Players were stretching and sprinting on the outside turf field at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center this morning, and the middle grass field was dotted with small cones and larger day-glo orange yard-markers — G, 20, 40, 40, 20, G.
The new season has hit another milestone with the start of the Jets’ voluntary offseason program.
Among the players on hand are the roster’s entire quarterback contingent plus key players from both sides of the ball — DE Muhammad Wilkerson, LB David Harris, CB Antonio Cromartie and tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson — to get started on Phase 1 of the program, a two-week period during which activities are limited to strength and conditioning and physical rehabilitation only, under the guidance of strength coach Justus Galac and his staff, Paul Ricci, Pierre Ngo and intern Jason Oszvart.
“For us it’s really about reducing the injuries and creating an atmosphere for the player to train in that is exciting,” Galac told Eric Allen for Jets Talk Live recently. “They come in there and they’re ready to work. For the players, my job is to make them bigger, faster and stronger — we all know that.
“But it always comes back to being an explosive player, not only working on our explosive power for the big guys and the hips and the hang cleans and the jumps, but the speed work, and that comes back to the skill players and working with plyometrics. Really building a foundation program where, when they walk out after the workout, they feel more explosive, they feel stronger, they feel bigger, and they feel like they got a good workout in.”
The Jets’ program is one of 32 around the NFL that is getting under way these days. Eight teams got started April 1-2, while three won’t get cranking until a week from today. For the other 21, today’s the day to welcome players back to facilities start sweatin’ to the sounds of 2013.
Article 21 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement establishes an official, voluntary nine-week program for each club that is conducted in three phases. After Phase 1, Phase 2 for each team’s offseason schedule consists of weeks 3-5 during which on-field workouts may include individual player instruction and drills as well as team practices conducted on a “separates” basis. No live contact or team offense vs. defense drills are permitted.
Phase 3 consists of the final four weeks of the program, during which teams may conduct a total of 10 days of organized team practice activity — OTAs. No live contact is permitted, but 7-on-7, 9-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills are permissible.
The Jets’ OTA workouts have been scheduled for May 20, 22-23, 28 and 30-31, and June 3-6. The Green & White’s mandatory minicamp is set for June 11-13.
RFA Tender Offers Signed
The Jets announced today that RT Austin Howard has signed his tender offer as a restricted free agent. This comes a week after TE Jeff Cumberland signed his RFA tender offer to remain with the team. Howard was tendered at a second-round level. Cumberland was a right-of-first-refusal tender.
Tags: Antonio Cromartie, Austin Howard, D'Brickashaw Ferguson, David Harris, Muhammad Wilkerson, offseason strength and conditioning program
Posted in Randy Lange | 29 Comments »
This is the companion list to my Jets Combine news advance featuring Stephen Hill, one of the top performers at last year’s workouts, that just went live.
The presentation is based on research that can be found by clicking on the Past Top Performers tab at nfl.com/combine.
The list comes in two sections. The top part shows future Jets who finished in the top 15 in a particular drill among all participants in a given combine. If an athlete’s performance can be extended to a top-15 finish for multiple years to the present, that is shown as well.
The second half is for Jets-to-be who finished in the top 15 among all the participants at ALL the combines from ’06-12 (or in the bench press from ’07-12) at each player’s position as listed heading into that combine.
The list includes players such as Antonio Cromartie who didn’t make their first NFL stops with the Jets as well as players in italics who are no longer with the Jets.
This week, with participants beginning now to descend on Indianapolis and combine drills ready to roll out starting Saturday at Lucas Oil Stadium, new Jets GM John Idzik and company have begun the process of finding the next Jets entries on these lists.
|Jets’Combine Bests, 2006-12|
|AMONG ALL PARTICIPANTS|
|Stephen Hill||4.36||’12||T-2nd; T-11th, ’09-12|
|Clyde Gates||40.0″||’11||T-8th; T-12th, ’11-12|
|Stephen Hill||11’1″||’12||T-1st; T-7th, ’06-12|
|Antonio Cromartie||11’0″||’06||T-4th; T-12th, ’06-12|
|Dustin Keller||10’11″||’08||T-4th; T-13th, ’07-12|
|Clyde Gates||10’11″||’11||2nd; T-13th, ’07-12|
|Nick Bellore||4.00||’11||T-7th; T-15th, ’10-12|
|220-Pound Bench Press|
|Vernon Gholston||37 reps||’08||T-1st; T-10th, ’08-12|
|AMONG ALL AT A PLAYER’S POSITION|
|LaRon Landry||4.35||’07||T-1st among Ss, ’06-12|
|David Clowney||4.36||’07||T-13th among WRs, ’06-12|
|Stephen Hill||4.36||’12||T-13th among WRs, ’06-12|
|Brad Smith||4.46||’06||4th among QBs, ’06-12|
|Dustin Keller||4.55||’08||T-8th among TEs, ’06-12|
|Brad Smith||39.5″||’06||2nd among QBs, ’06-12|
|Tim Tebow||38.5″||’10||4th among QBs, ’06-12|
|Dustin Keller||38.0″||’08||7th among TEs, ’06-12|
|Aaron Maybin||38.0″||’09||T-14th among DL, ’06-12|
|LaRon Landry||37.5″||’07||T-11th among Ss, ’06-12|
|Matt Slauson||34.0″||’09||T-6th among OL, ’06-12|
|Stephen Hill||11’1″||’12||T-3rd among WRs, ’06-12|
|Antonio Cromartie||11’0″||’06||T-5th among CBs, ’06-12|
|Dustin Keller||10’11″||’08||T-1st among TEs, ’06-12|
|Clyde Gates||10’11″||’11||5th among WRs, ’06-12|
|Brad Smith||10’8″||’06||1st among QBs, ’06-12|
|Vernon Gholston||10’5″||’08||6th among DL, ’06-12|
|Aaron Maybin||10’4″||’09||T-7th among DL, ’06-12|
|Demario Davis||10’4″||’12||T-11th among LBs, ’06-12|
|Nick Bellore||4.00||’11||T-3rd among LBs, ’06-12|
|Dustin Keller||4.14||’08||8th among TEs, ’06-12|
|Nick Mangold||4.36||’06||6th among OL, ’06-12|
|Tim Tebow||6.66||’10||1st among QBs, ’06-12|
|Dustin Keller||6.88||’08||12th among TEs, ’06-12|
|Tim Tebow||11.27||’10||1st among QBs, ’06-12|
|220-Pound Bench Press|
|Vernon Gholston||37 reps||’08||T-7th among DL, ’07-12|
|Demario Davis||32 reps||’12||T-5th among LBs, ’07-12|
|Dustin Keller||26 reps||’08||T-12th among TEs, ’07-12|
|Kyle Wilson||25 reps||’10||T-4th among CBs, ’07-12|
|Robert Malone||19 reps||’10||T-3rd, Specialists, ’07-12|
Tags: Antonio Cromartie, Clyde Gates, Dustin Keller, NFL Combine, Stephen Hill
Posted in Randy Lange | 18 Comments »
Our congratulations one last time to Antonio Cromartie and LaRon Landry for their participation in Sunday’s Pro Bowl at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu.
Of course, it was a long Hawaiian afternoon for anyone associated with the AFC’s pass defense as the Nationals racked up 420 passing yards, six TDs to one INT and a Pro Bowl-record 62 points in the pullaway over the Americans. But Cro and LaRon, playing as secondary backups and on special teams, did make their positive contributions as well in the annual all-star game.
Cromartie had three first-half solo tackles in the game. The first came after a 5-yard first-quarter reception by none other than Giants WR Victor Cruz. The others came after receptions by Vincent Jackson and Larry Fitzgerald.
Cro also had an offside on a field goal attempt that wiped out an AFC interception-return TD, but that sounds a little more devastating than it was. He was premature in timing the field goal snap on the first play of the fourth quarter. NFC holder Thomas Morstead, with No. 31 closing in, picked up the snap and tried to pass to eventual Pro Bowl MVP Kyle Rudolph, but Eric Berry picked the pass and took off for an 86-yard score.
Cromartie also couldn’t handle a kickoff-return pitch from Joshua Cribbs late in the third quarter, with the fumble being charged to Cribbs and the NFC recovering at the AFC-11 to set up the above nullified field goal. But Cro also later took a lateral from C.J. Spiller on another kickoff return for 23 yards to start the drive that ended with A.J. Green’s third TD reception and the game’s last score.
Landry had one solo tackle, also after a Cruz catch, but otherwise had a low-key game.
Hot and Cold
The weather was a cloudy, breezy 78° for the Pro Bowl, a far cry from this morning in North Jersey, where it’s 28, snowing and with the threat of freezing rain continuing through midday. Last Friday it was 7° in the neighborhood surrounding the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center, and after a brief spring fling Wednesday with temps expected to rise to 60, it’s back into the freezer into and through Super Bowl Sunday.
Which naturally raises the question about the weather exactly a year from now, when the first outdoors Super Bowl in the Northeast will be played at MetLife Stadium. The NFL and the region did a little preview of Super Bowl XLVIII last week but what about snow, freezing rain, winds?
What about the cold? Let’s start with that. It seems Commissioner Roger Goodell and the league are embracing a cold-weather game most of all. It would harken back to the good old days of NFL championships on “the frozen tundra.” Here are the “unthawed three” big games in league history, along with some coincidental notes on wind-chill at each of the games (home teams in CAPS):
Dec. 31, 1967 — PACKERS 21, Cowboys 17, Lambeau Field.
Temp: –13° F. Wind: 14.5 mph. “Old” Wind-Chill: –48.
“The Ice Bowl” has always been the NFL’s cold standard, the game when officials shouted rather than tweeted so their metal whistles wouldn’t bond to their lips, a fan in the stands died of exposure and several players were treated for frostbite. The agreed-upon temp at the 1 p.m. CST kickoff has always been minus-13, may also have been at the end, and so it is altogether appropriate that Packers QB Bart Starr sneaked over the goal line with 13 seconds to play for the TD that won the NFL’s ’67 championship.
The 48-below-zero wind-chill is also legendary, although the National Weather Service switched to a more scientific and realistic wind-chill equation in 2001. In NOAA’s online feature on the game, the “new wind-chill” for the game was –36° at kickoff, and during the game it ranged from –37 to –33, getting slightly “balmier” in the third quarter.
Jan. 10, 1982 — BENGALS 27, Chargers 7, Riverfront Stadium.
Temp: –9°. Wind: Northwest, 20-35 mph. “Old” Wind-Chill: –59°.
”The Freezer Bowl” was the quintessential game demonstrating that West Coast teams don’t like traveling to the frozen Midwest/Northeast. This AFC title game has always been held up as the wind-chill winner at –59, but that had to be taken near the opening kickoff with a 27-mph wind gust. NOAA’s readings from the nearby Cincinnati airport showed temps rising slightly and the winds staying steady at 23 mph. Translated to the “new” readings, the wind-chill that day fluctuating between –37 and –23. Not cold enough to force those Bengals O-linemen to put on long sleeves, yet still, in NOAA’s opinion, “arguably the most brutal football weather in NFL history.”
Jan. 20, 2008 — Giants 23, PACKERS 20, OT, Lambeau Field.
Temp: –1°. Wind: West 12 mph. Recorded Wind-Chill: –23°.
On the way to their first Super win over the Patriots, the Giants had to vanquish Brett Favre and the Pack in their frozen Lambeau shrine. Favre played like a 78-year-old guy in search of his heated blankie rather than the 38-year-old master of the tundra that he used to be, with a horrid fourth quarter and a game-chilling interception to Corey Webster on the second play of overtime. The wind-chill for this game was listed as minus-23 but we’re not sure where that came from. The recorded temp and wind at kickoff produce a minus-19° wind-chill. Still pretty darned cold.
To bring it all home for the Jets, here are the three coldest games we know of in Green & White annals:
Dec. 26, 1993 — BUFFALO 16, Jets 14, Rich Stadium
Temp: 9°. Wind: WNW 23 mph, gusting to 30 mph. Stated Wind-Chill: –28°
This appears to be the Jets’ coldest game ever. Just ask Cary Blanchard, who tried three times to put a leather rock through the uprights, from 27, 41 and 42 yards away, for the points that might have won this game, only to have each kick pushed wide left by the Western New York winds. Again, not sure for the source of the official wind-chill. With the old formula, it would’ve been –32, with the gusts dropping it to –37. Under the new formula, the WC would have varied from –13 to –15.
Dec. 17, 1972 — Browns 26, JETS 10, Shea Stadium
Temp: 24°. Wind: WNW 40-45 mph. “Old” Wind-Chill: –15°
The season finale at Shea between the Browns, who had already clinched the AFC’s one wild-card slot, vs. the Jets, who were shooting for 8-6 but were out of the running. With Joe Namath and Al Woodall sidelined, Bob Davis started at QB and completed five of 12 passes for 44 yards (24 net after losing 20 yards on three sacks). Winning QB Mike Phipps was more effective in the gusts, although not much more accurate at 7-for-17. The new wind-chill hovered around 3° to 4°.
Dec. 23, 1989 — Bills 37, JETS 0, Meadowlands
Temp: 16°. Wind: NNW 13-20 mph. “Old” Wind-Chill: –11°
Another cold, frosty one poured against Buffalo, this one at home, and another bitter defeat, not only due to the atmosphere (new wind-chill from 1 to –2) as Joe Walton coached his final game for the Jets before being dismissed.
That regime change, to GM Dick Steinberg/HC Bruce Coslet, didn’t generate much more warmth in the ensuing four seasons. Now, after a 2012 season-finale loss to the Bills (15° wind-chill), it’s up to the semi-new regime of John Idzik/Rex Ryan to generate traction. Super Bowl XLVIII? Not even going there at this time. Let’s get through XLVII in balmy New Orleans (expected game-time weather inside the Mercedes-Benz Superdome: 70°, wind of 0 mph), then take on one day at a time, one game at a time in ’13 en route to becoming an all-weather perennial contender.
Tags: Aloha Stadium, Antonio Cromartie, Cary Blanchard, Joe Walton, John Idzik, LaRon Landry, MetLife Stadium, Rex Ryan
Posted in Randy Lange, Uncategorized | 116 Comments »
LaRon Landry’s phone rang Wednesday afternoon and the person trying to reach him was Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum.
“At first I didn’t answer,” Landry told newyorkjets.com. “I was like, the GM called me, so I’m trying to figure out what the hell is wrong or what kind of insight he was trying to tell me.”
Landry would return Tannenbaum’s call once he made it home from practice and was relieved to know that he wasn’t in trouble.
“I’m contemplating the whole time, like, ‘What’s going on?’ ” Landry said. “But when I got home, I heard the news and it definitely was an honor.”
The news Tannenbaum passed along to No. 30 for the Green & White was that the sixth-year pro and first-year Jet had been selected to his first Pro Bowl. Landry joins CB Antonio Cromartie as Jets reserves on the AFC roster. The game will be played Jan. 27 in Honolulu.
“It’s definitely a bittersweet kind of situation,” Landry said. “Just to have the season we’ve been having, I just wish we could have made it to the playoffs, probably made it to the championship, and I’m sorry I couldn’t contribute to get into the playoffs. It’s sweet because it’s a goal that I’ve always been looking forward to getting, being six years into it.”
Landry was the sixth overall pick in the 2007 NFL draft and spent his first five years in the league with Washington. However, his final two seasons with the Redskins he played only a combined 15 games due to his heel injury. The Jets were aware of the injury when they signed him in March and have made sure he sits out of practice one day each week. The strategy has worked to perfection as the 6”0’, 220-pounder has played at a high level while not missing a game in 2012.
“It holds a lot of weight,” Landry said of being voted into his first Pro Bowl, “and it’s very valuable to my emotions because I was coming off a two-year injury.”
Fellow safety Eric Smith said he knew when Landry first arrived in Florham Park that he had the potential to make this year’s Pro Bowl roster, adding that he’s enjoyed his time as Landry’s teammate this season.
“He’s laid-back and has a good time,” Smith said, “but when it comes gameday, he’s focused.”
Defensive coordinator Mike Pettine felt Landry was well-deserving of the recognition.
“I think LaRon really came on late in the year,” Pettine said, “when things started to click as far as the mental part of it and he was getting on the same page as everybody else.”
There wasn’t a particular moment this season when Landry said he realized he had a shot at making the Pro Bowl. He said he was only trying to be victorious with his teammates.
“It’s all about winning ballgames,” he said.
Heading into the Jets’ final game Sunday at Buffalo, the former LSU Tiger has produced four forced fumbles, two interceptions and one touchdown return. His Pro Bowl selection makes him the first Green & White safety to make the game since Erik McMillan did it 23 years ago.
“I’m just happy the way I got it with the Jets, coming off IR two years in a row,” Landry said. “It’s definitely a great accomplishment and it means a lot to me to be voted on by my peers of the NFL, coaches, and my fans.”
Landry has never previously visited Hawaii but has been told it’s a beautiful place. He’s glad he’ll be making the trip alongside Cromartie, his teammate in the secondary, and anticipates the experience to be one he’ll hold onto for a long time.
“It was definitely a goal,” he said, “and I didn’t do it alone. This organization as a whole, training staff, everybody within this organization helped me make it.”
Thursday Injury Report\
Greg McElroy’s concussion situation is detailed in our news story on head coach Rex Ryan’s decision to sit McElroy and start Mark Sanchez on Sunday at Buffalo. The good concussion news is that two Jets with head injuries, DE Muhammad Wilkerson and CB Ellis Lankster, have been passing their tests and both were limited in today’s practice. Also limited was WR Braylon Edwards, who didn’t practice Wednesday due to a hamstring/knee flareup.
Besides McElroy, KR-RB Joe McKnight (ankle/illness) didn’t participate in practice, nor did S LaRon Landry (heel), LB Bryan Thomas (chest), WR Chaz Schilens (knee), TE Dustin Keller (ankle) and CB Aaron Berry (hamstring). Berry late today was placed on injured reserve. All 15 other Jets on the injury report were full-go.
The Bills’ injury list, and in particular their “limited” section, grew today. Three DNPs from Wednesday all were limited — S Jairus Byrd (ankle), G Andy Levitre (knee) and DT Kyle Williams (ankle). Two other players were added to the list as limited in CB Justin Rogers (foot) and LB Chris White (hamstring).
Tags: Antonio Cromartie, Buffalo Bills, Greg McElroy, joe McKnight, LaRon Landry, Mike Tannenbaum, Pro Bowl
Posted in John Holt | 56 Comments »
What do you want first, the good news or the bad news?
All right, good news first.
With one more favorable set of games on the last day of the season next Sunday, the Jets will have the NFL’s No. 1 pass defense for 2012.
Stay with me on this.
The Jets are No. 2 for the second week in a row, behind Pittsburgh’s No. 1 unit, but the gap closed significantly on Sunday. As the Jets were yielding 136 net yards (passing yards minus sack yards), to the Chargers, the Steelers gave up 253 to Andy Dalton and the Bengals. That leaves the Jets 30 yards behind the Steelers.
A Green & White shutdown of Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Bills coupled with a Steelers showing vs. Brandon Weeden and the Browns that is 31-plus yards than the Jets allow (and barring an even greater lockdown by No. 3 Arizona against No. 4 San Francisco or vice versa and by No. 5 Seattle against St. Louis) and the Jets will wear the No. 1 crown for pass defense in a year in which they didn’t have Darrelle Revis for 13 games and only lately started to bring serious, consistent pressure on opposing QBs.
What’s the point, you may ask over your eggnog. No. 1 pass defense isn’t a secret tiebreaker to get the Jets into the AFC playoff grid. It doesn’t pay incentives. There isn’t even a plaque for the wall downstairs at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. And where was the vaunted passing D in Sunday’s third quarter?
That last question is easiest to answer, although I’ll sound like a coach here when I say they’re paying the Chargers, too. Philip Rivers is still a decent QB, Danario Alexander is a dangerous downfield threat, Antonio Gates is one of the long-time gold standards at TE. Yeah, it would’ve been great to see Antonio Cromartie play that ball to Alexander better and for Eric Smith to drop Gates right after the catch, but most teams would kill for a defense that gave up 10 of its 20 points off of short fields and allowed 136 yards of passing offense on the day.
“The defense played really well for the majority of the game,” head coach Rex Ryan said on a conference call with beat reporters today. “I thought we gave up two huge plays. One we really thought we had the coverage, then did a poor job from a technique standpoint. Then you’ve got to give them credit for a nice job of scheming us when they got Gates isolated. That was obviously a big play for them. I think that’s obviously the difference in the game. They were absolutely dominated on defense and they made enough plays on offense to win the game.”
But at least consider there’s carryover from everything, good, bad and mediocre. However the Jets’ offense shakes out in 2013, the defense figures to be a cornerstone for the Jets going forward. Mo and Q, the Hitman, Cro and Revis Island, et al., should be a major force in the future, and nothing like a top ranking to underscore that for newcomers to the fold. Plus 1 isn’t a crooked number and is better than a sharp stick in the eye.
And Now for the Naughty
The bad news is that, besides a sudden blocking problem — “That was as poor as I can ever remember, as far as pass protection is concerned,” Ryan said of the 11 sacks suffered by Greg McElroy and the offense — another issue has lately reared its ugly head. It’s a turnover problem.
We hate to say it on Christmas Eve, but the Jets have been doing too much giving and not enough taking.
In their last five games, they have a minus-14 turnover margin (four takeaways, 18 giveaways), dropping them to minus-13 on the year, 27th in the NFL. Furthermore, it’s tied for the most lopsided five-game in-season margin in franchise history with a stretch of the Jets’ inaugural season as the Titans in 1960, when they went minus-14 from Games 5-9 (14 TAs, 28 GAs). The only worse five-game stretch spanned the 1976 and ’77 seasons, when they had a minus-18 (9 TAs, 27 GAs) through the ’77 season opener.
On the one hand, this kind of trend can undo a lot of the good things a team might do, such as playing great pass defense or getting off the field on third down or returning and covering kickoffs. On the other, at least the Jets won two of the games in this five game span, vs. Arizona and at Jacksonville.
Regardless, some members of the defense spoke with me about optimizing takeaway opportunities, and that hasn’t happened with no turnovers for the defense, not even a forced fumble, the last two games. Just like great pass defense can continue into the offseason and the next preseason, so can that often whimsical but always important turnover habit.
There is no better time for McElroy and the offense to work on ball security and the D to step up its ball thievery than this season’s last live action against the Bills, who are minus-14 for the season and minus-8 in their last three games alone.
Ryan was grilled again about quarterbacks following the game. He deflected Sunday stories about sources offering information regarding Tim Tebow being active but not playing against the Chargers while Jeremy Kerley ran the Wildcat on several plays, most notably the 42-yard completion to Clyde Gates on the Jets’ second drive.
“You’re assuming something’s a fact or whatever,” Ryan said regarding questions about some of those sources. “I’ll say this: If I would’ve asked Tim to play anything, Tim would’ve gone in the game and done that. … Jeremy looked good in practice. That’s why I went with him. I could’ve used Tim. If I’d chosen to use Tim, I believe without any hesitation Tim would’ve been out there.”
Reporter John Holt will have a story on Kerley that we’ll post Christmas morning. And we’ll have more on Rex, the quarterbacks, and the rest of the Jets when we all return to the facility for Wednesday’s practice for the Bills. Until then, we’ll sign off now and wish you and yours the happiest of holidays.
Tags: Antonio Cromartie, Antonio Gates, Buffalo Bills, Danario Alexander, Eric Smith, Greg McElroy, Jeremy Kerley, Philip Rivers, Rex Ryan, San Diego Chargers, Tim Tebow
Posted in Randy Lange | 122 Comments »
Congratulations to Antonio Cromartie, the latest member of the NFL’s Two-Way Football Club.
Many Jets fans are aware that Cro got a rare double start on Sunday at Jacksonville. He was lined up at split end on the game’s first offensive play and he was at his old, familiar right corner spot for the defense.
Have any other Jets done the double before Cro? I can’t find any back to 1977. Of course we remember WR Keyshawn Johnson doing it all in the 1998 AFC Divisional Round Game vs. Jacksonville, including coming up with an interception off of an end-of-game Hail Mary fired up by none other than Jaguars QB Mark Brunell. But Key didn’t get the start on defense. And Bobby Humphery started four games at WR in 1984 before flipping over to LCB, where he started 35 games, including every game in 1988-89, but again, Humphery never started on O and D in the same game.
However, we can say that Cromartie became the first NFL player since 2008 to start for his team on offense and defense in the same game. The last player with that daily double was Spencer Larsen, who was the Broncos’ precocious rookie middle linebacker in ’08 and at Atlanta on Nov. 16 also started at fullback.
(As a completely unrelated trivia aside, five other players besides Larsen started that day in that game who either previously had been or subsequently would become Jets. How many of those five can you name? Answer below.)
We remember Cromartie getting his feet wet at wideout this summer. He got his first work with receivers in the second half of individual drills at the Aug. 13 practice at SUNY Cortland, after which he said he’s looking forward to playing offense in a game.
“I’ve been waiting for the opportunity to try to play both ways in the NFL for a while,” Cro said then. “It’s fun. It’s just an opportunity to get the ball in your hands and another challenge. I’m looking at going out and playing receiver as a challenge for me. I’ve been asking for it since I was a rookie in San Diego.”
AC didn’t take his WR game into the preseason nor into the first four regular-season games. But he was on the offensive side of the ball for three plays against the Texans and had two passes thrown his way by Mark Sanchez, both incomplete. Including his three offensive plays at Jacksonville, he has 15 plays on offense this season.
And counting his one catch for a 2-yard loss against the Jags, Cromartie now has one pro catch for minus-2 yards. His debut as a pass catcher instead of a catch preventer came late in the first quarter, when he motioned out of the slot, took a short pass from Mark Sanchez, and couldn’t escape the clutches of Jason Babin to get upfield.
Will Cro’s wideout career ever get flying? He could obviously still be used in a pinch in the final three games this year. However, if Braylon Edwards is healthy and ready to participate immediately (we’ll find that out Thursday), if Stephen Hill’s knee sprain comes around quickly, and/or if Clyde Gates gets clearance from his concussion, plus Jeremy Kerley, Chaz Schilens and Mardy Gilyard, there may not be any spare reps to be had at the position.
But we expect Cromartie to keep turning up here and there regardless as he just keeps trying to help his team win.
Pro Bowl Stretch Run
It’s been a rough year for the Jets and that is reflected in the Pro Bowl snapshot as the fan online balloting on NFL.com heads down the stretch. No Jet is in the top 10 as released by the league today, and no Jet is a leader at his position among AFC vote-getters.
But needless to say, some Jets may still get their names called for the annual all-star game, and if you want to help your favorite player in green and white make it to Hawaii, you can still vote here on NYJets.com.
Balloting concludes Monday, Dec. 17, following the conclusion of the Jets-Titans Monday night game.
Would you like to see C Nick Mangold make his fifth Pro Bowl and fourth as a starter? Want to send LT D’Brickashaw Ferguson to Oahu for his fourth straight appearance? Support RG Brandon Moore, who went to his first PB last year? Drape Cromartie, DE Muhammad Wilkerson, S LaRon Landry or LB David Harris in leis and in the red-and-white AFC jerseys the week before this year’s Super Bowl?
The AFC and NFC squads are based on the consensus votes of fans, players and coaches. Each group’s vote counts one-third toward determining the 43-man rosters that represent the conferences. NFL players and coaches will cast their votes on Dec. 20-21. The game is Jan. 27, 7 p.m. EST, televised live by NBC from Aloha Stadium.
Edwards is expected to wear uniform No. 17, as he did when he was with the Jets for 34 games in 2009-10 and in fact as he has worn for his entire pro career. … Falcons starters on 11.16.08 against Denver were DE John Abraham, FS Erik Coleman and TE Ben Hartsock. Broncos starters that game were former Jets first-rounder Dewayne Robertson and C Casey Wiegmann, who played three games for the 1996-97 Jets.
Tags: Antonio Cromartie, Bobby Humphery, Brandon Moore, D'Brickashaw Ferguson, David Harris, Keyshawn Johnson, LaRon Landry, Muhammad Wilkerson, Nick Mangold, Pro Bowl, Spencer Larsen, Tennessee Titans
Posted in Randy Lange | 52 Comments »
What’s the Jets-Pats rivalry coming to?
Antonio Cromartie, for instance, today had words of praise for Tom Brady.
“The guy’s won Super Bowls. I have respect for him from that standpoint,” said Cro. “He’s a competitor. He’s going to compete. He reminds me a lot of Philip Rivers in that he’s going to trash-talk back at you.”
And then there’s Rex Ryan and Bill Belichick. When the Jets head coach called the Patriots’ head coach the best coach in football, etc., before previous matchups, some suspected Ryan of being insincere. Not true. Rex really does respect Belichick.
And today he went so far as to defend Belichick against media and fans in the Boston area who were critical of Belichick playing Rob Gronkowski on the last extra-point play of the Patriots’ 59-24 rout of the Colts on Sunday — the play on which Gronkowski suffered a forearm fracture that will keep him out of Thursday’s Jets-Pats tilt.
“Yeah, absolutely ridiculous,” Ryan, on a conference call with Patriots reporters, said of the flak Belichick had been drawing. “It was on an extra point. He’s done that probably 100 times this year for the simple fact of how many points they score. You never see that. Every single team in the league … we have D’Brickashaw Ferguson in there.
“You don’t play the game that way. It’s just an unfortunate thing. That’s just a freak deal that that would happen. But unfortunately that’s part of the game. Injuries do happen. We lose [Santonio] Holmes and [Darrelle] Revis to non-contact injuries and it’s just one of those things and it’s just unfortunate, obviously.”
Belichick seemed touched when told of Ryan’s defense at his own news conference with those same reporters.
“I didn’t hear it, so I’m just taking your word for it,” he said. “I feel like I have a good relationship with Rex. Obviously we want to beat each other. We’re in the same division and that’s just competitiveness. I see Rex from time to time during the year. Like I said, we had his brother on the staff here for four years. I’ve known his father for 30 years, whatever it is, it’s been a long time. I think that there’s a lot of…he’s a son of a coach, he’s a football guy, he’s been around it his whole life. I have, too. There are a lot of things we have in common.
“But this week,” summed up Belichick, back in character, “it’s about two teams trying to compete against each other. That’s all it is.”
The Life of a Hard Hitter
Jets S LaRon Landry was asked about the flap surrounding Ravens S Ed Reed’s helmet-to-helmet hit on Steelers WR Emmanuel Sanders on Sunday night, which initially drew him a one-game suspension and was reduced today after appeal to a $50,000 fine.
“Yeah, I heard he got his [penalty] reduced. That’s good. That’s great,” said Landry as one fellow hard hitter to another. “Being a physical football player, things like that happen. He was just trying to make a play. He’s good at what he does.
“I know Ed personally. I know that was not intentional. It’s football, man. But within this game we have rules that are going to be enforced.”
It’s not just professional courtesy. Landry and Reed are both Louisianans. In fact, they played against each other for rival high schools in the Metairie area.
The Jets made two roster moves today. They announced this morning that rookie free agent LB Marcus Dowtin had been waived. Then this afternoon, GM Mike Tannenbaum disclosed on our own “Jets Talk Live” with my partner Eric Allen that veteran WR Jason Hill had been released.
That gives the Jets three openings, since they were at 52 players on the active roster for the Rams. Expect a few signings to be announced before the Patriots game.
A perhaps interesting injury note is connected to J.Hill’s departure. He was listed on Monday’s injury report as not practicing due to a low-back injury. With that listing, the Jets had 19 players on the list. Today’s list is down to 18 after Hill’s release. The Patriots have also listed 19 injured players both days this week, and their two reports were also identical.
So for the first time this season, 32 separate injury reports in all, the Jets have listed fewer injured players than their opponents.
Tags: Antonio Cromartie, Bill Belichick, Ed Reed, Jason Hill, LaRon Landry, New England Patriots, Rex Ryan, thanksgiving, Tom Brady
Posted in Randy Lange | 16 Comments »
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.
Tags: Aaron Maybin, Antonio Cromartie, Bart Scott, CenturyLink Field, joe McKnight, Kenrick Ellis, Rex Ryan, Seattle Seahawks, Yeremiah Bell
Posted in Randy Lange | 73 Comments »
It’s been a tough week all around in this neighborhood as people continue to dig out from the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Power’s still not restored in many places, trees are lying on people’s houses and in roadways, gas lines hearken back to the late Seventies.
The Jets have fared OK in the sense that the Atlantic Health Training Center is in good shape, the building has full power, and we haven’t heard any ugly storm stories from the players and the coaches.
But the Jets have needed to correct their different kind of power outage as much as possible this bye week before they gather back together next week to get ready for the NFC West leg of their schedule, road games at Seattle and St. Louis, then two weeks later at home for Arizona. (Not to mention the Patriots’ visit on Thanksgiving night.)
“You’re at the halfway point of the season and you really analyze where you’re at. And 3-and-5′s not getting it done,” head coach Rex Ryan told my partner, Eric Allen, late this week in video remarks that you can see and hear on this week’s “Jets Flight Plan” on Sunday morning on WCBS-TV. “We have to really look at what we’re doing and see areas where we can improve, expand roles, take roles away, those types of things. At the same time you start your preparation for Seattle and other teams down the road.”
Ryan and his coaches were making those analyses throughout the week here. What had they found at the time of this interview?
“I think we’ve been inconsistent throughout as a football team,” he said. “Usually a strength of ours would clearly be the defense and clearly be our special teams. And we’ve had moments where that’s been the case, but then we also had moments where those two areas have hurt us.
“Then offensively we’re searching for our identity. Sometimes we’ve been running the ball very effectively, other times not as much. I think we’ve had some excellent days protecting the quarterback, then other times when it hasn’t been as good. So we’ve really got to focus on how we can improve this team and see what happens. But clearly, 3-5, that’s certainly not acceptable, not to our fan base, nobody accepts it. We have to do a better job, and I always say it starts with me.”
“Inconsistency” comes through loud and clear in these stats, rankings and factoids that I’ve shaken out of my databases and spreadsheets at this season’s midpoint:
It’s a mixed bag with the quarterback.
■ His ball-in-the-air-yardage is at a career-high clip of 8.6 yards per pass. But his receivers’ yards after catch is at a career-low rate of 4.0.
■ He followed one of the best-passing fourth quarters of his career at New England (10-for-12, 114 yards, 1 TD, 134.0 rating) with one of the worst-passing third quarters of his career vs. Miami (5-for-14, 53 yards, 1 INT, 17.9 rating).
■ Some key passing numbers, if sustained through the final eight games, would be career lows (52.9% accuracy, 6.38 yards/attempt), while the passer rating of 72.8 would end his increases there since his rookie year.
■ Three-and-outs continue to be an issue. Sanchez’s three-and-out drive rate of .292 (26-of-89) is 31st out of 33 qualifying QBs, ahead of Jacksonville’s Blaine Gabbert (.316) and Oakland’s Carson Palmer (.298).
Tebow’s been on the field for 54 offensive plays, 6.8 per game, plus 49 special-teams plays, giving him 103 snaps this season, about 13 a game. With those he has compiled 23 runs for 78 yards (3.4 yards/carry) and two completions on three passes for 32 yards, one sack and a 102.1 passer rating. He’s moved the chains nine times.
Ryan was asked on his Monday conference call if the Jets look at ways to use Tebow more in the second half of the season. “I definitely think that’s a fair statement,” he said.
Inconsistent fits here as well. The Jets are 16th, right in the middle of the NFL rankings, in rushing yards per game, 22nd in yards per carry. Shonn Greene had a career day with his 32-carry, 161-yard, three-TD outing vs. the Colts and a regular-season-long 36-yard bolt against the Dolphins. But for all eight games he’s at a career-low pace of 3.7 yards/carry, which breaks down unofficially to 1.3 yards before first contact, 2.4 yards after.
The good news, perhaps, is that Greene started slow in last year’s first half, too (1.5 before, 2.3 after, 3.8 total) before finishing muscularly (1.8-2.8-4.6) in the second half. The returns of a healthier Bilal Powell and Joe McKnight to the RB mix and Shonn’s November-December push could help the offense pick things up.
A big difference from a year ago is the performance on drives inside the opponents’ 20. In ’11 with Plaxico Burress doing his best work as a Jet, Sanchez had 10 TD passes at the midway point of the season, compared to eight this year — without Santonio Holmes, that’s not bad.
But Sanchez has already thrown three RZ interceptions this season, equaling last season’s total, and in the last 11 games dating to last year he’s had six giveaways inside the 20.
And the offense’s rate has dropped off, from last season’s franchise-record 65.5% touchdown rate to 48.1% (13 TDs in 27 drives) this year. Again, like many other areas on the team, the Jets’ five TDs in five tries vs. Indianapolis and a good showing at New England (two TDs, two FGs in 4 trips) were negated by the 1-for-4 showing against the Dolphins — one of only two times since ’78 that the Jets failed to score any points on three RZ trips in a home game (Atlanta, 2009).
Meanwhile, the defense has given up TDs at a too-high rate of 60.9% (14 on 23 opportunities), 26th in the NFL through eight weeks and the team’s highest rate since the ’87 strike-year team yielded TDs at a 61.5% pace. And the last time Jets opponents averaged more than this year’s 5.2 points per red zone trip was in 1980 (5.6).
As we laid out last Friday, the Jets’ short-yardage rushing game on third down has been strong. Greene is 7-for-7 on converting third-and-1′s, and with Lex Hilliard’s pair of “and-one” rushing conversions vs. Miami, the Jets remain the NFL’s only perfect team when running on third-and-1-or-2/fourth-and-1-or-2 combined at 15-for-15.
Getting to third-and-short has been successful as well. The Jets on average face 6.2 yards to go on third down this season, which if it holds up would be their best third-down yardage figure since averaging third-and-6.1 in 1993. But with such favorable yardage on third down, they need to convert better than their 39.5% rate, which is 17th in the NFL.
Through six games Mike Westhoff’s special forces were doing very well. Using a simple rating system for ST big plays (7 points for return scores, 3 points for blocked FGs, 1 point for takeaways, non-TD blocked kicks and successful onsides kicks), the Jets were purring along with a plus-12 through six games.
Then came long kickoff returns at New England and vs. Miami, plus all the other issues vs. the Dolphins. The Miami game by this scoring system was a minus-11. The only worse game in Coach Westy’s Jets phase (2001-present) was the “Ted Ginn Game” vs. Miami in 2009 (minus-13).
Even with his sore ankle, Joe McKnight has been close to the once-in-a-quarter-century form he displayed last year in returning kickoffs. He had his second career TD return vs. Houston and his 29.3-yard average is sixth in the NFL.
Jeremy Kerley has been equally impressive on punt returns with the Jets’ first PR TD since Santana Moss at Pittsburgh in the 2004 playoffs and the first one at home since ‘Tana vs. Cleveland in ’02. JK’s 14.1-yard average is third in the league. But his 50% fair-catch rate (10 of 20 punts fielded) is among the league’s highest.
Nick Folk was on a season-opening 11-for-11 tear before suffering the block late in the first half vs. Miami. Still, his 4-for-4 from mostly long range at Gillette was “remarkable” (Westhoff) and his first half has been “phenomenal” (Ryan). He and his KO cover unit were No. 1 in the NFL in opponents’ average drive start after kickoffs until the last two games, when two long returns dropped them to 20th.
Robert Malone’s first half is comparable to Steve Weatherford’s 2010 first half. Malone has a better gross than Weatherford did (46.9 to 44.7), Weatherford had the better net (39.7 to 39.1), inside-the-20 total (17 to 12) and average hangtime (4.77 to 4.53). Weatherford fell off in the second half of ’10 (except for his NFL-record-tying I-20s). If Malone suffers only minor slippage on his gross and he and his punt cover team improve their net (and cut out the punt blocks), he could threaten the franchise records set by Curley Johnson in 1965 (45.3 gross, 39.7 net).
Individually, the Jets have some shining lights. LB David Harris is on pace for another 100-tackle season with 62 at the halfway point.
DE Muhammad Wilkerson leads the defense with 8.0 tackles for loss/no gain, putting him on track for the best total since Bart Scott’s 18.5 TFLNGs in 2010 and the best by a D-lineman since DE Marvin Washington’s 16.0 in ’95.
Antonio Cromartie is picking up where Darrelle Revis left off with his season-ending knee injury in Week 3. Cro leads the defense with 10 pass defenses and three interceptions, including the fifth return-TD of his career and his first as a Jet with his INT-return TD in the opener vs. Buffalo.
Teamwise, the numbers are not what we’re used to seeing from a Rex Ryan/Mike Pettine defense:
Overall yards/game — 16th in the NFL. Ryan’s previous seven defenses as coordinator or head coach never finished a season lower than 6th.
Rushing yards/game — 29th. The last time the Jets finished that low in a season was 29th in ’07 and before that in ’05.
Net passing yards/game — 6th. This is still in the Ryan ballpark. Rex’s Ravens finished 8th, 6th, 20th and 2nd, and his three previous Jets teams came in 1st, 6th and 5th.
Points allowed/game — 24th. Ryan’s ’07 Ravens scuffled to a tie for 22nd. The last time the Jets finished lower was 29th in ’96.
What would make everything better would be a big-time rush. With only 12 sacks, the Jets’ sack rate is 25th in the league, and their 24-sack pace would produce the fewest sacks in a 16-game season since the ’78 and ’79 squads each had 22 sacks.
Something else that would improve things would be fewer flags on the D. The defense has had 25 penalties marked off for 286 yards. The most penalties on a Jets defense were the 59 in ’95 and the most yardage since ’78 was 533 in ’86. Leading the way individually: Cromartie with six flags for 81 yards and fellow CB Kyle Wilson with five for 49.
That’s it on the raw midterm facts and figures. The Jets face an uphill road in the second half, one that seems in equal parts their making and that of the injury gods. But a few good teams overcome the bad IR and injury hands that they’re dealt to do great things (the ’11 Giants and the ’10 Packers among others). How did Rex want his players handling this week between Games 1-8 and Games 9-16:?
“I hope they get away from it for a little bit,” he said, “but also they have to look at what they want. I think we all want the same thing. There’s no magic formula. I think the big thing is hard work and dedication. And I’m confident that they’re recharging their batteries to be ready for Monday.”
Barring any unforeseen events over the weekend, we’ll recharge our batteries —literally and figuratively — this weekend and we’ll check back in with you the fan on Monday when the Jets return to work.
Tags: Rex Ryan, Mark Sanchez, joe McKnight, David Harris, Nick Folk, Seattle Seahawks, Shonn Greene, Antonio Cromartie, Tim Tebow, Muhammad Wilkerson, Jeremy Kerley, Midseason
Posted in Randy Lange | 52 Comments »
What will the Jets’ running back depth chart look like Sunday? Rex Ryan seemed to pull a play out of the old Bill Parcells playbook by saying in so many words, “Lookit, fellas, you’re just gonna have to come to the game and find out.”
Asked if he had a feeling on if RBs Bilal Powell (shoulder) and Joe McKnight (ankle) would be able to play against the Patriots, Ryan replied: “Yeah, I have a feeling on it, but I’m not necessarily going to share it with you. Both of those guys won’t practice today. We’ll see how the week goes on, if they’ll be available or not.”
Might that make RB Jonathan Grimes, perhaps, a candidate for some third-down work?
“I think Grimes will probably be up this week. That’s a possibility,” the coach said. “But to say he’s our third-down back, I don’t think so.”
Which led inexorably to the latest wrinkle in the Tim Tebow tapestry. Could we see No. 15 lining up at tailback behind Mark Sanchez on occasions at Gillette Stadium on Sunday?
That’s a possibility. The thing about Tim, with him being a football player like we’ve always talked about, by playing quarterback, he knows all the positions. Can you plug him in at running back? Can you plug him in at tight end? I think the answer is yes.”
Is that likely? Well, it’s likely that it will spark the next Tebow feeding frenzy. He’s been available in the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center locker room generally on Wednesdays and Fridays. Yesterday he was asked a very preliminary question about playing some RB.
“I don’t know,” he said. “It’s not something that’s been talked or planned or worked on at all, so probably not.”
But that was yesterday.
Shonn Greene is the No. 1 back, of course. He was asked about Tebow at tailback.
“Who’s that,” he replied. “I never heard of him.”
But seriously, Shonn, how do you think Tebow would look carrying the ball in a non-Wildcat role?
“I don’t know,” he said. “I guess I’ll see just like you guys.”
Greene, of course, is coming off of his career highs of 32 carries and 161 yards and a franchise-record-tying three TD runs against Indy. He had 15 of the Jets’ last 18 carries of the game (Tebow had two out of the ‘Cat and Sanchez had a kneeldown) because of the Powell and McKnight injuries.
He was serious about the Tebow angle, saying, “Whatever it takes for us to win,” but that also includes taking the rock 40 times if he has to.
“Whatever they ask me to do,” he said. “I’m ready to do whatever they want me to do. If need be, all the snaps, then that’s what it’ll take to win.”
To be sure, Greene moving the chains and reaching paydirt once or twice would be important pieces to the puzzle of trying to keep Tom Brady and the Pats offense off the field. And it’s something he’s been good at up in the Massachusetts countryside. He’s had three, if not spectacular, at least efficient games running the ball at New England, averaging 4.4 yards on 51 carries with two TDs and 14 first downs.
He said there’s nothing about the Gillette turf or anything else he can remember as to why he runs well at New England. More important, he thought, was building on the momentum he and his blockers finally captured in running the Colts ragged.
“I think so, I think so,” he said. “We have to stay with it. Sometimes it’s not going to be good. We just have to keep consistent with it and we’ll be all right.”
C Nick Mangold was also optimistic about keeping the ground game grinding away, but disagreed that the Jets’ rushing offense, which improved to 15th in the NFL in yards per game but is still 23rd in yards per carry, is now “fixed” after its 252 yards vs. Indy.
“No, it’s another step in the process,” Mangold said. “I think we made good strides, but nothing is ever completely fixed. There’s always something to tinker. So we’ve been continuing to do that and continuing to try to focus and get better.”
Thursday Injury Reports
Injury report movement is a poor predictor of teams’ performances in an upcoming game, but today’s I-movement on the Jets and Patriots lists would appear to favor the Green & White.
For the first time in four weeks, both TE Dustin Keller (hamstring) and WR Stephen Hill (hamstring) were full-go in practice. DT Sione Po‘uha (back), who had sat out the previous seven practices and two games, was limited today, as was WR Clyde Gates (shoulder).
There’s not much concern for Nick Mangold’s ankle, primarily because he came back to play on it after he hurt it in the third quarter against Houston and went the first 58 of the Jets’ 64 offensive plays on it vs. the Colts.
Mangold has been a DNP for both practices this week. Asked how his ankle is feeling today, he said, “It’s fine. How’s yours doing?” As for the prospect of having Vince Wilfork’s 325 pounds leaning on it Sunday, the affable center replied, “That probably won’t help anything. But I assume it’ll be up for the test.”
Meanwhile, the Patriots’ DNP list grew from two to five as TE Aaron Hernandez (ankle), G Logan Mankins (calf/hip) and S Steve Gregory (hip) sat things out in Foxboro along with rookie RB Brandon Bolden (knee) and LB Tracy White (foot).
TE Rob Gronkowski (hip) and WR Wes Welker (ankle) were among the nine Pats listed as limited. New to the limited list was DT Ron Brace (back). New England lists 15 players on its latest report.
We began the season by playing up the number of yellow flags WR Santonio Holmes was getting thrown at the opponents trying to cover him. This week it’s the opposite side of the coin: Antonio Cromartie got four flags thrown at him for his coverage of Colts receivers on Sunday.
The three penalties that were marked off against Cro were all for fouls against Reggie Wayne — two pass interferences, one of which cost him an INT-return TD, and an illegal contact. And his first flag of the day was a holding against Donnie Avery that was declined.
That equaled Cromartie’s high as a Jet, which he established against the Ravens in the 2010 opener with a PI, two holds and an offside, and equaled last season at Oakland when he was caught on two PIs and two holds. So the bad news is that he has one four-penalty game in him per season. The good news is that once that game in the first half of the season is out of the way, he doesn’t have anything close to it the rest of the season.
One other penalty note: Mark Sanchez drew his first hard-count penalty of the season when he got LB Jerry Hughes to jump offsides in the second quarter.
Tags: Antonio Cromartie, Bilal Powell, Gillette Stadium, joe McKnight, Mark Sanchez, New England Patriots, Nick Mangold, Rex Ryan, Shonn Greene
Posted in Randy Lange | 26 Comments »