It’s Pro Football Hall of Fame time again, and that means Bill Parcells again is in play to be inducted into the Canton shrine.
The Hall of Fame this morning announced the 15 modern-era finalists who will be considered for election into the Hall when the selection committee meets in New Orleans on Saturday, Feb. 2, the day before Super Bowl XLVII.
This is Parcells’ fourth time as a finalist, meaning final 15, and in this case it may well be that the third time plus one is the charm for the Tuna. Last year he made it to the final 10 during the day-long balloting process but did not advance to the final five, as did Curtis Martin, who was then selected for the Hall a year ago in his second year of eligibility.
Here is the Hall’s list of finalists, which includes the two senior nominees, DT Curley Culp and LB Dave Robinson, announced in August. (Four first-time nominees designated with an (f), two senior committee nominees with an asterisk):
Larry Allen (f) — G/T, 1994-2005 Dallas Cowboys; 2006-07 San Francisco 49ers
Jerome Bettis — RB, 1993-95 Los Angeles/St. Louis Rams; 1996-2005 Pittsburgh Steelers
Tim Brown — WR/KR/PR, 1988-2003 Los Angeles/Oakland Raiders; 2004 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Cris Carter — WR, 1987-89 Philadelphia Eagles; 1990-2001 Minnesota Vikings; 2002 Miami Dolphins
Curley Culp* — DT, 1968-74 Kansas City Chiefs; 1974-80 Houston Oilers; 1980-81 Detroit Lions
Edward DeBartolo Jr. — Owner, 1977-2000 San Francisco 49ers
Kevin Greene — LB/DE, 1985-92 Los Angeles Rams; 1993-95 Pittsburgh Steelers; 1996, ’98-99 Carolina Panthers; 1997 San Francisco 49ers
Charles Haley — DE/LB, 1986-91, ’99 San Francisco 49ers; 1992-96 Dallas Cowboys
Art Modell — Owner, 1961-95 Cleveland Browns; 1996-2011 Baltimore Ravens
Jonathan Ogden (f) — T, 1996-2007 Baltimore Ravens
Bill Parcells — Coach, 1983-90 New York Giants; 1993-96 New England Patriots; 1997-99 New York Jets; 2003-06 Dallas Cowboys
Andre Reed — WR, 1985-99 Buffalo Bills; 2000 Washington Redskins
Dave Robinson* — LB, 1963-72 Green Bay Packers; 1973-74 Washington Redskins
Warren Sapp (f) — DT, 1995-2003 Tampa Bay Buccaneers; 2004-07 Oakland Raiders
Will Shields — G, 1993-2006 Kansas City Chiefs
Michael Strahan (f) — DE, 1993-2007 New York Giants
Aeneas Williams — CB/S, 1991-2000 Phoenix/Arizona Cardinals; 2001-04 St. Louis Rams
All Hall of Fame candidates must go through a winnowing process that this year began with 127 nominees, then was reduced to 27 semifinalists. To be elected, a finalist must receive a minimum positive vote of 80 percent.
Bob Sutton Departing?
The Kansas City Star is reporting today that longtime Jets assistant coach Bob Sutton has been hired by new Chiefs coach Andy Reid as the Chiefs’ defensive coordinator. The Jets have not commented on Sutton’s reported departure and the Chiefs have not announced anything regarding the hiring of coordinators yet.
Sutton, the former Army head coach, was with the Jets the past 13 seasons, 10 as linebackers coach and from 2006-08 as Eric Mangini’s defensive coordinator.
Tags: Bill Parcells, Bob Sutton, Curtis Martin, Pro Football Hall of Fame
Posted in Randy Lange | 218 Comments »
According to Webster’s Dictionary, the word "dominate" means: "control, be the most powerful or influential member or part of something." As of 5 o’clock yesterday Webster’s added a picture of the Jets’ game against the Rams.
Let’s start on the defensive side of the ball. They were outstanding, starting with the play of Eric Barton (14 tackles, a half sack and a fumble recovery). He along with 10 other green jerseys were everywhere, creating turnover after turnover and even scoring on defense when Abram Elam sacked Rams quarterback Marc Bulger, forcing a fumble that was returned by Calvin Pace for a touchdown.
Defensive game ball goes to coordinator Bob Sutton. Bob had his unit prepared and ready to play. The defensive scheme was to attack the Rams with everything they had for 60 minutes and that’s what they did. Bob is allowing his players to play, putting them in the best positions to come up with big-time plays. They are the real deal. Great job by all.
Offensively, great job by the offensive line. Thomas Jones running for three touchdowns, protecting Brett Favre all day, not allowing a sack. But the most impressive stat: scoring on their first seven possessions. Brian Schottenheimer, the offensive coordinator, did an excellent job, calling plays with play action and controlling the passing game, and no turnovers.
Special teams were perfect, as was Jay Feely. Icing on the cake: a 55-yard field goal to end the first half.
Bottom line, the Jets started fast and finished strong. They had a game plan and executed it to perfection. They dominated the game.
Once again, the energy level in the stadium was unbelievable. If I had extra game balls, I’d give each one of you one.
Now it’s show time in New England. It not what New England brings to the table, it’s what YOU bring to the table. You have something special here — build on it. Believe that you can win and settle for nothing less. Remember what I said last week: "If you think you can or think you can’t, you’re probably right."
It doesn’t get any better than this … IT’S SHOW TIME.
Tags: Bob Sutton, Brian Schottenheimer, Eric Barton, Jay Feely, St. Louis Rams
Posted in Marty Lyons | 29 Comments »
Not much to impart from head coach Eric Mangini’s Friday news conference, other than that one of his starting outside linebackers, a guy who’s made a strong impression since arriving as an unrestricted free agent in March, is up in the air for Oakland.
Or at least the coach wasn’t saying what the likelihood was of Calvin Pace’s availability for the Raiders on Sunday.
"We’ll look at it more today," Mangini said of Pace’s foot injury, which landed him on a Jets injury report for the first time this season after Thursday’s practice. "He got nicked up a little bit yesterday. I’m not really sure where it’s going to go. We’ll have to see here today."
A reporter asked what the odds were of Pace being active Sunday. Mangini saw right through the attempt to repackage the previous question in new wrapping.
"I’m not sure," he said. "Like I said, I’ve got to see today."
After practice, Pace wore a T-shirt soaked in sweat and didn’t seem concerned by the injury. The Jets’ final injury report of the week will be issued sometime after 4 p.m. and will be posted on newyorkjets.com.
With fellow OLB Bryan Thomas also listed, on the Wednesday and Thursday reports, as limited in practice with a calf injury, odds are that rookie OLB Vernon Gholston should continue to be prominent.
Defensive coordinator Bob Sutton, in his informal biweekly news conference today outside the locker room, said he’s seeing progress in the sixth pick of the draft’s transition to the pro game.
"Vernon, I think, is finally getting comfortable using the talents he has," Sutton said. "He’s a big, strong, powerful outside linebacker who’s getting used to playing a different position after playing defensive end in college. The comfort level is there, he’s working hard in that area and working very hard off the field to speed up."
It was a positive development, Sutton said, that Gholston took the award from Mangini and his staff as the Jets’ Special Teams Player of the Week two games ago vs. Arizona.
"Special teams is an area where you can play pretty aggressively," he said. "That’s a good sign."
Another Special Note
In the past we have established "Special Teams Saturday" at newyorkjets.com as a day when you can read a feature about the players and things that are happening on the Jets’ special units. We’re suspending that feature this week only because we’ll have some information Saturday about the week ahead leading up to the Super Bowl III 40th Anniversary celebration during the Jets-Chiefs game at the Meadowlands on Oct. 26.
But Coach Mangini didn’t let the week go by without a shoutout to his teams peeps. Asked about Wallace Wright, this past game’s ST Player of the Week winner, and his tackling skills, he reminisced about how, in 2006, not only Wright, a WR by trade, but also Brad Smith, the former Missouri QB, were getting it done covering kicks as NFL rookies in 2006.
"That first year, I thought it was great," Mangini said. "You had a wide receiver making a bunch of tackles and a quarterback making a bunch of tackles. So it was pretty easy for me to turn on the film, look at the defensive group and say, ‘You’ve been doing this your whole life. Here’s a quarterback who’s never tackled, OK? He’s running down, he’s making a ton of ‘em. And here’s a wide receiver. You guys have green shirts on for a reason.’ "
Smith’s teams tackles have tapered off from 12 last year to two so far this season, but Wright, who made a beautiful burst tackle from behind of Glenn Holt on one of Cincinnati’s kickoff returns, has increased from six in ’06 to 16 to 12 after five games, putting him on pace for an unconscious 38 ST tackles over 16 games. Brad Kassell led the Jets last season with 23.
Tags: Bob Sutton, Brad Smith, Bryan Thomas, Calvin Pace, Eric Mangini, Vernon Gholston, Wallace Wright
Posted in Randy Lange | 29 Comments »
Do you remember Shrek, Jets fans?
I don’t mean Shrek the Third, Shrek 2 or Shrek the Movie. I mean the ShrekÂ Game.
“No, I never heard of that,” cornerback Darrelle Revis. “What is it?”
“Yeah, I remember that game,” said defensive end Shaun Ellis with a smile. “It wasn’t like today’s game, though. Both teams were plodding that game. This game was moving.”
Even Kris Jenkins remembers the Oct. 28, 2001, encounter with Carolina at Ericsson Stadium. That was the big nose’s rookie season â€” as a Panther.
“Yeah, we were 1-15 that year,” Jenkins said. “I’m trying my best to forget about that. That’s going to haunt me for the rest of my life.”
We bring up the Jets’ 13-12 victory that day not to aggravate JenkinsÂ nor to torture Green & White fans who thought they forgot that victory, so big, green and ugly that then-coach Herm Edwards dubbed it the Shrek Game and brought movie posters and pointy green ears into the team’s complex the next week because the animated movie had come out a short while before.
We bring it up because that’s how long ago the Jets gave up fewer yards on defense than the 171 they yielded to the Bengals in today’s 26-14 victory over Cincinnati.
“For real?” said Revis.
Word. There’s the 162 yards the Panthers squeaked out that day, and then almost seven seasons later comes the next-best figureÂ today. Put another way, this was the best yardage showing of the Eric Mangini/Bob Sutton era of Jets football.
“That,” said linebacker David Bowens, a Dolphin at the time, “is impressive.”
Furthermore, Bowens said, “That’s a compliment to the work we did during the bye week. The key was they hit us here and there, but we stayed consistent.”
“Coach Mangini spent a lot of time with the defense during the bye week,” said DB Hank Poteat, who contributed on a blitz with his first strip-sack since he separatedÂ Brooks Bollinger from ball for New England during the last Monday night game shown on ABC in December 2005. “He’s a defensive guy, and it was almost like being back in school again.”
You’ll forgive the Jets if they aren’t giving this one back because the critics will insist on pointing out that the Cincinnati quarterback of record was Ryan Fitzpatrick and not Carson Palmer (sidelined by his aching right elbow). And because, for example, when the Jets needed to stop the visitors at the end of the first half, the Bengals instead mounted a 66-yard drive that included their first six first downs of the game and ended with their only TD to cut the Jets’ halftime lead to 17-14.
“We wanted to come out strong in the second half because we didn’t finish the first half the way we wanted to,” said LB Calvin Pace. “We wanted to come out with a good tempo and end the game the way we started it. We wanted to go out there with a lot of enthusiasm to get the offense the best field position possible.”
So instead of Arizona’s five consecutive TD drives two weeks ago before the bye, Cincinnati had four punts and an end-of-game drive that ended on the Jets 26.
Pace did his part. His four solo tackles may seem tame, but consider he had a tackle for loss, followed by a fumble recovery to set up Thomas Jones’ second TD, a quarterback hit on Fitzpatrick, a sack and a forced fumble, and finally a third-down stop of Fitzy that set up the punt that set up TJ’s final TD.
And how about Jenkins? He also had a modest four-solo line with none of Pace’s bells and whistles. But he again led the run defense, which shut the Bengals down â€” 43 yards on 21 carries, with Fitzpatrick coming in as the leading rusher with 23 yards on six carries, some in self-defense.
“We did a good job,” Jenkins said about the run D. “At one point it was a 1.8 average. If we can keep them down like that, then we’re doing our job.”
Not all the Week 6 results are in, but as I write this, the Jets’ run defense is third in the NFL, allowing 69.0 yards a game.
And their pass rush is tied for first, at least as far as their 18 sacks â€” five more coming against Fitzpatrick â€” are concerned.
This isn’t an attempt to dazzle you with numbers, but the defensive effort was a big part of putting away the proverbial dangerous wounded Bengal that had come into their North Jersey home.
“We weren’t pretty today,” Leon Washington, who was pretty effective with his career-high 77 punt-return yards and 65 kickoff-return yards, said about the offense. “We made a lot of mistakes. It just goes to show the way we were able to finish this game. The defensive played well and special teams picked it up for the offense with field position.”
And the defense for the third straight season of Mangini-ball came out of the bye week with a powerful effort.
Were the Bengals hamstrung without Palmer and with a banged-up T.J. Houshmandzadeh? No question. But even battered and bruised teams are dangerous (see Rams 19, Redskins 17). And we’ll see if the Jets defense can grow from this effort in the coming weeks, but it sure didn’t hurt.
“When you’re a part of something that’s good, you see the things out there,” Revis said. “It’s totally different from last year … the sack strips, the interceptions … it just shows me we’re working hard. We’re watching film extra, we’re doing extra the things to be good.
“The Giants did it last year. I’ve got a couple of friends over there,” Revis continued (he may have said hello to a few of them as he was arriving today while Big Blue was departing for Cleveland and their Monday night affair vs. the Browns. “They told me they went the extra step. That’s the thing you have to do.”
Here are the fewest yards the Jets have allowed in a game in the last 10-plus seasons, since the start of 1998 (home team in CAPS):
|Â Season||Final Score||Plays||Yards||Avg|
|Â 2000||RAVENS 34, Jets 20||55||142||2.6|
|Â 1998||JETS 20, Dolphins 9||52||153||2.9|
|Â 2001||Jets 13, PANTHERS 12||56||162||2.9|
|Â 2008||JETS 26,Â Bengals 14||59||171||2.9|
A Pair of Threes
Jones’ three touchdowns today, paired with Laveranues Coles’ three TDs vs. Arizona, marks the first time in the NFL that two different players scored three TDs in back-to-back games since Reggie Bush and Mike Karney turned the trick for the Saints in December 2006.
And it’s the first time this has happened for the Jets since Emerson Boozer had three TDs (two rushing, one receiving) at Buffalo and TE Rich Caster had three more (all receiving) at Baltimore to start the 1972 season.
Tags: Bob Sutton, Carolina Panthers, Darrelle Revis, David Bowens, Eric Mangini, Kris Jenkins, Leon Washington, Shaun Ellis
Posted in Randy Lange | 39 Comments »
Eric Mangini wasn’t declaring Abram Elam his starter at safety, alongside Kerry Rhodes and replacing Eric Smith for a game, but the Jets head coach made a point of saying whatever role Elam plays Sunday vs. the Bengals, he’s comfortable with "Abe" in the game.
"I like his personality on and off the field. He’s a high-energy guy," Mangini said at today’s news conference, recalling when Elam first became a starter last midseason. "Each day he’d make plays both on the scout team and with the defensive reps he got. At that point, I thought it was the right time to give him a chance.
"It was not that he didn’t do a good job during the summer — he did. It wasn’t really a poor reflection on Abe. I just thought at that point Eric had won the job."
Mangini repeated that he’s completely comfortable if Elam is in the game due to his experience. In fact, he said, "I think this was his first start last year, at Cincinnati, so here we are."
Elam remembered that game, the fall-from-ahead 38-31 loss at Paul Brown Stadium nine days shy of a year ago
“It was exciting to get my first start against the Bengals,” he said in the locker room today. “Unfortunately the game didn’t turn out the way I anticipated. We weren’t able to come up with a victory. But I learned a lot that game.”
And, he said, he learned a lot all last season in the Mangini/Bob Sutton scheme.
“I came from Dallas and the two defenses are similar," he said, "but there wasn’t as much movement there as there is here. I really felt like I grew as a player last year learning under Coach Mangini and with the guys. I was really excited about the opportunity and taking advantage of what I was given.”
Elam said he feels he’s definitely matured and he’s comfortable in the system, and when called on he’s ready to fill the void created by Smith’s one-game suspension.
“I think it’s an opportunity to go out and show what I can do and let this coaching staff know that they can count on me when my opportunity comes," he said. "I just like to be out there playing and competing. This is what I dreamed of — it’s an opportunity to do something I love and go out there and compete. I dreamed of playing pro sports when I was a kid.”
Some may wonder, with all the comfort and confidence going on, why David Barrett, the former full-time cornerback, got the start at safety at San Diego rather than Elam. Mangini explained the tactical reasons for Barrett against the Chargers.
"It was more just because with Antonio Gates. When they were in 21 personnel [two backs, one TE], with Gates it’s really like a 20 — he’s really another receiver," the coach said. "Instead of having to go with a nickel defense and take a linebacker out and put a corner at safety, you have the ability to play man-to-man, things like that, without having to substitute in the front."
Makes sense, and with Barrett’s start — his interception-return TD 3:11 into the game to give the Jets a 7-0 lead plus another deep-middle PD minutes later — that call looked pretty good.
As for what the Jets will throw at the Bengals and their differently configured but equally dangerous passing attack, you’ll have to watch Sunday’s game. But Elam will be ready to do more playing than watching when called upon.
Revis on Returns?
Mangini fielded a question from a reporter who wondered whatever happened to the idea of using Darrelle Revis as both a DB and a PR. That’s what Revis did at Pitt, but the only two punts he’s returned as a Jet came in the last two games of the 2007 preseason.
"Darrelle hasn’t had a lot of opportunities there. I just really like Leon," Mangini said. "Anytime you can get him the ball in space, he’s developed, especially as a punt returner, in the time he’s been here. That’s not a knock on Darrelle. it’s just that Leon is very good there, and he’ll get better."
Brett and the Bengals
Elam isn’t the only Jet to get his first pro start vs. the Tiger Stripes. Brett Favre shares that distinction — in fact, when he came off the bench in to lead the Packers to a 24-23 comeback win over the Bengals at Lambeau Field in 1992, it marked the last time he didn’t start a game before starting his still current starting streak.
"My first real, true test," Favre said today of that Bengals game. "I played the previous week, but we were getting blown out. It holds a special place for the reason that we won. I came in in relief and led us from behind. It really was the start of my career. I never sat out after that point. It just happened to be against Cincinnati."
By the way, Favre turns 39 today. Happy birthday, Brett.
Tags: Abram Elam, Bob Sutton, Brett Favre, Cincinnati Bengals, Darrelle Revis, Eric Mangini, Leon Washington
Posted in Randy Lange | 16 Comments »
The Jets are faced with a defensive “dilemma” Sunday.
They would like to pressure Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner as much as possible, but they don’t want to provide too much space for Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald to roam.
“You’re going to live that on both sides of that sword,” said defensive coordinator Bob Sutton.
If Warner passes for 248 yards against the Jets, he’ll reach the 25,000 mark for his career. He’s completed 64.3 percent of his passes this season with six touchdowns and just one interception.
“You’d definitely like a lot of pressure because I think Kurt is a very accurate quarterback, he’s seen a lot things and he’s played a lot of games and broken a lot of huddles,” Sutton said. “You’re not going to shock him with too many things. You do have to try to make him uncomfortable.”
Through three games, Warner has been sacked seven times and the Jets have eight sacks. While sacks are always welcome, it’s important the Green & White hit the veteran passer on his dropbacks.
“He gets hit, but I guess he keeps getting back up,” defensive end Shaun Ellis told me yesterday as we stopped for a brief chat on a staircase in the Atlantic Health Training Center. “You just can’t get one hit and then go seven plays and not get a hit again. Every third play, you have to get a hit.”
If Kris Jenkins (back) is able to return Sunday at close to full strength, he has the ability to ruin Cards center Lyle Sendlein’s afternoon. A former undrafted free agent, Sendlein (6’4”, 300) has started five career games and likely has never seen a player of Jenkins’ caliber.
Ask any quarterback and he’ll tell you he hates the push up the middle. The Jets can blitz, but Sutton would love to get pressure from the base and periodically change the landscape for Warner.
“It’s just making him not sure of what’s going on — either from a coverage standpoint or just getting pressure on him in the pocket — so he’s not comfortable there,” he said.
But when the Jets blitz, they have to get to Warner. Neither Boldin nor Fitzgerald are burners, but don’t misinterpret that for a lack of big-play potential. If the accurate Warner has time to survey, set his feet and deliver, the Cards’ receivers will make it happen.
“They’re talented in all of the ways you think — from speed and catching ability. But they’re also talented in the sense that they’re physical guys,” Sutton said of the prolific pair. “They can go up and get the ball. They can take the ball away from you in some of those singled-up blitz situations.”
Warner might be 37 years old, but he still can pull that trigger. He’s a relatively stationary target in the pocket, but he can wait and unload at the last possible moment.
"I think the reason he will hold onto the ball is he has a quick release," Ellis said. "He can hold it to the last second and get rid of it real quick.”
Known for fumble troubles in the past, Warner has yet to put the ball on the ground this season and he’s had just that one pick. Conversely, the Jets have just two takeaways and a good performance from their defensive unit would go a long way toward reaching 2-2.
"We’ve had a good week of practice. From their standpoint, I give the players a lot of credit," Sutton said. "Their attention and their ability to drill down and really get into the game plan right away I think has been really good. We’re anticipating being in good position."
Tags: Anquan Boldin, Bob Sutton, Kris Jenkins, Kurt Warner, Shaun Ellis
Posted in Eric Allen | 17 Comments »
Funny how the weather always seems to know.
The Jets players are on the field at Hofstra’s Shuart Stadium now going through pregame warmups for the annual Green & White Practice. And at the moment it’s dry along Hempstead Turnpike.
But the winds are picking up, the skies are forbidding, and lightning strikes can be seen coming out of the nastier clouds to the north. The forecast is for strong thunderstorms and possible hail coming through. So it’s hard to say how long the practice will last. But we’ll be here all afternoon one way or another.
The team rosters look to be the same as they were for Friday’s pre-practice. Chad Pennington and Brett Ratliff are the QBs for the Green team (I misidentified Pennington as the White QB on Friday), which is composed mostly of the first offense and second defense. Kellen Clemens and rookie Erik Ainge are the QBs for the White side, featuring the first defense and second offense.
Jimmy Raye, the 32-year-veteran assistant coach, often an offensive coordinator in his career, is the Green head coach, while defensive coordinator Bob Sutton skippers the White team. Eric Mangini, normally the Jets’ head coach, is the "commissioner" for the game and he’ll be monitoring both teams’ transmissions through his headset.
Three injured players, WR Laveranues Coles, TE Chris Baker and RB Jesse Chatman, are in the booth, as are RB Danny Woodhead, on IR, and LB Jason Trusnik, on physically-unable-to-perform. LB David Harris also has been out with an injury and will not play.
The practice is a game-simulation session, with many of the trappings of a real game. But there are some important differences.
There is no tackling to the ground, and if that happens, it’s a personal foul on the tackling team. QBs are in red jerseys and can’t be touched, nor can the kickers.
Still, the quarterbacks can be sacked if in the referee’s view he would have been sacked had contact been allowed. Likewise, It’s at the officials’ discretion when a running back is down.
The quarters will be 10 minutes long, not 15 as at last year’s closed Green & White practice at Fordham University, so the practice shouldn’t run as long as last year’s three-hour clocking. But that assumes no weather stoppages, and our stadium announcer just told the so far light crowd starting to fill the Shuart stands that they’ll be informed if lightning is in the area and that they should take cover if it is.
As we’ve been announcing on newyorkjets.com, roughly the first half of this practice will be aired on 1050 ESPN New York, with the call being supplied by the Jets radio team of Bob Wischusen and Marty Lyons. And our computer tech man Paul Marsh has just told me we will be able to stream the full game call on newyorkjets.com as well as being able to archive it it for playback later.
We’ve had the national anthem and some individual player introductions (!) for the green and white teams, and the New York Jets Flight Crew just performed a number, with Justin Miller following the moves with some steps of his own near the White sideline. We’re almost set to kick off. The plans from here are to provide you Radar entries throughout the game and a locker room wrapup, along with features by Eric Allen and Stephen Haynes. Talk to you shortly.
Tags: Bob Sutton, Chad Pennington, Eric Mangini, Green & White, Jimmy Raye, Justin Miller, Kellen Clemens
Posted in Randy Lange | 3 Comments »
The air was a little brisk, in the upper 50s perhaps, for this morning’s third practice of the Jets’ weekend rookie minicamp, leading to this exchange between defensive coaches:
Bryan Cox: "Bob, you look cold."
Bob Sutton: "It’s linemen’s weather."
It was also special teams weather, at least for much of the 40 minutes of media availability. And while the Jets’ 50 draft picks, undrafted free agents and tryouts worked on offense and defense during other periods of the practice, head coach Eric Mangini definitely wasn’t glossing over the specialty work.
"Some of these guys like Vernon Gholston and Dustin Keller are getting work on special teams, which they hadn’t been part of over the latter parts of their college careers," Mangini said. "Now it’s something they not only have to be aware of but be involved in deeply. It’s another rock on the pile."
ST coordinator Kevin O’Dea, who let’s remember may be in his first practices as a Jets coach but is starting his 15th NFL season with his sixth team, was right in his element, monitoring the punting, moving players around.
The two punters in this camp are Jeremy Kapinos, who kicked in the Tennessee game last year, and tryout candidate Patrick Fisher from LSU. Their hang times were good, not great, and Kapinos made a nice save of a bounced snap to get off a field-position-saving boot. On another non-contact rush (players are in helmets but no other pads), tryout TE Chris Hopkins appeared to get a nice push, drawing "Blocked punt, blocked punt" from O’Dea.
Mangini said at his noon news conference that Kapinos and incumbent Ben Graham will battle for the job in training camp.
"We’re going to look at both of those guys and give them both opportunities to state their case," the head coach said. "They’ve been working with Kevin, and he has a strong track record with kickers and punters, not just improving established guys but developing younger guys. That’s one of the things I liked about Kevin when I interviewed him before I eventually hired him."
Another wrinkle on punt returners was No. 35 putting them away and running upfield. That number is being worn by Danny Woodhead of Chadron State, whom the coach talked about Friday.
Woodhead said the last time he returned punts in game action was in high school, although he did some PR work in practice at his Division II college.
"It’s something I’ve done in the past," Woodhead said. "I’m comfortable catching kickoffs and punts."
Woodhead, an undrafted free agent signing in the minutes after the draft ended last Sunday night, put a nice move on sixth pick of the draft Vernon Gholston. It wasn’t really a fair "fight," since it came in the "tackling drills" that Mangini likes, one offensive player vs. one defensive player in a confined area. This one again wasn’t live tackling, but contact sometimes occurred, as when undrafted FA Nate Lyles met his man and bumped him to the ground.
Gholston didn’t get the chance with Woodhead, who gave him a headfake and then used his 4.38 speed to motor out of harm’s way.
And the little we’ve seen of Marcus Henry, the sixth-round WR from Kansas is, as billed, a big receiving target at 6’3½". Al Pereira, our unparalleled team photographer, took a number of shots from Friday’s late workout that are now up on the newyorkjets.com home page, and two of the shots show Henry plucking a high toss like it’s low-hanging fruit.
Two Jets we knew of were around the complex the last two days even though veterans are off from their conditioning workouts until next week. Long-snapper James Dearth was briefly out at practice and no doubt eyeballed two tryout snappers, Will Collins of Southern Cal and Nick Jarvis of Wake Forest. And Mangini said that second-year LB David Harris also stopped by Friday.
"David claims he was in for a workout," the coach said, "but I think it was a function of him wanting to be here and not be part of rookie weekend the way he was last year and enjoy the afternoon and see these guys. He appreciates the transition these guys are going through. He seemed a lot happier yesterday than he did a year ago yesterday."
Tags: David Harris, Eric Mangini, James Dearth, Ben Graham, Bryan Cox, Bob Sutton, Jeremy Kapinos, Vernon Gholston, Dustin Keller, Danny Woodhead, Kevin O\'Dea
Posted in Randy Lange | 63 Comments »
It could be a Buffalo thing or it could be a Game 8 thing. Either way, defensive coordinator Bob Sutton sees progress being made.
"The players worked very hard the last couple of weeks," Sutton said at his biweekly informal news conference this afternoon. "We’re still a long way away from where we need to be. But they can see the progress and we can see the progress."
Of course, you can never discount a play from a game, so the late 85-yard J.P. Losman-to-Lee Evans touchdown pass that put Sunday’s Bills game out of reach goes on the defense’s log as well. But put that over on the side and the Jets allowed 262 yards on 61 plays for a very respectable 4.3 yards per play. And now counting that home run ball, for the second time in three games, the Green & White allowed just one TD.
It starts with playing the run. Rookie RB Marshawn Lynch told the CBS announcers at the pregame production meeting that he felt sure the Jets game would be his first 100-yard game as a pro. He was wrong. Lynch ran 21 times for 80 yards (after going 23-for-79 in Game 4 at Buffalo), and for the second time this season the Jets held the Bills to 3.1 yards a carry, their best averages this season.
"There are no quantum leaps," Sutton said. "It’s just the ability to keep improving the little things. From a coaching or individual player standpoint, it could be the most simple of things like hand placement or footwork. When those things are improving, you’d be surprised how quick you can fix these problems."
And the improved run play, rather than the fact that Buffalo was Game 8 this season just as Cleveland was Game 8 last season, may have had something to do with the pressure that the Jets successfully brought to bear on Trent Edwards and J.P. Losman.
"A lot of the things tie together," Sutton said. "Sometimes getting control of the run is an easier way to pressure. Once you get one area squared away, it’s much easier to call defenses. You can anticipate what’s going to happen to you. I think they did a good job with the pressures and execution."
Quarterback hits, as imperfectly as they are kept by stat crews around the NFL, have been up. After seven in the first four games, the Jets have 21 the last four, including a season-high-tying seven vs. the Bills. None of the pressures were more exciting than the "cloudburst" approach of having six players standing up and milling around before the snap and then rushing the pocket on a couple of occasions.
"Every week we draw up something we want to do," said LB David Bowens, who had the hit on Edwards the first time the blitz was unveiled, which produced Darrelle Revis’ first pro interception. "It’s fun. As a player, you can get lost in the monotony of being in a four-man or a three-man front."
Bowens still is having limited exposure in the defense, but he had his most productive burst as a Jet in a three-play span in the second-quarter, preceding his QB hit with a half-tackle on a 1-yard loss and then defending an Edwards pass with his elbow. He’s feeling it and he says his defensive mates are feeling it.
"We saw it. Call a spade a spade," he said. "We played a lot better for four quarters. We’ve had flashes of good defense but not consistently, over four quarters. I think we did that against Buffalo. Even on the touchdown, guys were in position."
Is this a mirage or real improvement. We’ll see Sunday. The Redskins certainly have dangerous performers on offense. They also have rankings very similar to the Bills. If not a quantum leap, the Jets need to continue to make strides if they’re to salvage important elements from this season that has started so unfortunately.
Here are some key offensive rankings of the Jets’ last opponent and their next opponent:
|Total Yards per Game||31st||28th|
|Total Yards per Play||31st||23rd|
|Rushing Yards per Game||20th||18th|
|Rushing Yards per Play||24th||25th|
|Passing Yards per Game||31st||25th|
|Passing Yards per Play||25th||15th|
Coles Listed as Doubtful
WR Laveranues Coles sat out his third practice this week today — or more accurately, he stood it out, watching in sweats. But he was not ruled out of Sunday’s game against Washington. His status in the injury report just released is doubtful, which officially means there’s at least a 75 percent chance he won’t play in the game. S Kerry Rhodes was added to the report today with a knee injury. He was limited at practice and is questionable for the game.
The Redskins’ report had several interesting additions today: LB Marcus Washington with a hamstring (limited, questionable), WR James Thrash also with a hammy (limited, probable) and RB Clinton Portis, who did not participate in today’s practice due to a coach’s decision. There is no further word on why coach Joe Gibbs held Portis out, and no listing of Portis’ status for the Jets.
Tags: Bob Sutton, David Bowens
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