We’ll see.”

Keller was limited in team drills today after not participating Wednesday. S LaRon Landry (heel), who was a full participant Wednesday, did not work in team drills today — as part of a season-long plan to give Landry’s foot one day of no team drills during the week — along with S Eric Smith (hip/knee), who’s not a likely participant Sunday. RB-KR Joe McKnight (hamstring) and LB Nick Bellore (shoulder) were full-go’s today, as was rookie WR Stephen Hill, who was added to the list with a calf situation.

Two changes on the Bills’ short I-list: WR Stevie Johnson (groin) went from limited to not participating, while G Kraig Urbik (low back) reversed that, going from DNP to limited.


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Smith Turns the Ram Page, Joins the Jets

Posted by Randy Lange on August 29, 2012 – 5:30 pm

Mike Tannenbaum made the first reference to the fact in his news conference Tuesday evening. With the trade for Jason Smith from St. Louis, the Jets now have three of the first 11 players chosen in the 2009 draft on their roster. Smith was No. 2 overall, the Jets traded up for Mark Sanchez at No. 5, and they brought in No. 11, Aaron Maybin, a year ago.

Some ifs are involved here, but if Sanchez takes off this year, if Maybin is launched from his personal cannon and never slows down, and if Smith fulfills or exceeds his role as the OL’s new “sixth man,” the Jets have had one hell of an ’09 draft.

Smith already has an idea about that.

“I met Sanchez one night when we were somewhere, I don’t know where,” the newest Jets vet said in his first get-together with Jets reporters this afternoon. “I kept up with him a little bit. I always thought he was a good guy. I thought he was solid, fighting for what he does. You all know how he is here, but I always thought he was a leader, even when he was at USC, just kind of from his demeanor.

“And I don’t remember Maybin. I remember the name but I don’t know where he’s from. Fifty-one? I know he’s fast too. Learned that yesterday. Very fast.”

Maybin is a fast-track work in progress, and he’s happy to serve as a role model for Smith in this new green landscape that the 6’5″, 305-pounder now finds himself in.

“Why not? Change of scenery helps people out a lot, especially myself,” said Maybin, sitting just a few stalls away from Smith’s new location in the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center locker room. “It’s different positions, a little bit different timing, but it’s kind of a similar situation. At the end of the day, a lot of players need that change of scenery.”

Smith, something of a cerebral tackle, used another metaphor to describe his situation this summer with St. Louis and now in North Jersey.

“I appreciate everything the Rams did for me as far as allowing me to be a part of the organization,” he said. “It’s kind of like turning a new page of the chapter. I’m happy to be a Jet.”

So is Rex Ryan. Although the Jets head coach said their intention had been to retain Wayne Hunter in the role as swing tackle and blocking tight end, when the Hunter-for-Smith deal was proposed by the Rams, it made sense to the Jets.

“You’ve got a great athletic tool set if you’re the second overall pick. Jason’s got great movement skills,” Ryan said. “We wouldn’t have considered the trade if we didn’t think he could play those roles. Clearly we think Jason can play those roles. Also, quite honestly, we got a guy who’s five years younger. We feel good about it, and I feel good for Wayne going back with Brian [Schottenheimer, now the Rams OC], where’ he’s familiar with the system.”

Rex said Smith is getting his crash course in the Jets’ scheme, with help from Maybin and others, and that he should play in Thursday’s preseason finale at Philadelphia. “I want to see him for 10 plays,” he said. “I don’t even know if that’s possible. He’s supposed to be a sharp young man. Let’s see what he can do.”

Smith talked about the pressure that was placed on him, as the “second-best player of the 2009 draft,” to “fill the shoes” of the retiring Orlando Pace at tackle for the Rams.

“He was an eight-time Pro Bowler, I believe. There’s not many guys that can do that through the course of their career, let alone play eight years,” Smith said. “I made the statement before that he has his own shoes and I have mine. It’s his life, so I never look at it that way. No disrespect, but a lot of people with a pen in their hand looked at it that way. That’s their opinion.”

Of course, if Smith thought there was media pressure in St. Louis, welcome to New York. He was asked today if he expects to become a starter, which would mean moving ahead of Austin Howard, who just got the starting RT job that Hunter held last year. The new Jet wasn’t going there.

“I don’t make predictions,” he said. “I just focus on what’s going on right now.”

Right now he’s in the mix on the Jets’ OL.

“Beauty’s in the eye of the beholder,” he said, repeating another metaphor he uttered earlier in his impromptu news conference. “To somebody, I was beautiful.”

Rex Cetera

Ryan said he thought “there’s a possibility of John Conner getting some reps. We haven’t really used the fullback.” He may also look at semi-converted LB Nick Bellore and rookie “A-back” Terrance Ganaway at FB as well. … The coach surprised 19 Jets veterans — including QBs Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow, CB Darrelle Revis and WR Santonio Holmes — by excusing them from today’s light practice to attend a six-hour “leadership training seminar” at an undisclosed location in nearby Bedminster. Ryan got the idea after he and his coaches were involved in a similar session in May. … undrafted rookie CB Ryan Steed was waived.


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