Today is Coordinators Thursday on newyorkjets.com, but not in the same sense that it was every Thursday during the season. This is the first day the Jets’ three new coordinators will speak publicly about their new gigs. My partner, Eric Allen, interviewed all three this week here at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center and those sitdowns will air this afternoon on Jets Talk Live and then will be archived
Each man — Marty Mornhinweg for the offense, Dennis Thurman for the defense, Ben Kotwica for the special teams — presents a different personality on air and in the building as they continue to work with their staffs while the players are still five weeks away from reporting back to the complex for the offseason strength and conditioning program.
Marty brings a light touch to his teaching, plus a modesty about his résumé that sounds as if it goes all the way back to his own background as a signalcaller.
“I’ll tell you what, I’ve been really fortunate, that’s first. I’ve coached some of the greatest quarterbacks ever to play this game,” he said. “Brett Favre was a great, great player. Of course, Steve Young in San Francisco, a first-ballot Hall of Famer. And then Donovan, that was one reason that Philadelphia at the time was so enticing, because Donovan McNabb was there. What a great quarterback he was. And Michael Vick in 2011 had just an astronomical year.”
Mornhinweg likes to refer mugs of joe when he’s talking about short-lived events. Even though he was with the Eagles for the last decade, he was aware of Favre’s “cup of coffee” with the Jets in ’08. And he described his own time playing for the legendary Mouse Davis in the Arena League as “half a cup of coffee.”
MM’s the only coordinator completely new to Rex Ryan’s staff. DT has been here with Ryan since ’09 and for six seasons coaching alongside Rex on the Ravens. He’s the kind of guy who has that football edge to him, like let’s stop screwing around and do it the right way, yet he also has that bit of playfulness to his persona.
“I’m outgoing, upbeat, love to have fun. But I also know the fun that comes with winning,” Thurman said, adding about his step up from the DBs room to running the entire defense: “I can’t change who I am. It’s just a matter of instead of having 11 or 12 guys, I’m now responsible for probably 30 guys. But it’s no different. Everybody has to do their job, they have to know their job, they have to understand their job, and then they have to go out and perform their job.”
Kotwica’s been with the Jets the longest of the trio, since Eric Mangini brought him out of the Army and on to the specialists under Mike Westhoff. He’s armed with the Westhoff experience plus his own straightforward sense of being able to command a football unit because of his military service as a decorated combat attack helicopter commander and training officer.
“I don’t go too far with the football-is-war approach, but there are parallels and carryovers. Even in the military, you are a coach,” the new Coach K said. “Mike and I are different guys, but first and foremost he was a great mentor to me, not only tactically with X’s and O’s but strategically. And he’s a great friend. I’m very grateful for what he’s taught me.”
It’s no surprise that each coordinator will bring a different approach and style to his unit, different from each other and different from the men they’ve succeeded. But all three will have one very similar guiding principle. They’re all involved in framing a new house on the existing foundation, and they all expressed enthusiasm for the hard work ahead.
“I love challenges,” Mornhinweg said. “This is a great challenge. That’s why I love doing what I do because I get to work with some of the great athletes in the world, really.”
“Leadership is something you either have or you don’t,” said Thurman. “I don’t think you can cultivate it or manufacture it. So we’ll let it play itself out. Yeah, we lost some veteran players, some experience, but some of the guys are going to have to step up and play. And they can be leaders in their own right.”
“Special teams isn’t a solo job. It’s a team effort, and we’re looking forward to it,” Kotwica said. “Things are going to be OK in 2013.”
Enjoy EA’s conversations with the threesome on Jets Talk Live in a few hours.
Tags: Ben Kotwica, Brett Favre, Dennis Thurman, Donovan McNabb, Eric Allen, Marty Mornhinweg, Michael Vick, Mike Westhoff, Mouse Davis, Steve Young
Posted in Randy Lange | 135 Comments »
It was quite a scene in the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center locker room early this afternoon, a media horde descending on the Green & White on an otherwise average day in May.
It was reporters’ first chance to chat with Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow after the quarterbacks have had some time to work together on and off the field. And while No. 6 and No. 15 were put through their paces with questions about starting and locker room chemistry and one offense or two, the QBs’ teammates watched with relative amusement. Only because at this time, in the middle of the offseason, there’s nothing not to like about the new working arrangement.
“Problems in the locker room? I don’t think so,” said TE Dustin Keller from half a room away. “If the two two didn’t get along so well, that could be the case. But they have a great working relationship. Tim’s a great guy. You see them joking around, laughing. You’re not going to do that if you’re enemies. They’re getting along in the quarterback room.”
“It kind of reminds me of when Brett Favre got here,” said DT Mike DeVito, reflecting on those halcyon days of 2008. “Back then people would ask me, ‘What’s Favre doing now?’ like I lived with the guy. This is about the same. But I’m grateful Tim’s here. He’s a great person, he’s a hard worker — he and Mark and Greg [McElroy] are in the weightroom an hour after the offense is done. He sets a great example on and off the field.”
RT Wayne Hunter is another Jet who welcomes Tebow to the mix.
“For me, I was really excited about him coming here, for his faith, for one, being a strong Christian,” Hunter said. “And number two, I was really excited about what he’s brought to this team. He brings a whole ‘nother level, a whole ‘nother dynamic.”
Darrelle Revis was asked about whether you can have two leaders at one position, or more specifically two leaders at the QB position, on one team, and he replied with an honestly noncommittal answer.
“That’s a tough question,” Revis said. “I don’t know. I can’t come up with an answer to that question, as much as I want to. I don’t know. We’re all experiencing the same thing.”
But Revis was far from downplaying the impact Tebow can have on that other side of the ball.
“These are my teammates. I’m here to support everybody on this team,” he said. “Who starts? It doesn’t matter. Everybody’s going to play on this team. Even if we need some practice-squad player to step up and play one week. We’re getting ready. This is a big year and we’re going to play some awesome football because last year was disappointing. 8-8 and we didn’t make the playoffs.”
The experiment in May is to start blending Tebow’s talents with Sanchez’s and all the other components on offense so that such an ending doesn’t happen again. And as these Phase II offseason practices morph into OTAs in a few weeks and then into the full-squad minicamp in mid-June, the Jets seem to like the different ambience in the locker room and the offensive players are eager to take coordinator Tony Sparano’s operation to the field.
“It’s been great coming in and learning a new offense,” Keller said. “There’s always going to be some ups and downs. Obviously we want to run the ball, and we’ll see as time goes on how much we pass the ball. But Coach Sparano is very vocal and he’s very honest. Those are things you can really appreciate about him. I think it’ll be good for us. It’s almost similar to college, in your face. He expects the most out of you, and obviously these guys expect the most out of themselves. It kind of pushes you to the next level.”
And as we know from the comments from head coach Rex Ryan, Sparano, Mike Tannenbaum and Woody Johnson, Sanchez will be the starter, and Tebow will be a catalyst.
“When you’ve got Tebow on the field,” Hunter said, “it’s going to be crazy. And that’s all I’m going to say about it now.”
Eric Allen will have a news feature with Sanchez talking about Tebow and Tebow about Sanchez, which will be live on the site shortly.
This is always the time of year to revisit with the veterans and see where they’re going with their strength and conditioning. It’s true that all teams went through similar situations last year during the lockout, but it’s also true that this year’s vets are working with new strength coach Bill Hughan and his team for the first time ever in an offseason program, since he started with the Jets last year.
Some of the changes are impressive, such as with Joe McKnight.
“I put on about 15 pounds. I was 197 at the end of last year,” said the more muscular third-year RB and the NFL’s defending kickoff-return leader. “I’m getting my strength right. I’m not a wide receiver, I’m a running back. I’m just continuing to work on my explosion.”
And, I asked, has the extra weight slowed him down at all? He smiled knowingly.
“From what the strength coach has told me, I’m just as fast as ever,” he said. “And I feel just as fast. But I feel stronger, too.”
That sounds like a dangerous combination. We’ll bring you more stories about some of the bodily transformations some of the Jets have made as we visit with the veterans once a week heading toward the minicamp next month.
Tags: Brett Favre, Dustin Keller, joe McKnight, Mark Sanchez, Mike DeVito, Rex Ryan, Tim Tebow, Tony Sparano, Wayne Hunter
Posted in Randy Lange | 70 Comments »
Antonio Cromartie, announced as the winner of this week’s AFC Defensive Player of the Week award this morning, furrowed his brow and tried to recall the last time he surely won his previous POTW from the NFL.
“I can’t even remember, to tell you the truth,” Cro told me at his locker today just before he had to beat the clock to make his special teams meeting. “I think the last time I probably won it …. was in 2008. That was against the Jets. It’s been a while.”
Cromartie’s instincts were right on. The Jets and their shiny new old quarterback, Brett Favre, dropped in on the Chargers for Game 3 of the ’08 season, a Monday night affair. And Cro was high-flying that night. It was the last time he had two picks in a game. It was the last time he returned an INT for a touchdown. He had four PDs in all, a team-leading nine tackles.
And in fact it was the last time he won the award that the NFL distributes to six of its top players every week of the regular season.
Jets head coach Rex Ryan felt this award was well deserved.
“There’s no surprise there. That’s a great accomplishment, fantastic and I’m proud of him for that,” Ryan said at his news conference today at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. “But that also means no gameball for Cromartie.”
Cro has the award and the praise it in perspective, of course.
“I felt good about it, but it’s just an award,” he said. “It’s something to build confidence on and to try to come in this coming week and play better than last week.”
Hopefully, it will be possible for Cromartie to enjoy the honor because he’ll be reminded of it a few more times before the Jets head to Oakland for Sunday’s game against the Raiders. His two interceptions were backbreakers for the visiting Jaguars.
The first came in the second quarter at the Jets 3 on a Luke McCown overthrow for Mike Thomas and he ran the ball back out of harm’s way to the Jets 40. A score there could have lifted the visitors of teal back into the game, cutting the Jets lead to 12-10 or at the least 12-6.
The second nearly resulted in his next pro touchdown as he jumped all over McCown’s sideline throw, again for Thomas, and strode all the way to the Jags’ 1-foot line, from where Shonn Greene scored to make it 29-3.
Cromartie made a visit to the Monday’s “Inside the Jets” show on ESPN New York radio. He got more accolades today. And by Thursday morning the video of my partner Eric Allen chatting up A.C. on this week’s installment of “Four Quarters” will be live on newyorkjets.com.
But there are bigger fish to fry in the near future, and they’re the Raiders. The more things change for Al Davis’ Raiders, one thing stays the same: Their speed can kill opponents.
“They have a lot of speed. Darrius Heyward-Bey, Jacoby Ford — every single receiver they have has run in the 4.3[-second] range. The only possession-type receiver is Derek Hagan, but he’s one of the best route runners around.”
Some of those receivers, such as Heyward-Bey, Ford and Louis Murphy, sat out the track meet the Raiders lost at Buffalo on Sunday. But head coach Hue Jackson said today, “I think we’re going to get some people back” for the Jets. And let’s not forget about rookie Denarius Moore, the fifth-rounder who, with those receivers out vs. the Bills, had five catches for 146 yards and a TD.
The Jets will need to bring their trackshoes to keep up on the O.co Coliseum pitch. Cromartie has no doubt they’re up to the race.
“For the secondary and the defense as a whole, we have to make sure we play the way we’re supposed to play,” he said. “We know there are going to be some deep balls thrown on Sunday. We just have to do the things we know we can do.”
And as long as that happens, against the Raiders and beyond, it won’t be another three years before Cromartie reels in his next piece of weekly virtual hardware from the league.
Tags: Antonio Cromartie, Brett Favre, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Denarius Moore, Hue Jackson, Luke McCown, Oakland Raiders, Rex Ryan, San Diego Chargers
Posted in Randy Lange | 7 Comments »
It was the kind of video and audio that will live on for the next day or four heading through the Sunday network pregame shows. Rex Ryan put on a blond wig, Browns cap and sweater, stuffed a pillow under the sweater — and voila! He was Rob Ryan, Cleveland defensive coordinator.
And when Rex removed his disguise, he made it sound as if Eric Mangini had already been made an honorary member of the Ryan family, a few hours after Mangini did the same on his conference call with Jets reporters when asked about his relationship with Rex.
For any serious football fans worried about what this might portend for Sunday at Cleveland Browns Stadium, you don’t know the Ryan twins or Mangini, but Rex addressed those fears. “After today we’ll probably get down to business for the most part, and I think it’s going to be a great game, I really do,” he said. “They clearly want to run the ball and we pride ourselves in stopping the run. We finally get to play an old-fashioned football game.”
But mixed in with Rex’s football talk was more chat about his twin brother, Rob, and how Rob and Jets DC Mike Pettine are two of the most creative defensive minds in the NFL.
“He doesn’t worry about what a player can’t do. He focuses on what he can do,” Rex said. “When they put Mangini and Rob together, that’s quite a team, very similar to the team we have with Bob Sutton, Dennis Thurman and of course Mike Pettine. They let the creative juices flow.
“I will say this about my brother. In all truthfulness, he probably breaks down an opponent better than anybody I’ve ever been around. He’s a football junkie. He will know your tendencies from two years ago. That’s what we talked to Schotty about.”
In other words, Rex, would you betray your brother to your O-coordinator just to win a football game? The answer, obviously, is yes. But equally obvious is that Rex would love to coach some season in the future not against his brother but with him.
“Every year we put in for it,” Rex said about asking permission with the Browns the past two years to interview Rob as a Jets assistant. “They deny it. They say, ‘Come on, we’re not gonna let you do that. He’s not going to your place.’ But we make ‘em go through the paperwork anyway.”
That led Rex around to the Mangini, the man he replaced as Jets coach in January 2009. It’s not a secret but still may surprise some to know that the two are friends and had occasionally been confidants. It goes back to when Eric and Rob were assistant coaches on Bill Belichick’s first four New England staffs from 2000-03.
“What happens normally is when your brother’s on a different staff, you become close to those people as well. That’s basically how my relationship started with Eric,” Rex said. There were times when he was coaching, whether it was the Jets or New England when my brother was there, he’d call me, I’d call him. we’d bounce things off of each other.”
Ryan agreed that Mangini left the table set well when he took over the Jets’ controls.
“No question. He left great people in place here,” Rex said. “He made my job easier, the fact that there was a great foundation already set.”
Mangini on his first conference call with Jets reporters as the “enemy coach,” said the feeling is mutual.
“We’ve always hung out at the combine or any of the different sort of football-related things where we’d both be there,” said Mangini. “He’s a great guy. I love Rex.
“Even in talking to Mike [Tannenbaum] after I got let go, I thought Rex would be a great choice because you didn’t have to blow up the defense. You could still use those 3-4–based guys for what he did. It made a lot of sense and I thought Rex would do a good job and he has done a good job. He’s done a great job. He’s like his brother. They’re both funny. They’re both good people and they’re both outstanding football coaches.”
And so you’ll have to excuse today’s bit of football levity. It was fun to watch and listen to, great comic theater — and as soon as those news events were done, it was down to the business of trying to kick each other’s teeth in (sorry, Commissioner, just a metaphor) and win a football game in the process.
The Jets’ Wednesday injury report had a couple of serious-looking new issues as guard Matt Slauson (knee) and CB-ST Marquice Cole (hamstring). Both were held out of practice and spent much of the session on the stationary bike.
This could be especially troubling for Slauson because the second-year man has quieted any questions about filling the LG spot with strong play on the Jets’ talent-laden O-line. But both Rex Ryan and Slauson said whatever the state of his knee, it’s not bad enough to keep him sidelined for long.
“I guess the knee’s bothering him,” the coach said, “but I expect him to practice tomorrow.”
“I felt like I could’ve gone today,” Slauson said, “but the training staff said, ‘Let’s wait and use today as a kind of test.’ “
Slauson hurt his right knee on the very last offensive play of the Lions game, LaDainian Tomlinson’s positioning run for Nick Folk’s game-winning field goal.
Also for the Jets, Josh Mauga (hamstring) was limited while Calvin Pace and Darrelle Revis were full. LaDainian Tomlinson and Tony Richardson did not participate but they were both listed as non-injury-related. ”I put ‘em on the list because they told me to,” Rex said.
Update, 5:50 p.m.: The Browns list six players on their injury report, three not participating in team drills (S Mike Adams, DT Shaun Rogers and QB Jake Delhomme) and three limited (former Jets DE Kenyon Coleman, T John St. Clair and QB Seneca Wallace).
Cleveland’s injury summary will appear here as soon as we receive it.
Three Who Rescued W’s
Mark Sanchez and a former Jets starting QB are two of the three players nominated for the GMC Never Say Never Moment of the Week award. Sanchez is in the running obviously for engineering 13 points in a little over five minutes of clock time that brought the Jets from a 20-10 deficit to a 23-20 overtime victory at Detroit — his second fourth-quarter comeback in three games.
Then there’s Brett Favre, who orchestrated the 46th comeback of his legendary career, leading the Vikings from 14 points down with 4:39 to play to a 27-24 OT triumph. And the third candidate for the weekly NFL award is Jacoby Ford, who had a 94-yard kickoff-return TD plus two late big-play catches that lifted the Raiders over the Chiefs, again in overtime.
Tags: Brett Favre, Cleveland Browns, Eric Mangini, Mark Sanchez, Marquise Cole, Matt Slauson, Never Say Never Moment, Rex Ryan, Rob Ryan
Posted in Randy Lange | 15 Comments »
Here is Wayne Chrebet’s sixth blog of the season for newyorkjets.com:
Everybody has asked me what I thought about the game Monday night. I wasn’t sure what to say. It was a weird night to begin with. Torrential rain, thunder and lightning that lit up the sky. For me it started with sitting on the road behind the IZOD center with my truck in park for an hour trying to get to my parking section. Hungry as can be. Even though they weren’t with me, my boys came up big. They left a pack of Mentos in my glove compartment. I was ten seconds from walking in the rain to a random tailgate party to grab a sausage and peppers sandwich. And thanks to the delay, after two hours getting from one side of the parking lot to the other, we got in. I feel for anybody who was sitting in that mess, too. To the game.
The crowd was definitely into it. Vikings’ first series started with two false-start penalties. No doubt because of the noise and the Jets defensive players moving all around. I watched a lot of film over the course of my career and I like to think that I know defenses pretty well. But when I watch our defense, I have got to tell you, I have no clue sometimes who’s blitzing and who’s dropping into coverage. They’re really good at disguising it. Gives opposing QBs fits. Even a veteran like Favre. For most of the night they got some form of pressure on him. The problem late in the game was that there were holes that Peterson was getting through that he wasn’t in the first half. You could only hope to contain him all game. A very tall task for even a good defense like ours.
Little bit of information: Adrian averages a whole yard better in the fourth quarter than the first three. He gets stronger as the game goes on. And when he gets going, the passing game gets better. They have three good receivers and an above-average tight end. As good as the defense played in the first half, I think almost everyone in the stadium knew that their offense would get going at some point. All it took was one big play and, just like that, they were back in the game. From total domination to a 12-7 game.
You cannot win a game kicking field goals. When you beat a team up like the Jets did, you have to bury them. The offense made some very good plays but couldn’t get in the end zone in the first half. LT was the spark once again. Love the first play to Braylon. Great play action. Well-drawn-up play.
Braylon looks very comfortable out there. It was good to see Santonio out there. He made a heck of a catch on a slant for a first down in the first half and really stretched the defense on some plays. He and Braylon both did. It would be great if they completed one of them, but it served a purpose, showed they’ll go deep. That opens all the intermediate routes. Denver’s DBs are watching film right now knowing that our offense is not as predictable as it had been in some earlier games in the season.
One thing they can count on is a heavy dose of LT and Greene. I am very happy to see Shonn make such a big play in a crucial part of the game. It’s easy to look around in the huddle and see who wants to make the play. It’s another to raise your hand and say “I got it.” He has stepped into the backup role and hasn’t made a fuss. Not an easy thing to do. They have a great 1-2 punch.
How about the drive for the Vikings that sealed their fate? Rex has so much confidence in the defense that he brought everybody. They were in Cover-1, man-to-man across the board. That’s a ridiculous amount of pressure for the DBs . There is no second line of defense. So we blitzed, Favre felt the pressure and he did it — that pick that everybody was waiting for.
In his defense, Lowery made a heck of a play. It wasn’t the worst throw, just a little late. Lowery read the route and jumped it. He had faith that the blitzers would get there fast enough and that the receiver couldn’t do a double move. Thing of beauty. Team effort, but superb individual effort by Dwight. Again, late in the game, someone steps up. Great thing about it is that I believe anybody at any position on the team is capable of being the guy that makes that play. Go through the roster, who’s going to make it? Good problem to have.
Whatever answer I gave to people who asked me about the game, they all ended with “It doesn’t matter, they’re 4-1.” They could’ve really sent a message to the league if they put them away. So they didn’t. Big deal. They’re not all going to be easy wins like Buffalo. Teams aren’t going to lay down for us. But anybody who has seen every Jet game this year knows that this team is getting stronger every week. Very scary. On to Denver.
Denver is 2-3. You only need to know two things about them. Kyle Orton has thrown for 295, 307, 476, 341 and 314 yards in the first five games of the year. They are the first team to have three players with 29-plus catches and 300-plus yards through the first five games of a season. Receivers Gaffney, Lloyd and Royal are not household names but capable receivers. So they’re going to throw and throw some more.
Other thing is the running game. Last week in a game in which their head coach said that they were “out-toughed,” the Broncos ran for just 39 yards and the Ravens ran for 233 yards. Running the ball is our bread and butter and we’re certainly as tough as Baltimore if not tougher. Pounding the ball down the field should not only generate some points but also keep Orton off the field. Unlike last week, if the Jets can throw some early TDs in there with those field goals they have a great chance of coming home 5-1. They need to jump out of the gate again. But whether the ,Jets are up or not, Denver will be out there throwing the ball all over the place. You can count on that.
To end I just wanted to thank the fans that were at the game Monday night. For those of you who weren’t there, at halftime they honored the 2000 team for the Monday Night Miracle’s 10-year anniversary. Ten years went by fast. About 20 of us came back for it. Some local guys and some from across the country. Some of the players you know about and some you might not remember as well.
Even though it was coming down in sheets, lots of the fans stayed in their seats to applaud. And although a lot of people went for cover, we heard you as well. I think I speak for the group when I say you really made us feel special. For some of us, that’s the best memory that we have. There were guys there that only played a year or two and that’s something that they hold onto. They might not have had as decorated a career as some of us but they can always say that they played in the best Monday night game ever.
And we are truly thankful that you remember what we did that Monday night and we were really happy we could share that with you. J-E-T-S JETS, JETS, JETS.
Tags: Braylon Edwards, Brett Favre, Denver Broncos, Dwight Lowery, Kyle Orton, Minnesota Vikings, Monday Night Miracle, Santonio Holmes
Posted in Uncategorized | 33 Comments »
Rex Ryan knows the Jets’ Monday night win over the Vikings was victory-licious, but he also knows it wasn’t a perfect game. He said at his news conference early this afternoon that Mark Sanchez “has played a lot better than he did in this game,” his receivers dropped some passes, and the defense’s yielding of three second-half touchdown passes, even though executed by a great and desperate opponent, were “disappointing things.”
But we know Rex and he’s not giving anything back, especially a W that puts his Jets at 4-1 — they’re in sole possession of first place in the AFC East for only the 12th week since 2000 and they’re off to one of the seven best five-game starts in franchise history.
The head coach also didn’t agree with a few of the postgame storylines being talked about today. One of them was the theory that he and the Jets’ medical and training staffs rushed Darrelle Revis back too soon from his hamstring injury. Revis said he had to fight through his hamstring soreness during the game and the muscle was sore and swollen afterwards.
“I certainly don’t think so,” he said of the rush-back theory. “We wouldn’t have put him out there if we didn’t think he was healthy. We thought he was healthy and ready to play, he thought he was healthy and ready to play.
“Hopefully this is not a big deal, he’ll be able to get through it and we’ll have him back up for Denver. We’ll always do what’s in the best interests of the football team and the player. That’s the truth. I’ll stand by that and I live by that. If any player would come up and say he can’t play, he wouldn’t play. It’s as simple as that.”
Ryan also wasn’t ready to venture out early in the week and speculate that it might be a good idea to send Revis back to rehab for this week and the bye week and have him renewed for Game 7 at home against Green Bay.
“I certainly understand where you’re coming from with that question and all that kind of stuff, but if he’s healthy, we want to play Darrelle,” he said. “It’s not vacation time. It’s time to beat somebody. This is an AFC opponent and we need to win games so we can get into the postseason. That would be my thought.”
Then there was the matter of Dwight Lowery’s late interception-return TD against Brett Favre, even though the Jets defenders were reminded before that series started: In case of interception, fall down.
“We work on it all the time. It’s called ‘Get Down Victory,’ ” Ryan said. “When you jump a flat route, it’s a touchdown. If you intercept a flat, generally you’re taking it to the house, nobody’s going to be able to stop you. It’s one of those things that are instinctive. Before we ran out, we’re telling our guys, ‘Get Down Victory,’ as soon as you intercept it, get down.
“But I’m not complaining because he scored a touchdown.”
Ryan does concur that the Jets haven’t played a complete game yet, but agrees that being 4-1 despite that is all the more encouraging.
“You look at our defense, the numbers aren’t where they were last year. But look at the challenge we’ve had. We’ve had some of our best players not on the field,” he said. “We’re just now hitting our stride on defense, and that could be a scary thing. … When we get our guys healthy and we’re humming and playing with our confidence that we know we can play with, this team’s going to be right there.”
Ryan said LB Calvin Pace, who returned from his broken foot for his first game action in 5½ weeks, “is really sore today,” but no prognosis for Denver yet. Other than that, he doesn’t expect his Wednesday injury list to contain anything more than “just basic bumps and bruises.” … The other 4-1 or better starts in franchise history: 4-0-1 in 1966, 4-1 in 1982, ’85, ’86 and 2000, and the 5-0 start in 2004. A win a mile high in Denver would give the Jets their sixth 5-1 start ever.
You’re the One
The Jets’ 155 rushing yards propelled them not only past Minnesota but back to the top of the NFL’s rushing stats. The Green & White are averaging 165.2 yards per game, No. 1 in the league for the first time this season. Coupled with last year’s rise to the top, the Jets have been first in this category 10 times in the last 16 weeks.
“They have a really good front seven, and we feel like we have a really good rushing offense,” said tackle Damien Woody, who provided one of the right-side blocks that sprang Shonn Greene for his 23-yard misdirection TD dash. “It was kind of like a battle of the titans.”
Appropriately, the team that once was named the Titans prevailed.
“We know we can run the ball,” said guard Brandon Moore. “We’re a pretty confident team.”
The Jets also remain No. 1 in the NFL in percentage of interceptions thrown (0.0), number of giveaways (1), turnover margin (plus-11), opponents’ completion percentage (51.1) and point margin (plus-54 total, plus-10.8 per game).
Tags: Brett Favre, Calvin Pace, Darrelle Revis, Dwight Lowery, Minnesota Vikings, Rex Ryan
Posted in Randy Lange | 28 Comments »
Last year the New York Jets might have lost a game like Monday night/Tuesday morning’s heavyweight collision with the Minnesota Vikings at the Meadowlands. But the Green & White are a maturing team with mighty mettle and Dwight Lowery’s 26-yard game-clinching scoring return of a Brett Favre interception was proof.
“Ideally in that situation it’s better to get down. But the way I got the interception was on the run and I just instinctively went to the end zone,” Lowery said after the Jets captured a heart-stopping 29-20 victory at New Meadowlands Stadium. “One thing we wanted to emphasize this year was us making plays and us making big plays. We felt like last year the difference between our pass defense and the Super Bowl-winning championship defense, the Saints, was they made bigger plays than we did.”
Last February the Saints shut the door on the Colts’ championship hopes when CB Tracy Porter picked off a Peyton Manning pass and headed 74 yards to paydirt. On this early morning, it was Lowery who blocked another future Hall of Famer — Favre — from leading the Vikings to an improbable comeback.
“They had a tendency when they got into a certain formation, a route combination that they ran out of that formation. I saw [Visanthe] Shiancoe break out and I just went on an instinct,” said Lowery, the third-year player from San Jose State. “When the pressure got there, I felt like that made Brett hold the ball a little bit longer than he wanted to and he threw the ball kind of late and I just stepped in front of it.”
Favre’s three second-half TDs had brought the visitors to within 22-20 and they needed only a field goal when they took over at their 23 with 1:30 to play. But Favre threw incomplete to Randy Moss (who was again draped by Antonio Cromartie), followed with a bad overthrow to a wide open Percy Harvin and then was intercepted by Lowery on third-and-5.
“That’s what you get from film study is really paying attention to what teams like to do, what they go to in certain situations and just kind of put that in the back of your head,” Lowery said. “So when that situation comes up in the game, you can take advantage of that situation because it’s so hard to make a play in this league. The quarterbacks are so good, the receivers are so good.”
Staying true to who they are, the Jets brought heat to Favre on the game’s critical play. And after staying interception-free for 58 minutes, No. 4 threw his seventh INT of the season.
“Basically we were playing a Cover-1,” said head coach Rex Ryan. “We wanted to get some pressure on him — most teams play coverage in that situation. We wanted to change up our looks and bring different pressure on Favre and try to get the ball out of his hand quickly. D-Lo did a great job of breaking on it and taking it to the house.”
The Jets won nine games in 2009, but the defense yielded late scores in losses to Miami, Jacksonville and Atlanta. This is a different team, a group confident that they’ll make the play in the end instead of hopeful that it will happen.
“We felt confident we would win the game. We just never knew how,” Ryan said. “That’s basically how it went.”
When Lowery was a rookie, he actually spoke to Favre about his feelings during critical junctures.
“I asked him if he ever gets nervous and he said, ‘Absolutely.’ But he just takes it one play at a time and I kind of took that from him as a defensive player,” Lowery said. “You have to take it one play at a time and stay composed in that situation.”
After picking Brett Favre’s brain in 2008, Dwight Lowery picked his pocket Tuesday. This might prove to be a steal that Jets Nation will remember for years to come.
Tags: Brett Favre, Dwight Lowery, Minnesota Vikings
Posted in Eric Allen | 59 Comments »
It was a beautiful Saturday around North Jersey and also a particularly healthful one around the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center.
Of the nine players on the Jets’ injury report heading into Monday night’s game against Minnesota, eight participated fully in all team drills at today’s final practice before the game, and all are listed as probable for the Vikings, including cornerback Darrelle Revis.
Revis, who had been bothered by a hamstring pull in the days before Game 2 against New England and aggravated the injury late in the second half on the touchdown pass from Tom Brady to Randy Moss against the Patriots, appears ready to return to action against Moss, now a Viking, former Jets QB Brett Favre, and the Minnesota offense.
“I haven’t had any tweaks when I’ve been out there running the past two practices,” Revis told reporters after Friday’s workout, “and I’ve been running full speed. They’ve been monitoring me every step of the way, just to make sure there are no tweaks or pulls in my hamstring. As of today, if I can play, I would go out there and play.”
The Jets and Vikings provided their final injury reports for Monday’s primetime affair after today’s practices. By NFL parlance, “probable” status means it’s “a virtual certainty” the player “will be available for normal duty.”
Along with Revis, C Nick Mangold (shoulder), DE Shaun Ellis (knee) and OL Wayne Hunter (shin) all improved from limited participation Friday to full-go today. LBs Calvin Pace (foot) and Jason Taylor (elbow) and FB John Conner (neck) all remained full participants.
The only injured Jet who didn’t get the “promotion” to probable was LB Jamaal Westerman (ankle), who was limited today and is questionable for the game.
Tags: Brett Favre, Calvin Pace, Darrelle Revis, Minnesota Vikings, Nick Mangold, Randy Moss, Shaun Ellis
Posted in Randy Lange | 18 Comments »
Was there any doubt after the offensive’s first drive at Buffalo? Sanchez led them right down the field like he did in Miami last week. And just like in Miami, the crowd got quiet, The Bills fans with their faces painted barely got a chance to sit down and it was the beginning of the end. It was a heavy dose of LT (still great) and some precise passing by Mark.
While they were the shining stars, the offensive linemen were the unsung heroes. All day they were. When both your running backs rush for over 100 yards and your QB barely gets touched, that means that they played their butts off. And most importantly, no turnovers, you’re going to win a lot of ballgames.
I haven’t mentioned it yet in previous blogs, but Sanchez’s game has really matured a lot since last year. Think about it. He’s thrown 8 TDs vs. 0 interceptions. He’s only been sacked 5 times. I knew that he was playing very well but when I Googled his stats I got to wondering who has been as efficient as he has been the past 3 games.
The first game he looked like he was checking the ball down too soon to his safety valve. That could’ve been the gameplan. Who knows? Now, he’s reading the whole field, staying in the pocket longer. Some quarterbacks, especially young ones, get happy feet back there and take off before they need to. And I don’t know if you noticed it, but he has really gotten good at play action passing. He hides the ball very well.
OK. I don’t know if he’s the second coming, but for what it’s worth I’m really impressed by him.
Here’s the other side of the coin. Guess who’s coming to town? None other than Brett Favre. I have so much to say about him that I don’t know where to start. Now I’m friendly with him. I played in his charity golf outing in Mississippi a couple of times and with him in a flag football game in Florida. I like him a lot and certainly respect his play. You’d be crazy to not think he is one of the best to play the game.
It doesn’t matter what I think of him. What matters is how his former teammates do. That will tell you what kind of man and player that they think he is. From what I heard, he wasn’t the most liked in the locker room. I think it’s kind of the way it was with Vinny. He was an older guy, old enough to be my Dad. He has played in more games and experienced far more than any other player in the locker room. His taste in music is different and he probably didn’t understand the lingo that we used.
But Vinny was right in the middle of it. Laughing, probably more at us than with us. Ask anybody who ever played with Vinny and it would be unanimous that everyone thought that he was a great guy. Now with Brett being in the same situation, I was told that he pretty much segregated himself from the team. So it seems like he left a bad taste in some of the players’ mouths. Well, for those players on the defensive side of the ball, it’s their chance to let him know how they feel.
If you’ve ever gotten a chance to go to training camp and watched the team practice, you’ll know that the QBs wear red jerseys. Yellow jerseys mean take it easy. Seems prissy, but I wore it sometimes to keep from getting my head beat in. I saved my best concussions for the field. Not funny but who cares at this point? Anyway. The QBs wear RED. Which means DO NOT TOUCH!!! Occasionally it happens by accident. And man, if it’s a young guy who does it, they’re going to hear about it.
Point of the story — Monday night, Brett’s wearing purple. He might as well be wearing green because these guys are going to be coming at him full speed with every thing they’ve got. And he knows what he’s up against. He knows the defense and the defense knows him. The Jets know how he plays the game. Heck, they know his cadence. His way to draw the defense offsides.
And most importantly, they know that if they pressure him there’s a chance that he might throw some picks. He always tries to get a pass off. Off balance, going down, over the shoulder, shuffle pass. Jets fans witnessed that. I don’t know how his shoulder is healed but he is dead accurate when he’s on. But you make him throw the ball 25-30 times, you might get one.
Now there’s only two ways to get him to attempt so many passes and that is to either be ahead later in the game or if you stop Adrian Peterson. Easier said than done.
If you’ve never had a chance to watch Adrian play, you’re in for a treat. This will be the toughest test that the defense will have all year. Seriously, this guy is an animal. He is a straight north-south runner. He’s got great moves but he hits the hole hard. And he only needs a crease. He’s run for 87, 145 and 180 yards. He went for 80 yards last week. Straight up the gut, a nasty stiff-arm on the safety and he was gone. Just like that. I don’t think one guy can tackle him straight up. The Jets need to put as many helmets on him as they can when he gets the ball. I know I’m really pumping him up, but he is that good.
The receivers make a lot of plays for them. Hopefully Revis is back. Since that first game, Cromartie has really stepped up his game. Ask Lee Evans.
Last topic. The bye week. The Vikings are coming off their bye week. Really early in the season for a bye, but after a 1-2 start they might have needed it. Some teams come off the bye better and some not. The bye week is great. You get some time off. Time with your family, some light practices. You come back with a fresh outlook, a fresh attitude. But sometimes it’s hard to get back in sync when the next game first starts.
The Jets have jumped out of the gate in these last games. And they need to continue this this week. Get the crowd into it. Important, most important, stop them on third down. Put them in a third-and-long. I compare third down to two strikes in a baseball game. There’s two strikes, the crowd comes alive and they go nuts when they call that third strike.
Same in football. Third down. The crowd gets louder. You stop them, thunderous applause. They get the first down, the crowd sits down.
This is what happened in the Ravens game. The fans got quiet more than getting loud. Last week the Bills were blanked on third down. The defense repeats that performance and the O plays how it has … Say Goodnight … 4-1.
Tags: Brett Favre, Mark Sanchez, Vinny Testaverde
Posted in Uncategorized | 41 Comments »
It is truly “Go Time” for Calvin Pace.
After suffering a broken right foot in the Jets’ third preseason game, Pace will see his first regular-season action Monday night at New Meadowlands Stadium as the Vikings pay a visit.
“I’m just ready to go. To be honest with you, I’ve never looked forward to a week of practice compared to this week,” he said today. “I want to take as many reps as I can take.”
Telling reporters that he’s “91.5 percent,” Pace is feeling healthy and attempting to get his football rhythm back.
“It’s not necessarily the foot — it’s kind of the sense of just getting back into football,” he said. “It kind of has that feel of offseason when you come back and start OTAs. Kind of like ‘Man, I never played football before.’ ”
Friday will mark six weeks since Pace has appeared in a game. He practiced on a limited basis last week but the team concluded that it would be better if he got one more off before returning to action.
“I think the extra time and not playing Sunday helped me out and the good thing is we have a long week,” he said. “We don’t play until Monday, so every day I’m getting more treatment and practicing is going to help me, getting the feel of going against some other guys and running around.”
On the same day it was announced that the Vikings had secured a deal for WR Randy Moss, Pace reminded media types that RB Adrian Peterson, who’s averaging 131 yards a game on the ground, is a unique talent.
“He’s in a league of his own. It’s him and Chris Johnson right now. He has power and speed,” said Pace just days before he officially rejoins the Jets’ fourth- ranked rush defense (74.8 yards per game). “He is a guy you have to get everybody to the ball. Watching the Lions game, they stopped him and stopped him, and then he took one 80. He has that type of ability.
“It’s going to take a full game. It’s not necessarily you’re going to stop him for three quarters and think we’re good. And then in the fourth quarter, he might explode. We have to really key on him and get a lot of guys to the ball.”
The Jets have racked up eight sacks through four games, but their pass rush will get a boost from a performer who led the Green & White with 15 sacks combined in 2008-09. Vikings QB Brett Favre, who has been dumped behind the line six times, is not a threat to scramble and his line has had trouble protecting him at times.
“He’s going to stand there in the pocket and take a hit to make a big play,” Pace said. “When we get there, we have to make it count.”
Moss is the vertical threat the Vikings have sorely missed during their 1-2 start. Favre and company are averaging only 14.3 points a game and their passing game is ranked just 24th at 185 yards a contest.
“I wouldn’t doubt that the first play would be a bomb to Randy, but we’ve seen him before,” said Pace. “It’s not like he’s a guy we haven’t faced. He’s been in our division, we play him twice, so I think guys are pretty glued in on what Randy’s capable of.”
Jets Nation knows what Pace is capable of, too. An outstanding athlete, he’s a versatile outside linebacker who will rush the passer, drop in coverage and mix it up in the run game. And the wait to see No. 97 making plays once again is almost over.
Tags: Adrian Peterson, Brett Favre, Calvin Pace, Minnesota Vikings, Randy Moss
Posted in Eric Allen | 13 Comments »