Here are today’s first-half tweets for the Jets-Bills game at Ralph Wilson Stadium, 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: G Brandon Moore, DT Mike DeVito, T D’Brickashaw Ferguson, WR Jordan White, CB Darrin Walls
#RL Shonn Greene has 17 yards on 3 carries, has reached 1,000 rushing yards for the second straight season.
#RL Nick Folk 47-yd FG is good. Folk now 19-for-24 on season, 11-for-13 career vs BUF. Jets lead 3-0…
#RL Jets have 2 TDs, 2 FGs on 16 opening drives this season.
#EA Entering Week 17, teams averaged 5.1 a carry on the Bills D. Jets ran 9 times on that 1st drive for 42 yards — a 4.7 average.
#RL Jets lead the NFL with 27 inside-the-20 kickoffs but ex-Jet Brad Smith doesn’t cooperate, going 27 yds on KO return to BUF 31.
#RL With BUF punt, Jets opponents have gone their last 6 opening drives w/o scoring a point. (4 TDs, 2 FGs on 16 opening drives overall.)
#RL LB Bryan Scott nabs Mark Sanchez pass, goes 20 yds for BUF TD. 2nd INT-return TD vs. Sanchez this season, 7th in his career.
#RL Lex Hilliard’s first catch in 6 games goes for 7 yds on 3rd-and-7 for 1st down at BUF 44 as 1st qtr comes to an end.
#EA Giveaways have been a problem the entire season. The Jets now have 36 and that was the 19th INT.
#RL Nick Folk 2-for-2 on FGs today, although his 23-yarder just got over the crossbar after tip by Alex Carrington. Folk on year: 20-for-25.
#EA Powell almost equaled a career-long with that 18-yard run. He had a 19-yarder vs. the Cards on Dec. 2.
#EA With 51 yards on the ground, Greene is up to 1,040. He needs only 15 yards to set a career-high (1,054 in 2011).
#RL Bilal Powell 33-yard reception wiped out by Austin Howard hold. So Jeremy Kerley goes 40 yds on third-and-16…
#RL Jets’ longest 3rd-down conversion on a pass play since Mark Sanchez-to-Braylon Edwards for 34 yds on 3rd-and-21 @ MIA in 2009.
#RL Nick Folk 28-yd FG gives Jets 9-7 lead. Folk’s first 3-FG first half since 2010 Game 5 vs. MIN.
#RL CJ Spiller 66-yd TD catch/run longest reception by opposing RB in road game since Fred Taylor 72 yds w/ Mark Brunell pass @ JAX ’02.
#RL Jets CB Donnie Fletcher has hamstring injury, his return to this game is questionable.
#RL Jets hold edges in yards (204-132), 1st downs (13-4), possession (23:04-6:46) but Bills have 14-9 halftime lead.
#RL Jets’ 23:14 first-half possession time is their most in 1st half since 2009 “Win and We’re In” Game 16 vs CIN (24:50).
Tags: Austin Howard, Bilal Powell, Brandon Moore, Braylon Edwards, Buffalo Bills, C.J. Spiller, Mark Sanchez, Nick Folk, Ralph Wilson Stadium, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Shonn Greene
Posted in Randy Lange | 152 Comments »
There may be a perception among NFL watchers and fantasy players that Chris Johnson is having a down year. But then again, everything after his 2,006-yard sophomore season as the Titans’ tailback would pale in comparison.
But CJ2K also is making a comeback of sorts. He’s already cleared 1,000 rushing yards for the fifth time in five seasons and his 4.7 yards per rush are his best since his 5.6 in 2009.
“He’s still one of the leading rushers in the league,” Jets head coach Rex Ryan said today. “He’s a dangerous guy. He’s somebody, every time he touches it, you hold your breath. He’s that kind of athlete, so a dropoff in play? I don’t know. I don’t necessarily see it because he’s the same explosive guy to me on tape. You don’t get a whole lot of sleep worrying about this guy, that’s for sure. He’s a great player. Obviously, everybody knows about him. He’s no secret.
“I think when he first got into the league, you weren’t necessarily that sure. You saw a guy, ‘Hey, he’s a little undersized for a running back,’ and then he’s blowing by you and ‘Oh, man.’ You can say a guy is fast, you can read the numbers, but when you see it on the field, it’s happening right in front of you, it’s a little scary. I saw it first-hand several times when we played against him here but also in Baltimore.”
Actually, Ryan defenses have done pretty well against Johnson. In ’08, Rex’s last year with the Ravens, Johnson had 44 yards on 18 carries. The next year vs. the Jets, he had 97 yards on 22 carries. But the Titans lost both of those games.
However, while the Jets have improved in many areas and rankings on defense, is this year’s run defense improved as well? The Jets are still ranked 29th in rush yards allowed per game, not a good omen against Johnson and running QB Jake Locker. Ryan said, “I think our run defense has definitely improved,” but he was clearly unhappy with yielding that untouched 32-yard TD jaunt by Montell Owens at Jacksonville.
Yet one ranking that isn’t mentioned a lot is opponents’ rush yards per carry. The Jets after five games were allowing 4.9 yards per carry, 29th in the league. In the last eight games, the average is 4.0, which has improved their league ranking to 19th.
It will have to be good enough. As Ryan said, this week vs. Tennessee “is a bit of a challenge.”
Tebow Upon Further Review
One day after Rex Ryan said he didn’t see Tim Tebow Wildcatting and personal protecting on Monday night at Tennessee due to his still sore ribs, the Jets coach saw enough improvement at Thursday’s practice to put all the familiar TT roles back on the table today.
“I was just adamant about, well, there will be no Wildcat, but I’m like, he may be able to go back to similar roles,” Ryan said at today’s news conference. “He’s always been cleared to play, but as good as he looked to me, I don’t want to rule that out for the simple fact that this is as good as he’s looked in several weeks.”
Tebow, holding rare back-to-back locker room news conferences (he normally talks to reporters Wednesday and Friday, but before the Monday night game, Thursday was the new Wednesday this week), was encouraged.
“I try to go out there and compete like any other practice. I’m glad he felt good about it and thought highly,” Tebow said, adding about getting ready for game contact for the first time since Nov. 18 at St. Louis, “I’ll be ready for that first hit … I think I will be.”
So the ‘Cat is back in the game plan? “I guess,” Tebow said, “it could be considered.”
Cynics might say this is all a ploy to make sure Tennessee is spending extra time getting ready for the Wildcat when the Jets really aren’t planning to run it. Well, maybe, but as Titans coach Mike Munchak said Thursday, “I think it’s obviously something we would prepare for anyway.”
Friday Injury Picture
Ryan reported today that X-rays on RB Bilal Powell’s toe came back negative. Both Powell and LB Bryan Thomas (chest) went from DNPs to limited work in team drills at today’s practice at the Atlantic Health Training Center. S LaRon Landry (heel) got his usual mid-practice-week day on the sideline. The rest of the Jets report remained the same as Thursday.
WR Braylon Edwards (hamstring) was limited for a second straight day. Ryan: “We’re being cautious there. I’m going to lean on the trainers. We’re hopeful he’ll be able to go on Monday.”
Titans RB Chris Johnson (ankle), who didn’t practice Thursday, and T Michael Roos (knee), who was limited, both were full-go at today’s practice in Nashville.
One Confusing Facemask
Upon reviewing the video of the Jets’ Sunday win at Jacksonville, we wanted set the record straight one more time, primarily because it involved some fans perhaps giving Muhammad Wilkerson a demerit for his latest strong performance when in fact Mo didn’t deserve the markdown.
The play was the fourth-quarter penalty on the Jets (their only flag of the game) for grasping the facemask of scrambling Jaguars QB Chad Henne. Referee Al Riveron got the error parade going by announcing, “Personal foul, facemask, No. 96.” That’s Wilkerson, but No. 98, Quinton Coples, was actually the guilty party, as the CBS slow-mo replay showed.
A referee announcing the wrong number on a penalty isn’t a frequent mistake although it happens probably more than you’d think. In this case, 96 and 98 are swarming the QB, Riveron is told the wrong number by the side judge or the head linesman, he reports it to the world.
However, that’s when network analyst Solomon Wilcots compounded the error as he spoke over the replay of Coples clearly hooking Henne’s mask as Wilkerson was closing ground from the left.
“He was going down anyway,” Wilcots said. “Take a look here. Now why’d you have to grab the facemask? There it is right there, Muhammad Wilkerson. Wow.”
Monday McKnight Football
Laura Clemente, our communications coordinator and social media maven, reports on an opportunity to win a neat prize during Monday’s Jets-Titans game:
“While the team is on the road and you’re tuned in to the Jets-Titans Monday night match-up on ESPN, you will have an exclusive opportunity. All you need to do is check into the game via Viggle on your smartphone or iPad and you could win a Joe McKnight autographed football. So watch the Jets on MNF, download the free Viggle app from the App Store or Google Play and enter for a chance to win! Check out viggle.com for more on how to download the app, win great prizes and get points for rewards.”
Tags: Bilal Powell, Braylon Edwards, Chris Johnson, Rex Ryan, Tennessee Titans, Tim Tebow, Wildcat
Posted in Randy Lange | 30 Comments »
Updated, 5:40 p.m. ET
Is the Jets’ version of the Wildcat dead? Well, maybe it’s only catnapping.
But Rex Ryan indicated today that Tim Tebow’s situation with the Jets at this moment is, well, complicated.
The Jets head coach was asked if Tebow, with his cracked ribs, could return to his role as personal punt protector as soon as Monday night at Tennessee.
“I don’t really see him in that role,” said Ryan, who then immediately jumped to Tebow’s role on offense. “As far as the Wildcat, obviously with the ribs the way they are, that’s a role, hopefully, that once we get the OK with those ribs, we probably expand that. But it’s not necessarily going to be a big part of our game plan. I think he’s improving, but improving to where you’re going to run the powers and the counters, I’m not sure about that.”
Yet Ryan acknowledged that Tebow has been cleared by the Jets’ medical staff and there is nothing else wrong with him, and so he continues in his role as the first in behind Mark Sanchez.
“He can be the backup quarterback and run some base things,” the coach said, adding about the ‘Cat, “There’s always a chance you can put him in that role.”
Rex also said that Greg McElroy continues in the third QB role and could be active vs. the Titans. But as he explained last week after Joe McKnight’s pregame migraines rippled through the roster and forced Ryan to keep an extra RB (Kahlil Bell) up just in case and to deactivate McElroy, “Each week is different.”
“Obviously, Tim’s had many more reps and I’m just more comfortable with Tim,” Ryan said about his choice of No. 2 QB for now. “I like Greg. I think Greg has improved a ton since his rookie year. I’ve always liked him, but I felt his arm strength had to improve to play at this level and I think he’s done that. I think his arm is getting better. I’m excited about Greg, I am. The fact that I have Tim over him doesn’t mean that I don’t like Greg as an option at quarterback. I like Greg.”
The new flurry of Tebow/McElroy/WC/PP questions were spurred in part by Ryan’s interview on ESPN New York 98.7 FM the day after the Jaguars game in which he said Tebow being disappointed about this season “is probably a fair statement.” But both Ryan and then Tebow today elaborated on the “duality of disappointment” or some similar psychological theory in which a player can be happy to be a Jet but underwhelmed about how being a Jet has gone so far.
“I think you take everything in stride and you try to handle everything the best you can,” Tebow said in front of his locker this afternoon. “Obviously, it hasn’t gone exactly how we wanted, starting off the year with wins and everything as a team. Sometimes you have ups and downs and you just try to deal with them as best you can. They’re all learning opportunities, and when you believe everything happens for a reason, it makes it a whole lot easier.”
As for what this means for the Jets’ QB and Wildcat depth chart at Tennessee, your guess is as good as ours. It sounds as if Tebow may or may not play, McElroy may or may not be active, the Wildcat may or may not be implemented. The Titans simply need to be ready for every contingency.
Wednesday I-Reports/Special Thursday Edition
Updating Ryan’s pre-practice list with the official list submitted after 4 p.m., the Jets list 21 players on today’s first injury report of the week. Six did not practice today at the Atlantic Health Training Center, topped by RB Bilal Powell, who came off his career game at Jacksonville with a possible toe fracture to go along with his rehabbing shoulder. But Ryan said, “We think he’ll be all right, though,” for Monday night.
Also DNP: TE Dustin Keller (ankle), WR Stephen Hill (knee), CB Aaron Berry (hamstring) and WR Clyde Gates (concussion), LB Bryan Thomas (chest).
Two limited players were newly re-arrived WR Braylon Edwards (hamstring) and NT Sione Po‘uha (low back).
Thirteen Jets were listed but full-go, all of them holdovers from last week’s list. No longer on the list this week are DT Mike DeVito, FB Lex Hilliard, WR Jeremy Kerley (who had been on the list the previous five weeks with either a heel, a hamstring or both) and WR Chaz Schilens. The Jets’ full, updated I-report can be found here.
As for the Tennessee I-report that just came in, four players did not practice today, topped by RB Chris Johnson (ankle). WR Damian Williams (hamstring), DE Scott Solomon (knee) and LB Colin McCarthy (concussion) also were DNPs. The rest of the TT report: Limited — DT Jurrell Casey (knee), T Michael Roos (knee). Full — WR Kenny Britt (knee), CB Michael Griffin (neck), QB Jake Locker (left shoulder), DE Kamerion Wimbley (toe).
Tags: Bilal Powell, Greg McElroy, Mark Sanchez, Rex Ryan, Tennessee Titans, Tim Tebow
Posted in Randy Lange | 44 Comments »
Updated, Friday, 7:25 a.m. ET
Shonn Greene wanted to set the record straight.
The Jets tailback made a point to tell the team’s beat reporters after today’s practice that he didn’t say what Michael Silver of Yahoo Sports said he said under the headline “Jets RB Shonn Greene is right: Time for team to hand ball to ‘terrible’ Tim Tebow.”
“I think the quotes were totally out of context,” Greene said. “It was that we’re 3-6 and things need to change. I said nothing about changing the quarterback, nothing about any single person on this team. I’ve been here four years and I never once said anything about anybody on this team.”
Greene’s agent had set up the interview with Silver on Tuesday. The first he heard of the piece was when a friend texted him the article after it posted Wednesday night.
“I was shocked,” he said. “First of all, the article was supposed to be a feature on me and where I’m at right now, and how it turned into me saying this about this person and that person, I don’t know.”
One of the key quotes Greene took issue with was Silver quoting him saying, “You feel bad for Mark, but at the same time you want to win. We’re not here to protect people’s feelings.”
“I never said that,” he said, adding he didn’t bring up QB Mark Sanchez’s name at all. “What I said was we’re 3-6 and some things need to change. We need to win.”
This Jet-on-the-media story comes on the heels of head coach Rex Ryan’s critiquing of the unnamed Jets who were quoted on Tim Tebow in Tuesday’s Daily News, both to his team and to reporters at Wednesday’s news conference.
“First you get yesterday, now today with me. It’s just ‘C’mon, like, really?’ ” Greene said. “We just want to play football. That’s all we want to do.”
Greene said his relationship with Sanchez was unharmed by the story.
“I let him know about it through a text,” No. 23 said. “We’re not worried about that. We’ve got a game to play.”
Thursday Injury Reports
It’s good to see big Kenrick Ellis moving around again. The 346-point nose tackle seems to be nearing a return to action after sitting the last four games with the knee injury he suffered vs. Houston and not even practicing the first three weeks after the injury. He’s listed as full-go in practice this week, along with 12 other teammates, and he could help in trying to corral ninth-year man Steven Jackson, the 240-pound feature back whom Ryan today called “a big-time playmaker who’s as big as he ever was, strong, determined, and still has speed and all the skills.”
Also on the Green & White I-report, WR Stephen Hill stayed home for a second day with an illness but Ryan said, “I’m hopeful he’ll be able to play” on Sunday. S LaRon Landry (heel) also didn’t practice, as per his usual late-week schedule. And RB Bilal Powell, listed as limited before practice, also was a DNP. Powell may have gotten his concussion Sunday when he was shoved by Seattle’s Malcolm Smith and fell into what appeared to be an accidental knee shot from Leon Washington as he was tackled after a punt return.
For the Rams, WR Austin Pettis (toe) did not practice today, while LB Mario Haggan (thigh), new to the list, and DE Eugene Sims (knee) and S Darian Stewart (knee) were all limited.
John Schmitt, Joe Namath’s Super Bowl III center, visited the Jets training center today, as usual impeccably clothed in suit and tie. Schmitt just celebrated his 70th birthday on Monday but he doesn’t look a day over 60. Maybe that’s because of the 60 hours he still puts in every week running his businesses.
Former Jets RB -KR-PR extraordinaire Bruce Harper will be among the sports world luminaries at the 16th annual “Teddy Dinner” at the Hilton Garden Inn on Staten Island, N.Y., tonight. Teddy Atlas, is, of course, the celebrated boxing trainer and ESPN Friday Night Fights analyst and a former Jet himself as a consultant in Eric Mangini’s regime. This year’s gala will benefit the victims of Hurricane Sandy throughout the New York area from Staten Island to Rockaway.
Pass and Catch
A little unfinished business from Seattle that may interest only me:
Golden Tate had the first-quarter 38-yard touchdown reception from Russell Wilson and the fourth-quarter 23-yard TD pass to Sidney Rice. A TD catch and a TD pass in the same game … that doesn’t happen often, does it?
No, it doesn’t. The only other time an opponent did it in franchise history was on Oct. 1, 1961, when the Jets were the Titans, the game was in the Polo Grounds, the opponent was the Boston Patriots, and Gino Cappelletti had an all-around scoring day. Cappelletti threw to Larry Garron for a 27-yard TD on a fake field goal, caught a 32-yard strike from Butch Songin and kicked three field goals and three PATs, accounting for 24 of the Pats’ points in the Titans’ 37-30 win.
The Jets have also done it twice to opponents: Curtis Martin at Tampa Bay in 2000 (the “Flashlight Game”) and Freeman McNeil in ’83 at Miami.
It’s the first time it’s happened in the NFL since 2009, when Mewelde Moore turned the trick for Pittsburgh vs. San Diego, and it’s only the 12th time since 1960 that a wideout was the player who threw and caught a TD pass in the same game.
Tags: Bilal Powell, Bruce Harper, John Schmitt, Kenrick Ellis, Mark Sanchez, Michael Silver, Shonn Greene, St. Louis Cardinals, Teddy Atlas, Tim Tebow, Yahoo Sports
Posted in Randy Lange | 43 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 »
Updated, 7:10 p.m. ET
After catching all seven passes thrown to him for 93 yards and scoring a fourth quarter touchdown during Sunday’s overtime loss to the New England Patriots, Dustin Keller appears to be in a familiar spot.
“I’m finally getting into the swing of things and starting to get a real good feel for the passing game and all that stuff, because when you’re gone for a while, you don’t see those looks for a little while and it’s kind of a little weird when you first get out there,” the tight end said this afternoon after practice at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. “But I feel back in the swing of things and pretty much back to where I was.”
Keller had missed four games earlier this season due to a hamstring injury, but returned to the Jets lineup against Indianapolis on Oct. 14. In that game, he had one catch for 6 yards on the only pass thrown his way by Mark Sanchez. However, in Foxboro, the QB/TE duo were able to regain their strong connection.
“I think there’s a major comfort level,” Keller said of his relationship with Sanchez, “and also at the same time, if there’s anything that feels a little cloudy in our minds, we both are comfortable enough to come up to each other and be like, ‘What were you thinking on that play?’ Just so we’re thinking alike. We both know exactly what each other is thinking. I try to do that anytime there’s a little bit of a question in my mind on any play.”
No. 81’s touchdown against New England came on the final play of the 92-yard drive that cut the Patriots’ lead to 23-20 with just under six minutes remaining in regulation. Sanchez threw the pass in a tight window and Keller was able to haul in the 7-yard reception in the middle of the end zone.
“The whole play worked because Mark put it in the only spot they couldn’t get it,” the fifth-year TE said.
As the Green & White gear up to take on the Miami Dolphins for the second time this season, Keller has been encouraged with how the Jets receivers have progressed since Santonio Holmes, their No. 1 WR, went down with a season-ending foot injury on Sept. 30.
“I think all the guys have done a great job of picking up the slack since Santonio’s been out,” Keller said. “Everybody has been picking up a little bit. Obviously there’s not one guy that’s going to pick up all the production and do all the things that Santonio was doing for us. But the guys that are here have been doing a great job.”
The Dolphins didn’t have an answer for Holmes when the teams first met last month. Tone finished that day with nine receptions for 147 yards and the Jets picked up their lone road victory of the season, leaving Sun Life Stadium with the 23-20 overtime victory. Keller was sidelined for the matchup but still analyzed the team’s performance.
“I think we did some good things the first game,” he said. “We were lucky enough to pull away the game. I don’t think we played our best football, but we did enough in each area, special teams, defense and offense, to win the game.”
Heading into their second meeting, Keller believes the Jets have an advantage against the Miami pass defense, which is allowing 284.8 yards per game, 28th in the NFL. But regardless of what the stats indicate about Miami, Keller knows how important Sunday’s contest is. And when you consider that the Jets enter their bye week after the game, it makes things even more critical.
“I feel like all AFC East games are rivalry games,” Keller said. “Anytime you’re going to get a team twice in a season, that’s a rivalry to me. But it’s always a tough game. All the AFC East games are tough, but for some reason, Miami, it seems like it’s been a big one for us.”
Rex and Reggie
The week before the Jets faced the Dolphins last month, Jets head coach Rex Ryan made comments describing how his team planned to contain running back Reggie Bush that drew some heat after the fact.
At the time, Ryan said, “Obviously, we have to do a great job of getting a lot of guys to him and getting him on the ground. Put some hot sauce on him, if you will.”
The Jets defeated Bush and the Dolphins, 23-20, in overtime. Bush produced 61 yards on 10 carries before leaving the game with a knee injury late in the second quarter. Late in the third quarter, Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis went down with a season-ending torn left ACL.
Days after the game, Bush said: “It’s like the old saying, what goes around comes around. They talked all week about putting hot sauce and this and that, and they ended up losing their best player for the rest of the season. So it’s sad that it happened because of that, but I’m going to be back.”
As the AFC East foes prepare to meet again Sunday, Ryan was asked about the topic during his news conference this afternoon and explained the theory behind his statement.
“I never was saying that we were going to try to injury Reggie Bush,” Ryan said. “That’s not even close. He’s going to get our attention. I’m sorry, but he’s the type of player that’s going to warrant our attention and we’re going to give it to him, there is no question. That was what I meant by my comments. If it was taken differently, out of context or whatever, I apologized for that. Trust me, we know when he’s in the game. He is still going to get our attention.”
Ryan added that he never wants to see a player get hurt. He said as bad as he wants to beats Tom Brady, he would never want to see the Patriots QB out due to injury.
“Shoot, I’m a football fan as well as a coach,” he said. “This game is great because of the players and the talent that plays in this league.”
Bush enters Round 2 with the Green & White having started all six of Miami’s games with 98 rushes for 434 yards and three touchdowns.
Wednesday Injury Reports
The swelled-up Jets’ injury list continues to come back to earth slowly. The list now has 16 players, equal to its shortest Wednesday of the season. New to the list are TE Jeff Cumberland (wrist, did not participate) and G Vlad Ducasse (knee, full), but off the list completely are Keller, WR Stephen Hill and LB Bryan Thomas.
Eight players were DNPs for today’s practice. Besides Keller, they were NT Kenrick Ellis (knee), C Nick Mangold (ankle), RB-KR Joe McKnight (ankle), LB Calvin Pace (who was kicked in the shin vs. the Patriots), RB Bilal Powell (shoulder), LB Bart Scott (toe) and S Eric Smith (knee).
McKnight is being brought along carefully after injuring the ankle against the Colts. As he said today, “If Coach Westhoff can play with a rod in his leg, I can play with a sore ankle.”
Also, NT Sione Pouha (back) was limited, as he was last Thursday and Friday. “I’m encouraged he’s out there giving it a shot this week,” said Ryan. “Big Bo” has missed the last three games and four of the seven this season.
The Dolphins’ list, on the other hand, is short by almost any standard. Only five players are listed by coach Joe Philbin: DNP — CB Richard Marshall (back) and DT Randy Starks (non-football); Limited — S Jimmy Wilson (ankle); Full — LB Koa Misi (hamstring) and RB Daniel Thomas (concussion).
Tags: Bilal Powell, Dustin Keller, joe McKnight, Mark Sanchez, Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots, Sione Pouha
Posted in John Holt | 33 Comments »
While many label the Jets-Patriots matchup as a rivalry, rookie wide receiver Stephen Hill isn’t approaching it that way.
“I’m just taking it as a regular game,” Hill said this afternoon after practice at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. “Not doing too much, just going out there and treating it as that next game you’re trying to take to the next level. Just making plays, and going out there to help out the team, so we can get a W.”
Hill, who earlier this season missed two games sidelined with a hamstring injury, made his return to the lineup Sunday for the Jets’ 35-9 win over Indianapolis. No. 84 looked sharp in his first game back as he caught three passes for 23 yards and recorded the third touchdown of his career.
“It was good,” he said. “Not playing for two weeks, I was hurting. So I definitely had to come back as strong as I could to make plays.”
The 6’4″, 215-pounder said he feels no additional pressure heading into Sunday’s AFC East showdown. He said the Jets veterans have spoken with him some about the game but didn’t tell him anything noteworthy.
“They were just like, ‘It’s a big week, divisional week,’ ” Hill said. “That’s it. That’s how they treat it.”
Hill got to experience a special rivalry during his college days at Georgia Tech. Whenever GT would prepare to face Georgia there was always extra buzz and chatter being spread. Hill said the anticipation this week has been almost the same as a Georgia Tech-Georgia matchup.
“I like rivalry games,” he said. “It definitely brings a lot of excitement, of course, to the game. I’m just ready to take this on, especially being now in the NFL. It’s even bigger now.”
Many Jets players have said the level of focus has increased this week in practice. Hill totally agrees. Not only has he been studying the Patriots during film sessions at the Jets’ facility, but he also saved footage of them onto his iPad.
“I feel like this was my best week since I’ve been here,” Hill said. “I’ve been very dialed in, into the playbook and things like that. So I’ve just been reading as much as I can, just to get a feel of what they’re going to throw at us on Sunday.”
There are always challenges on the road, yet Hill said he enjoys the atmosphere of being away from home. A win in Foxboro and the Jets would return home with more enjoyment than they could imagine.
“It would do a lot,” Hill said. “We would be at the top of the division. That’d be great and definitely give us a boost of confidence.”
Coples on Jets-Pats “Logistics”
As a kid, Quinton Coples said he hardly ever watched the Patriots, the opponents the Jets will be facing Sunday afternoon.
“I was a Pittsburgh Steelers fan,” the Jets’ first-round draft selection said. “I watched them against the Pittsburgh Steelers, but no, growing up that wasn’t one of my teams at all.”
Coples will be participating in his seventh game as a pro. So far, there have been ups and down.
The former North Carolina Tar Heel has been informed of the yearly hype surrounding Patriots week. However, he couldn’t decide if Sunday will be the biggest game he’s played in his football career.
“I don’t know,” Coples said. “That’s hard to debate as far as whether it will be my biggest game. But I take every game seriously and I’m looking forward to getting back there and getting after it in this great rivalry.”
Without question, Coples will enter the game with plenty of confidence. Against the Colts he recorded the first two sacks of his NFL career. While the Patriots have the league’s top offense, No. 98 doesn’t seem fazed when analyzing the matchup.
“I think every game is every game,” he said. “At the end of the day, you have to take care of it and make sure you get a win. I’m not too big on turning it up a level. I’m trying to turn it up every game. A rivalry game is definitely a lot more aggressive and a lot more grimy. There’s no telling what could happen. But at the end of the day, it’s fun.”
Coples hasn’t heard anything about New England’s fan base but expects them to be loud and ready, especially considering the Pats are returning home off their heartbreaking 24-23 loss at Seattle.
Like with any rivalry, there probably will be plenty of trash-talking going on throughout this one.
“Since this is going to be my first one, I can’t really speak on it,” Coples said. “I can just go out there and make sure I take care of my job. I think after this first one, I’ll understand the logistics of how crazy this game is.”
Friday Injury Reports
Ryan pegs 10 of his 17 injured players as probable for the Patriots, including TE Dustin Keller (hamstring) and Hill (hamstring), who both strung together two full-go practices for the first time in weeks. Also probable are LBs Bart Scott (toe) and Bryan Thomas (hamstring), who were limited in practice all week.
As for the backup RB situation, the Jets coach didn’t elaborate but is letting the designations speak for themselves. RB-KR Joe McKnight (ankle) didn’t participate in practice all week but is listed as questionable for the game, while RB Bilal Powell (shoulder) was also a three-time DNP and is doubtful for the Patriots.
Other Jets doubtfuls: DTs Sione Po‘uha (back) and Kenrick Ellis (knee). Questionables besides McKnight: C Nick Mangold (ankle), who was limited at today’s practice after not going Wednesday and Thursday, and WR Clyde Gates (shoulder).
The Patriots have declared starting S Steve Gregory (hip), rookie RB Brandon Bolden (knee) and LB Tracy White (foot) out for the game. Rookies Tavon Wilson and Nate Ebner are listed as the backup safeties behind Gregory and Patrick Chung.
Bill Belichick has also listed 11 players, all of whom were limited at today’s practice, as questionable for the Jets. Seven are or have been starters: Chung (shoulder), TEs Rob Gronkowski (hip) and Aaron Hernandez (ankle), LB Dont’a Hightower (hamstring), LG Logan Mankins (calf/hip), RT Sebastian Vollmer (back/knee) and WR Wes Welker (ankle).
Tags: Bart Scott, Bilal Powell, Bryan Thomas, joe McKnight, New England Patriots, Nick Mangold, Quinton Coples, Stephen Hill
Posted in John Holt | 12 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 »
Quinton Coples assured reporters today that he’s not in a first-round D-line competition with the Patriots’ Chandler Jones.
“We’re cool. I’m cool with all the defensive linemen who came out in my class,” said Coples. “I’m definitely good friends with him. It’s not about keeping track of stats or anything like that. Before the game we’re going to shake hands and then at the end of the game we’re going to shake hands again. It’s not a comparison thing.”
That being said, it helps if Coples can push two full stacks of chips instead of 1½ stacks into the middle of the table next to Jones’ five stacks for the Patriots.
Did I say stacks? I meant sacks, of course. A scoring change by the Elias Sports Bureau credited Coples with a full sack of Andrew Luck late in Sunday’s game, taking away the half sack originally credited to LB Aaron Maybin on the play. For the game and for his pro career, the Jets’ first-round DT has two full sacks.
On some other team, this could occasion some frazzled feelings, or at the very least a little trash talk. But that’s not the way Coples rolls.
“That’s not important to me. At the end of the day, we got him on the ground. That’s all that matters,” he said. “Whether I get 1½ or two for the game, it was a win.”
And Maybin, who’s been searching for his first sack of the season after racking up six sacks in his third NFL season last year, was also upbeat despite having lost that half sack that he had for about three days.
“Quinton had a hell of a game. He deserved it,” Maybin said. “But hey, that was the kind of game that, while I can’t necessarily be satisfied with it, if you asked me if I was pleased who how the defense played and my involvement in the grand scheme of things, I was.”
Maybin in fact was flying around like he did last season. Before almost sneaking in for that late half-sack, he had back-to-back QB hits on Luck at the top of the fourth quarter. Both resulted in incompletions from the Jets 29. And as Bob Wischusen, the radio voice of the Jets, and I were discussing in the locker room, Coples doesn’t get a sack for his heavy pressure of Luck that resulted in the third-quarter intentional grounding, but perhaps he should.
All of this talk is a roundabout way of saying that maybe the Jets’ pass rush is finally coming to life. Coples, Maybin and DE Muhammad Wilkerson, who also had a very fine game, kept Luck on the move all game, and rookie safety Antonio Allen showed that he could get to the QB as well with his first pro sack in his first pro game — and start — as part of a nickel package.
“Quinton, he’s head over heels better than he was at the start of the season. He’s moving faster, progressing faster,” Maybin said. “I’m excited to see him, a young guy, starting to flash. That opens up things for the rest of us. It’s exciting for all of us.”
And that brings us back to the Patriots. It’s never more exciting than to take No. 12 to the turf, be it at Gillette or MetLife. And Tom Brady’s been sacked 13 times in six games already. But then again, he’s been hurrying up, taking those short drops and flicking the ball to Wes Welker, Brandon Lloyd and Rob Gronkowski with amazing frequency.
“I’m just studying Brady, his moves, his offensive tendencies. It’s just a matter of us getting as many details as possible,” Coples said. “This is a rivalry game and we want to make sure we come out on top.”
“At this point,” added Maybin, “I’m trying not to internalize the game so much to where it’s just about him. The game starts and ends with Tom, but there’s so much more that you have to keep track of with their offense. You can’t zone in on Brady alone.”
But at the end of the day, Coples and Maybin wouldn’t mind if the Jets can go into Foxboro and come out with an AFC East victory and if, in the process, they and their defensive mates can rack up some hurries, hits and sacks on Tom Terrific.
Getting in His Face(mask)?
Coples was asked about grasping Luck’s facemask rather blatantly in the third quarter. Some speculated that Luck had a few choice words for Coples at the end of the play, but Coples said the former Stanford QB was quite gracious.
“He just said to me, ‘I know you didn’t mean it,’ ” Q recalled. “We were both in ‘game mode’ at the time, but we talked about it after the game. He wasn’t sweating it at all. We got to know each other before the draft. I definitely think my draft class was very open. The bonds of friendship were there. Regardless of where we went, when we see each other we definitely recognize each other and make sure we speak to each other.”
More civility on the field of battle? What’s the NFL coming to?
Another Roster Move
Rex Ryan announced at his news conference that FB John Conner, the Jets’ fifth-round pick in 2010 who answered to the nickname of “The Terminator,” was terminated, although perhaps only temporarily. Conner, who’s had knee and hamstring injuries that have limited him to 50 offensive snaps over three games, was waived/injured.
Taking his roster spot, the Jets signed free-agent rookie LB Marcus Dowtin from the practice squad. Ryan said re-signing Conner “down the road could be a possibility.” If he’s still available at that time, needless to say.
The Jets take two steps forward, then one step back in their team health. In the step-back area, RBs Joe McKnight (ankle) and Bilal Powell (shoulder), injured on the same third-quarter series Sunday, both did not participate at today’s practice. Ryan wasn’t tipping his hand on either player: “We’ll see about their availability as the week goes on.”
Five other Jets DNPs were DT Kenrick Ellis (knee), WR Clyde Gates (shoulder), C Nick Mangold (ankle), DT Sione Po‘uha (back) and S Eric Smith (knee). And there were four limited players: WR Stephen Hill (hamstring), TE Dustin Keller (hamstring), LB Bart Scott (toe) and LB Bryan Thomas (hamstring).
The steps forward were the departure of six Jets from the injury list altogether: LBs Nick Bellore and David Harris, CBs Antonio Cromartie and Aaron Berry, TE Jeff Cumberland and T Austin Howard.
The Jets’ 17–player injury list, the shortest it’s been in five weeks, is now available here on newyorkjets.com.
For the Patriots, two players were DNPs up in Foxboro, Mass., today: RB Brandon Bolden (knee) and LB Tracy White (foot).
And 11 Pats were limited: S Patrick Chung (shoulder), WR Julian Edelman (hand), S Steve Gregory (hip), TEs Rob Gronkowski (hip) and Aaron Hernandez (ankle), LB Dont’a Hightower (hamstring), G Logan Mankins (calf/hip), C Nick McDonald (shoulder), CB Sterling Moore (knee), T Sebastian Vollmer (back/knee) and WR West Welker (ankle).
Tags: Aaron Maybin, Andrew Luck, Bilal Powell, Indianapolis Colts, joe McKnight, Muhammad Wilkerson, New England Patriots, Quinton Coples, Tom Brady
Posted in Randy Lange | 60 Comments »
The conservative way to play it would have been to say yes, New England’s up next, it’s important because it’s a division rival, no more, and why don’t we talk about the Patriots on Wednesday when we really start up our week of preparation, and let’s bask one more day today in the warm afterglow of Sunday’s satisfying win over the Colts.
But Rex Ryan didn’t play it that way at his day-after news conference. The media wanted to know his latest take on the Pats. And he didn’t disappoint.
Are the Patriots, at 3-3 like everyone else and his brother in the AFC East, more vulnerable than they had been in the past? the Jets head coach was asked.
“Are they more vulnerable? I don’t know. They’ve lost three games. That’s probably more than they normally lose in a season,” Ryan said. “But we need to worry about ourselves more than anybody else. I think that’s where we’re at today, tomorrow, or some of our preparation even on Wednesday, but we obviously have to dial into our opponent specifically as well. For us to get to where we want to get to, we have to improve ourselves. I think that’s what we’re really working on doing as well.”
So when did he begin thinking about the Patriots?
“I’ve never stopped thinking about the Patriots, but that’s it,” he said with a laugh. “That’s a team we have to beat to win our division. And obviously Buffalo and Miami are improved, not taking anything away from them, but the team that’s won our division since I’ve been the head coach here is always New England. That’s the one you have to beat for sure. You think about them, you even build your roster sometimes in trying to compete, trying to beat this team. You’re always thinking about them.”
We’ve never known Rex to diss the Patriots. Even when he was talking about not having “come here to kiss Belichick’s rings,” it wasn’t to run down Bill Belichick’s, Tom Brady’s and New England’s successes but rather to let them, plus the Jets’ fans, players and reporters, know that he wouldn’t be going into these games with his hat in his hand.
Still, some take Ryan’s belief in his team when it’s Patriots week to somehow be disrespectful toward one of the NFL’s great franchises. Thus a reporter’s question today about why Rex likes to “tweak” the Patriots. Ryan explained his position again.
“Well, I just think that I want them to know — and they know — that I think we’re going to beat them. I don’t buy into all that other stuff,” he said. “Look, I recognize that they’re a great football team. Belichick’s a great coach. I never once said that he wasn’t. Again, we’re not going to back down or concede to anything. They’re going to get our best shot, we know we’re going to get theirs, so it really doesn’t matter who says what. We are going to be ourselves.
“We’re coming up there to take our swing, and we’ll see if we land that punch to win a game.”
Jets visits to Foxboro have been a mixed bag this millennium, with some magnificent victories and some resounding defeats. But the Jets needed something like their plus-margin win over the Colts (plus-4 in takeaways, plus-211 rushing yards, plus-7:20 in possession time and plus-26 on the scoreboard) to fortify them for the swings they are about to take.
More on Jets-Patriots to come on Wednesday, plus we’ll unveil a remarkable first in franchise history from Jets-Colts that not even Rex Ryan knew about and is quite happy with.
Smitty Weighs In
Reporter John Holt notes that S Eric Smith always gets excited this time of year, and his reason for excitement isn’t due to Halloween quickly approaching. Instead, like with their head coach, it’s because he and his teammates begin preparation this week to face Tom Brady and the Patriots.
“It’s a big rivalry for us,” Smith said this afternoon. “It’s a division game. We’re both at the top right now. You know it’s usually going to be a good game.”
Over the years, the AFC East foes have had plenty of intriguing battles. Last year New England defeated the Jets in both the team’s meetings, winning, 30-21, in Foxboro and 37-16 five weeks later at MetLife Stadium. But in 2010, the Green & White overcame the Patriots’ impressive 14-2 regular season by defeating Brady & Co., 28-21, in the AFC Divisional Round Game, which advanced them to the conference championship for the second year in a row.
Both teams will enter Sunday’s contest with 3-3 records and knotted up a top of the AFC East standings. The Jets are coming off a 35-9 win over Indianapolis, while New England will look to bounce back from a 24-23 loss at Seattle. Regardless of the Pats’ record, Smith knows they are still the team to beat in the division.
“You know they’re going to come ready to play and cause a lot of problems in matchups, and things we’re going to have to deal with,” he said.
The seventh-year pro is optimistic that the offseason additions of safeties LaRon Landry and Yeremiah Bell boost the secondary’s ability to slow down New England’s high powered offense.
“We do have a lot of guys that can cover and play man-to-man well, so that might give us a little bit of an advantage,” Smith said. “But with this offense they’re running, it’s up-tempo. It’s going to put a lot of stress on us.”
As a member of the Jets defense, Smith said game-planning for New England’s offense always presents a challenge because not only can they spread defenses out with their passing game but this season have proven they can beat opponents on the ground as well.
“Guys are just going to have to get off blocks and run to the ball,” he said.
To emulate the Patriots’ up-tempo offense, No. 33 said the scout team will move at a faster pace this week in practice. He added that the Jets faced a similar task when they prepared for Miami earlier this season.
“It’s a rivalry game,” Smith said. “It’s one of the ones you’re up for no matter what.”
RB Ups and Downs
For the Jets running game, there were many highlights besides those already mentioned Sunday. Shonn Greene started cooking in the first quarter when the Jets rushed for 57 yards, a seemingly modest amount and yet their most in any quarter in the last 11 games, or since they gained 58 in the opening frame of the home win over Buffalo last year.
That distinction stood only until the third quarter, when McKnight’s 61-yard dash was the centerpiece of the 97-yard rushing quarter, the most in any quarter in the last 25 games, or since that “other” Bills game, when they rushed for 96 yards in the 2010 regular-season finale.
The downside was that on the same series, McKnight (ankle) and Bilal Powell (shoulder) left the game. Ryan today said both backs are undergoing magnetic resonance imaging exams today and that he would update reporters on their injuries on Wednesday.
Tags: Bilal Powell, Bill Belichick, Eric Smith, Indianapolis Colts, joe McKnight, New England Patriots, Rex Ryan, Shonn Greene
Posted in Randy Lange | 96 Comments »