Updated, 2:10 p.m. ET
No need to worry about Demario Davis getting back into the swing of things, easing into a new leadership role, feeling his way. Double-D’s already got his focus locked onto the job ahead like a laser.
“We’ve got a lot of young guys, a lot of energy, a lot of athletic ability and speed,” Davis told me at the Atlantic Health Training Complex during a Phase 2 session of the Jets’ offseason strength and conditioning program. “The main thing is just all of us learning what to do, learning the best we can, understanding the concepts of the defense and being in harmony with a lot of communication, everybody being on the same page. We can be very effective. I’m very excited what this group of guys can potentially do.”
But surely every player and every team in the NFL has some extra energy at this time on the calendar?
“It’s not just regular energy. It’s a special energy,” Davis said, deadly serious. “There are some very big things, I think, about to take place, and I’m not just saying that because I’m a part of this unit. I’ve just got a feeling that some special things are about to occur. I’m not feeding into the negative being talked about. I view it, I see it every day. I know the pieces are aligning and the stars are aligning for a very big year of the Jets.”
Wow. An impressive take on these Jets. But with all of the comings and goings under new GM John Idzik, with all the work that must be done to come back from last year’s campaign, might that be a little on the optimistic side?
Davis doesn’t see it that way. The second-year linebacker’s laser is scanning his role for the coming season, and he sees great prospects for himself and his teammates.
“My approach is the same as always. It’s to get better every day, go out and be ready to contribute as much as possible,” he said. “I know my coaches are looking for me to step into that starting role and for me to be a leader. Coach Ryan’s personally issued the challenge, in front of the defense, so it’s all about me stepping up and taking advantage of that and making the most of that opportunity.”
Davis isn’t speaking out of school. The mantra under Idzik has been “competition, through and through,” so no one has a clear path to a starting gig and gobs of playing time yet. Leadership is a funny thing that doesn’t just happen. Yet head coach Rex Ryan was equally optimistic for Davis during the March conference call with Jets season ticket holders.
“Right now Demario’s the No. 1 Will linebacker on our depth chart,” Ryan said. “As John has talked about several times, you try to bring in as much competition as you possibly can, but clearly Demario is a guy that we feel really good about, we felt great about drafting him last year and he’s a guy that’s going to play a ton of football for us.”
Coming in as the third-round pick out of Arkansas State last season, Davis quickly racked up playing time. He was on the field for 371 special-teams plays, the most on the Jets, and 680 plays in all, 10th-most among defensive players and 18th on the team. He got his most action on defense late in the first half of the season, at New England and home for Miami, as Bart Scott worked on his injured toe, but outside of those two games averaged a little more than a dozen snaps a game.
This year it’s time to increase the reps under new coordinator Dennis Thurman, whom Davis met with at the start of the offseason program.
“I asked him when camp started what he wanted out of me. To be very specific, he said he wanted me to be able to fix my eyes, have a great understanding of eyes and concepts, to be physical and be a three-down linebacker,” Davis said. “He also issued the challenge of just understanding coverage at my position. So those are the big things I’ve been working on, focusing on, studying film, studying the game, being in the weightroom every day.
“I don’t think I can be more prepared for taking this opportunity than I am right now with the work I put in to this point, physically and mentally,” he said. “You can never have the attitude that you’re great. You always have to have the attitude that you’re just good. That keeps you working. You always have something to chase after.”
Davis is ready for the chase. And he’s planning on his laser helping to guide the Jets for the challenging season ahead.
Weeb Would’ve Been CVI Today
Happy birthday to Weeb Ewbank, the great Jets head coach who would have celebrated his 106th birthday today. Weeb, of course, died at the age of 91 in 1998, but memories of his teams linger on — the NFL championships won by his Baltimore Colts in 1958 and ’59, and that grand January day 44 years ago when his Jets beat his former Colts, 16-7, in Super Bowl III. He was the first Jet inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, in 1978, and was in the inaugural class of the New York Jets Ring of Honor in 2010.
Tags: Bart Scott, Demario Davis, Dennis Thurman, Rex Ryan, Weeb Ewbank
Posted in Randy Lange | 44 Comments »
General manager John Idzik and the Jets front office made their first major transactions this offseason when the team released four veterans — LBs Bart Scott and Calvin Pace, S Eric Smith and T Jason Smith — and announced that FB/TE Josh Baker has been waived.
Thus 34 seasons of NFL experience and 19 of wearing the Green & White have been removed from the roster, freeing up undisclosed salary cap space in the process. The news release was posted on our site a short while ago.
All had their ups and downs, but we’ll choose to have some up memories today, especially since three of the four (Scott, Pace and E.Smith) made contributions to the Jets’ ’09 and ’10 charges into the AFC Championship Game.
Scott, of course, was the first free agency acquisition of Rex Ryan after he left the Ravens as Scott’s D-coordinator to become the Jets’ new head coach in 2009. He was always a great trash talker, but while opponents occasionally took exception, his teammates seemed to enjoy being the target of Bart’s barbs, or at least rolled with the punches and definitely looked up to No. 57 in the locker room.
“It takes tremendous energy and cardio to talk and practice at the same time,” Scott said after one Jets practice. “I enjoy talking because it forces me not to be able to breathe, so it helps me get in shape faster.”
On a more serious note, in one of his first one-on-one interviews after signing with the Jets, Scott explained his game.
“I try and be violent every opportunity I get,” he told me then. “I feel football is a game of wills, and if you have two people clashing with each other, it’s going to hurt both players, but I’m willing to take the pain longer than I believe my opponent is, even if it hurts me. And I think that’s something the fans will see — a lot of violent attempts and collisions, but they’ll also see me get up and they’ll see me continue to throw and never waver. No jabs, nothing but power blows.”
The pain got the best of Bart only once as a Jet, last season when his 129-game appearance streak (including playoffs) was snapped and he missed three starts for the first time since 2005 due to his mangled toe. But his drive and determination kept him on the field most of the way and he finished his four-year Jets stay with a good record of playing behind the other team’s line of scrimmage. Despite his toe-jam, he had a team-leading 7.0 tackles for loss last year and 28.5 TFLs total, most on the Jets the past four years.
My partner, Eric Allen, will have a blog on his four-year relationship with the Madbacker up in the “On the Inside with EA” menu shortly.
Calvin’s Five Years
Pace had a modest record of production in the sack department. In his five Jets regular seasons, he had 28 sacks, not DeMarcus Ware numbers yet the most by a Jets linebacker in a five-year span since Mo Lewis a decade earlier.
Pace in fact had Lewis’ franchise single-season mark of 10 sacks in 2000 in his sites when he said on the eve of the 2011 season opener about double-digit sacks, “I think about it, I write it down and look at it. And I think you should do that. Sometimes you make your goals, sometimes you don’t make them. But it is something that I do. I’m not going to say I know, but I do think this is the year that I get to those goals.”
CP didn’t get there, finishing with 4.5 sacks in ’11. But often that’s because he wasn’t asked to.
“If you flip it on the other side, DeMarcus vs. me — I’m not comparing myself to him, but there’s a 99 percent chance that he’s going to be the one rushing and the Cowboys are going to probably drop the other guy in coverage,” he said. “For the Dolphins, Cameron Wake’s the same way.
“If you break down the film, look at all the stuff I do. And I’m cool with that, I really am. But when Rex calls my number, I’m going to try and do everything I can to get there for him.”
And when Pace was turned loose — such as for his three sacks combined of JaMarcus Russell and Bruce Gradkowski in the 2009 shutout win at Oakland — he was hellacious to watch.
“The Smith Brothers” and J.Baker
Likewise, E.Smith was always ready to pitch in wherever needed, from the time he became the highest compensatory pick ever selected by the Jets (third round, 97th overall in 2006 — he still holds that distinction) through this past year.
Ryan and coordinator Mike Pettine felt so strongly about including him and his knowledge of the defense (not to mention his general knowledge — he has his master’s degree) that they named him a co-starter at safety with LaRon Landry and Yeremiah Bell, a distinction he held every week of the past season (even though he was officially credited with just two starts).
“That’s what we’re going to do, and it’s looking good,” the upbeat Smith said in early August at Cortland, all the while knowing that his career-high 14 starts from the previous year were not likely to be matched. “We’re excited about it. I think it’ll be good for us.”
But what was always good for ST coordinator Mike Westhoff, assistant coach (and new coordinator) Ben Kotwica and the Jets’ specialists was Smitty’s hard-hitting contributions on kick and punt coverage.
“We’re going to free up Eric to be back with us a little bit more,” Westhoff said back then, to which Smith replied: “I don’t know how he can get me back more. I was on everything.”
Mostly, he was on the opponents’ return men. His 105 special-teams tackles from ’06-12 (including playoffs) was easily the most on the Jets in that span.
Regarding Baker, we hardly knew ye. The FB/TE from Northwest Missouri State by way of Delaware (he was a Blue Hen along with Super Bowl MVP-to-be Joe Flacco) had three catches in 2011, one going for a touchdown against the Giants on Christmas Eve, the day before his birthday. In the offseason and preseason, he talked optimistically about fitting into the Jets’ new offense. Then in the third preseason game vs. Carolina, Panthers CB Josh Norman landed hard on his right knee and Baker was gone to IR for the year.
We saved J.Smith, the second overall pick in the 2009 draft, for last here because he was the last of this foursome to arrive, late last August via the “change of scenery” trade for Wayne Hunter with the Rams. He played on offense in every game last season, averaging 16 plays a game on offense, primarily as a third TE, and a handful more per game on special teams.
The quirky, friendly big guy gave the definite impression he was fitting into his new surroundings.
“I’m very happy to be a part of this team,” he said in November. “I believe in what we’re doing here. The guys who deserve credit are Austin, Brandon, Nick, Matt and D’Brickashaw. Those guys are working real hard to make sure this truck goes.”
The truck may have pulled up for loading the possessions that this quartet had stored at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center for a while. If it returns with one or two in the future, great, they’d be part of the puzzle moving forward. If not, thanks for stopping by, guys, and providing some good memories in the process. As Ryan said regarding today’s departures:
“They all have the work ethic and attitude that you look for in players and they will always be New York Jets. It was an honor to coach each of these men. They are tremendous people as well as outstanding football players.”
Tags: Bart Scott, Calvin Pace, Eric Smith, Jason Smith, John Idzik, Josh Baker, Rex Ryan
Posted in Randy Lange | 112 Comments »
Here are today’s first-half tweets for the Jets-Jaguars game at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, 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 Jets gameday captains today: Tim Tebow and LaRon Landry.
#RL JAX won opening coin toss, deferred. It’s 4th time opponents have won toss, deferred this yr. Jets record in first 3 games: 3-0.
#RL Mardy Gilyard makes catch on 3rd down, comes up inches short of 1st down. Gilyard’s first NFL reception since 2010.
#EA Antonio Cromartie was in there at WR on the first play from scrimmage.
#RL Jags in RZ, but Garrett McIntyre hits Chad Henne as he throws, Bart Scott picks off. Jets’ 1st takeaway in 4 games all-time at JAX.
#RL Jags in RZ, but Garrett McIntyre hits Chad Henne as he throws, Bart Scott picks off. Jets’ 1st takeaway in 4 games all-time at JAX.
#RL That’s the first time this season JAX has been prevented from scoring in the red zone after 25 successful chance (14 TDs, 11 FGs).
#RL Bart Scott’s INT was his first since 2006 with Baltimore.
#RL Robert Malone gets off 50-yd punt (49-yd net), 13th consec game he’s had at least one 50-yd punt, longest streak by Jets P since ’91.
#EA That was Bart Scott’s first regular season pick as a Jet. He now has 4 INTs in his career.
#EA Stephen Hill, who stepped up last week with 5 catches, getting looked at on the sideline. Hopefully the rookie’s right leg is OK.
#RL Jets WR Stephen Hill has a knee injury, his return to this game is questionable.
#RL Josh Scobee hits 31-yd FG to give JAX 3-0 lead over Jets. Scobee FG-kicking career vs Jets: 7-for-8. Scobee this season: 21-for-22.
#EA All turnovers are reviewed. Don’t think the TD will stand, but the Jets have 2 turnovers in +territory now.
#RL Jets D has no sacks of Chad Henne but pressured him into 3 incompletions for their first three-and-out series this afternoon.
#RL Josh Scobee 55-yd FG attempt to end 1st half is wide left. Scobee hit a 55-yder vs. Jets in Game 2 last season. Jets trail at half 3-0.
Tags: Bart Scott, Chad Henne, Derek Cox, Dwight Lowery, Garrett McIntyre, Jacksonville Jaguars, Jeremy Kerley, Mardy Gilyard, Mark Sanchez, Robert Malone
Posted in Randy Lange | 80 Comments »
Jets linebacker Bart Scott met with reporters this afternoon to clarify comments he made regarding fans who greeted the Jets as they entered the MetLife Stadium tunnel at halftime of Thursday’s game against the Patriots.
Scott was quoted by the Daily News as saying, “The person yelling at you probably was picked last in dodgeball all through high school.”
The 11th-year veteran met with head coach Rex Ryan to discuss the matter and said he was making a generalization with his above quote.
This afternoon No. 57 told reporters that he has a tremendous amount of respect for the fans and the sacrifices they make. But he also stressed that he is always going to protect his team and organization.
“I mean, it’s freedom of speech, you know?” Scott said. “You can say what you want. I mean, as long as nobody gets physical or puts their hands on you, they’ll understand. But we should also understand that within those stands are family members, are wives, are kids and they have to live that. But I guess that’s what we sign up for.”
Ryan and Scott both agree that fans are going to display their frustrations when their team isn’t winning and isn’t performing at a high level, and that players and coaches shouldn’t allow what fans say affect them.
“We’ve got to appreciate our fans,” Ryan said. “Obviously in the good times it’s much easier than in the bad times.”
Scott wouldn’t say how long his conversation with Ryan lasted, but he said he understands where the coach is coming from.
“That’s the way it is in the life of a public figure,” the 2006 Pro Bowl selection said. “We live in a fishbowl and everything we do is analyzed and criticized. I don’t read into it and I don’t buy it. It takes a family member or someone who knows me to tell me what someone is saying and I take it all in stride, because at the end of the day, I know who and what I am and what I stand for.”
Scott, who has been battling through a turf toe injury most of the season, said he remembers when former NFL quarterback Tommy Maddox had a bad game and fans dumped trash and litter at his house.
“Is that wrong? I don’t know,” Scott said.
With a 4-7 record, it hasn’t been an easy year on the Jets players or their fans. Yet as one of the Green & White’s most outspoken leaders, Scott believes good things can still transpire.
“We all came into this season with expectations,” he said. “But I think the real true character of a man is tested when things aren’t going well. Anybody can sit up here and answer questions and do things when it’s easy, when it’s convenient. But when times get tough, that’s when a real man steps up and shows his true character.”
Yes, the fans were embarrassed by the Patriots game. The players were as well. Scott just hopes they will stay behind them the rest of the season.
“We’re practicing hard and we’re trying to finish it,” he said. “Hopefully with these last five games, we can make our fans proud, and Jets Nation and Gang Green feel like that we fought for them and that we put a good product out on the field for them.”
Thursday Injury Reports
There was some movement on the Jets’ injury report today, most of it favorable. WR Jeremy Kerley (heel/hamstring/illness), WR Chaz Schilens (concussion/hip) and LB Bart Scott (toe) all went from being limited during team drills Wednesday to being full-go today, and CB Aaron Berry (quad) went from DNP to limited. WR Clyde Gates (concussion) remained sidelined and S LaRon Landry (heel) did not practice in keeping with his weekly routine. G Brandon Moore (hip) was limited. New to the 20-player list today: LB Ricky Sapp (ankle, limited) and CB Kyle Wilson (illness, full).
Changes on the Cardinals’ 10-player list: RB William Powell (shoulder) and S Justin Bethel (shoulder) both went from limited to full today.
Tags: Bart Scott, MetLife Stadium, New England Patriots, Rex Ryan
Posted in John Holt | 34 Comments »
Rex Ryan and the Jets did in fact enjoy their two-hour plane ride back from St. Louis to Newark on Sunday night, as he suggested they should. And the head coach was still smiling over the Jets’ not-perfect-but-strong-nonetheless 27-13 win over the Rams the day before.
But Ryan and his players had no time to banter or trashtalk too much about their Thanksgiving night home matchup with Bill Belichick, Tom Brady and the Patriots.
“Right now we’re just swinging,” Rex said, going into heavy boxing/UFC metaphor. “We’re going to focus on our opponent specifically, but we’re behind where we have to be. We can only focus on ourselves. Like I say, just find a way to punch and swing. We earned where we are and we have to find a way to punch our way out. I’m not even worried about tweaking New England. It’s to a point where we have to focus on just us.”
The Jets did that with an altered schedule, returning to the Atlantic Health Training Center this morning and working out and meeting all day before starting the “first practice of the week” late this afternoon into early evening, which necessitated the lights ringing the complex’s outdoor turf field to be turned on for the session’s conclusion.
If any of the players lose focus now, it might not just be about losing that one-game-at-a-time mentality but also realizing how achy and breaky one’s body is after playing in St. Louis and before taking the field against the Pats’ band of offensive wizards and defensive opportunists three nights later.
“You have to see today like it’s a Wednesday practice,” TE Dustin Keller said from the . “You have to forget about the game yesterday. If you think about the game yesterday, you’re going to make yourself that much sorer.”
“It was a good win for us,” QB Mark Sanchez said. “We’re past that now, on to the next one. We have to try to get as many as we can.”
But only one at a time, CB Kyle Wilson said.
“We’re just really looking to improve this week, get better every day,” said Wilson. “We’re just focusing on New England. That’s all that’s there.”
One player who may not be there at MetLife Stadium, at least not in uniform, is New England’s Rob Gronkowski. Belichick told Patriots reporters on a conference call today, “I really don’t have anything” on the condition of the monster TE’s left forearm. And the Patriots’ official injury report released this evening only lists him as Did Not Participate in today’s practice, with a “forearm/hip” injury.
Unofficially it was being reported that Gronk fractured the arm while blocking on the final extra point of the Pats’ 59-24 win over the Colts and would be undergoing surgery sometime today.
“They have like five tight ends on their roster, so I don’t know if they will put another guy in that role,” Ryan said. “I’m not sure how they’ll do it. New England’s so multiple, they’ll give you four wides, five wides, a bunch of tight ends, so we’ll see as the game goes on how it affects them.
“Obviously, Gronkowski’s a huge target, especially in the red zone. I never like to see anybody get hurt. I’m not sad that he’s missing our game, but I hope he gets back soon.”
Sanchez has experienced the lows and highs of life as a quarterback the last two games, specifically when it comes to third-down accuracy.
At Seattle, Sanchez was 1-for-7 on third down, a 14.3% accuracy that was the lowest on that down of any game in his career.
Then at St. Louis, he rebounded with 8-for-9 accuracy at crunch time vs. the Rams. The 88.9% figure is the highest on that down in any game in his career.
On the other sideline, QB Sam Bradford and OC Brian Schottenheimer experienced those highs and lows in the same game. After one quarter, which was Bradford and Coach Schotty’s impressive 13-play opening touchdown drive, the Rams passer had a rating of 135.4 on 6-of-8 for 60 yards and the TD to Brandon Gibson.
The rest of the game, Bradford had to wonder where the magic went. He was 17-for-36 for 110 yards, one more TD to Gibby but one interception to Eric Smith, which all toted up to a 51.9 rating.
Love Those Short Fields
A few more note on the Jets-Rams drive chart. With the Rams help, the Jets finished 10 of their 13 drives in St. Louis territory. And two of those three series they didn’t cross the 50 were the Sanchez end-of-half kneeldowns.
Further, thanks to their three takeaways, the onside kick that Dustin Keller rescued, and a loss on downs after that, the Jets started five drives in St. Louis territory. That all added up to an average start on all drives of the Jets 45.9-yard line.
That is the best average drive start in a road game since we started tracking that number in 1990. There are only three home games that exceeded that number: 2001, Game 13, vs. Cincinnati (46.8), 2003, Game 5, vs. Buffalo (49.8), and 2008, Game 4, vs. Arizona (49.8). That last is the last time the Jets and Cardinals met before they’re set to do it again a week from Sunday. But first, of course, the Jets must figure out ways to maximize their field position and hidden yardage on Thursday night vs. the Patriots.
The Early Injury Picture
This is the week for the special Wednesday Injury Report, Monday Edition. The Jets and Patriots both filed reports after their practices today.
For the Jets, 19 players are on the report but it has the feel of last week’s report, which is to say fairly healthy for November. Only one player didn’t participate today and that’s WR Jason Hill (low back), who hasn’t played in the last two games after being re-signed.
Six players are limited, including WR Jeremy Kerley (heel/hamstring), who participated in only 19 offensive plays and none on specials vs. the Rams as he played through his issues. Also, NT Kenrick Ellis, who left the game after aggravating the knee injury that kept him out the four previous games, said he feels OK and did some work. The other limiteds: RB-KR Joe McKnight (ankle), DT Sione Po‘uha (low back), LB Bart Scott (toe) and CB Aaron Berry (quadriceps).
Also for the first time since before the Week 6 game vs. the Colts, C Nick Mangold is no longer being listed with an ankle injury, only with a thumb deal. He’s one of 12 Jets who were full-go today.
For the Patriots, G Logan Mankins (ankle/calf) and rookie DE Chandler Jones (ankle) joined Gronkowski as DNPs. Thirteen players were limited: DT Ron Brace (elbow), S Patrick Chung (shoulder/hamstring), G Dan Connolly (back), S Steve Gregory (hip), TE Aaron Hernandez (ankle), LB Dont’a Hightower (hamstring), WR Brandon Lloyd (knee), OL Nick McDonald (shoulder), DE Trevor Scott (hamstring), LB Brandon Spikes (knee), T Sebastian Vollmer (back/knee), WR Wes Welker (ankle) and LB Tracy White (foot).
LB Bart Scott is known for his Thanksgiving charity work in the city of Baltimore, where he started his pro career in 2002. Since ’03, he’s fed 250 men in the Helping Us Mission homeless shelter there, and this the fourth Turkey Day that Bart has conducted the dinner from a distance. The Ravens RB Ray Rice hosts in Bart’s absence, but the Madbacker talks with the attendees through Skype. This year’s event is Tuesday night.
Now rookie D-lineman Quinton Coples joins in the holiday cheer. Coples, who has a special affinity for his hometown of Kinston, N.C., gave away 250 turkeys in that town today. “Q” also is here in New Jersey, so his representatives, Millennium Sports Management, and volunteers distributed the birds on his behalf.
Tags: Bart Scott, Bill Belichick, Dustin Keller, Kyle Wilson, Mark Sanchez, New England Patriots, Quinton Coples, Rex Ryan, Rob Gronkowski, St. Louis Rams, thanksgiving, Tom Brady
Posted in Randy Lange | 34 Comments »
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.
Tags: Aaron Maybin, Bart Scott, CenturyLink Field, Ed Hochuli, Eric Smith, Mark Sanchez, Marshawn Lynch, Marv Albert, Ricky Sapp, Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks, Shonn Greene
Posted in Randy Lange | 4 Comments »
Sione Po‘uha is back in the mix. And “back” is the operative word.
“I’m feeling well. I’m feeling like my old self,” the Jets’ veteran nose tackle said in the Atlantic Health Training Center locker room following today’s first big practice of Seahawks week. “I’m just glad to be able to contribute to the team again and to be there for my teammates.”
More than a few of us speculated if that might ever happen again. “Big Bo” came up with his sore lower back in August during the Jets’ Cortland training camp. He was inactive for the opener against Buffalo, started the next three games at nose, then was deactivated for the next three, before starting again two Sundays ago vs. Miami.
He has spent every practice day this season on the injury report, including two-plus weeks when he didn’t practice at all. And when he was seen around the Atlantic Health Training Center locker room, it was usually to say, “I can’t talk today. Got to get rehab.”
When all of that happens to a 33-year-old man who’s spent much of his previous seven seasons getting into three-point stances and crashing into opposing offensive linemen and running backs like a 325-pound bighorn sheep, well, I asked him this afternoon if he ever worried during this season if he might have reached the end of the line as an NFL player.
“Nah. It was just another challenge, another obstacle in the road,” he said with a smile that didn’t seem to be derived from pain shooting up his torso. “Everybody’s road in the NFL is never easy. A lot of guys have physical, emotional, spiritual things they just have to go through in this league.”
Yet when I asked him if this was possibly the toughest physical challenge he’s had to endure in his distinguished, still maturing career, he didn’t disagree.
“I think it is,” he said after a pause. “I missed some significant games. But I accepted that challenge, I accepted the journey. And one of the things that keep me going is that at the end of the day, it’s all about helping my teammates.”
It’s always been about more than just Big Bo for Po‘uha. He’s become a steadying influence, a big-brother-figure on the D-line. Certainly Muhammad Wilkerson and Mike DeVito have becoming reliable defenders, rookie DT Quinton Coples has shown flashes, and NT Kenrick Ellis was and is on his way to that same status except for his knee injury. But missing his presence in the middle hasn’t helped the line move along smoothly this season.
And now Sione’s back, seemingly ready to rock and roll in the second half of the season. First up is a tough test with Marshawn Lynch and the Seahawks. Po‘uha said his and his teammates’ approach this week through Sunday will be simple.
“It’s all about executing, each of us doing our part,” he said. “Seattle’s got a great running back but it’s all about the game plan we’ve got from Rex and Coach Pettine. It’s all about preparing and getting out there and making it happen.”
And Bo is back with his Bros to try to make it happen for the Green & White in Seattle’s hostile environs four days from now.
Jets head coach Rex Ryan was asked his reaction to being ranked the most overrated head coach in the NFL in one of those Sports Illustrated player polls. Rex laughed.
“My first thought was I saw who was second and I said, ‘Hey, I finally beat Bill Belichick,’ ” Ryan said of the rankings, which listed the Patriots’ head coach as the second-most overrated HC in the NFL.
“Like gollee, it hadn’t been a tough enough year,” he said, turning serious. “Nah, I wasn’t offended by it. You know what? The overrated thing, it is what it is. At the end of the year we’ll see who’s overrated.” A few sentences later, he added: “As long as they want to come here and play and I’m overrated, that’s fine. But I want ‘em to come here and play.”
Regarding the Seahawks at CenturyLink Field, Ryan said their homefield advantage extends beyond this year’s 4-0 record and the ‘Hawks’ 52-24 home mark since ’03, fifth-best in the league in that span.
“You think it’s an indoor-type atmosphere, with the noise level when you get there, even though it’s an outdoor stadium,” he said. “I don’t know the exact number, but since ’05, I believe there’ve been 113 false-start penalties on opponents when they’re playing games at Seattle. That shows you it’s a tangible thing. That talks about the noise and how much that 12th man gets involved there in Seattle.”
The 12th man was in effect for the Jets’ last visit to the ‘Link in 2008, then known as Qwest Field. Besides the fans throwing snowballs at anybody in Jets green that day thanks to that rare Seattle snowstorm, the officials threw three flags for presnap penalties on the Jets that day — two on offense, one for a Damien Woody false start and one for an illegal formation, and one on then-punter Reggie Hodges for a delay of game.
However, the Seahawks didn’t take full advantage of their HFA that day. They got three false-start penalties called on their O-linemen as well.
Wednesday Injury Reports
The 15 players on the Jets’ injury list to start this week may sound like a lot but it’s the fewest players they’ve had on any daily report this season. NT Kenrick Ellis (knee) and RB-KR Joe McKnight (ankle) didn’t participate in practice, while limited players besides Po‘uha were LB Bart Scott (toe), TE Jeff Cumberland (wrist), C Nick Mangold (ankle), G Brandon Moore (hip), RB Bilal Powell (shoulder) and S Eric Smith (knee). You can find the Jets’ full injury report here.
The Seahawks are listing 11 players, with seven of them not practicing in Seattle today. Among them are former Jets WR Braylon Edwards (knee) and former Jets twice-annual foe RB Marshawn Lynch (back/wrist). Other DNPs were DE Red Bryant (foot), G James Carpenter (concussion), S Kam Chancellor (quadriceps), DT Clinton McDonald (groin) and LB K.J. Wright (concussion).
DE Jason Jones (ankle) was limited and WR Doug Baldwin (ankle), G John Moffitt (knee) and C Max Unger (finger) were full-go.\
Tags: Bart Scott, CenturyLink Field, Kenrick Ellis, Muhammad Wilkerson, Quinton Coples, Rex Ryan, Seattle Seahawks, Sione Pouha
Posted in Randy Lange | 26 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 »
Updated, 1:35 p.m. ET
The view is not sunny this morning, and I don’t just mean just from my North Jersey bunker as the wind whips the trees and the rain falls in rippling sheets.
The Jets are 3-5 at the 2012 halfway point, which also this year happens to be the break for their bye week. That record is significant for a few reasons.
It is good for sole possession of fourth and last place in the AFC East. Buffalo, on its bye, is a half-game ahead in third. Miami, which the Jets planned to send to 3-4, instead are 4-3 and a game and a half ahead in second. The Patriots are 5-3, two games ahead in the top spot.
Sole possession of last is not something the Jets have experienced much lately. Since ’09 under head coach Rex Ryan, they had never before been alone in the cellar. In fact, the last time was seven years ago, when they held fourth place in the division for the last 12 weeks of the 2005 season..
But the true significance of 3-5 is what it has done for their postseason plans. Three-and-five is not a good spot from which to launch a playoff assault.
Here are the facts:
■ Since 2002, when the current playoff format began, 59 NFL teams have begun 3-5.
■ Three of them, 5.1%, made the playoffs. The Jets were one of them, needing a 6-2 finish plus help to win the AFC East in ’02. San Diego in ’08 and Denver in ’11 both finished 8-8 and won the AFC West in those seasons.
■ Only five of those 59 started 3-5 and finished 6-2. No team finished 8-0 or 7-1.
■ The average record of all 59 of those teams: roughly 6-9-1.
■ How about teams that went 3-5 and got their bye in Week 9? Only seven got that scenario, and only the ’08 Chargers went from 3-5 to the playoffs. Average record for those seven is slightly better than 6-10.
Ryan knows the window is bad small. On his conference call with Jets reporters this morning, he was asked what he wants his players to do this bye week.
“First off, take care of yourself and your family and ride the hurricane thing out for a couple of days. Then get away from it,” he said. “I want them to get away and then come back, and we need to be all in. The only chance we have is if we’re 100 percent all in. We have no wiggle room. We have to start playing a ton better. Obviously our players know that.
“That’s the only thing we can hang our hat on. If we don’t play better, we can forget about anything.”
One more thing that will give these Jets the best chance they have in their final eight is to get a lot of their health back. Several players who have played important roles this year and in the past have been either out or hobbled or both for a while.
NT Sione Po‘uha agreed with that theory after returning to action vs. the Dolphins.
“Obviously, you would like to go into the bye week with a win, feeling positive about things,” Big Bo said. “But it’ll give me, I can only speak for myself, more time, almost like a long reset to evaluate and make new commitments and make new resolve for the upcoming second half of the season. I think this bye week will serve as a resolve/reset-type break for us before we come back and face Seattle and the remainder of the games.”
Eric Smith (knee), a stabilizing force in the secondary and a leader on special teams, has missed the last three games. Bilal Powell (shoulder), a key depth component at RB, has missed two games. Joe McKnight has been playing on a left ankle sprain for two weeks that he aggravated against Miami. LB Bart Scott’s battled turf toe for five weeks and finally ended his ironman streaks by sitting vs. the Dolphins. NT Kenrick Ellis (knee) has sat three games.
“These two weeks give us a chance to get healthy,” Ryan said. “I’m hoping they’ll all be available for Seattle. I’m not 100 percent sure, especially on Kenrick, but I feel great that Smith, Powell and Bart will be back. I think we’ll get the majority of our guys back healthy. I think that’s what this team needs.”
That and six victories could do wonders.
That Miami Mystique
The Jets outgained the Dolphins by 127 yards Sunday. A major component of that was Miami’s 20-0 halftime lead, of course, but the yardage inequality follows a trend.
The Jets’ plus-127 is tied for the 13th-largest yardage margin in a loss in franchise history. No. 2 on that list is the 30-25 home loss to the Dolphins in 2009, when they had a plus-274-yard margin. And tied for 10th is the 10-6 home loss in 2010, when the Jets were plus-149.
Tags: Bart Scott, Bilal Powell, Eric Smith, joe McKnight, Miami Dolphins, Rex Ryan, Sione Pouha
Posted in Randy Lange | 144 Comments »
The season began with a story of Bart Scott’s rebirth — lost weight, increased speed and strength — but it has developed into a tale of toe woe for the 11th-year linebacker.
“It’s tough. It’s like losing a thumb on your hand. Everything you do comes off your big toe,” said Scott, who said he injured the painful digit on the second defensive play of Game 3 at Miami and isn’t sure of his availability for Sunday’s home rematch against the Dolphins.
Scott, who spoke to reporters after today’s practice at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center, said the toe has been “beat up” since his college days at Southern Illinois. He described this latest episode as basically “turf toe, ligament damage, capsule strains and things like that. You’re talking about running on a toe that’s not all the way in the socket and it’s loose and swollen and you’re wearing an extra large shoe.
“I’ve always prided myself on being able to have a high pain tolerance and to be able to play through things. I just want to show my teammates that I’m willing to bite down and continue to play and do what I can to help us win,” he said in the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center locker room following today’s practice. “If we have to shut it down, we shut it down. If not, then we’ll be ready to go.”
Shutting it down for a game is not something Scott has done in a long time. Since 2004 with the Ravens, he has played in 119 consecutive regular-season games, the fifth-longest streak among active NFL linebackers and the eighth-longest among all active defensive players. Throw in 10 playoff games and the streak reaches 129 consecutive games. For the Jets, those streaks are 55 straight regular-season games played and 61 straight including playoffs.
Then as far as starts go, he’s started 111 of the last 113 regular-season games, and 121 of the last 123 including playoffs, and with the Jets it’s 53 starts in 55 games, 59 in 61 including playoffs.
The only start he didn’t make last season was Game 5 at New England, when the Jets opened with seven defensive backs on the field against Tom Brady and company. Then on Sunday he missed another start at Foxboro and played in what was likely an eight-season low of nine plays on defense and 16 total.
“Whatever is best for the team. I don’t care about a streak,” Scott said about the possibility of missing this start. “I care about helping my team win and trying to win a championship. That’s always been my primary goal, and that’s why I came here. If helping the team best is for me to be on the sideline and help these young linebackers see what’s going on and help slow the game down for them, then I’ll do that. If it’s biting down so we can get to the bye at 3-1 in our division, then that’s what I’ll do.”
The one young linebacker most impacted by Scott’s injury is third-round rookie Demario Davis, who was in for the most plays of his young career and the most among the Jets on Sunday, 98 total and 69 plays on defense.
Despite the difficulties, Scott did make one contribution vs. the Patriots, tackling RB Stevan Ridley for a yard loss on the Pats’ third-quarter touchdown drive. He’s tied for the Jets lead at 4.0 tackles for loss this season, and he leads the Jets in TFLs from 2009 to present with 25.5.
Scott’s being benched, as some reports had it today, doesn’t quite capture the situation, as head coach Rex Ryan explained at his news conference today.
“New England did a lot of stuff where they put him in space with a lot of empty sets, four and five receivers,” Ryan said. “Normally I like to keep Bart out there. But if he can’t change directions in space as well as he normally can, we’ve got to do what’s best for our football team. Is he going to be 100 percent this week? No. Hopefully when that bye comes, we’ll rest him that whole time and he’ll have two weeks to get ready for Seattle. Hopefully that will really help him.”
The Rest of the Injury Picture
Aside from Scott, the Jets’ health continued to slowly improve. DT Kenrick Ellis (knee), S LaRon Landry (heel) and RBs Joe McKnight (ankle) and Bilal Powell (shoulder) didn’t practice. But TE Jeff Cumberland (wrist), C Nick Mangold (ankle) and S Eric Smith (knee) all got some limited work in team drills and DT Sione Po‘uha continued as a limited participant. “Sione moved around and looked pretty good,” Ryan said of Big Bo’s Wednesday practice. “His strength numbers are up. I’ve been encouraged by that.”
Among the Jets’ full-go guys, WR Clyde Gates (shoulder),who’s missed two games, “looks like he’s coming around,” according to the coach.
Miami’s report remained short and static. DT Randy Starks, who was excused from Wednesday’s workout for non-football reasons, returned today and was taken off the list.
Tags: Bart Scott, Clyde Gates, Demario Davis, Miami Dolphins, Rex Ryan, Sione Pouha
Posted in Randy Lange | 61 Comments »