What’s the Jets-Pats rivalry coming to?
Antonio Cromartie, for instance, today had words of praise for Tom Brady.
“The guy’s won Super Bowls. I have respect for him from that standpoint,” said Cro. “He’s a competitor. He’s going to compete. He reminds me a lot of Philip Rivers in that he’s going to trash-talk back at you.”
And then there’s Rex Ryan and Bill Belichick. When the Jets head coach called the Patriots’ head coach the best coach in football, etc., before previous matchups, some suspected Ryan of being insincere. Not true. Rex really does respect Belichick.
And today he went so far as to defend Belichick against media and fans in the Boston area who were critical of Belichick playing Rob Gronkowski on the last extra-point play of the Patriots’ 59-24 rout of the Colts on Sunday — the play on which Gronkowski suffered a forearm fracture that will keep him out of Thursday’s Jets-Pats tilt.
“Yeah, absolutely ridiculous,” Ryan, on a conference call with Patriots reporters, said of the flak Belichick had been drawing. “It was on an extra point. He’s done that probably 100 times this year for the simple fact of how many points they score. You never see that. Every single team in the league … we have D’Brickashaw Ferguson in there.
“You don’t play the game that way. It’s just an unfortunate thing. That’s just a freak deal that that would happen. But unfortunately that’s part of the game. Injuries do happen. We lose [Santonio] Holmes and [Darrelle] Revis to non-contact injuries and it’s just one of those things and it’s just unfortunate, obviously.”
Belichick seemed touched when told of Ryan’s defense at his own news conference with those same reporters.
“I didn’t hear it, so I’m just taking your word for it,” he said. “I feel like I have a good relationship with Rex. Obviously we want to beat each other. We’re in the same division and that’s just competitiveness. I see Rex from time to time during the year. Like I said, we had his brother on the staff here for four years. I’ve known his father for 30 years, whatever it is, it’s been a long time. I think that there’s a lot of…he’s a son of a coach, he’s a football guy, he’s been around it his whole life. I have, too. There are a lot of things we have in common.
“But this week,” summed up Belichick, back in character, “it’s about two teams trying to compete against each other. That’s all it is.”
The Life of a Hard Hitter
Jets S LaRon Landry was asked about the flap surrounding Ravens S Ed Reed’s helmet-to-helmet hit on Steelers WR Emmanuel Sanders on Sunday night, which initially drew him a one-game suspension and was reduced today after appeal to a $50,000 fine.
“Yeah, I heard he got his [penalty] reduced. That’s good. That’s great,” said Landry as one fellow hard hitter to another. “Being a physical football player, things like that happen. He was just trying to make a play. He’s good at what he does.
“I know Ed personally. I know that was not intentional. It’s football, man. But within this game we have rules that are going to be enforced.”
It’s not just professional courtesy. Landry and Reed are both Louisianans. In fact, they played against each other for rival high schools in the Metairie area.
The Jets made two roster moves today. They announced this morning that rookie free agent LB Marcus Dowtin had been waived. Then this afternoon, GM Mike Tannenbaum disclosed on our own “Jets Talk Live” with my partner Eric Allen that veteran WR Jason Hill had been released.
That gives the Jets three openings, since they were at 52 players on the active roster for the Rams. Expect a few signings to be announced before the Patriots game.
A perhaps interesting injury note is connected to J.Hill’s departure. He was listed on Monday’s injury report as not practicing due to a low-back injury. With that listing, the Jets had 19 players on the list. Today’s list is down to 18 after Hill’s release. The Patriots have also listed 19 injured players both days this week, and their two reports were also identical.
So for the first time this season, 32 separate injury reports in all, the Jets have listed fewer injured players than their opponents.
Tags: Antonio Cromartie, Bill Belichick, Ed Reed, Jason Hill, LaRon Landry, New England Patriots, Rex Ryan, thanksgiving, Tom Brady
Posted in Randy Lange | 16 Comments »
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 »
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 »
It’s our sad duty this morning to pass on word of the recent passing of two members of the Jets family, Tony Veteri Sr. and Ken Shipp.
Veteri, 88, who died at home in Mount Vernon, N.Y., on Monday from his battle with pancreatic cancer, was more recently connected to the team, although most fans wouldn’t recognize his name or his face or know what exactly he did for the Green & White.
He was among the small team of NFL officials who over the years arrived at the Jets’ previous home at Hofstra University in their black-and-white-striped shirts to officiate at Jets practices. And he visited a few times after the Jets moved to their new digs here at the Atlantic Health Training Center in Florham Park, N.J.
Veteri was well-qualified to throw flags at Jets practices, which he first started doing in the early Nineties under head coach Bruce Coslet. He worked 23 seasons as a head linesman at NFL games, including four Super Bowls.
“There was a point where the Jets were the least-penalized team in the league,” Veteri’s son, Tony Jr., who has followed in the “family business” as a current 20-year NFL head linesman, fondly recalled for www.lohud.com today. “Knowing my dad, it was because he taught everybody how to hold without getting caught.”
Veteri was recruited to play football at Kentucky by Bear Bryant, played minor league baseball in the New York Giants organization, and was inducted into the Mount Vernon High School and Westchester County Sports halls of fame.
He is survived by his wife of 65 years, Rosie, his son and daughter and three grandchildren. Visitation at the Yannantuono Burr Davis Sharpe Funeral Home, 584 Gramatan Ave., Mount Vernon, will be today from 7-9 p.m. and Thursday from 4-9 p.m.
Shipp’s Claims to Fame
Shipp, 83, who died Monday night, was considered a passing-game guru back in the Seventies. He was the Jets’ receivers coach from 1973-75 and so worked closely with Joe Namath and his two hybrid WR-TE pass-catchers, Rich Caster and Jerome Barkum.
Then Shipp got an unexpected, short-lived promotion late in ’75 when Charley Winner was dismissed as head coach and he was named the Jets’ interim head coach for the final five games of that season.
And in that position Shipp played perhaps his most visible role in the Namath story when he became the first coach to sit down Joe Willie for a start not due to injury since Namath arrived on the Jets scene in 1965. That was on Dec. 15, 1975, before Game 13, the Monday night affair at San Diego. Here is the text of the press release, from the team’s archives, disclosing that decision:
“The New York Jets announced that Joe Namath would not start at quarterback for tonight’s game with the San Diego Chargers because of disciplinary reasons.
“Head Coach Ken Shipp announced that Namath had missed the Sunday night curfew and would be fined and that consequently, J.J. Jones would start the game. Shipp said, however, that Namath would play.
“Shipp told the Jets squad of his decision when the club arrived at the locker room for the game.”
Jones completed one of five passes for 13 yards and an interception before Namath entered the game with 9½ minutes left in the second quarter and went 15-for-29 for 181 yards and two INTs in the Jets’ 24-16 primetime loss.
Before coming to the Jets, Shipp was on the Saints staff and got to work with an older QB by the name of Archie Manning, who so respected Shipp’s coaching that he asked him to tutor his sons, Peyton and Eli.
Then after the Jets, Shipp moved on to Detroit and in 1977 Lions coach Rick Forzano gave him a new assistant to take under his wing, a shy, defensive-minded 24-year-old from tiny Wesleyan University. His work with Shipp is how Bill Belichick became a more well-rounded head-coaching candidate-to-be.
Funeral arrangements for Shipp are being handled by Jennings & Ayers Funeral Home in Murfreesboro, Tenn.
Brick to Hit Hollywood
D’Brickashaw Ferguson, the Jets’ three-time Pro Bowl tackle, along with Nick Ferguson, the former Jets safety, and 18 other current and former NFL players will participate in the first-ever NFL Pro Hollywood Boot Camp at Universal Studios in Universal City, Calif.
The program, announced today by the league, runs from April 2-5 and is being directed by NFL Player Engagement and Film Life Inc., the New York-based film production company.
The four-day boot camp will offer a comprehensive overview of creative disciplines in the film industry, including screenwriting, directing, producing and film financing. Session leaders will be selected from among top industry executives and filmmakers and will include John Singleton, multiple Academy Award-nominated director/producer/ screenwriter, and writer/actor/directors Robert Townsend and Keenen Ivory Wayans.
Participants will have the opportunity to shoot and edit a short film at Universal Studios, the largest working motion picture studio in the world, which offers 30 sound stages and 30 backlot movie sets where many legendary films have been shot.
Tags: Archie Manning, Bill Belichick, Bruce Coslet, J.J. Jones, Joe Namath, Ken Shipp, Tony Veteri
Posted in Randy Lange | 257 Comments »
Just days before the Jets’ critical clash with the Patriots at Gillette Stadium, LaDainian Tomlinson joined us for an appearance on “Four Quarters” and talked about the offense’s identity.
“I think we’re obviously in a bit of a transition. We don’t run the ball as much as we used to. We’re trying to be a little bit more balanced,” he said. “We want to be a team that can do both. If you stop our running game, we want to be able to throw the football. If you’re playing coverage against us, we want to be able to run the football.”
Despite their poor showing in Baltimore without All-Pro C Nick Mangold, the Green & White rank No. 11 in scoring at 25 points per game. After the offense accounted for just three points against the Ravens and allowed three touchdowns themselves while Mark Sanchez repeatedly got hit in the pocket, head coach Rex Ryan told his team they have to find a way to run the football.
“Coach has stated to us that we have to find our running game and we agree. We have to make these runs work that we’re calling and we’re game-planning during the week, and I think we will,” said Tomlinson. “We’re putting more of an emphasis on it and I think you’ll see a change.”
Once a formidable rushing club, the Jets are ranked 30th in both rush yards per game (71.0) and per attempt (3.09). The offensive line has had its share of problems as OL Rob Turner is on injured reserve, Mangold has been out since Week 2 with a high ankle sprain and rookie undrafted free agent Colin Baxter was pushed into the starting role at center. The Jets hope Mangold can return against the Patriots after they averaged 2.0 yards a rush and totaled 38 on the ground in B-More.
“I don’t think it’s fair to say we’re going to change and go back to the Ground & Pound because it’s only been four games. We’re 2-2,” Tomlinson said. “We’ve had some real explosive games where we’ve put up a ton of yards and really looked good.
“I think people need to be patient. I think any time you are in a state of transition and you’re kind of changing the philosophy a little bit — I’m not say we’re changing it all the way because we’re still going to run the football, but we’re being more balanced. Anytime you’re doing that, it takes a bit of time so people just need to be patient.”
After Shonn Greene was anointed the bellcow in the offseason, the third-year back has averaged 3.1 yards on his 51 rush attempts. The holes just haven’t been there on numerous occasions and Tomlinson has preached patience to Greene.
“When you’re a young guy and it’s your chance and you want to show everybody what you can do and it’s not going quite the way you want it to, you can have a tendency to feel like ‘Hey, it’s a reflection on me’ and lose that confidence,” Tomlinson said. “But Shonn is handling it well. He understands it’s a long season and we’re going to get things going.”
Statistically the Patriots have the NFL’s worst defense and they rank 18th overall against the run (108.8 yards per game). But they are 3-1 mainly because they’re scoring 33.8 points a game and the Jets are going to have to not only move the ball but score touchdowns in Week 5.
“For us, we have to think about right now. We have to win now. We have to win this game,” Tomlinson said. “We can’t say it’s a long season. We have to play like our backs are against the wall because we can drop the Patriots to the same record we have and be tied in the division.”
Having embraced his role as a “third-down” back, Tomlinson is a terrific blocker and is averaging a healthy 15.4 yards per reception.
“I’ve always said that whatever my role was, I’m going to be the best at it. When it was defined that I was going to be the third-down guy coming out of the backfield catching passes, I accepted the challenge and said I’m going to be as good as I can be, be the best at it,” he said. “It’s something I felt like it wasn’t difficult to do.”
But it’s his role at home as a proud dad that has Tomlinson beaming. He and his wife, Torsha, welcomed a baby daughter to the world on Sept. 10 — one day before the regular season kicked off.
“The past month has been great. Obviously we had a new addition in my family, Dayah. There have been times when I haven’t slept much, honestly, and then there have been times where Dayah has been able to let me sleep throughout the whole night,” he said. “There are ups and downs to it, but I’ll tell you what — there is no greater joy than having kids. We’re just excited about, we’re blessed and we’re looking forward to the future.”
His immediate football future has a weekend trip to the northeast on the itinerary. Tomlinson says the Jets gained confidence from their AFC Divisional Playoff triumph at Gillette Stadium in January, but he said each game has a different script.
“They are a very prideful group with a great head coach, a great coaching staff and great players. I’m sure Bill [Belichick] is telling them the thing that happened last year and how we acted after the game,” he said. “So there will be a sense of revenge on their part.”
“Four Quarters” with LaDainian Tomlinson will air this week on newyorkjets.com. Click here to watch any “Four Quarters” episodes you may have missed.
Tags: Bill Belichick, Dayah, LaDainian Tomlinson, New England Patriots, Shonn Greene, Torsha
Posted in Eric Allen | 23 Comments »
The second-biggest game in franchise history? Rex Ryan admitted today that he actually didn’t mean to say that about the Jets’ 28-21 conquest of the Patriots on Sunday.
“I think that’s what I was trying to get at. I left a word out — ‘win.,’ ” Ryan said at his news conference back at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center this afternoon. “I always said I wasn’t born with a silver tongue. I don’t articulate things very well. I was hoping somebody picked up on that.”
So what the second-year head coach meant to say was that if the Jets beat the Patriots, it would have been the second-biggest win in franchise history. In other words, instead of the second-biggest game ahead in the affirmative sense, it would be the second-biggest victory in the conditional sense.
Never mind. Things worked out quite well and the triumph over the Patriots indeed moves right up there into the pantheon of Jets triumphs, somewhere close behind Super Bowl III.
Another thing that victory in the AFC Divisional Round did was to separate the Jets from the crowd in terms of a lesser known NFL postseason record.
The Jets have become the first team in league history to win four road playoff games in consecutive seasons.
With the successes at Cincinnati and San Diego last season and Indianapolis and New England this year, the Green & White can lay claim to being pro football’s ultimate road warriors — and can put daylight between themselves and all other road contenders with one more away win on Sunday at Pittsburgh in the AFC Championship Game.
How many of the six other teams with three road playoff wins in back-to-back seasons can you name. I’ll plug in the answer below.
Make that five other teams because one of the six was Ryan’s 2008 Ravens, making him the master of the NFL road as a winning head coach or coordinator for six road playoff games in the past three years
“You definitely would prefer to take a different route. I would’ve loved for teams to come into our place, our brand new stadium, with our fans behind them,” Ryan said. “I’ll be honest. I wasn’t wanting Indy to be in there. ‘Oh, great, now we’ve got to go play at Indy. OK, we’ll go face ‘em and see what happens.’ Then Tom Brady at New England, then Ben Roethlisberger at Pittsburgh. I don’t know how many Super Bowls they’ve got, but they’ve got a bunch of ‘em.”
And now the home teams have to have the same worries about Rex, Mark Sanchez, Darrelle Revis, David Harris, Bart Scott, Shaun Ellis, et al., coming to visit them.
“I think we’ve learned a great deal from being in the playoffs last year and traveling on the road for three games. That helps us, gives our guys confidence. I don’t know if it tightens your focus more,” he said. “We want to be AFC champions to start with. That’s the thing we want to start with this week. It’d be a great step for us. Then we’ll worry about the next week after we get there. But there’s a long road to go before we get there.”
And no better team in NFL history, according to the record just set, to attempt to traverse that road all the way to Dallas in three weeks.
Rex and Bill
No doubt some think Ryan is somehow being cagey or sarcastic when he praises Bill Belichick, but that’s not the case. Ryan was asked again today about winning that personal battle that he set out for himself against the Patriots head coach (and, dare we forget, former Jets head coach for a day in 2000).
“I never outcoached Belichick — there’s no way,” he said. “I’m just saying that: Our players outplayed their players. That’s really what it came down to. There was nothing schematically that I did to win that game. Our guys were prepared to play and that’s my job and all that. But to say I outcoached Belichick, I would not agree with that. That’s almost a joke.”
And who will Ryan make it personal with this week as the Steelers preparations begin? He also clearly expressed his admiration for Pittsburgh boss Mike Tomlin.
“I’ve got a great deal of respect for Mike. He’s one of my favorite coaches,” Ryan said. “Give me somebody to call out. I guess it’s Hines Ward and Casey Hampton.”
Rex was joking, we think.
Those Other Road Warriors
The 1978-79 Houston Oilers were the first NFL team to win three playoff games (not counting the Super Bowl) in two consecutive seasons. They were followed by the 1985 Patriots, the 2000-01 Ravens (Rex was also on that staff), the ’05 Steelers, the ’07 Giants and the ’08-09 Ravens before the Jets passed them all up the past two seasons.
Tags: Ben Roethlisberger, Bill Belichick, Mike Tomlin, New England Patriots, Peyton Manning, PIttsburgh Steelers, Rex Ryan, Tom Brady
Posted in Randy Lange | 42 Comments »
One personal battle down, next one up.
Rex Ryan just met with Jets reporters this morning, two days after the Jets vanquished Peyton Manning and the Colts at Indianapolis, 17-16. The Jets head coach last week said it was “personal” between him and Peyton. Today it’s Rex vs. Bill.
“I recognize that this week it’s all about Bill Belichick vs. Rex Ryan,” Ryan said of Sunday’s AFC Divisional Round rematch with the Patriots and their coach. “It’s personal. It’s about him against myself. That’s what it’s going to come down to. When you look at it, both teams are very even. Look at our players — solid across the board. Assistant coaches — we’re on level ground. So this is going to be about me raising my level against Bill Belichick.”
The impetus for this approach, needless to say, goes back to six weeks ago, when the Jets journeyed to Gillette Stadium full of anticipation (but also having just suffered the loss of defensive quarterback Jim Leonhard to a broken leg), only to get waxed before a Monday night audience, 45-3.
“I realize in that game that I was outcoached,” Ryan said today. “It wasn’t the players. My job as a coach is to get them where they know their jobs and there’s no gray area, they can be physical and aggressive. Clearly New England was like that and we weren’t.”
How to fix that? Ryan proposed the solution.
“It’s just got to be a ridiculous amount of preparation on our part,” he said. “The game plan might’ve looked good on paper, but it wasn’t realistic. When we had to make the adjustments, we couldn’t execute them. And obviously the Patriots did a great job, they were prepared. That was it. It really came down to coaching more than playing and that was obvious. They were that much better and Belichick was that much better than I was that last game.”
Some may — make that some will — question Ryan’s sincerity in saying Belichick “will go down as the greatest coach in the history of this league or he’s going to be close to it.” But as Ryan unfolded his thoughts on the Colts and Patriots this morning, there is clear respect for Belichick, QB Tom Brady and the Patriots.
But Ryan also amplified on his TB remarks from last week when, in praising Manning’s studying of the game, he said, “Brady likes to think he does … I think there’s probably a little more help from Belichick with Brady than there is with Peyton Manning.”
“That wasn’t my intent,” to insult Brady, Ryan said today. “My intent was to say as good as Tom Brady is — Hall of Fame quarterback, three Super Bowl rings, amazing quarterback — as far as how he studies, he’s not as good as Peyton Manning. There’s only one guy that belongs in that category, and that’s Peyton. That’s all I was saying.”
But then Ryan perhaps explained more when he added that Brady “took a shot at me with his antics on the field” and mentioned something that will warm Jets fans hearts in this cold weather we’re experiencing in the Northeast.
“He always points after he scores, at everybody. It’s just Brady being Brady,” the Jets coach said. “I don’t like seeing that. Nobody does. No Jets fan likes seeing that. And I know he can’t wait to do it. He’s not going to say anything publicly, but it is what it is. My job’s to keep him out of the end zone.”
One other phrase that will have many Jets fans smiling and many of the Patriots persuasion and NFL writers around the country frowning will be the bravado that Rex said he expressed during one of those most anticipated non-events after Jets-Patriots games, the postgame handshake.
“When we played Miami my first year, I said that will never happen to me again where I was outcoached,” he said. “Clearly, that was how I felt. I was wrong because New England did it. That’s kind of how I felt. I also told Belichick after the game, ‘We’ll see you in Round 3.’ He just looked at me.”
But lo and behold, Jets-Patriots, Round 3, has begun. Fasten your seatbelts.
Saturday Fan Rally
The players return to the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center on Tuesday, with their usual Wednesday-Friday practices to follow before heading to the New England area on Saturday.
Before the team leaves, however, there will be a Jets fan rally on Saturday afternoon, from about noon-2 p.m., at New Meadowlands Stadium in the West Great Hall. We’ll have more details as we get them in during the week, but if your Saturday midday is free, prepare to come out and send the Jets off to play the Pats.
One More Key
One further element of the Jets’ triumph over the Colts on Saturday night that I didn’t mention in Sunday’s blog was field position. The Jets’ FP was OK but the Colts’ was very constricting. Their nine drives on average started at their own 20.1-yard line.
What does that mean? Well, it is the worst starting field position by a Jets opponent in the last 29 games, or since the Raiders averaged an 18.1-yard-line start in the Jets’ 38-0 rout last season. And those two games are the worst opponent starting field position in the last seven seasons. Something similar would indeed be welcome Sunday afternoon at Gillette Stadium.
Ryan said Mark Sanchez’s right shoulder is “fine,” Damien Woody was “kind of wobbling around a little bit” and “we’ll see if he’s able to go or not” vs. NE. And about Brad Smith, he said with a small smile, “He’s got the groin. I’m not sure. … I don’t think they should prepare for the Wildcat.” … The coach said DE Vernon Gholston was inactive due to “nothing personal” but rather the matchups, which prompted him and his defensive staff to go with DT Trevor Pryce as the backup D-lineman.
“Inside the Jets”
Tonight’s edition of “Inside the Jets” will be at Grasshopper Off The Green in Morristown, N.J., as usual, but the time of the show has shifted to 6:30-7:30 p.m. Special Jets guests are tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson and safety Jim Leonhard. Voice of the Jets Bob Wischusen hosts as usual. If you can’t make it out to the Grasshopper, you can listen to the show live on 1050 ESPN New York and on 1050ESPNNewYork.com.
Tags: Bill Belichick, Gillette Stadium, New England Patriots, Peyton Manning, Rex Ryan, Tom Brady
Posted in Randy Lange | 110 Comments »
Feet of clay and beads of sweat? Not for the Green & White men of steel this week. Outside the locker room the Jets may be seen as underdogs in their Monday night road test at New England, but inside they’re ready to rock and roll and enjoy.
“It’s going to be fun,” said linebacker Calvin Pace following today’s back-to-work practice at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. “We know them well, they know us well. We’re not the best of friends, but I always enjoy playing against them.”
And head coach Rex Ryan said the same, not just about going up against the Pats but against Bill Belichick. He opened his news conference this afternoon with a sincere take on how he feels about BB.
“I admire Bill Belichick,” Ryan said. “The reason I do is I think he’s the No. 1 coach in this league, and that’s undisputable. He’s smart, every single year he gets his team going, he’s a great evaluator of talent, he’s the son of a coach, all that kind of stuff.
“Do I want to be like him? No, I want to be like myself, but I want to have the success he’s had over the years. You like to compete against the best and that’s why I like going against him. I know it’s a huge challenge. I try to give my best shot every time out and I know he gives his best shot.”
Rex had a mild tweak for reporters in response to a question about the Jets’ perceived role as underdogs in this game.
“The way you guys report it, I thought we had the worst defense,” he said. “I don’t know where we’re ranked but it’s embarrassing. We’re ranked third or something. It’s not up to our standards, that’s true, but our season ain’t over, either.”
The significance of that statement is that this is the same point in the schedule at which the Jets defense put on its powerful closing kick in 2009. After Week 11 last year (or after the game at New England), the D was fifth in the NFL in yards allowed. After Carolina the next week, the Jets rose to second overall and of course finished first.
This year after Week 11, the Houston game, they were seventh in the NFL. After yielding 163 yards to the Bengals on Thanksgiving night (and before tonight’s Arizona-San Fran game, which shouldn’t change the rankings), the Jets are third in the league, their highest ranking since last year’s Week 12 rank.
The lesser known but perhaps more telling stat is yards allowed per play. The Jets defense at 4.7 yards allowed per play is second overall, trailing only San Diego.
“It’s hard to get to this point, and now the guys feel confident,” Pace said especially of him and his fellow defenders but also for the team as a whole. “We’re 9-2, we got some time off, and we’re playing a very good team in New England. That being said, it’s going to come down to who executes best. We’ve got to be ready.”
Job one, of course, is defending Tom Brady, which we’ll get into as the week goes along. Ryan’s summary of the Patriots QB’s game: “There’s no weakness in Brady’s game. He’s poised, he’s competitive, he’s a leader, and by the way, he can make every throw. He’s great underneath, he’s smart, he’s got 199 straight throws without a pick, he throws the deep ball with touch, he stands in there and faces pressure. … He’s just a heck of a football player.”
One other stat note this week: Brad Smith, after his 89-yard kickoff-return TD vs. the Bengals, leads all qualifying kickoff returners in the NFL with a 29.2-yard average on his 34 returns. Second is the Lions’ Stefan Logan (28.1). Third is Leon Washington with Seattle, also at 28.1.
Ryan gave his bonus injury list (he doesn’t have to list any injured players until Thursday for the Monday night game. T Damien Woody did not practice. Jerricho Cotchery, Dwight Lowery, Marquice Cole and Shaun Ellis were all limited. Nine players were listed as injured but full participants.
Nick Gallo checked in with Woody, Cotchery, Lowery and Cole in today’s locker room session to see how they’re feeling. His story will be posted later in the afternoon.
In the latest of many odd-week schedules for this much-in-demand Jets team, the Green & White will practice Tuesday as well but that practice will be closed to media. They won’t practice Wednesday, then will go Thursday through Saturday before traveling to Massachusetts on Sunday for Monday night’s game.
For any who wondered if the Jets have ever played games in two consecutive weeks on days other than Sunday, the answer is in primetime, no, but not in primetime, yes. In 1993 the Jets played consecutive Saturday afternoon games, the windblown 3-0 win at Washington followed by the 28-7 home loss to Dallas. And they ended the ’83 season with a Saturday afternoon 34-7 loss to Pittsburgh followed by a Friday night 34-14 defeat at Miami.
“Inside the Jets”
The first “Inside the Jets” show of the push into the homestretch and toward the playoffs begins tonight at Grasshopper Off The Green in Morristown, N.J. The show is live beginning at 7 p.m. with a call-in from Pro Football Hall of Fame semifinalist Curtis Martin at 7:45 and two Jets players to be determined, and Jets radio play-by-play man Bob Wischusen hosting.
If you can’t make it to the Grasshopper, tonight’s show will be aired tape-delayed on 1050 ESPN New York but you can also listen to it live on http://espn.go.com/newyork/
For those who are interested in the tracks that were played at New Meadowlands Stadium during the Thanksgiving triumph over the Bengals — and we know you’re out there — here is the playlist:
Tonight Tonight — Smashing Pumpkins
I Don’t Wanna Lose Your Love Tonight — The Outfield
Immigrant Song — Led Zeppelin
Give It All — Rise Against
Flashing Lights — Kanye West
Where the Green Grass Grows — Tim McGraw
Show Me How To Live — Audioslave
Should I Stay or Should I Go — The Clash
Get Off My Cloud — Rolling Stones
Blow Me Away — Breaking Benjamin
Give It Away Now — Red Hot Chili Peppers
Don’t Stop Believin’ — Journey
In The End — Linkin Park
Bang Your Head — Quiet Riot
More — Usher
Have A Drink On Me — AC/DC
On To The Next One — Jay Z
Break — Three Days Grace
All Of The Lights — Kanye West
Victory — Puff Daddy featuring Notorious B.I.G. & Busta Rhymes
Hey Bulldog — Beatles
Only — Nine Inch Nails
Can’t Be Touched — Roy Jones Jr.
I Gotta Feeling — Black Eyed Peas
Peg — Steely Dan
Rock N’ Roll All Night — KISS
Rock That Body — Black Eyed Peas
Shout — James Brown
Sweet Caroline — Neil Diamond
C’mon C’mon — Von Bondies
Till I Collapse — Eminem featuring Nate Dogg
Requiem For A Dream — Clint Mansell
Shut It Down — Pitbull featuring Akon
300 Violin Orchestra — Jorge Quintero
No Love — Eminem
Bang Your Head — Quiet Riot
It’s A Fight — Three 6 Mafia
A Cut Above — Avery Watts
Headstrong — Trapt
Desire — U2
Tags: Bill Belichick, Brad Smith, New England Patriots, Rex Ryan, Tom Brady
Posted in Randy Lange | 22 Comments »
As far as regular-season games go, next week’s Jets-Patriots clash up in Foxboro, Mass., will be about as big as it gets.
“It’s the marquee game of the year. Both teams are 9-2. It’s not going to get much bigger than that, and the fact that it’s a divisional game,” said Jets head coach Rex Ryan on a conference call with reporters this morning. “I guess the only way it could be better is if it was the last game of the regular season, but this is pretty good right here. Obviously the team that wins is going to have to play fantastic and we’re just hoping it’s us.”
The only other team in the NFL with two losses is the Atlanta Falcons and neither of these teams has to worry about the Birds now or perhaps at any point in 2011. The Ravens and Steelers are both are 7-3 while the Jaguars, Colts and Chiefs own 6-4 marks. And they all are looking up at the AFC East’s best.
“It’s going to be, in my opinion, the best two teams in football that are going to be squaring off against each other and we’ll see what happens on the field,” said Ryan, who also indicated there is “a good possibility” that WR Jerricho Cotchery (groin) and CBs Marquice Cole (hamstring) and Dwight Lowery (concussion) will return to action in Week 13.
While the eventual winner of the AFCE will most likely secure one of the top two seeds for the postseason and earn a bye, the division runnerup is staring at a fifth seed and a trip to the AFC South or AFC West winner on wild-card weekend.
The Jets have won eight straight regular-season games away from home and their last loss came to the Pats in Foxboro on Nov. 22, 2009. In the worst Jets outing of the Ryan era, shaky rookie QB Mark Sanchez had five turnovers while Tom Brady carved up the Green & White secondary for 310 yards and Wes Welker had 15 receptions for 192 yards.
“That was a brutal performance — not just by Mark but our defense. We couldn’t stop a nosebleed with our defense in the first half of that game either,” said Ryan. “It was bad on a lot of accounts, but we know Mark is a totally different guy. He has a great command of our offense and he does a great job of recognizing coverages.
“Now with Bill Belichick, a lot of times you can prepare for certain things and still not get it. He is a very multiple guy on defense and we are going to be challenged like crazy by him.”
On the other side of the ledger, the Patriots’ offense is a buzzsaw right now as they’re averaging 30 points a contest. Former Jet Danny Woodhead is performing well, but the Pats’ story starts with Brady.
“I’ve got a ton of respect for Danny Woodhead. I’ve always thought that he was a terrific player, but I think the main guy you have to game-plan is Tom Brady. That’s the guy,” said Ryan of the future Hall of Famer completing 66 percent of his passes with 23 TDs and four INTs. “Danny’s doing a great job. Brady’s smart, he’ll throw it to open receivers, and we have to do a great job of stopping all of their weapons. Woodhead is clearly doing a great job and the other kid with all the names [BenJarvus Green-Ellis] is running the ball pretty well also.”
But the Jets, who held the Patriots to 14 points in their Week 2 win, are yielding just 17 points a game and they statistically just played their best game of the season in the Thanksgiving triumph over the Bengals.
“If this group communicates and we don’t have mental mistakes, then we’re going to be tough for anybody to move the ball against,” Ryan said of the unit that tallied three sacks and two interceptions against Cincinnati. “I understand New England is moving it up and down the field against everybody, but we’ll see. I have confidence that won’t be the case this week.”
Referring to Belichick as “the best coach” in football, Ryan is already geared up for the matchup that is 10 days away. It should be noted that he owns a 2-1 mark against Belichick since taking over and the Jets advanced further in the postseason last year than the Patriots. But the Jets boss wants a Super Bowl and we’re going to find out a lot about them on Dec. 6.
Nobody can question whether the Jets are a good football team. But if they go up to New England and end the Pats’ 25-game regular-season home win streak, little question will remain who’s the best team in the division and the favorite to represent the AFC in Dallas.
“We have the same record and we beat them once. I don’t know if we’re looked at in that light, but that’s OK because the great thing is we get to prove it on Monday Night Football in their place,” he said. “We’ll see. I know I feel confident in this football team, I know everybody in our locker room believes we’ll win.”
Tags: Bill Belichick, Danny Woodhead, New England Patriots, Rex Ryan, Tom Brady
Posted in Eric Allen | 100 Comments »
After a weekend bye, the Jets resume work Monday with some company at the top of the AFC East and the top of the conference.
Both the New England Patriots and the Pittsburgh Steelers moved to 5-1 with road wins over the San Diego Chargers and Miami Dolphins respectively. The Jets, who will be back on the practice field tomorrow, also are 5-1 but their longtime nemesis — the Pats — have plans on sticking around a while in what could prove to be a fascinating division race.
While the Green & White already held serve at home against Bill Belichick’s crew, a 28-14 Week 2 triumph, we’ll have to wait until Monday night, Dec. 6, for the rematch up in Foxboro. Games aren’t played on paper, but the Jets will in all likelihood be favored in each of their five contests — vs. Green Bay, at Detroit, at Cleveland, vs. Houston and vs. Cincinnati on Thanksgiving night — until they meet up with the friends to the northeast.
It might be difficult for the Patriots to keep the pace. Their next five looks treacherous: vs. Minnesota (the Randy Moss reunion), at Cleveland, at Pittsburgh, vs. Indianapolis and at Detroit on Thanksgiving Day. But we know how resourceful the Men of Belichick are, so the Jets have to take care of their own business before December.
The Dolphins really needed that game today. Yes, it was just the sixth game of the season, but that club is just 1-2 in the division, 0-3 at home and 1-3 in the conference. And look at their next three — at Cincinnati, at Baltimore and vs. Tennessee — and there could be more problems on the horizon. It’s a tough outfit, but you have to wonder if the ‘Fins will dig themselves too deep a hole.
On the other end of the South Florida spectrum, good road “W” for Pittsburgh but the road’s not getting any easier. They have the good fortune to visit the Saints on Halloween and the Superdome is going to be a madhouse filled with ghouls and goblins looking for blood after the champs got spanked by the Browns today in an improbable outcome. Then the Steelers visit the Bengals for a Monday night affair before getting a “breather” — hosting the Pats — on Nov. 14. The Jets visit Pittsburgh in Week 15 and that has playoff preview written all over it.
The Titans (how can you not like the way they play under Buddy Ryan protégé Jeff Fisher?) are 5-2 and the Colts (TE Dallas Clark is out for the season, WR Austin Collie and RB Joseph Addai are out indefinitely and S Bob Sanders is back on the shelf) are lurking at 4-2, but I say it’s time to believe, Jets Nation. The Jets are the team to beat in the division and the team to beat in the conference.
Are you worried that the Jets headed into the bye hot after five consecutive wins? You shouldn’t be because it gave both CB Darrelle Revis, who worked with trainers on his strained hamstring last week at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center, and OLB Calvin Pace, who played two games after breaking his right foot in the preseason, valuable time to rehab and rest.
The Browns’ aforementioned upset of the Saints and the Bills’ near-miss in Baltimore are just reminders that you have to bring it every week and nothing is guaranteed. But the eye-opener to me was the Raiders’ 59-14 trashing of the Broncos in Denver. That close loss last week to the Jets must have taken a lot out of the Broncos physically, mentally and emotionally, because they had nothing left to give — against a division rival nonetheless.
So bring on the Packers. Ten games left in the regular season and then its playoff time. Dream big.
Tags: Bill Belichick, Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots, PIttsburgh Steelers
Posted in Eric Allen | 33 Comments »