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Guard Thread: Faneca to Colon to Winters

Posted by Randy Lange on June 17, 2013 – 4:35 pm

Updated, 6:25 p.m. ET

Time distortion is an Einsteinian thing. But it can be an NFL-ish phenomenon as well.

How long ago was it that Alan Faneca started at left guard for the Jets? Three centuries ago? Three decades? Of course it was only 3½ seasons ago that the perennial Pro Bowler started his last game in green and white, in the 2009 AFC Championship Game at Indianapolis.

Yet a sturdy thread stretches from Faneca through the Jets’ current free-for-all at both guard spots heading toward the coming season.

Before Faneca became a Jet in ’08, he was a Pittsburgh Steeler. And before Willie Colon became a candidate to claim one of the Jets’ starting guard jobs in ’13, he too was a Steeler. Needless to say, he and Faneca were black-and-gold-tight.

“I know Alan really well and I know a lot about him. Back then, I was always tugging on him and Jeff Hartings for knowledge,” said Colon, the Bronx native who’s returned home after spending his first seven pro seasons with Pittsburgh. “And I think the biggest for any guy who’s still around, still able to play the game, is the sense of urgency — you can only play this game for so long.”

“If you care about the game, if you care about the team, the worst thing you can do is not share information with the guys that are coming up.”

Faneca made such an impact on Colon that choosing a uniform number as a Jet was easy. His 74 with the Steelers has been claimed since 2006, when a rookie named Nick Mangold came to the Jets.

“When I got here, it was a question of which number did I want, 75 or 66?” Colon said. It took him a little longer than a blink of an eye decide on 66, which was the number Faneca made famous as a Steeler and for his two years as a Jet.

“I felt where I wanted to be, where I wanted to finish my career is on the same level that Alan finished his career,” he said. “I thought it would only be right to honor him and his number, show respect, and play my tail off like he did.”

Yet while Colon is doing that, he’ll be extending the thread to young men on the Jets’ O-line such as third-round rookie guard Brian Winters.

“Alan and Jeff, those guys did that for me. They saw I had a lot of upside. They paid attention to me, they cared about me,” he said. “And when I messed up or I wasn’t on my game, they were there for me to lean on and also to give me help and tools that made me a better ballplayer. So it’s only right that I can do that for Winters or Austin Howard or anybody that’s coming in that has a fair shot of being an impact player on this team.”

Winters appreciates the help and, as young as he is — he turns 22 next month — appreciates getting it from something of an idol of his, and possibly extending this thread even farther into the Jets’ future.

“I remember growing up and watching Willie play for the Steelers,” said Winters, who grew up in northern Ohio outside of Cleveland and not far from Pittsburgh. “My stepmom was a big Steelers fan, and I was from a Browns background, so watching him was great. I love the way he played the game.

“And to come in here and him kind of taking me under his wing is awesome. The coaches are there to help me, but when there’s specific things for that position that he can see, he teaches me and helps me on that. He doesn’t have to do that, but he wants to make me a better player.”

Colon said he’s impressed and inspired by Winters’ attitude.

“I remember not too long ago I was in his shoes and I just wanted to make it and I just wanted to fight and I just wanted to be out there and have a chance to crack the lineup,” he said. “And he’s right now in that position. I won’t be surprised if somehow he cracks that lineup. He’s extremely athletic and he has a lot of upside.”

Colon’s not the only one to see that. Head coach Rex Ryan talked about his guards on the last day of last week’s full-squad minicamp.

“Nick’s going to have two new guards playing with him so that certainly will be a challenge,” Ryan said. “But I’ve really been impressed with Willie, and the same thing with [Stephen] Peterman. We’re flipping all those guards, Winters as well. I’m expecting big things from this young man. So I feel pretty good about where we are with those guys.

“Sometimes there’s a comfort level. The offensive line immediately wants to say, ‘I’m the right guard,’ ‘I’m the left guard’ or whatever, but we’re not there yet. It’s about the competition. The best two will be out there and we’ll see who that is. But do I see good competition there? I absolutely do.”

During the minicamp, Winters was in the left guard cat-bird’s seat between Mangold and LT D’Brickashaw Ferguson. With him, Colon, Peterman, returnee Vlad Ducasse and sixth-round rookie Will Campbell in the mix, the competition is lively. The one thing we know today is that with the departure of Brandon Moore and Matt Slauson, the Jets will have two new guard starters for the first time since 2004.

It’s all good in the OL room, said Colon.

“You’ve got five guys who love the game and just go out there and get it done,” he said. “There’s no egos on this line. I’m not surprised but at the same time it’s a blessing. Some guys who are paid or have some type of credentials, you may get a jerk along the line. But all our guys are proud to go to work and take pride in their job and become good at it.”

And that encourages this new band of OL brothers to pay it forward — and to have a firm grip on that thread reaching back into the past as they power into the future.

Long-Snapper Released

The Jets announced this afternoon they have released long-snapper Travis Tripucka, the long-snapper out of the University of Massachusetts who was signed to a reserve-future contract early this offseason.

Also, for those scoring at home, Tripucka’s uniform No. 44 became available for a second before undrafted rookie TE Chris Pantale shifted from 81 to 44.

And Kellen Winslow, who wore 49 for his tryout at last week’s mandatory full-squad minicamp, then signed with the Jets the next day, will now be wearing No. 81. Winslow wore 80 with the Browns and 82 with the Buccaneers and Patriots.


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Bookkeeping on Jets’ 16 UFAs/RFAs

Posted by Randy Lange on March 13, 2013 – 8:56 am

Late Tuesday the NFL finally released its official list of available free agents in four different categories for the signing period that began at 4 p.m. While most of you already are aware of this information and a lot more, for those who haven’t heard and in the interest of bookkeeping, here is a summation of what the release reads regarding the Jets:

Restricted Free Agents who received Qualifying Offers from their Prior Clubs and are subject to the First Refusal/Compensation system of the NFL CBA

T Austin Howard, Round 2

TE Jeff Cumberland, right of first refusal

The Round 2 designation for Howard is the pick a new club, if it were to sign Howard to an offer sheet, must send to the Jets, its own choice or a better choice in the round for the April draft. In Cumberland’s case, there is no compensation for a new club that would like to sign him to an offer sheet but the Jets still retain the right to match the offer and retain Cumberland. Offer sheets may be submitted up until Friday, April 19, one second before midnight.

Unrestricted Free Agents with four or more accrued seasons

S Yeremiah Bell

DT Mike DeVito

WR Braylon Edwards

K Nick Folk

RB Shonn Greene

RB Lex Hilliard

TE Dustin Keller

S LaRon Landry

G Brandon Moore

WR Chaz Schilens

G Matt Slauson

LB Bryan Thomas

Players with fewer than four accrued seasons who received no Qualifying Offer or minimum tender from their Prior Clubs

TE Dedrick Epps

LS Tanner Purdum

The fourth category is players who have been designated Franchise Players, but the Jets did not so designate anyone.


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Posted in Randy Lange | 88 Comments »

Jets-Bills: First-Half Tweets

Posted by Randy Lange on December 30, 2012 – 2:33 pm

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).


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Cromartie’s Starting Feat Not Too Common in NFL

Posted by Randy Lange on December 12, 2012 – 5:18 pm

Congratulations to Antonio Cromartie, the latest member of the NFL’s Two-Way Football Club.

Many Jets fans are aware that Cro got a rare double start on Sunday at Jacksonville. He was lined up at split end on the game’s first offensive play and he was at his old, familiar right corner spot for the defense.

Have any other Jets done the double before Cro? I can’t find any back to 1977. Of course we remember WR Keyshawn Johnson doing it all in the 1998 AFC Divisional Round Game vs. Jacksonville, including coming up with an interception off of an end-of-game Hail Mary fired up by none other than Jaguars QB Mark Brunell. But Key didn’t get the start on defense. And Bobby Humphery started four games at WR in 1984 before flipping over to LCB, where he started 35 games, including every game in 1988-89, but again, Humphery never started on O and D in the same game.

However, we can say that Cromartie became the first NFL player since 2008 to start for his team on offense and defense in the same game. The last player with that daily double was Spencer Larsen, who was the Broncos’ precocious rookie middle linebacker in ’08 and at Atlanta on Nov. 16 also started at fullback.

(As a completely unrelated trivia aside, five other players besides Larsen started that day in that game who either previously had been or subsequently would become Jets. How many of those five can you name? Answer below.)

We remember Cromartie getting his feet wet at wideout this summer. He got his first work with receivers in the second half of individual drills at the Aug. 13 practice at SUNY Cortland, after which he said he’s looking forward to playing offense in a game.

“I’ve been waiting for the opportunity to try to play both ways in the NFL for a while,” Cro said then. “It’s fun. It’s just an opportunity to get the ball in your hands and another challenge. I’m looking at going out and playing receiver as a challenge for me. I’ve been asking for it since I was a rookie in San Diego.”

AC didn’t take his WR game into the preseason nor into the first four regular-season games. But he was on the offensive side of the ball for three plays against the Texans and had two passes thrown his way by Mark Sanchez, both incomplete. Including his three offensive plays at Jacksonville, he has 15 plays on offense this season.

And counting his one catch for a 2-yard loss against the Jags, Cromartie now has one pro catch for minus-2 yards. His debut as a pass catcher instead of a catch preventer came late in the first quarter, when he motioned out of the slot, took a short pass from Mark Sanchez, and couldn’t escape the clutches of Jason Babin to get upfield.

Will Cro’s wideout career ever get flying? He could obviously still be used in a pinch in the final three games this year. However, if Braylon Edwards is healthy and ready to participate immediately (we’ll find that out Thursday), if Stephen Hill’s knee sprain comes around quickly, and/or if Clyde Gates gets clearance from his concussion, plus Jeremy Kerley, Chaz Schilens and Mardy Gilyard, there may not be any spare reps to be had at the position.

But we expect Cromartie to keep turning up here and there regardless as he just keeps trying to help his team win.

Pro Bowl Stretch Run

It’s been a rough year for the Jets and that is reflected in the Pro Bowl snapshot as the fan online balloting on NFL.com heads down the stretch. No Jet is in the top 10 as released by the league today, and no Jet is a leader at his position among AFC vote-getters.

But needless to say, some Jets may still get their names called for the annual all-star game, and if you want to help your favorite player in green and white make it to Hawaii, you can still vote here on NYJets.com.

Balloting concludes Monday, Dec. 17, following the conclusion of the Jets-Titans Monday night game.

Would you like to see C Nick Mangold make his fifth Pro Bowl and fourth as a starter? Want to send LT D’Brickashaw Ferguson to Oahu for his fourth straight appearance? Support RG Brandon Moore, who went to his first PB last year? Drape Cromartie, DE Muhammad Wilkerson, S LaRon Landry or LB David Harris in leis and in the red-and-white AFC jerseys the week before this year’s Super Bowl?

The AFC and NFC squads are based on the consensus votes of fans, players and coaches. Each group’s vote counts one-third toward determining the 43-man rosters that represent the conferences. NFL players and coaches will cast their votes on Dec. 20-21. The game is Jan. 27, 7 p.m. EST, televised live by NBC from Aloha Stadium.

Rex Cetera

Edwards is expected to wear uniform No. 17, as he did when he was with the Jets for 34 games in 2009-10 and in fact as he has worn for his entire pro career. … Falcons starters on 11.16.08 against Denver were DE John Abraham, FS Erik Coleman and TE Ben Hartsock. Broncos starters that game were former Jets first-rounder Dewayne Robertson and C Casey Wiegmann, who played three games for the 1996-97 Jets.


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Posted in Randy Lange | 52 Comments »

Sanchez Verdict ‘Wasn’t Too Big of a Shock’

Posted by jlholt32 on December 5, 2012 – 8:10 pm

It was a typical Wednesday practice at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center this afternoon.

Yet from an outsider’s perspective it never appeared that way.

Two days of uncertainty regarding who the Jets’ starting quarterback at Jacksonville would be came to an end this morning when head coach Rex Ryan announced that he would be sticking with Mark Sanchez.

“It wasn’t too big of a shock to the guys,” wide receiver Jeremy Kerley said.

“It really was no news to take in,” right tackle Austin Howard added. “Personnel decisions are made by Rex, the GM and the owner. They’ve been here a long time to make those decisions.”

Just three days ago, as the Jets were facing the Arizona Cardinals, Ryan decided in the third quarter that it was the appropriate time to pull Sanchez from the game. The QB had struggled mightily all afternoon, throwing three interceptions in his first nine pass attempts, and also was sacked three times. The benching proved to be the first time the fourth-year QB had been taken out of a game as a pro.

“I think quarterbacks get a lot of the blame for everything, good or bad,” Kerley said. “But I think it falls a lot on his shoulders, good or bad. But we’re an offense. We don’t point fingers. We take the blame for what we put out there.”

With backup quarterback Tim Tebow unavailable to go due to broken ribs, third-stringer Greg McElroy entered the game and led the Jets to the come-from-behind 7-6 win.

“I think for Greg, it just gives him the confidence,” tight end Konrad Reuland said. “Whenever his number is called in the future, he has the confidence to go out there, and he knows he’s led a comeback victory already in his career, threw a touchdown pass on his first drive. So I don’t know how you wouldn’t have confidence after the way he played. I think in the long run, it might make this team stronger, because now we have three quarterbacks that have experience what it’s like to lead teams to comeback victories and win games in the NFL.”

On Monday, Ryan said he needed more time to make his decision and he wanted to make sure to get feedback from several of his coaching counterparts before announcing anything.  

“It was Rex’s decision,” cornerback Ellis Lankster said. “We’re not mad or anything. We’re just going to follow Rex’s decision and going to play behind him.”

The players had the previous two days off from practice, but that didn’t mean the QB chatter wasn’t heard around them. 

“I was walking into stores and people were asking me about it,” Lankster said. “I was like, ‘I don’t know. I haven’t been to practice or anything yet.’ So I didn’t know what it was going to be.”

Other players simply ignored the matter.

“I don’t really pay much attention to it,” guard Brandon Moore said. “It’ll get figured out. That’s why Rex is the head coach and he makes those decisions. I’ve got to worry about the game plan.”

While the decision wasn’t an easy one for Ryan to make, it’s clear that year four for Sanchez hasn’t been as smooth as many anticipated it would be. The Jets offense ranks 31st in the NFL and No. 6 has thrown 13 interceptions and had 18 turnovers through the team’s 12 games this season.

“I think everybody does the best job they can,” rookie WR Jordan White said. “Nobody goes in there and wants to mess up at any position. You just do the best you can. Some things might not go your way sometimes, but what can you do but come back to work the next day and get back to it. That’s what everybody’s done.”

The issue with Sanchez has never been his drive. Many of teammates say he’s one of the most dedicated people inside the locker room. 

“Mark’s a very hard worker,” fullback Lex Hilliard said. “Week in and week out, he’s here constantly, sometimes till 10 or 11 o’clock at night.”

Reuland, who also was Sanchez’s teammate at Mission Viejo High School, described a story of when their school lost in a California Interscholastic Federation championship game during Sanchez’s junior year and how that loss inspired the QB.

“They didn’t have a state championship in California back then,” Reuland said. “But it was basically as far as you could go. It was a big loss and he bounced right back the next season and led us to a No. 2 ranking in the country, undefeated [season]. He bounced back from that.

“That was definitely an adverse situation because we were expected to win it all. But I don’t think he would be here, at this level, if he didn’t know how to overcome adversity. Look at his career at USC. He battled for three years before getting a chance to start. As soon as he did, he took advantage of it.”

The players were going to support Ryan’s decision either way. But now that it’s been made, everyone was pleased it didn’t drag out.

“I think the clarification is good on all parts, receivers, tight ends, running backs,” Kerley said. “The whole offense, we needed that.”

And what seemed to impress Sanchez’s teammates most was the way the quarterback processed the situation he’d been dealt.

“Hats off to Mark,” Howard said. “He handled it like a pro.”

“He was very supportive of Greg,” Reuland said. “And I know it was tough for him, but at the same time he was very supportive. I feel like Mark just wants to win like all of us. Obviously deep down, it’s got to hurt a little bit. But at the same time, I think he did a good job of cheering us on and I feel like he’s going to bounce back.”

While many probably have lost belief in Sanchez, the people who truly count most have not.

“I got a lot of faith in him,” Lankster said.

“He’s going to put his best foot forward and give the team the best shot he’s got,” Hilliard said. “So that’s all you can really ask for.”

It’ll be interesting to see how Sanchez performs Sunday in Jacksonville. But one big question was answered today and people have to accept it one way or another.

“I think with Mark, it’s literally just he’s a couple of great plays away from being right back to where he’s been in the past,” Reuland said. “Everyone in here has been through a time where they were a little down on themselves or whatever and all it takes is one or two plays to get right back out of it — ‘Oh, wait, yeah, I can do this.’ So I think that’s going to happen. I think that’s going to happen in this game.”

Wednesday Injury Reports

The Jets’ injury list is at 22 players today. New to the list: WR Stephen Hill didn’t practice with a knee injury, DT Mike DeVito (shin) was full-go and so was FB Lex Hilliard (finger). Two other DNPs were WR Clyde Gates (concussion) and TE Dustin Keller (ankle). Four limited players: RB-KR Joe McKnight (ankle/ribs), G Brandon Moore (hip), NT Sione Po‘uha (back) and QB Tim Tebow (ribs). The Jets’ full injury list can be found here.

The Jaguars listed eight players who didn’t practice today, among them RBs Maurice Jones-Drew (foot), Greg Jones (thigh) and Rashad Jennings (concussion), centers Brad Meester (foot) and Michael Brewster (hand), WR Cecil Shorts (concussion), CB Aaron Ross (calf) and DE George Selvie (concussion).

Limited were CB Derek Cox (hamstring) and DE Austen Lane (foot). Full were DT Tyson Alualu (calf) and CB Rashean Mathis (groin).

Sack Ex-Changes

The Elias Sports Bureau has revised the scoring of three plays, all of them sacks, in the Jets-Cardinals game. The Cards’ final offensive play of the game was originally scored a split sack between DE Muhammad Wilkerson and LB Bart Scott, who swarmed rookie Ryan Lindley, but upon further review, the full sack has been given to Wilkerson, which lifts him past Bryan Thomas’ 2.5 sacks and into the team lead with 3.0 sacks.

The other two sack revisions were both on Arizona takedowns of Mark Sanchez. The early-second-quarter sack split between LB Sam Acho and DT Darnell Dockett now goes fully to Acho. And the late-second-quarter sack divvied up between S Adrian Wilson and DT David Carter now goes all to Wilson.


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Arizona, Only Arizona, Comes into Focus

Posted by Randy Lange on November 26, 2012 – 4:47 pm

Rex Ryan pointed the direction: “It’s on to Arizona.”

And the Jets head coach’s finger was pointing to the Cardinals because they’re in the exact opposite direction to the Patriots and the Thanksgiving game the Jets don’t want to see in their rear-view mirror as they put days and weeks in between that game and what remains in their 2012 regular season.

Ryan surely wasn’t selling a playoff push at today’s return-from-the-holiday news conference at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center, but he was asked if his approach for his team was to “run the table” on this season.

“Absolutely, that’s what you’re trying to do,” he said. “Our goal was to beat New England also, but that never worked out. That’s why you play. You try and win every game that you’re in.

“I’m not going to make a guarantee that we’re making the playoffs or that deal. We have to get better. It has to start right now. You can’t look down the road. Of course, you’d like to run the table, I guess that’s human nature to say, ‘Hey, I see what’s on our schedule, we have to win all five games, we have to do this, we have to do that.’ We have to win this game. I think that’s where the entire focus is.”

The shame of it is that the Jets’ final five games are table-runnable. Every opponent — Arizona, Jacksonville, Tennessee, San Diego and Buffalo — is 4-7 or worse. Their combined winning percentage is .327. While not an apples-to-apples comparison, if that strength-of-schedule held up the rest of the season, it would be the lowest SOS of the last five opponents’ records when the Jets played them in any season in franchise history.

But to think ahead at this stage for the equally 4-7 Jets right now would be foolhardy, and no one we heard in the locker room after the midday practice was going there.

Reporter John Holt dropped in on the media gathering around Yeremiah Bell’s locker. Here’s John’s report:

Bell has always considered Thanksgiving a special holiday.

But this year the holiday wasn’t as enjoyable for the Jets’ safety as the Green & White were defeated by the New England Patriots at MetLife Stadium. 

“Just from a feelings standpoint, I mean, that was about as low as you can get, especially on national television,” Bell said this afternoon after practice at the Atlantic Health Training Center. “But you know, it’s over and you just move on to the next.”

“Obviously it was an embarrassing game,” No. 37 said. “Kind of a low point, the way we went out there and kind of what we put on the field. But we know we still have five games left, so we’re more focused on the Arizona Cardinals and taking each game one game at a time.”

Although the Pats won by 30 Thursday, Bell wouldn’t concede that New England was a better team than when the teams first met in Foxboro on Oct. 21. The Jets led that game with less than two minutes to go in regulation before the Patriots sent the game to overtime for the 29-26 win.

“I think they’re a good team, no doubt about it,” the former Miami Dolphin said. “But do I think the score reflects how good they are? Maybe not. They’re good, no doubt about it. But there were some crazy things that happened in that game [Thursday].”

The craziest was three New England touchdowns in a span of 52 seconds, something Bell said he’d never witnessed.

“I’ve never seen a game and the things that happened in that game spin out of control so fast,” he said.

With five games remaining on the schedule, maybe a players-only meeting could prove beneficial.

“We’ve talked as players,” Bell said. “But at this point it’s just about doing your job. I don’t know how much more you can say it or how much more clear you can say it. It’s about guys doing their jobs and not doing the boneheaded things in games; not turning the ball over, not committing stupid penalties on defense and things like that. We just have to do more as a group.”

LaRon Landry, Bell’s safety mate, put the same sentiments in his own words:

“We have five more weeks and I’ll take it one day at a time, one practice at a time, like I’ve been doing. Go out there and give it my all and let the outcome speak for itself. I can only control what I can control.”

“There’s nothing more to say about it — we stunk it up,” LB Bryan Thomas said of their Turkey Day trimming. “Hats off to the Pats. Now we move on. Arizona’s coming in and we’re getting prepped on them, even a little bit today. Our sole focus is on this game. What would we look ahead for?”

And guard Brandon Moore uncharacteristically stepped on some reporters’ questions.

On the games down the road—

“It’s only about today for me.”

—but the possibility of running that proverbial table—

“I don’t know. I’m focused on today. I’m not going to even go there.”

That is the way it is today, will be this week. Only after Arizona will the focus shift to Jacksonville, and Tennessee will be unspoken before the Jaguars game. That’s the way it must be for this Jets team in this season.


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Moving Forward from SF; Holmes X-Rays Negative

Posted by Randy Lange on October 1, 2012 – 3:24 pm

Updated, 5:45 p.m. ET

For some games, there are no silver linings. It’s all just dark clouds.

Hopefully for the day only, though. Now is there a chance that the Jets’ 34-0 loss to the 49ers on Sunday is a harbinger for the season?

Well, there is a chance. But the Jets are hardly throwing in the towel. Today and tomorrow are off days for the players, yet many will be at the Atlantic Health Training Center searching for mirrors and solutions. And the coaches are closeted here over the next two days doing the same from their end of the operation.

“I think it was pretty evident after the game,” head coach Rex Ryan said at today’s midday news conference of these coaches-only sessions. “Once you win, sometimes it’s harder to look, sometimes you don’t take as close a look at yourself as you need to. After you get beat like this, it’s not hard to. It’s something I just felt we needed to do.

“We have to come up with solutions. If we keep repeating the same things, how can we expect the results to change? That’s the challenge to the coaching staff. We’ve got to put our guys in the best positions to be successful and move forward.”

What gives Rex and the players confidence that they can right the ship?

“Because you have to,” guard Brandon Moore said on a conference call with reporters today. “There’s no other option.”

I think it was Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy who put it elegantly in an interview that aired Saturday on Sirius/XM NFL Radio. With the Packers coming off a difficult setback of their own (the last-second defeat at Seattle, which admittedly was not a 34-point home loss), McCarthy was asked about the mindset of his team.

“We welcome the opportunity to show how much we appreciate this game and how well we respond to adversity,” he said, or words to that effect.

There’s another reason not to raise the white flag for the Jets, even with the undefeated Texans riding into town for a primetime showdown with the Jets a week from tonight. History says things will get a lot closer in a week’s time.

Since 2000, for example, 25 teams lost home games by 34 or more points, by an average score of 42-6. Ooof. Their composite record in their next weeks’ games: 10-15 and an average score of 22-18, still in favor of the opponents but a lot

The success stories: The 2011 Tim Tebow Broncos lost at home to Detroit, 45-10 in Week 8, then went to Oakland and pillaged the Raiders, 38-24. The 2007 non-Tebow Broncos lost at Mile High to San Diego, 41-3, in Week 5, then hosted Pittsburgh and prevailed, 31-28. The ’05 Browns were smelted by the Steelers at home, 41-0, in Week 16, the finished up by beating Ryan’s former team, the Ravens, 20-16.

The Jets’ record in similar situations — 34-point home loss — showed no wins in five tries but with improved play the following week and the weeks after that. In 2002 they were crushed at home by the Patriots, 44-7, but overcame their 1-4 start to finish 9-7 and in the playoffs.

Open it up to performance after difficult defeats on the road and we have the ’06 playoff team that lost at Jacksonville, 41-0, and Rex’s ’10 model, which suffered their post-Jim Leonhard-injury letdown in the 45-3 rout at New England, then won four of their next six, including two road playoff games.

Of course, history reveals failures to bounce back from such adversity as well. It’s up to Ryan, his coaches and his players to show what it’s going to be in 2012.

“We have to challenge ourselves, and that’s what I think our team will do,” he said. “That’s why I needed the time away for the players. We can focus on the game, obviously, and focus on the solutions. By Wednesday we have to have some solutions ready to go.”

Holmes: Good News, No Break

Ryan said WR Santonio Holmes had X-rays on his left foot, injured early in the fourth quarter Sunday, and the results were negative, no break. He understands it’s not an Achilles injury but had no other details while the team doctors and trainers wait for the MRI results to return. How soon could Tone return? “Obviously, it looks doubtful for this week,” the coach said. “Further than that, I’m not sure.”

He didn’t rule out signing a wideout or a player at another position but said he and GM Mike Tannenbaum “will certainly look at those possibilities” that give the Jets the best chance to be successful.

Berry Juice?

One of those possibilities is CB Aaron Berry. The Jets hadn’t announced this addition but Ryan confirmed that Berry is coming aboard.

“We feel Aaron has a chance to be successful on and off the field here, and if we didn’t believe that, we wouldn’t bring him here,” Ryan said. “As a player, he has the physical skillset we look for in our corners, and No. 1 is man cover skills. He has that.”

But the 5’11”, 180-pound third-year man out of Pitt also comes with baggage, two arrests in a month that led the Lions to cut him July 23 and the NFL to suspend him for three games for violating the league’s personal-conduct policy.

“Everybody’s made mistakes in our lives. I’ve always talked about it, and certainly I’ve made more than my share,” the coach said. “But we do background checks, Matt Cavanaugh was on the staff at Pitt when he was there. We feel good about Aaron.”

Rex had no timetable for how quickly Berry can get up to speed, but one result of the signing is that “We can put Joe McKnight back full-time at running back.” McKnight was pressed into potential emergency duty as a cornerback and who knows, may still pop up there down the road. He was in on two first-quarter plays against the Niners, blitzing from the slot both times.

McKnight also got in two kickoff returns vs. SF for 73 yards and the NFL’s defending KOR leader moved up to 10th in the current rankings with a 27.1-yard average on 10 returns.

Update: The Jets announced the signing of Berry, while TE Dedrick Epps was waived/injured. Berry will wear uniform No. 22.

Inside the Jets

Tonight’s guests on the weekly “Inside the Jets” show on ESPN 98.7 FM will be LB Aaron Maybin and DT Kenrick Ellis. As usual, the show will air from 7-8 p.m. ET and will be hosted by voice of the Jets Bob Wischusen from The Grasshopper Off the Green in Morristown, N.J.


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Mike T: J.Smith-for-Hunter Trade Now Official

Posted by Randy Lange on August 28, 2012 – 6:55 pm

Updated, 8: 10 p.m. ET

Mike Tannenbaum this evening gave reporters the ultimate final official word on the trade that sent Wayne Hunter to St. Louis and brought 2009 second-pick-of-the-draft Jason Smith to the Jets: It’s official.

“I want to thank Wayne for everything he’s done,” the GM said .”I really wish him well, and he’s going to see a lot of familiar faces in St. Louis. We won a lot of games with Wayne. And with that said, now we’re looking forward to Jason.”

Tannenbaum said Smith, entering his fourth NFL season, could play “a couple of snaps” in the Jets’ preseason finale at Philadelphia on Thursday night. But Mr. T stressed that the plan now is that Austin Howard, who replaced Hunter as the RT starter on Sunday night against Carolina, is the starter going forward and Smith is the Jets’ new backup LT and RT and blocking TE.

Why didn’t Smith succeed as a Ram? “It could’ve been a number of things,” Tannenbaum said, “the coaching change, some inconsistencies there. For us, it was more about what we think he can do. He has very good movement skills for somebody his size [6'5", 308], he can play both sides, we like his range. Again, I think he has to learn from what happened in St. Louis, but with that said, he’s coming here with a fresh start.”

Some reporters probed the GM on if that fresh start could lead to a fresh starter down the road. A natural question given Smith’s high draft status, but Tannenbaum, while stating only the current plans, gave the background that led him, head coach Rex Ryan, offensive coordinator Tony Sparano and OL coach Dave DeGuglielmo to giving Howard the chance to win the starting role.

“That was an evaluation that was going on in Cortland every day, watching Austin in 1-on-1s,” he said. “It’s good to have the competition we have, to go against Aaron Maybin, Calvin Pace and Quinton [Coples] every day, and Austin was really starting to hold his own more and more. It’s like, ‘This looks pretty good. OK.’ Then he goes out against Cincinnati and looks OK. Then the Giant game he played pretty well. Then obviously there were more reasons to be encouraged against Carolina.”

Speaking of Maybin, Tannenbaum would sure like to see Smith blossom into a success story as has Maybin, the 11th overall pick in that ’09 draft who enters his second season as a Jet as one of their biggest big-play makers on the defensive side of the ball.

“Sure, we hope so. Sometimes they work out that way,” he said. “Sometimes a change of scenery works, sometimes it doesn’t.

“Aaron deserves all the credit for Aaron. He’s worked incredibly hard, he’s a great person, he comes in with great enthusiasm. And Jason’s set up for success. His work ethic and character are tremendous. All the research we did on him leads us to believe he’s going to come in and give himself the best chance to be successful.”

Injury Rundown

Rex’s rundown on the injured Jets’ availability for the Sept. 9 season opener vs. Buffalo:

“My biggest concern will be Eric Smith, I think, right now. That’s probably our biggest concern with his hip.”

“I feel good about [Jeff] Cumberland, David [Harris], Yeremiah Bell and Dustin [Keller] with his hamstring. Unless something happens there, we feel pretty confident all those guys will be ready to play.”

WRs Santonio Holmes, Jeremy Kerley and Chaz Schilens: “I think all three will play in the opener. Schilens seems to be getting better each day. It was good to see Tone out there [vs. Carolina], and Jeremy did a nice job on punt return.”

“Sione [Po‘uha], by the way, I think he’s doing much better right now.”

Practice Notes

This evening the Jets announced they have been awarded punter Spencer Lanning off of waivers from Cleveland. Lanning, the first-year man out of South Carolina, lost the Browns’ punting battle to ex-Jet Reggie Hodges, but actually had better numbers than Hodges in the preseason with a 50.5-yard gross and a 43.5 net on four punts. “We brought in a punter who’ll compete with T.J.,” Tannenbaum said. “I wouldn’t rule out further changes between now and Friday and probably through the weekend.”

 Joe McKnight was excused for personal reasons from today’s practice. … G Brandon Moore underwent a minor medical procedure and was also not at practice.


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Kerley Should Be Good to Go vs. Carolina

Posted by Randy Lange on August 24, 2012 – 3:52 pm

The Jets’ offense could get that little extra boost it’s been searching for the previous two preseason games with Rex Ryan’s announcement this afternoon that both WRs Santonio Holmes (rib) and Jeremy Kerley (hamstring) are probable to get in their first reps of the summer games on Sunday night against Carolina.

“Unless there’s a setback, I think both those guys are playing,” Ryan said at today’s news conference following the final open practice of training camp at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center.

Minutes earlier, Kerley said in the Jets’ locker room that he hoped to learn he would be green-lighted for the Panthers.

“I think it’s very important,” he said. “I’ve got to get my timing back, get my feet underneath me. I’m hoping to get a couple of reps in, 15 or so.

“I hope it’ll be a big spark,” he added of what Nos. 11 and 10 could provide to the only NFL offense yet to score a touchdown in a preseason game. “It’ll put some new legs out there and give Mark [Sanchez] some more targets.”

Some other seemingly, hopefully, minor injury issues crept up during Friday’s midday practice.

S Yeremiah Bell “had a little knee thing, nothing serious, but if there’s any issue at all, we won’t play him,” Ryan said.

Same with DT Mike DeVito, who had “a calf injury today. That’s not a good thing for a D-lineman. If there’s anything to that, he won’t play.”

Also out of this national-TV game are DT Sione Po‘uha, CB Ellis Lankster and S Eric Smith. Dinged up but probable for action are KR-RB Joe McKnight, WR Patrick Turner, TE Jeff Cumberland and LB-FB Nick Bellore.

Returning to Returns

Both Ryan and Kerley agreed that it would be nice to get JK some punt returns. He is, after all, listed as No. 1 on the PR chart, the incumbent returner, yet his hammy has kept him sidelined since the first week of camp while rookies Jordan White and Royce Pollard and third-year CB Kyle Wilson have done all the punt-returning in the first two games.

“Definitely, definitely,” Kerley said of that idea. “That’s not something you can just roll out and do. Hopefully I get a rep there.”

“Yeah, we’d like to see that,” Ryan said. “But again, we’re going to make sure he’s ready to go opening day. The same thing with Holmes. Is that 10 plays, 12 plays? We just want to be real cautious here. We need these guys.”

We may be jumping the gun a little on this because even with a punt return or two vs. the Panthers, it wouldn’t help Kerley to bust a move for a punt-return TD at the expense of re-busting his hamstring. But the second-year man is aware of the Jets’ dearth (no relation to James) of scores off of punt returns. They’ve had none in the preseason since 2008 and none in the postseason since 2004 and none in the regular season since ’02. Here is the short list of players who’ve had punt-return TDs for the Jets in the new millennium:

Date Type Returner Opponent Yards
10.27.02 RS Santana Moss vs. CLE 63
11.03.02 RS Santana Moss @ SD 52
8.21.04 PS Ian Smart @ IND 59
1.15.05 PO Santana Moss @ PIT 75
8.07.08 PS Dwight Lowery @ CLE 62

Rex Cetera

Ryan huddled the whole team for a relatively long time before the end of this relatively short practice. There were no brawls today but the message was “team” again, similar to the one he had for his players up in Cortland after their second day of infighting.

“I thought it got a little chippy there during practice,” he said. “We don’t need that. I love the competition. I want guys going full-speed, competing against each other to the whistle. But things after the whistle, hitting a player when he’s in a vulnerable position, shoving a guy after the whistle, grabbing hold of the ballcarrier, we don’t need to do that. We don’t need to do things after plays, especially with our own guys. I just wanted to make sure I reminded them of that and that we’re a team.”

Rex’s recommendation to Austin Howard on handling the glare of publicity as the new RT starter: “You’ve just got to do your job. I think that’s where the focus needs to be, and that’s it. Whether we’re looking at right tackle or left guard, whoever it is, obviously there’s more media covering us than with other teams. He’s just got to focus on doing his job, executing his assignments, and when in doubt, listen to Brandon.” That’s Brandon Moore, next door at RG, of course.

Attendance at today’s final open practice of Jets training camp was 2,772. Attendance for past two days at Atlantic Health Jets Training Center: 5,157. Attendance for all Jets open offseason and preseason practices, at SUNY Cortland, MetLife Stadium and AHJTC: 46,157. Thanks to all who came out to cheer on the Jets.


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QBs Give Positive Grades for Cortland Phase of Camp

Posted by Randy Lange on August 16, 2012 – 12:32 pm

The quarterbacks held court one last time at Cortland after this morning’s final practice of the Central New York phase of Jets training camp. And both Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow are feeling good about where they and the offense is and is heading.

“Some days obviously are better than others, but overall this was probably my most consistent camp,” said Sanchez. “The least amount of turnovers by far, I’m sure. I thought the running game looked good, I felt comfortable with my checks, I felt comfortable throwing the ball down the field, I thought my accuracy was there. I thought the receivers made great plays and I thought Dustin [Keller] really stands out to me as having a great camp.

“Now it’s a matter of getting guys healthy and moving on, but overall I think we did well.”

Sanchez got to weigh in publicly for the first time on LB Bart Scott’s assertion Wednesday that No. 6 is ready to “take the next step to being one of the top 10 quarterbacks in the league.”

“Thanks, Bart,” he said with a laugh, but he didn’t shy away from the pressure such an expectation brings.

“That’s nothing new around here. Each year as a quarterback and an organization, you’ve got to get better and learn from your mistakes,” he said. “It’s my job to deliver it, to be the triggerman this team needs, and I’m ready to do that. I’m excited about our team and our potential.”

Tebow expressed similar feelings about the offense in general and his progress in all his many roles in particular.

“I feel good as an offense and individually I feel good,” he said. “We have a long ways to go, I have a long ways to go. … I feel it’s going pretty well.”

No. 15 was asked about his adaptation to the many hats the Jets are providing for him to wear this season.

“Besides the personal protector stuff, the rest has always been pretty natural and easy, and it’s stuff I’ve done the last, gosh, probably 10 or 12 years. That really wasn’t an adjustment,” he said. “Some of the personal protector stuff was. I never ran down on special teams in my life, so that was a first. But it really didn’t take too much of an adjustment.”

Head coach Rex Ryan said he didn’t have the exact percentage but said that Tebow’s completion percentage has risen as his passing mechanics have improved under the tutelage of coordinator Tony Sparano and QBs coach Matt Cavanaugh.

“It was in the 60s for sure. I don’t know if it was 65 [percent] but it was close, in team drills and 7-on-7s,” Ryan said. “I think Tim’s doing well.”

Another Cover QB

Four years after one new Jets quarterback got the nickname of GQ for his predraft photo shoot in 2009, Tebow responded for the first time to questions about his just released GQ cover turn

“Probably most of y’all knew I was on there before I knew. It was kind of a shocker for me,” he said, adding about the photo spread, “That was something I did maybe six years ago in college. Honestly, the first time I heard it was when we were in the cafeteria and it was on ESPN. That’s when I found out.”

Gator on the NFL Radar

The Jets had no comment on their interest in Jeff Demps, the Olympic silver-medalist and former Florida star who rushed for 2,470 yards and 23 touchdowns in his college career, after reports said they were one of a number of teams showing interest in him after he announced that he wants to play in the NFL this season.

“You know what? I really don’t want to talk about him,” Ryan said at his late-morning newser. “Mike Tannenbaum’s on top of any available players.”

Tebow, who was Demps’ UF quarterback said he wasn’t starting a Demps-to-the-Jets lobby but still gave a glowing reference.

“Jeff is a great guy and a great player. He’s someone I was proud to play with in college,” Tebow said. “He did a great job for us, and I feel wherever he goes, he’ll work hard at it and do a good job for that team.”

Cort(land)’s in Recess

The QBs and the head coach were among the Jets who lauded their third training camp in four years in the Central New York countryside.

“Overall, I have a lot of positive feelings about camp,” Sanchez said. “We’re really excited to break camp and get home and get back to our facility, but we can’t thank SUNY Cortland enough. The people around town have been great and the fans coming out to practice, it’s exactly what we needed. Then on the field, the football side of it, I think it was the best camp I’ve been a part of.”

“It was a lot of fun being here,” Tebow said. “The fans were wonderful. I know they came from all over and from here. We really appreciate their support.”

“It’s terrific here. The university as always was amazing,” Ryan said. “Everything went off without a hitch. The weather, except for one day, was tremendous. The fields, the cafeteria, everything — Cortland blew me away. It’s a great place to have training camp. We’ll see if our string continues.”

That trend Ryan referred to, of course, is that in two years of Cortland camp, the Jets went deep into the playoffs. Last year, with camp in North Jersey, well, we know what happened. It’s not a large sample to draw any predictions off of, but it certainly hasn’t hurt the Jets taking their summer show on the road.

Practice Notes

A new WR addition to the walking wounded is rookie WR Jordan White. “He had some knee swelling,” Ryan said. “It remains to be seen if he plays” against the Giants on Saturday night. Among the other injured players, the coach said today that S Eric Smith (shoulder/knee), WR Santonio Holmes (rib), WR Jeremy Kerley (hamstring). Yesterday he said he didn’t believe WR Chaz Schilens (ankle) will play. NT Sione Po‘uha also is out and LB Ricky Sapp has also been sidelined. But Ryan feels RT Wayne Hunter (back) will play.

Expect most starters to play the first half vs. the Giants. Two exceptions, Ryan said, might be RG Brandon Moore and S LaRon Landry, who might come out early in the second quarter, not for any new injury situations. “Sometimes with some veteran players, you just want to back those guys down a little bit. Just being smart.”

Today’s practice was shorter, with the players in shoulder pads and shorts. Tonight is the team’s “rookie show.” Friday morning the Jets’ buses and cars roll down I-81 and back home.


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