Updated, 4:45 p.m. ET
Today is not John Idzik’s first day on the job, but it’s still a big day for him, and not just because his parents are celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary.
He and the Jets are flying forward as he met the media for his first news conference as the Green & White general manager. The event was big enough that it’s being held in the team’s auditorium, rather than the media interview room, and the half-hour intro to the reporters and fans was being streamed live and is now available as an archived video on newyorkjets.com.
That being said, Idzik showed up in understated but unmistakable Jets mode, coming in through the football entrance door to the complex shortly after 7:45 a.m. wearing a gray business suit, a small oval Jets lapel pin and a patterned green tie — “It’s really tough to find Jets-green ties in Seattle,” he said.
Then as part of his busy day, he spent 15 minutes shortly after his arrival to chat with us about the start of his Jets tenure, which actually began with an ambitious schedule the first half of this week at the Senior Bowl practices in Mobile, Ala.
“It’s been like one big, long day,” Idzik said of his first week on the job. “Everything kind of flows together. I took a little diversion to the Senior Bowl, which was good, got to spend some time with Rex, quality time with the personnel staff. We got to know each other a little bit down there, so that was very valuable.”
Much has already been speculated about the relationship between Rex Ryan and the new I-Man in town. Idzik met the Jets head coach during the interview process and again in Mobile. The relationship seems simpatico, in part because as Idzik said, he spent time around the Jets under his father, the team’s offensive coordinator from 1977-79, in a way not dissimilar to a younger Rex hanging with his dad, then-D-line coach Buddy, and the Jets of the late Sixties and early Seventies.
“Rex and I are cut from the same cloth, we’re both football brats, so we have a lot in common that way,” Idzik said. “We shared some of that when we first met. He’s a very energetic, engaging, optimistic, enthusiastic coach, an accomplished coach, so those are all qualities that you look for. I think it’s vital that the GM and the coach have a very close working relationship. My first days with Rex have been very positive and I’m very much looking forward to working with him.”
John, “a skinny receiver trying to gain weight” during his high school years (he admitted to measurables of 6’4″ and 175), spoke fondly of his time back then hanging with the Jets and especially with his father, John Sr.
“Living in a football family is very rewarding, but it’s also very challenging on a family. You don’t see your father that often because of the hours,” he said. “But me, being the only boy, I got to spend all the camps and games together with my dad. I was fortunate to observe him, his coaching style, and to be with the players back then — they actually let you run routes at minicamp, so catching passes from Richard Todd, Matt Robinson and Pat Ryan, that was really neat.
“But yes, I spent a considerable amount of time with my dad and he obviously had a major influence on me both from a professional standpoint but, more importantly, a personal one. He taught me lessons much beyond football.”
One of the lessons from inside the game was the value of a good running game. Idzik was not urging Rex to reembrace “ground and pound,” but one thing the Jets of the late Seventies did well as they built their offense back to mid-Eighties prominence was to run the ball to the top of the NFL charts in 1979.
“I think it’s been well-established in our league that you need to be able to run the ball,” Idzik said. “That was certainly part of my father’s philosophy when he was offensive coordinator. He did it by committee back then. We did it in Seattle in a different fashion. So yeah, I think that is important.”
Idzik, needless to say, thinks the passing game and the scoring dimension are every bit as important. As he said about the Jets’ offense, “We’ll go through the specifics with Rex and his staff,” and he’ll address those specifics a little more in response to reporters’ questions in the 11 o’clock hour and we’ll put a news story together on that news conference with some of those replies.
As for a lesson taught beyond football, it was the value of teamwork and the importance of the new cast of players, coaches and staff he’s now meeting and will be going to work with in the coming days and weeks and months.
“The mission statement would be about developing and maintaining a cohesive unit, all pulling together for a single purpose,” he said. “It sounds trite, but it’s more difficult to do, and I think in football there’s no more visible evidence of that being the mode of success, just pure teamwork. So job one for me is to learn the people in the building. We have a lot of good people here. And we’ll get to know each other and I’ll get to know what everyone does, and more specifically as we get into planning, to do a thorough roster evaluation and then start developing plans for free agency, salary cap and the draft.”
That segued nicely into his response to my question about any misperceptions he may have read or heard from the reporting about his candidacy to become Woody Johnson’s new football executive.
“I don’t pay too much attention to perceptions,” he said. “What matters to me are the people I work with. That’s reality to me. I don’t address misperceptions. I think what we do will really prove true.”
Tags: Atlantic Health Training Center, Buddy Ryan, general manager, John Idzik, John Idzik Sr., Rex Ryan, Woody Johnson
Posted in Randy Lange | 217 Comments »
Updated, 6:19 p.m. ET
Rex Ryan has a lot on his mind these days, and a little more than just getting his Jets ready to play their third opening day under his command.
“Every week it’s my responsibility to make sure the team’s prepared,” the Jets head coach said at today’s news conference at the Atlantic Health Training Center six days before his club kicks off the regular season on Sunday night against the Cowboys. “I don’t know, it just feels different to me, the significance of it. It’s stronger than any game I’ve ever felt. I feel more pressure this game than any game I’ve ever coached, it seems like.”
The pressure he referenced was due to the Sunday night spotlight nature of this game being on national TV, under the national spotlight, 10 years after Sept. 1, 2001. Did he feel a responsibility to the city of New York that was attacked by terrorists that day?
“I don’t know. I guess so. Maybe that’s it,” Rex replied. “This whole region, this whole area. I know it’s football. We’re not talking about life or death or anything like that. I don’t know, that’s just kind of how I’m taking it. It’s my job to get this team ready to go, and we will, but I can’t explain why I feel this way. I just do.”
There’s a strong family component for Ryan’s feelings heading toward Sunday. One is that his “cousin,” Matthew Russo, was a member of the FDNY that day when the Twin Towers came down in lower Manhattan.
“That day I was thinking about my cousin and all that. He was fine, he was not involved in it. He’s since retired from the fire department,” he said. “He feels like my real cousin but he’s my stepmom’s nephew. He was like an older brother to me for a long time.”
Then, separate from 9/11 but not from Ryan’s roots, he confirmed that his father, Buddy, will delay treatment for the return of his cancer for a few days to be at the game.
“It’s going to be great to have him here,” Ryan said. “I know this is huge for him. He’s looked forward to it for a long time.”
And that’s true because for both dad and son, the other son will be coming to town. It’s hard to forget that Rob Ryan, Rex’s twin brother, is the Cowboys’ new defensive coordinator. Well, if this were any other game, such as last year’s Ryan family reunion at Cleveland, it would be hard to forget. But for this game, the Rex-Rob rivalry will take a back seat.
“Usually I go against my brother and you have a lot of fun with that,” Rex said. “I feel like this is different.”
But as different as it may be, Ryan has demonstrated in his first two seasons with the Green & White that he’s got the broad shoulders to handle such responsibility. And as he said of the first day of practice before opening night, “All right. It’s get-down-to-business time.”
And a Different Kind of Practice
The Jets did return to practice today for the first time since they parted Friday, and it was different since instead of 78-strong they are now 53-strong.
“There’s something about that first practice when you get back all together” after final cuts. It seems like half the players,” Ryan said. “We were working on kickoff returns and now it’s like ‘No else is running down on kicks? I guess we need to do it.’ Guess what. It’s for real now. You’ve got a 53-man roster and it’s just us.”
Ryan said the workout was a good one. There were different focuses for each side of the ball. The offense ran 20 plays in the red zone, while the defense got 20 reps on third down.
The coach doesn’t have to list his injured players until Wednesday but he went over an unofficial roster of seven players with injuries.
■ QB Mark Brunell (hamstring) “was a little limited in practice.”
■ Rookie DT Kenrick Ellis (hamstring) “was limited, nothing major.”
■ DT Sione Pouha (knee) “was out there.”
■ CB Darrelle Revis (hip) “was fine.”
■ FB John Conner (ankle) didn’t practice, but Ryan, pressed on his availability Sunday, said: “I feel strongly he’ll play. We’ll probably keep him out tomorrow, then get him back on a regular schedule on Wednesday.”
■ WR Logan Payne (wrist) is out indefinitely, as is …
■ OL Rob Turner (ankle), who said of his injury while standing on crutches in the middle of the locker room, “It’s just a matter of how fast my leg responds to what they give it.”
Mardy Gilyard, picked up on waivers from the Rams on Sunday, has return ability but Ryan said, “We won’t be looking at him to return kicks this week.” … But the coach did say of S Andrew Sendejo, waiver acquisition from Dallas, “We’ll probably play him on special teams” against his former team.
Ryan confirmed that the Jets brought back NT Martin Tevaseu and CB Isaiah Trufant to their practice squad. With only one opening they had to release a player from the P-squad and that player was TE Josh Baker. … No media availability for Tuesday’s practice, then the regular media schedule will resume Wednesday-Friday.
For those keeping score at home, numbers for the new arrivals: QB Kevin O’Connell is No. 7 (actually his Jets number last year), Gilyard, 15; Sendejo, 26; G Caleb Schlauderaff, 72, and C Colin Baxter, 64. One player who changed numbers from training camp is LB Nick Bellore (used to be 43, now is 54), and Trufant has gone from 44 vs. the Eagles to 35.
Tags: Buddy Ryan, Dallas Cowboys, opening day, Rex Ryan, Rob Ryan
Posted in Randy Lange | 7 Comments »
Rex Ryan had one more signing of his book, “Play Like You Mean It,” on Thursday night, but this one was special.
It was conducted at Jets Shop in Manhattan, with hundreds of fans lining up on the plaza in front of the shop on 50th Street waiting for the opportunity to shake the head coach’s hand and get his autograph on the inside of their copy of the book. When Rex arrived before 7 p.m., the group responded with a rousing welcome.
“I’m surprised so many people are out there,” Ryan told reporters before the festivities began about his first visit to the Jets’ merchandise store in the middle of midtown. “That’s why I wanted to do this, to sign some books but also I enjoy mingling with the fans. Someone will say, ‘I’m in Section 222.’ And I’ll say, ‘I have no idea where that is, but I’m glad you’re here.’ “
Part of the attraction of this event was, of course, fans getting a signed copy of the book detailing Ryan’s first two years as the Jets’ head coach for their football libraries. But another element was getting a gift for Dad on Sunday morning, Father’s Day. Ryan was asked about his father, Buddy, who Rex said was doing well after recently leaving the hospital.
“As with many father-son deals where the son inherits the father’s business, whatever that is, I inherited my father’s passion for the game,” he said. “That was passed on to me, and I’m doing what I was meant to be doing, just like he was, and that’s coaching in the National Football League.
“And he’s the best father a guy could have. He’s still my biggest mentor, and the fact that he was an outstanding coach, 25 years ahead of his time also helped.”
Shortly after the reporters were done, the fans entered the shop. First on line was Joel Goldman of Merrick, N.Y., winner of the Jets Facebook contest to lead off the procession.
“It was amazing, very exciting,” Goldman said of the honor. “I’ve been a Jets fan all my life. My grandfather had season tickets at Shea Stadium.” Ryan’s inscription in Goldman’s book: “Super Bowl, here we come.”
The line moved quickly as fans got still photos and video of their experience, shook the coach’s hand and exchanged banter. Adding to the atmosphere was the appearance of three Flight Crew members, Danielle B., Anne-Marie and Michele R., who also posed for photos and signed pictures of the cheerleading squad.
The total for the evening was 425 books sold. Chris Pierce, the Jets’ senior director of merchandising and concessions, loved the number, but he’s also a diehard Jets fan himself and he loved the night’s ambience.
“This is a place for fans to meet and talk about free agency, the draft, the depth chart, the schedule every day of the year,” Pierce said. “Something we do here is have appearances for players, alumni, Flight Crew. We try to make this a true home for Jets fans.
“This is the first time we’re having our head coach here at he shop and we’re really pleased about that,” he added. “Rex is a rock star and he makes every fan he interacts with feel special. The fans were so thankful for the opportunity to meet him, and he, of course, nailed it.”
Tags: Buddy Ryan, Chris Pierce, Jets Shop, Play Like You Mean It, Rex Ryan
Posted in Randy Lange | 5 Comments »
Rex Ryan gave Jets fans a pre-Christmas gift today when he told reporters after the Jets’ Christmas Eve practice that QB Mark Sanchez looked strong at practice today, his sore shoulder is now at or above 90 percent and that he’ll be ready to go Sunday when the Jets attempt to clinch their playoff berth with a win over the Bears in Chicago.
“Today I feel really good about where Mark is,” Ryan said in the media room at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. “Today I think we all saw it. He was zipping it, and I think he sent a message to all of us, mainly me, that he’s ready to go.
“It felt good, really good,” Sanchez said this afternoon in a statement released by the team. “I felt better than yesterday. I warmed up well. I threw it just like I did the week before and throughout the season. The treatment has been working. I felt better than the two days prior and I’m going to be ready to play on Sunday.”
Ryan said the thing the Jets have to monitor now is how he responds Saturday and Sunday during warmups.
“He really pushed it and threw a lot of balls today, so we’ll see how he comes back from it. Is it 100 percent? Probably not, but it’s close.”
Ryan said his medical and training team have told him that the shoulder is not in danger of worsening from normal wear and tear.
“I guess there’s a chance if he gets hit a certain way, like any other quarterback in the league, he could get injured more,” the coach said, “but we don’t think this is an injury that’s going to get worse.”
Ryan listed Sanchez as limited at today’s practice, which means he didn’t take 100 percent of the reps during team drills, but he is listed as probable for the Bears.
Rest of the Injury Report
Ryan said T Damien Woody (knee) and DT Trevor Pryce (hip) are out for this game. S Eric Smith was limited and will make the trip with the team to the Windy City but he’s listed as doubtful. S James Ihedigbo is limited but questionable and Ryan said, “I’d expect him to play.”
Seven others are listed as probable, including Sanchez. Like Sanchez, WR Santonio Holmes (toe) and CB Darrelle Revis (hamstring) were limited in practice. The other four — Brad Smith, Nick Mangold, Antono Cromartie and Drew Coleman, practiced full.
The Bears are in great health for the holidays and especially for the day after Christmas against the Jets. They listed eight players on their Wednesday and Thursday reports but only two today and both are listed as probable after full practices: WR Earl Bennett (ankle) and LB Pisa Tinoisamoa (knee).
The Bears’ Friday injury report summary will be here as soon as we receive it.
Coleman Brings the Heat
Drew Coleman, like many Jets players, doesn’t like to crow about his achievements. So he only briefly acknowledged to me this week that it was no fluke that he recorded a career high in the Sunday triumph at Pittsburgh.
“I was definitely zoned in,” Coleman said. “I knew this was a really big game for us, No. 1, to get out of the two-game slump we were in, and No. 2, knowing it’s possible to being going back up there and playing these guys again.”
So he celebrated his focus with a pair of “zoned” blitzes against Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers, scoring the first two-sack game of his football playing career. And both sacks resulted in Big Ben fumbles, both of which were recovered by the Steelers, but both of which slowed the home team on its way to running out of time at the Jets 10 in the Green & White’s 22-17 win.
“No, I never had two sacks in a game before,” Coleman said.
Locker neighbor Dustin Keller, listening in, was also curious about this storyline. “Not even in little league or pee-wee?” the tight end asked.
“Nope. I never played defense then,” Coleman, a full-time corner only since his last two years at TCU, said with a smile.
Coleman clearly has become the new DB blitz king on the Jets, especially with occasional blitzers Jim Leonhard and Eric Smith on the sidelines. It’s a role he’s clearly comfortable with — he’s got five sacks in his career.
As for the fumbles that resulted, the last Jets defender to force two fumbles in a game was LB Calvin Pace at Oakland last year. The last DB to force two fumbles in a game was Dwight Lowery at Seattle in 2008. And the last DB with two sacks in a game was S Kerry Rhodes at Buffalo in 2006.
Ryan has a great way of identifying on players who have connections to an upcoming opponent and venue and making them gameday captains. He didn’t have to go far to focus on one guy who will be fired up for a homecoming of sorts. Ryan himself spent eight years living in a Chicago suburb, attending Stevenson High there, and serving as a ballboy for the Bears with his dad, Buddy, their celebrated defensive coordinator.
“A lot of friends are going to be there, a lot of high school and all that kind of stuff,” Ryan beamed. “It’ll be special for me standing on that sideline where I was a ballboy for a ton of years. And now to know I’m a head coach in the NFL, that’s pretty amazing.”
Tags: Ben Roethlisberger, Buddy Ryan, Chicago Bears, Drew Coleman, Mark Sanchez, Rex Ryan, Soldier Field
Posted in Randy Lange | 9 Comments »
Indianapolis has been very good to the Jets so far. Of course, that’s because noticeable sections of the blue city have been painted in green the past two days.
The first three team buses left from behind the hotel at noon and a few hundred Green & White fans cheered them onto Maryland Street. A couple of blocks later, south on Capitol Ave., west on McCarty Street, north on Missouri, and the buses pulled into Lucas Oil Stadium — but not before a few hundred more fans gathered around the buses and chanted and cheered the players into the stadium. A few Colts fans looked on, shall we say, cautiously.
Now the Jets are on the Lucas turf limbering up for — pinch yourself and say it again — the AFC Championship Game against the Colts. They are attempting to win three playoff games in the same postseason for the first time ever. They are attempting to advance to Super Bowl XLIV.
And I just overheard some Colts officials saying, "I don’t know where the Jets fans are getting their tickets from." The Green & White will be well represented at today’s game.
No question that first-year head coach Rex Ryan has his players ready to rock. His dad, Buddy Ryan, was in town and at the hotel Saturday and word is that he spoke to the players as well as Rex. This game will be hard-fought, and the Jets may win or lose, but it seems the effort will be through the roof (which, in case you’re wondering, is closed).
In fact, a popular theme in the Indy paper and on ESPN this morning was if the Colts may come to regret not playing their starters the whole 60 minutes in their Week 16 loss to the Jets here in Indy. Perhaps the Jets had some doubts at that time that they could get all the way to the AFC title game and beyond, but they have no doubts now and they figure to be incredibly ready for the Colts challenge.
Of course, that assumes that the Colts would have beaten the Jets four weeks ago. But as Ryan has said, that was then and it’s all hypothetical and it has no bearing on the game today.
Shaun Ellis is loosening up with his broken left hand wrapped in what looks like a flexible, light cast, fingers protruding. Looks like the Big Katt will be ready to pounce on Peyton if the opportunity presents itself.
A few minutes ago, Jay Feely hit a field goal attempt from 55 yards.
The Jets’ inactive list for today’s game include QB Kevin O’Connell, RB Chauncey Washington, LB Kenwin Cummings, G Matt Slauson, DE Ropati Pitoitua, RB Danny Woodhead and DT Howard Green. Erik Ainge is the third QB.
Update, 2:40 p.m.: The Indy inactives, which were not distributed to the media and were just announced in the pressbox: K Adam Vinatieri, WR Sam Giguere, CB Jerraud Powers, TE Colin Cloherty, T Michael Toudouze, G Mike Pollak, DE Ervin Baldwin and DT Fili Moala. The Colts don’t designate a third QB. Matt Stover is their kicker. And although it wasn’t announced, rookie Jacob Lacey could be their LCB starter for Powers, out with a foot injury.
Ryan has selected six game captains: G Brandon Moore, C Nick Mangold, K Jay Feely, TE Dustin Keller, DT Sione Pouha and S Kerry Rhodes. And as announced during the week, all-time Jets leading rusher Curtis Martin is an honorary captain today.
The Jets are in their white jerseys and white pants with the green trim. And why not? That combination has been very, very good to them this season. They’ve won both playoff games and five games in a row in double whites and six of seven overall this season. (Seven of eight if you include the preseason "road" win over the Giants.)
Today’s referee is Tony Corrente. This is Corrente’s eighth game as the ref at a Jets game. The second Jets game he presided over just happened to be the 2002 AFC Wild Card Game at the Meadowlands. You remember, the 41-0 win over … Peyton Manning and the Colts? Corrente’s most recent Jets game was last year’s Game15 in the snows of Seattle.
The Game Plan
You know the drill from here. I’ll be signing off from newyorkjets.com for the game. Eric Allen and Kyle Richardson will be moderating our CoveritLive game chat on the site, and I’ll be contributing tweets throughout the game on the chat and simultaneously on the Jets Twitter page http://twitter.com/nyjets. Afterwards, my game story will be on the site as soon as humanly possible after the end of the game. Quotes will be added once we return to North Jersey. EA and KR will provide postgame blogs and sidebars.
And hopefully tonight we’ll all be riding this wave for two more weeks all the way to Miami.
Tags: AFC Championship, Buddy Ryan, Indianapolis, Jay Feely, Mark Sanchez, Rex Ryan, Shaun Ellis, Super Bowl
Posted in Randy Lange | 7 Comments »
Rex Ryan wasn’t promising anything for Mark Sanchez. But the Jets head coach had a positive prognosis for his rookie quarterback’s availability on Sunday at Tampa Bay.
"We’re feeling very good about where he is right now, and the doctors are, too," Ryan said on his conference call today before the players participated in a light return-to-work practice at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. "Could it take a turn and go south? Maybe it could. But right now we feel good about how he’s progressing."
Sanchez, of course, is progressing from his right knee injury suffered at the end of a third-quarter, third-down scramble against the Bills in Toronto last Thursday night. Ryan said his QB is undergoing vigorous rehabilitation to get himself ready to go at Tampa Bay against the 1-11 Buccaneers.
"He’s got a bungee cord on his ankle that he’s stretching. He’s been getting ice and stim treatments," Ryan said. "I’m not sure if he’s jogging. I know he’s doing a ton of different exercises."
So Ryan isn’t ready to declare on Monday if Sanchez will be ready to go by Sunday. But he said that if Sanchez does play, he’ll be wearing a brace on his right knee to go with the brace he already wears on his left knee. Asked if he knew of any other QBs who played wearing two braces at the same time, he pondered the question.
"I don’t know. Did Joe Namath?" he said. "I think Marino might’ve."
Ryan also said that Kellen Clemens, who came in for Sanchez to finish the 19-13 win over the Bills, should get some work with the first offense beginning with today’s practice.
"That’s what we’re going to look at even today. He’s got that time," Ryan said. "He can be with the ones today. We’ll progress it through the week. I think that’s only a smart thing to do."
Rex added his comment to those of his players on a story posted on newyorkjets.com earlier this afternoon regarding the Jets defense’s possible No. 1 overall ranking after tonight’s Ravens-Packers game, which would be the team’s highest ranking this late in the season since the end of the 1968 season, when the Jets finished No. 1 in the AFL.
"Well, it doesn’t surprise me that a Ryan helped coach that defense," Rex said about his dad, Buddy, who began his pro coaching career as Weeb Ewbank’s defensive line coach on that Super Bowl III outfit. "That’s something my dad was very proud of. I remember when Weeb hired him, he said he had to make a difference. If he felt he wasn’t making a difference, his career as a professional coach would be short. I think it lasted like 30 years."
Ryan also said being at the top of the defensive heap and also leading the league in rushing yards per game and per carry at this time of year doesn’t surprise him.
"We knew that going in it would be a lot of work but that we could have a defense that would be right up there," he said. "And then we wanted to run the football. And having those two things shows how close our football team is to really doing amazing things.
"Now we’ve found a lot of ways to lose games, close games. We’ve really been completely outplayed in the one game against New England. Other than that, we’ve been in every game all year. This team is close. We’re close to being a special football team."
New No. 6 in Practice
As Ryan promised, Sanchez did not work during today’s practice in the training complex’s fieldhouse. He soft-tossed before practice but then went inside to get treatment while Kellen Clemens and Erik Ainge ran the offense.
But there was a No. 6 in a red hands-off jersey on the field. It was being worn by CB Dwight Lowery, who sat out the Buffalo win with his ankle sprain suffered at New England. Lowery seemed to be moving well and Ryan said CB Donald Strickland (concussion) was imiproving also. The week’s first injury report won’t be issued until Wednesday.
Ryan admits to rooting against his former team, the Ravens, when they play on the Packers’ home turf tonight, since a win would put Baltimore a game up on the Jets in the AFC playoff hunt. And he also was happy to hear about the Raiders’ 27-24 comeback road stunner over Pittsburgh, which dropped to 6-6.
Did I say comeback? How about multi-comeback? There were five lead changes in the fourth-quarter, three of which put Oakland in the lead, of that game at Heinz Field. That equals the most fourth-quarter lead changes in the NFL in the last 10 seasons. It’s appropriate here only because the Jets were the losing team in two of those other back-and-forth games, including this year’s game at Miami and their 2006 home encounter with Peyton Manning’s Colts.
Here are the five games since 2000 with five fourth-quarter lead changes (home teams in CAPS):
|Year-Game||Final Score||Score After 3rd Qtr|
|2002-1||Chiefs 40, BROWNS 39||BROWNS, 27-17|
|2002-2||Bills 45, VIKINGS 39 (OT)||VIKINGS, 26-23|
|2006-4||Colts 31, JETS28||Tied, 14-14|
|2009-5||DOLPHINS 31, Jets 27||Jets, 13-10|
|2009-13||Raiders 27, STEELERS 24||STEELERS, 10-6|
Tags: Buddy Ryan, Kellen Clemens, Mark Sanchez, New York Jets, Rex Ryan, Super Bowl III
Posted in Randy Lange | 58 Comments »
Jets fans have been through the touching coach vs. coach stories in recent years: Herm Edwards vs. Tony Dungy, Eric Mangini vs. Romeo Crennel.
This week we’ve got another of those matchups, but Rex Ryan vs. Jeff Fisher doesn’t have the usual NFL dynamic. Ryan respects the heck out of Fisher not only because the two have competed against each other for a while but also because of Jeff’s relationship with his father, Buddy.
"I’m proud of the fact that my dad got Jeff in the league," Ryan said at the end of today’s news conference as the buildup began for Sunday’s Jets-Titans Meadowlands matchup. "He played for my father. My dad gave him his first coordinating job. He was the youngest coordinator in the league at the time. I take a little pride."
"I was very fortunate to be with Buddy for 10 solid years, five as a player and five as a coach at Philadelphia," Fisher, the former safety, said on a conference call with reporters this morning. "I obviously got to know him very well. I got to know the boys [Rex and Rob] at a young age. I knew full well then that they were coming from a football family and were football guys who were going to be successful.
"I’m just really pleased to watch their success over the years at different places, coordinating at different places, then for Rex’s opportunity. We had some great battles over the last few years against his defense. I’m just really excited that the Jets family gave him an opportunity."
All this feel-good reminiscence will have nothing to do with the play on the field. As Ryan, 5 years younger than Fisher, said immediately after talking about the pride he felt at Fisher’s rise to NFL coordinator:
"Now it still doesn’t mean we’re not going to line up there and try to beat their tails. That’s what we’re going to try to do. But I respect the job he’s done and clearly he’s done a tremendous job there."
Fisher, now the NFL’s longest-tenured head coach in his 15th season as the Titans boss, went up against Baltimore four times when Ryan was the Ravens’ D-coordinator from 2005-08. The two gave as good as they got. Here are the results, along with the Titans’ offensive yardage and offensive TDs (home teams in CAPS):
|2005-2||TITANS 25, Ravens 10||290||1|
|2006-10||Ravens 27, TITANS 26||367||3|
|2008-5||Titans 13, RAVENS 10||210||1|
|2008-PO2||Ravens 13, TITANS 10||391||1|
Ryan was quizzed about the idea that the Jets could find themselves in a "trap game" this week, feeling good about their conquest of the Patriots on Sunday, looking ahead to the trip to New Orleans next weekend, and getting caught less than ready to take on the 0-2 Titans at home.
Rex didn’t buy that line of reasoning.
"This team won 13 games last year … they were the No. 1 seed in the AFC last year," the Jets coach recalled his recent history. "So if they think we’re overlooking them, that’s good because we’re not. They’ve got another thing coming when they come in here.
"Now, the first week we play Houston — that’s a pretty good football team — at their place. We win the game like we expected to. We played a pretty good team last week in the New England Patriots. We expected to win. And we never prepared any different for those two. We prepared against New England just like any other opponent.
"I don’t know why this would be a trap game. This is just our next opponent. We know they’re an outstanding football team. If they beat us, it has nothing to do with it being a trap game or us not putting forth the effort. We’re going to give everything we’ve got this week. If they’re going to beat us, they’re going to have to earn it."
Back On Top
Ah, that was the year. Ronald Reagan was president, Michael Jackson released "Thriller," Ozzie Osbourne bit the head off a live bat, John Belushi died … and the Jets were last the No. 1 defense in the NFL.
Confirming what I could only speculate about in my late Tuesday Radar entry, the Elias Sports Bureau stated today that the last time the Jets had the NFL’s top-ranked defense in average yards allowed per game was after the fifth week of games in the strike-shortened ’82 season. Now, almost 27 years later, somewhat like a remastered disc by Jackson, the Beatles or Sinatra, the Jets are back on top.
May the Green & White survive the offensive threats posed by the Titans and in Week 4 by the Saints and hold onto that top spot for a little longer than the one week that very talented ’82 team had it way back when.
Any doubts about Steve Weatherford as a holder should have evaporated on Jay Feely’s second field goal Sunday. James Dearth knows he’s got no worries.
"My snap on that field goal was not good, it was low," Dearth volunteered. "Steve trapped it and got it down for Jay without any problem. That was a great hold."
Mr. J Sees Some Action
Woody Johnson was pressed into duty during today’s practice. Stepping into the role Ryan often likes to fill, the Jets owner put up a couple of passes for the scout team offense working against the first defense.
"We’re always looking for guys out there and we only have four quarterbacks on the roster," Rex joked with reporters. "We’ve got to work on that movement outside of the pocket, but he has a good arm."
S Kerry Rhodes’ take: "He got a redo because the first pass was terrible. I have to give him props. He did get it right the second time and he pays my checks so I’ll be a little more conscious of him."
Tags: Buddy Ryan, James Dearth, Jeff Fisher, Philadelphia Eagles, Rex Ryan, Steve Weatherford, Tennessee Titans
Posted in Randy Lange | 33 Comments »
Rex Ryan, almost done getting his Jets ready to tackle the Texans in Houston on Sunday, was invited to take a stroll down memory lane at today’s news conference.
The questioner was Dan Leberfeld of Sirius NFL Radio and Jets Confidential. The game in question was Jan. 2, 1994, 15½ years ago in Houston, which Leberfeld said was his first covering the Jets on the road. It was also the game that Buddy Ryan, Rex’s dad and the Houston Oilers’ defensive coordinator, punched Oilers OC Kevin Gilbride on the home team’s sideline in the Astrodome.
Rex was not at that game — he was an assistant coach at Morehead State in Kentucky — but he recalled the day as if he had been there.
"I remember the Oilers were having a great run, they won 10 or 11 in a row, and there was a lot of talk that my dad was going to get a head-coaching job again," Ryan recalled. "He’d already said I was going to go with him if he got a head-coaching job. We were all fired up about that."
But brash Buddy was not a big Gilbride fan, and things boiled over for him when, with 32 seconds left in the first half, QB Cody Carlson was sacked by Jets DE Marvin Washington and DT Bill Pickel recovered at the Oilers 18.
"Apparently, Dad had seen enough," Rex said. "Kevin’s gone on to do some great things in this league as a coordinator. Things like that occasionally happen on the sideline.
"I remember sitting there watching the game and saying, ‘Ohmigod! Dad, you gotta be kidding me!’ " he said. "I was at Morehead State and Phil Simms was not our quarterback. It was a good job for me at the time, but I just said my opportunity to be an NFL coach, ‘Awww, there it goes.’ "
Not quite, of course. Buddy did get the big job with the Cardinals for 1994-95 and brought Rex and Rob Ryan with him.
"That was huge," Rex said. "If I didn’t get those two years to coach under my dad, I wouldn’t be the coach I am now."
Nor standing where he stood today, at the podium in the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center media workroom, ready to launch his own NFL head-coaching career in two days.
Ryan started his newser off with sobering thoughts about the observance of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
"I’d like to remember all the people affected by 9/11," the coach said. "It’s obviously a tragic day in our country’s history, especially in this area. But I just wanted to remember all those affected by that day. … Here we are getting ready to play a football game, you think it’s really important — I do — and it’s just kind of a dose of reality. I realize how fortunate I am to be in this position."
Simms on Rookie QBs
It’s interesting that Ryan brought up Simms in his recollections of that incident involving his father, since Simms and Jim Nantz will be calling the Jets-Texans game for CBS on Sunday.
I’ve always been a fan of Simms the broadcaster, no doubt in part because I was a fan of Simms the quarterback.
I was there in New Orleans in 1979 for the first extended activity of Simms’ career as the Giants’ QB of the future, and I remember how the then-rookie out of the aforementioned Morehead State went to his locker in the Superdome’s visitors locker room after the game, welts covering his back from being knocked around by the Saints, to get dressed, then turning around and being slightly surprised by the welter of reporters waiting to talk with him.
Simms, one of the top NFL analysts in the game, doesn’t get surprised by much any more, especially questions about rookie QBs. I remember visiting with Phil about his thoughts on Ray Lucas, who took the Jets’ offensive controls midway through the 1999 season, and the next April about Chad Pennington, taken by the Jets in the first round of the 2000 draft.
I didn’t pin Phil down on Mark Sanchez yet — Eric Allen and I will get him for a "Jets Two-Minute Drive" radio show down the road — but Simms did speak with reporters on a CBS Kickoff Week conference call on some subjects of interest to fans of the Green & White and of Sanchez. Here’s some of the Q&A from that interview.
On the prospects for rookie first-rounders Sanchez and Matt Stafford: "They have validated everything people have thought about them in the draft. If it had been up to me, not that I have the knowledge or resources that NFL teams have, I thought they were the first and second players in the draft. And from what I have seen, this preseason backs up what I thought. Their talents are going to translate very well to the NFL. The most important thing is both teams have offensive coordinators that are going to build their offense around what they do best."
On Sanchez working with Jets OC Brian Schottenheimer: "I’m looking forward to seeing what they do with Mark this week. Brian Schottenheimer is the perfect match in every way. I like what he does as an offensive coordinator. He is young and wants to show off Mark’s talents and personality. The big thing for Sanchez, which I’ll talk about this weekend, is the difference between the pros and college football. In the pros there will be long stretches where you have no chance to make plays. How you deal with those long stretches really determines the outcome of many games. You just have to wait and show patience. You might have to wait three weeks. You just hang in there and try not to throw any gas on the fire. And then when it’s your turn, you do it."
On preseason talk about the Texans: "What is interesting about the game is that the Houston Texans have two 8-8 records back-to-back. They are somewhat of a trendy pick this year to make the playoffs and advance on their 8-8 records. My reaction? We will see. Going from 8-8 to 10-6 is like going from making $20,000 a year to making $100,000 a year. It’s a big, big jump. It usually takes stars, big-time impact players, to make that happen. For Houston, Mario Williams and Andre Johnson are stars. There is a group of other guys that are close, but will they become impact players?"
Simms has been working Jets games for CBS since 1997. Here is a list of the eight previous season openers he’s worked, which include the Jets debuts of head coaches Al Groh (2000) and Herm Edwards (2001) and QB Brett Favre (2008) (home team in CAPS):
|1998||Greg Gumbel||49ERS 36, Jets 30 (OT)|
|1999||Greg Gumbel||Patriots 30, JETS 28|
|2000||Greg Gumbel||Jets 20, PACKERS 16|
|2001||Greg Gumbel||Colts 45, JETS 24|
|2002||Greg Gumbel||Jets 37, BILLS 31 (OT)|
|2005||Jim Nantz||CHIEFS 27, Jets 7|
|2007||Jim Nantz||Patriots 38, JETS 14|
|2008||Jim Nantz||Jets 20, DOLPHINS 14|
Gumbel, Simms’ first CBS play-by-play partner, will work the Jets’ next two games this season, the home opener against New England on Sept. 20 and the home game vs. Tennessee on Sept. 27, along with Dan Dierdorf.
Injury List Addition
Ryan said the Jets are adding TE Dustin Keller to the Jets injury list as probable with a toe. "He looked good out there. He looked good dancing today," Ryan said about the indoor practice to get out of the daylong North Jersey rain. "I think he’s going to be fine but he did report having a little problem with the toe." Which toe? Rex didn’t know.
The coach also said DE Mike DeVito (hamstring) will be listed as questionable, "even though I think he will play."
Don’t Forget the Fan Tunnel
Ryan also reminded Jets fans who have an open Saturday morning to come out to the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center to create a special sendoff for the team. Fans will be instructed to form a tunnel that the players will walk through, offering up some high-fives and optimistic words along the way, before getting on the team buses and departing for the airport. Ryan and safety Kerry Rhodes are expected to make remarks to the crowd.
The time for this event hasn’t yet been pinned down, but if you arrive by 10 a.m. you’ll be ready for the activities ahead. "It’ll be good," Ryan said, "if you can help out with this."
One last note on this event: If it rains heavily, the event will be canceled. The forecast now calls for occasional rain and drizzle. Anyone planning to come to this event should check with newyorkjets.com or call the Jets Fan Line at 973-549-4844.
Tags: Buddy Ryan, Houston Oilers, Houston Texans, Mark Sanchez, Phil Simms, Rex Ryan
Posted in Randy Lange | 13 Comments »
“Now, we’re going to find out where we’re at. We’re playing against Houston. This is an opponent, I believe, that is 12-4 at home over the last two years,” Ryan said today. “If my memory is right, I think they average close to 30 points a game at home. So this is going to be a huge challenge for us.
After 22 coaching seasons — 12 in the NFL and 10 in the college ranks — Ryan finally is the man in charge during a regular-season contest. The Texans went 6-2 at home last season, but one of those losses at Reliant Stadium was a 41-13 pasting at the hands of the Baltimore Ravens in Week 10. Ryan, the Ravens defensive coordinator the previous four seasons, watched his unit hold the Texans to 72 rushing yards that day and also intercept QB Sage Rosenfels four times.
"There’s no question I’ll be excited to see our football team," Ryan said of his new club. "They’re going to count now, so we’re going to find out real quick. The Houston Texans are a heck of a team at home. They’re a good football team. A lot of publications or so-called experts have them winning their division. We know we have a challenge in front of us — there’s no doubt. But I also think they have a challenge in front of them."
Even though he is Buddy Ryan’s son, Rex Ryan took the long road to the top of his profession. Between 1987 and 1993, he served as the DE coach at Eastern Kentucky (1987-88), assistant head coach/defensive coordinator at New Mexico Highlands (1989) and defensive coordinator at Morehead State (1990-93). After a two-year stint in the NFL under his father in Arizona, Ryan returned to college and was a coordinator at both Cincinnati (1996-97) and Oklahoma (1998).
"It was eight years of small-college football. To get this opportunity, there are 32 of these jobs out there, and I’m fortunate to get one," he said. "There are so many great coaches that Woody [Johnson] could have hired for this job, that wanted this job, and I was chosen. That’s amazing. I’m going to try and go out and validate why Woody and Mike [Tannenbaum] made that decision."
Ryan is confident in the football team he will field this weekend in Texas. More than seven months after being hired, the real season is upon Rex Ryan.
"We were able to keep a lot of guys in this organization that were here, a lot of winners here. We were able to bring a few in also and I think it’s a great mix. Hopefully on Sunday we’ll be able to get our first victory," he said. "We know it’s going to be tough. It’s going to take everything we’ve got and we’ll find out if that’s good enough. I can honestly tell you we’re planning on giving it everything we have."
We’ve just received late word that the Jets have added RB Danny Woodhead to the practice squad. To make room for Woodhead, the Green & White released FB Jehuu Caulcrick.
Neither Shaun Ellis nor Calvin Pace was at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center today. Ellis, who violated the NFL’s substances of abuse policy, is out for this weekend and will be eligible to return to the team Monday. Pace is scheduled to miss the season’s opening quarter for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing substances.
While Vernon Gholston will make the start at OLB in place of Pace, it’s not that cut and dried with the defense line. The Jets will employ a rotation system up front and there are three legitimate combinations they could roll with: 1. Kris Jenkins, Sione Pouha and Marques Douglas, 2. Mike DeVito, Kris Jenkins and Marques Douglas, 3. Kris Jenkins, Sione Pouha and Mike DeVito.
When Pouha and Jenkins are in the game together, Big Jenks would move to end. DeVito didn’t play against the Eagles, but Ryan said he is all right and DeVito told reporters he’ll be set to go.
"If they target me, they target me. That’s what it is," DeVito said today in the locker room. "But that’s what I’m getting paid for, to go out there and do my job."
Newyorkjets.com reporter Kyle Richardson caught up with Gholston and DeVito in the LR and his feature on Nos. 50 and 70 will be posted early Wednesday.
"You’ve got two good football players that are home with Shaun Ellis and Calvin, but it’s not an excuse. We’ve got enough good players on this team," Ryan said. "We’ve got guys who are going to be asked to step up and have a bigger role than maybe they thought they would have. We’ve got confidence. You put that Jets decal on that helmet, you’ve got to be special. You don’t have to go do something Herculean. We just want you to give us everything you’ve got and that’s it. You don’t have to go be Superman. Give us everything you’ve got and we’ll live with the results."
The Big Announcement
Safety Kerry Rhodes caused quite the stir on Twitter over the weekend by stating that "a big announcement" was coming. Well, hours after the Jets officially announced a new partnership with JetBlue, Rhodes revealed his secret.
"The announcement was I was doing a giveaway with the new JetBlue thing that we have going on. A fan can buy a plane ticket to go down to the game down in Miami. I’m doing a giveaway, I’m doing two free tickets and a hotel stay for that Monday night game."
JetBlue, which will sponsor the blog space on newyorkjets.com and also the "Jets Two-Minute Drive" radio show on the site, is offering good rates to get down to Florida for the divisional contest. Rhodes’ offer does not include food and interested fans should probably book a place to stay following the late game.
"They have to find their own places to eat. The hotel is for Saturday and Sunday," he said. "Monday you have to get out of there."
Tags: Buddy Ryan, Calvin Pace, Danny Woodhead, Jehuu Caulcrick, Kerry Rhodes, Mike DeVito, Rex Ryan, Shaun Ellis, Vernon Gholston
Posted in Eric Allen | 11 Comments »
I visited with LB Craig Kobel, one of the most recent FA signings by the Jets, in the locker room last week. His demeanor was calm but his words were effervescent regarding his chance to sign with another NFL team.
"It feels incredible," Kobel said. "You kind of take a pro career for granted till it gets taken from you. I’m about as happy as you can possibly be."
The reason for his joy: Kobel was once a top player at South Florida who held the school’s career tackles-for-loss mark for four seasons. He played for the Arena League’s Utah Blaze in 2006 and was sent by the Eagles to NFL Europa in ’07. But he developed a sports hernia that cost him two surgeries and the past two seasons.
"It happened just over time, kind of wear and tear," he said. "I’ve worked relentlessly to get back."
Jets assistant GM Scott Cohen scouted Kobel when he was Philadelphia’s pro personnel director, which led to Kobel being brought to this year’s rookie minicamp as a tryout. He wasn’t signed then but was added to the roster last week.
There are no guarantees for Kobel, but he has a track record as a penetrating defensive player who has position versatility — DE at USF, Mike LB with the Eagles, Sam LB in NFL Europa, perhaps rush LB here.
"Everything has worked out for the good," Kobel told the Tampa Tribune. "I’m ready for Round 2."
Philbin Remembers Buddy
The great thing about talking with the stars of yesteryear is hearing the great stories, some of which we’ve heard, some not. Such was the case with 1968 AFL All-Star DE Gerry Philbin, whom I profiled after he was invited by Rex Ryan to visit last week’s minicamp.
Here are two more Buddy Ryan stories from Gerry that I didn’t get into in that story:
Buddy, as Weeb Ewbank’s D-line and special teams coach, instituted a system of "black boxes" with which he rewarded players for things like sacks and big teams plays. Philbin remembered that commissioner Pete Rozelle didn’t like the "bounty" aspect of a few hundred dollars in each box and banned the practice. But that’s not how Philbin recalled the context.
"If you got to the quarterback, or whoever had the best game, you’d get one of the black boxes," he said. "And I was on the kickoff team. If you want down and made tackles or forced a fumble, you’d get a black box.
"In those days, after taxes we were taking home $500 a week. So a black box with $100 or $200 in it was a lot of money."
Buddy also brought in a guest coach during camp one year, who just happened to be Art Donovan, the celebrated DT for Ewbank’s Colts who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1968.
"When I was a kid, Artie was a hero of mine," Philbin said. "Weeb and Buddy brought him in to help coach the defensive line. He was so funny. He’d work us hard, then we’d have meetings after dinner at night. He’d bring a case of beer in and we’d drink a beer and watch the film with Artie Donovan."
Those were the days, my friend …
What Moves These Jets WRs
Kudos to Brad Smith, who wrapped up the What Moves U Challenge presented by the 3-A-Day of Dairy campaign with his visit to Ridgedale Middle School in Florham Park, N.J., last Friday.
Smith exercised with students, doing such activities as basketball passing, football catching and rope-jumping. Then there was interaction time with the Jets wide receiver discussing ways for the students to exercise 60 minutes every day.
The What Moves U Challenge/Play 60 is a national youth movement developed by the NFL and the American Heart Association to inspire middle school students to get the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity of each day.
Fellow Jets WR Jerricho Cotchery is also busy during his "football camp season." He’s hosting his camp at Legion Field in Birmingham, Ala., this weekend, for which registration is already closed. Then in July he’ll be back in North Jersey for his third annual camp in Wayne, and that registration has yet to begin. But J-Co will have details soon on his Website, www.cotcheryfoundation.com.
Tags: Buddy Ryan, Gerry Philbin, Philadelphia Eagles, Scott Cohen
Posted in Randy Lange | 15 Comments »