By the by, it’s time again to talk about the bye.
No, not the Jets’ bye week, which comes the week after Sunday’s game against Miami at MetLife Stadium. Maybe the banged-up Jets could use a vacation, even some good fraction of a week, but as Herm Edwards said back in 2004: “You don’t have to worry the week before about what happens in the bye week. It’s like going to school at the end of the year. School ends Friday, Wednesday you’re worried about what you’re going to do Friday, then you screw the test up Thursday and you gotta go to summer school.”
A potential danger for the Jets, though, is that the Dolphins are coming off their bye. Does that fact in itself suggest that the ‘Fins are more dangerous than usual to the Jets’ psyche and their desire to sweep their friends from the South?
The current data suggests the bye week does help teams, although not a lot. From 2002 through this past week’s games, teams coming off their byes (not counting when two teams coming off byes meet each other) have done fairly well at 162-128, a .559 winning percentage. That’s pretty much what homefield advantage used to be in the NFL.
So for the sake of argument, teams playing the week after their bye, regardless of where they play, see their chances improve to the chances of winning a home game.
That wouldn’t be good for the Jets.
On the other hand, if this year’s new, improved homefield rising tide — home teams are 64-40 this season, a brisk .615 winning clip — lifts all boats, then the Jets could be buoyed by their home crowd and the Dolphins’ bye-week edge could be neutralized.
How about teams playing games before their bye weeks? Does that help any?
Don’t laugh. I asked Edwards about that about a decade ago and he agreed that teams heading into byes — as long as they weren’t worrying about summer vacation — could get a boost. Something about being energized by wanting to go into the bye and come out of it with some momentum for a big second-half push.
Do the numbers support this theory? Yes and no.
If you go by the 2010 and ’11 seasons, games before byes were a good thing. Teams produced a 31-19 record in those games, a .620 winning percentage.
But this advantage seems to come and go every few years (or doesn’t really exist). In 2006, NFL teams in before-bye games were 12-20, in ’09 they were 12-18, and so far this year they’re a paltry 4-12. The bottom line: From 2002 through Week 7, before-bye teams were 148-148. That’s a coin flip.
How about the Jets and Dolphins alone? The Dolphins are 4-6 since ’02 in post-bye games. This includes last year’s 24-6 Monday night loss to the Jets. The Jets are 4-6 in pre-bye games since ’02, but have won three of their last four — thumping Arizona in ’08, squeezing by the then-Tebowing Broncos in Denver in ’10 and rerouting Philip Rivers and San Diego last season.
In fact, the Chargers came to MetLife off their bye last year, which anecdotally suggests that maybe pre-bye teams have an edge over post-bye teams. Eh, not so much. Since ’09, pre-byes and post-byes have met 16 times. The record: 8-8.
I honestly wanted to bring you some telling trend on bye-week team performances in advance of the Jets-Dolphins, but apparently I feel strongly both ways.
But Chad Pennington left no doubt about his feelings when asked before the Jets’ pre-bye game at Cleveland back in ’06.
“We know it’s important to win every game,” Pennington said. “in this league you can’t say, ‘Well, we can drop a game here and we can let off in this area,’ because you never know what game is going to be a deciding factor on whether or not you’re able to make it into the playoffs. So every game is important for us.”
Interestingly, Pennington’s Jets lost that road game at Cleveland, 20-13, to settle at 4-4 at the bye, then won six of their last eight to finish 10-6 and reach the playoffs.
Here’s a strange note about Nick Folk. Whenever his NFL team gives up an early kickoff-return touchdown, he kicks a late long-range field goal.
In 2007, Terrence McGee had a kickoff return for Buffalo, but Folk nailed a 53-yard FG with no time on the clock at Ralph Wilson Stadium to complete the Cowboys’ memorable 25-24 Monday night comeback win over the Bills. The next year J.J. Arrington took one to the house for Arizona, but Folk’s 52-yarder, again at 0:00, sent that game to overtime, where the Cardinals won, 30-24.
Then on Sunday, Devin McCourty cut loose for his 104-yard first-quarter return. Folk responded with one of his best games as a Jet, going 4-for-4 with makes from 54, 43 and 43 yards. The final 43 gave the Jets their short-lived 26-23 lead with 1:37 to play.
That may be strange coincidence, but this about Folk is money in the bank: He has moved to second-best among all NFL kickers (since 1991, including playoffs, at least six tries) in fourth-quarter FG percentage. Folk is 41-for-43 (95.3%) in fourth-quarter kicks. First is Denver’s Matt Prater (28-for-29, 96.6%). Third is New England’s Stephen Gostkowski (48-for-51, 94.1%), who kicked the game-tying FG as time ran out in regulation and the gamewinner in OT.
Tags: bye week, Chad Pennington, Herm Edwards, Miami Dolphins, Nick Folk, Stephen Gostkowski
Posted in Randy Lange | 59 Comments »
This is former Jets receiving great Wayne Chrebet’s eighth blog this season for newyorkjets.com:
The question that I’ve been asked most often this week is whether the bye week would help or hurt the team. The byes come at different times for different teams. Some teams unfortunately have really early byes. Even though the Jets are riding a five-game win streak, I don’t think the week off will hurt them too much. Most important thing that the week off does is give the hurt players some time off their feet. A little extra time to heal. I know Revis and Pace will really benefit from this time off.
It will help the whole team in two different ways. The young and the old. The Jets have a good group of young talent that are getting some quality playing time. For the rookies, this will be all new for them. They’ve played 10 games including the preseason. For some guys right out of college that’s a whole season. With 10 to go, this will help them get mentally prepared for what will seem to them another full season.
I read a lot that the young guys go back to watch their college teams. I think that’s great. They stand on the sideline, get a great cheer from the fans, spend some time with their old teammates. I think that’s a thrill, to have made it into the NFL and come back and be celebrated for that. It doesn’t hurt that the Jets are in first place. The Jets are the talk of the NFL, I’m sure these kids are bombarded with the “What’s this like? What’s that like? What’s it feel like to do this? You think you guys can win it?” I love it. Certainly better than my first bye week in the league. The big question I was asked was “Are you guys going to win a game?” Still I felt on top of the world standing on the sideline of my alma mater.
The team also has its share of veterans, or old guys as the rookies would call us. It’s different. At this point in their careers they have a good idea of how to take care of their bodies. In my first couple of years I spent the bye weeks going out every night, hanging with friends, maybe celebrating too much. Into the middle of my career and towards the end, I figured out that lying on the couch and taking a little vacation to somewhere warm was the best remedy for the aches and pains from the first half of the season.
The key to the bye week is staying sharp. They played great football so far. Some tough, nail-biting games, but they came up with the victory. The time off really gives you a chance to assess the season, step back and see what you’ve accomplished, and more importantly what you hope to for the rest of the season. You ever have something to do and you stand there for a minute, take a deep breath, exhale and say, “OK, here we go”? That’s what it’s like. You step back into the training facility, take a big breath and you’re off.
The game against the Packers this week is at home and on Halloween. Are you kidding me? How great is that? You take 70,000 Jets fans and put them in costumes, sounds like a party to me. I will be going to the game. I think it would be pretty funny if I was walking through the stadium in full pads, number 80 on my back, eye black and all. Just a thought. Don’t know if I have the guts to do it.
The Packers don’t look like the Packers from last year but they’re still a good team. They are good on both sides of the ball. Defense has some all-stars. Woodson was the defensive player of the year last year and Clay Matthews Jr. looks like the real thing. Just to name a few. They have a very good offense that can put big numbers on the board. Offensive line played great this past week vs. the Vikings. Didn’t give up a sack. Even with that, Rodgers looked really out of sync with his receivers on some plays. Hopefully the Jets defense can get to him early and force him into some bad decisions. He has shown this year that he will throw some interceptions.
My feeling is that while it’s a great matchup, I think the Jets have a slight advantage in the game. They seem a lot hungrier. Not to look too far ahead, but after this game the next two, although on the road, are against Detroit and Cleveland. Two teams that they will have a great chance of beating. It all starts (again) this week.
Tags: Aaron Rodgers, bye week, Green Bay Packers, Halloween, Wayne Chrebet
Posted in Uncategorized | 38 Comments »
Nick Folk was still hanging around North Jersey today before heading out to Arizona to watch “little brother” Erik Folk kick for Washington at AU this weekend, and we wanted to catch up to the Jets’ unassuming foot man for a little more insight on his franchise-record-setting 56-yard boomer at Denver on Sunday.
Insight No. 1 was that Folk didn’t know it was a record-breaker until he and holder Steve Weatherford were trotting off the Invesco Field at Mile High pitch.
“I try not to go out and look at the yard line, really,” Folk said late this morning. “You know when you’re standing on top of the other team’s logo that you’re pretty far back there. But I kind of get the spot based on the ball, wherever it is, and then I give it to Steve and I’m not worried about anything but that kick.
Then afterwards, Steve said, ‘Wow, that was 56, man.’ I said, ‘Really, that was 56?’ You’re back on the logo, you could be 54, 56, 57.”
Folk put that moment aside because he had another kickoff to focus on pinning the Broncos back at their 20. But after notching the third of his five touchbacks in the air up there, he and Weatherford mused some more.
“Steve said, ‘Yeah, I think that’s the record because they have all those records up down by the meeting rooms,’ ” he said. “So I obviously had seen those but I had no idea who owned the records at all.”
That’s Insight No. 2. Head coach Rex Ryan and his staff have been proactive about putting the history of the Jets on the first-floor walls of the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center where the players can see them and linger over them if they so desire. The wall to the players’ dining area has the all-time team photos, another wall has all players listed by uniform number. There is a Pro Bowl wall and also a record-book wall.
Folk knows Jay Feely, whom he replaced this offseason. He could have run into John Hall, who was at the celebration of the Jets’ Monday Night Miracle win over Miami 10 years ago. Certainly he’s heard of Pat Leahy. Those three Jets kickers had accounted for the four 55-yard field goals in franchise history (Feely had two).
When told that Hall hit his 55-yarder on his very first regular-season kick as a pro in Seattle’s old Kingdome in the ’97 opener, Folk replied, “That’s awesome,” which is something Hall could easily say about Folk’s kick a decade later.
As for the difficulty of the kick, Folk supplied Insight No. 3 when he said he treated the kick just as he treated the PAT he kicked after the Jets’ second-quarter touchdown, kind of.
“I know it sounds kind of weird that you’re going to make an extra point or a short field goal look like a 56-yard field goal,” he said. “But you don’t want to be really changing your swing. You want it to be the same smooth swing the entire time.
“I knew I could make it going in that direction — in pregame we hit one from 64 or something like that. So we wanted to just make sure that I was smooth and that we had a good operation time and just got the ball up in the air. And I had trust in my leg that I could get it there and it went right through.”
As simple as that. The altitude also didn’t hurt, since it produced the most prodigious game of kickoffs in Folk’s four-year NFL career and possibly in Jets history. We’ll talk about that in part two of my conversation with Nick when Special Teams Saturday rolls around in three days.
By the Bye
Here’s a little Jets bye week trivia to keep you occupied heading into a weekend without Green & White football, hopefully the first of three such weekends this season:
All-time since bye weeks became a regular feature of the NFL schedule in 1990, the Jets are 11-10 the game after their bye week (remembering that the league gave two byes per team in 1993). They’re also 6-2 in their last eight games after byes and 9-4 in their last 13.
By head coach that breaks down to: Bruce Coslet, 2-3; Pete Carroll, 0-1; Rich Kotite, 0-2; Bill Parcells, 3-0; Al Groh, 0-1; Herm Edwards, 3-2; Eric Mangini, 3-0; Rex Ryan, 0-1.
Tags: bye week, Denver Broncos, Jay Feely, John Hall, Nick Folk, Pat Leahy
Posted in Randy Lange | 11 Comments »
Just hours before Ohio State met up with Penn State in State College, Pa., last Saturday, Jets assistant defensive backs coach Doug Plank was asked by Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel to address the Buckeyes at their pregame meal.
“If I’m a head coach, I’m cautious who I let talk to my players because you don’t want somebody coming in and giving the wrong message. That is why I appreciate Coach Tressel for allowing me to speak to his team,” Plank told newyorkjets.com this week.
Buddy Ryan’s “46” defense was named after Plank, but the Jets assistant was a Buck prior to transitioning to life as a Bear. During Plank’s three seasons at OSU, the safety played in three Rose Bowls as the Buckeyes amassed a 29-4-1 mark. The tradition of a team walk before the pregame meal has remained part of the school’s fabric for decades even though Plank says it’s a little different because all of the players don matching Ohio State sweatsuits now instead of a kaleidoscope of outfits.
Once Saturday’s walk was complete, the players gathered for an organized breakfast and they heard from Plank.
“It was super quiet. Everyone understood the magnitude of the game," said the honorary captain. "That shows how serious it is at a college level. Jim Tressel introduced me and said, ‘Doug’s going to give us a few words with regard to his experience as a Buckeye.’ ”
Plank delivered a four-point message that covered preparation, moment, purpose and tradition.
He asked the players, who entered the Big Ten contest at 7-2 overall and 4-1 in the conference, if they were ready for 8-1 Penn State.
“Did I do everything I could have done in terms of watching film, preparing myself and mentally going through the game myself the night before?”
The 56-year-old Plank also looked the Buckeyes in the eyes and told many players that they’ll never return to State College so they’d better make the most of it.
“I reminded all juniors and seniors that this was going to be the last time they’ll play at Penn State. For seniors, this is it,” he said. “While it might just seem like another game, when you’re going through that, you don’t understand it but you’ll live with those memories forever.”
Still to this day, Plank has recollections of his senior year because the 12th-round pick of the Bears in 1975 never thought he’d play football once he left Columbus, Ohio. Now more than 30 years later, he asked players who they were playing for and recalled his own upbringing.
“I didn’t come from a single-parent home, but I’ll say this — what I remember about my dad growing up was he was always working,” said Plank. “He was either going to work or coming home from work. It was my mother who went to all my games. I don’t think she missed one game from 8 years old to growing up through high school.
“Living in Pittsburgh, she would get on a bus and take a three-hour bus ride out to Columbus, watch the game when I was covering kickoffs, get back on the bus and go back home again.”
Lastly, Plank reflected on Buckeye pride. They are all bonded by a common thread and individual statistics aren’t the numbers that matter most at Ohio State.
“You play for your current teammates and all the guys who’ve come before you. Last year, Chris ‘Beanie’ Wells [the OSU back who was selected 31st overall in April by the Cardinals] came through this building on his visits to NFL teams,” said the good-natured Plank. “I took him in my office, sat him right across from my chair and we talked about Ohio State for five minutes.
"I said, ‘You know what, Chris? I want to thank you for everything you did at Ohio State because you wore the same number — No. 28 — that I did at Ohio State. Every time you had a big block, I felt like I had that big block. Every time you made a great run and celebrated in the end zone, I was there with you.’ ”
Literally on the sideline in "Happy Valley," Plank got to enjoy the Jets’ bye week as the Buckeyes smothered the Nittany Lions, 24-7, and kept their Rose Bowl hopes alive.
“All throughout the course of the game, guys I’ve never met before came up and shook my hands on the sideline,” he said. “I know the players will remember that game and everything that was part of it for a long time."
Tags: bye week, Chicago Bears, New York Jets, Ohio State, Penn State
Posted in Eric Allen | 4 Comments »
Today’s Rex Ryan news conference and locker room player interviews were predominantly two sides of the same coin: the long bye week ahead, and, following the 30-25 loss to Miami on Sunday to fall to 4-4, what the Jets can do with the second half of their season once they return.
The bye week for the Jets arguably begins now, since most players have already left the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center, and runs through the weekend until they return a week from today. Had the players ever had such a long in-season hiatus from football?
"No, I never have," said tackle Damien Woody. "I’m not complaining, though."
"This is the most time I’ve ever had off as a player" during a bye, said wide receiver Braylon Edwards. "But it doesn’t change anything, to be honest."
Safety Jim Leonhard said the time will be well spent by all.
"I don’t think it’s any more than any other year that I’ve played. It’s such a grind. You need that three, four, five days, whatever they give you, you just need to get away a little bit, get your mind back even and prepare yourself for the rest of the season."
Ryan was asked at this afternoon’s news conference about a six-day bye.
"And after a loss and all that? I understand that," the coach said about those questioning this hiatus. "My thing is this schedule was made months in advance. With the bye week right in the middle of our season, I think it’s a good deal. Everybody gives their players a few days off. We’re coming back and we’re going to work Monday all the way through. They’re not getting their traditional Tuesday off.
"I just think it’s best if they get away, they go home, go wherever they want to get away from football, then come back and get ready to get after this thing."
And that goes for his assistant coaches, too: "I want everybody out of the building by Thursday."
Some outside the building have their doubts that the Jets can rebound from their midseason slump during which they’ve lost four of five, but that clearly isn’t the feeling inside the building.
Woody was asked what it says about the Jets that, heading into tonight’s final game of Week 8, Atlanta at New Orleans, they have the NFL’s No. 1 rushing offense and No. 2 overall defense.
"Surely you’re cooking with something," he said. "If somebody told me that before the season, I’d be jumping for joy. We know we’re a good football team. We’ve just got to be consistent with it all the time. If we want to be the team we say we want to be, you’ve got to play your best ball in November and December."
"I’m very encouraged," DT Marques Douglas said. "We have a dominating offensive line at times. We have a dominating defense at times. I’m encouraged that our rookie quarterback, Mark Sanchez, has come into this league and has already won four games. I’m encouraged that Sione Pouha has stepped up and filled in Kris Jenkins’ shoes. I’m also encouraged by the way we just stick together whether it’s a win or a loss. There’s no divide in this locker room. The coaches made this very clear, that we win as a team and we lose as a team."
Ryan is insisting on that approach because that’s the best way to realize the goals he and his players have for this still only half-completed season.
"I challenged our players today that we want to be the team nobody wants to play," Ryan said. "I think we’re close to being that team, but we’ve got to find a way to win. That’s what we’re going to try to accomplish. We’ve got to get there one step at a time, we know that.
"But my confidence has not wavered one bit in the people we have in this organization, the coaches we have, the players we have. But we’ve got to really study hard to see if we can’t find a way to win.
"I think we understand playing like a Jet. I think we are playing like Jets — we’re playing with pride, we’re playing physically. We care about each other. We’ve just got to find a way to pick each other up and find ways to win. That’s what we’ve got to be focused on moving forward."
Coach vs. Coach
Ryan was asked by Newsday’s Bob Glauber today about his reaction to former Colts coach Tony Dungy’s comments on Sunday’s NBC highlights show taking two Jets opinion leaders to task for their comments following the loss to Miami. Dungy said Bart Scott "said too much" and said he disagreed with Ryan that the Jets outplayed Miami but lost.
Said Dungy: "My mother used to say, ‘When you win, say very little. When you lose, say less.’ "
Said Rex today: "That’s fine. I was brought up differently. … I respect everybody but I fear nobody. And my thing is we’re not going to get anywhere by tiptoeing. That’s how I feel about it. People can take offense to it, that’s fine and dandy. I’m not going to change who I am and how I coach because Tony Dungy said something. I respect him, I think he’s a great man and was a great coach, but I’m going to be who I am."
Ryan second-guessed himself some, in the wake of Ted Ginn’s two kickoff-return TDs, about deactivated special teams contributors Ahmad Carroll, Marquice Cole and Marques Murrell, but he said there were personnel issues involved with the inactive list. The Jets felt they needed both inside LBs Larry Izzo and Ryan Fowler active due to Scott’s sore knee, which had him listed as questionable for the game, and they wanted Danny Woodhead as a backup at both WR and RB with Brad Smith (quad) having to sit out one more game.
Besides the coaches’ and players’ belief in themselves, history tells us that 4-4 is not a death knell to postseason aspirations. Since 2000, 22 of 55 teams (40 percent) of the NFL teams that began their seasons at 4-4 reached the playoffs. One of them was the 2006 Jets, another the 2001 Patriots, yet another the 2002 Raiders whose head coach is current Jets assistant HC/offensive line Bill Callahan. And Ryan’s 2000 Baltimore team was 5-4 before winning its last 11, including Super Bowl XXXV.
"Inside the Jets" Postponed
Due to conflicts with the World Series and a Knicks game replay, tonight’s edition of "Inside the Jets," held live at Vanderbilt’s in the Hamilton Park Hotel in Florham Park, N.J., and aired on 1050 ESPN New York, has been postponed and moved to next Monday night at 7 p.m.
Tags: Braylon Edwards, bye week, Damien Woody, Danny Woodhead, Jim Leonhard, Marques Douglas, Rex Ryan, Tony Dungy
Posted in Randy Lange | 53 Comments »
Sunday’s best on the Left Coast for Mike DeVito came as he was cradling Calvin Pace’s second strip sack of the game midway through the third quarter on the Oakland Coliseum grass.
"That’s more than I’ve touched the ball ever," DeVito reflected on this fumble recovery added to the fumble he plucked out of the Texas air at Houston in the season opener. Actually, it’s more than most defensive linemen touch the ball. DeVito became the first Jets D-lineman since NT James Reed in 2005 to recover two opponents’ fumbles in a season.
DeVito is also playing more than he has in his third year as a Jet, but not the way he wanted to, of course. Everyone along the front is getting more reps with Kris Jenkins gone for the year.
But the Raiders were the first opponents the Jets played without the big man, and that also went swimmingly not far from "The Bay."
"Actually, it flowed very well. Everybody felt well, nobody was really tired, we were rotating well," DeVito said. "We realize without Kris in there, we need to make sure everybody knows what’s going on, everybody’s firing each other up. It was a lot of fun. It was good to get a good start to it."
Cynics might say that it’s easy to have a good day as a defensive line against the NFL’s 32nd-ranked offense that controlled the ball for only 52 plays and 24 minutes of clock time. But the Jets needed a shakedown cruise minus Jenkins to get some rhythm and flow in time to take on the Dolphins this weekend.
And maybe they needed to give a little preview of what they can do to anyone in panic mode over not having Big Jenks in the middle of the line the rest of this season.
"It’s time for everybody to step up," DeVito said. "Everybody here gets paid. You wouldn’t be here if you couldn’t do it. We realize we lost Jenkins and he’s a playmaker. Now it’s on us to make the plays."
That would be recommended against the Miami Wildcat, which clawed the Jets on Monday night three games ago. Here’s how the upcoming game looks from DeVito’s three-point stance:
"They’re a great running team. They have those two great backs and a really great offensive line. They do so many different things, they have so many different runs that it’s hard to key in, to know what they’re going to do.
"They’ve a very good team. It’s going to be a good challenge for us up front."
Rex Ryan’s news conference today was Friday-short. On the injury front, the head coach is listing CB Lito Sheppard as doubtful and WRs Jerricho Cotchery, Brad Smith and David Clowney, LB Bart Scott and DE Shaun Ellis as questionable. But as he said Thursday, he repeated today that "I expect everybody to play with the exception of Lito. We’ll see what happens with that group tomorrow and Sunday, but I feel good about our guys right now."
Ryan hasn’t released his bye week practice schedule yet but he responded to a question that it won’t be affected by whether the Jets win or loss against the Dolphins on Sunday.
"You mean if we lose, ‘OK, that’s it, we’re having two-a-days’?" Rex said with a laugh. "You may feel like that after a game, but you’ve got to look out for your players. Our bye week comes at a perfect time midway through the regular season. And we’ve had it planned way in advance of this on our schedule."
For those keeping score at home, since 2002 the Jets have gone 2-5 in the game before the bye week and 6-1 in the game after, including 3-0 since 2006. Meanwhile, Baltimore, in the four seasons that Rex was defensive coordinator, was 1-3 the game before its bye weeks from 2005-08 and 3-1 the game after its byes.
Weekly Awards Shutout
This week looked like a good one for Shonn Greene to win a league award, but the voters have spoken and the Jets rookie RB got shut out.
Greene’s 19-carry, 144-yard, two-TD showing at Oakland was in the running for both Pepsi Rookie of the Week and FedEx Ground Player of the Week. But today the results of the fan polling were revealed and Minnesota’s Percy Harvin took the Pepsi (214 net yards, including an 88-yard kickoff-return TD in the loss to the Steelers while Cedric Benson of the Bengals took the FedEx Ground with 37 rushes for 189 yards and a TD in the win over the Bears.
We’re biased but we thought Greene was a shoo-in for the Pepsi after stepping in early for the injured Leon Washington and posting game-leading figures in a big Jets road win.
However, it pays to remind oneself that this game is not about the awards. It’s about the victories, about winning each one-game season, as Ryan has put it. And we have a feeling more honors besides Mark Sanchez drinking from the Pepsi chalice will be on their way this season.
Big Weekend of Jets Media
Besides the Jets-Dolphins game, there are a few other Green & White programs on WCBS-TV, Channel 2, in New York this weekend.
On Saturday at 2:30 p.m. we already let you know earlier this week about "Making of the Flight Crew." It’s a half-hour show that all about the building of this year’s New York Jets cheerleading squad, from auditions through calendar shoot and on into this season.
The on Sunday at 11:30 a.m., it’s the latest edition of "Jets Flight Plan." In this show, head coach Rex Ryan discusses the Jets’ outstanding performance against the Raiders and their pivotal rematch against the Dolphins. Also, offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer stops by to break down the offense through the first half of the season. The weekly Flight Plan feature takes us all to the lanes, where numerous players go bowling to help support a teammate’s charitable foundation.
And don’t forget, after watching those shows, to check in with us on newyorkjets.com, to join in our Live in-game chat presided over by Eric Allen and Kyle Richardson and to keep up with my tweets throughout the contest.
Tags: bye week, Jerricho Cotchery, Kris Jenkins, Miami Dolphins, Mike DeVito, Oakland Raiders, Rex Ryan, Shonn Greene
Posted in Randy Lange | 5 Comments »
The Jets are arriving back in the area today and tonight for a return to practice and meetings Monday morning. As safety Kerry Rhodes said before departing for home and a four-day bye-week hiatus, "I’m going to try and come back refreshed."
Will the Green & White get a break from their break?
No, not a break. Not when their return-to-work opponent next Sunday is the Pittsburgh Steelers.
In some ways, the Steelers looked vulnerable during their 31-28 comeback home win over the Cleveland Browns earlier today. They fell behind by 15 points in the second quarter. They gave up 90- and 100-yard kickoff returns to Josh Cribbs — you know Mike Westhoff and Leon Washington have been paying close attention to that.
But a lot of things looked the same as they have as the Steelers have assembled their 7-2 record, which will be either third-best or tied for second-best in the AFC, depending on how 7-1 Indianapolis fares tonight at San Diego.
The Black & Gold moved the ball well on the Browns. There was Willie Parker’s 105 rushing yards, Ben Roethlisberger’s 30-yard scramble TD (remember Redskin QB Jason Campbell’s 29-yard scamper a week ago?) and 159 rushing yards in all, not to mention 401 yards from scrimmage.
And on defense there was more of Pittsburgh LB James Harrison — after forcing three fumbles in the Steelers’ Monday night romp over Baltimore, Harrison came off his right side (which would be the Jets’ left side, led by T D’Brickashaw Ferguson) to force two more fumbles today, both on Jamal Lewis runs.
Perhaps worst of all was the 15-point come-from-behind victory, equaling the largest in the NFL this season.
"We had an opportunity to do something today that we hadn’t done," said rookie head coach Mike Tomlin, "and that was to show our mettle and come from behind and pull it out. We did it."
If the Steelers didn’t know they had a comeback team, they do now. The Jets already know how to lose a double-digit lead during the odd weeks of the schedule — they led by 10 over the Giants in Week 5, 13 over the Bengals in Week 7 and 14 over the Redskins in Week 9.
The Jets do have intangibles working in their favor. Jets fans all remember what happened in their team’s return to work after last year’s Week 9 bye, and so do the Patriots. If this year’s model is going to get things in order and make some noise this year, this is the time to do it.
This also should mark Kellen Clemens’ second start ahead of Chad Pennington, and as Clemens said early this past week before the intensive bye-week workouts: "I’m starting to develop more of a relationship with the first-string wide receivers. Anytime you can do that and improve in that area, it only helps further on down the line."
And as many are aware, Sunday at the Meadowlands will be Curtis Martin Day. No. 28 will come out of the West end zone tunnel one more time to the wild applause of the fans he cherishes.
Perhaps Curtis can provide the missing link that will push the Jets over the top against this week’s dangerous opponent. We’ll let you know how refreshed the Green & White seem for their return-to-work assignment, beginning with news stories and Radar entries as Monday’s first day back unfolds.
Tags: Ben Roethlisberger, bye week, Leon Washington, Steelers
Posted in Randy Lange | 24 Comments »
The Jets’ bye week schedule could have gone either way. You could’ve seen head coach Eric Mangini going double sessions from now to Pittsburgh or giving them this week off to rest the players’ weary brows.
Mangini took the road that passes closer to the R&R approach than to boot camp.
"We’ll work here tomorrow and the next day with the players," Mangini said at this afternoon’s news conference, "and go through the different phases over those two days, then they’ll be off after that."
Those regular work days are today, Tuesday and Wednesday. The players will get Thursday through Sunday to recharge their mental batteries, maintain their physical condition, then return Monday to begin preparation for Pittsburgh the following Sunday.
This is sure to alarm half of you who think the Jets need more work rather than less to fix all that ails them. But this is Mangini’s schedule and it really does make sense based, as he said, on last year’s success coming out of their Week 9. Yes, it’s a different season, yes, last year’s schedule wasn’t as taxing, but there was a definite improvement from 2006’s first eight games to the last eight.
Here’s a chart of their Jets’ NFL rankings in four key defensive categories last season and this season:
|2006 First 9 Weeks||31st||30th||22nd||25th|
|2006 Full Season||20th||24th||14th||6th|
|2007 First 9 Weeks||30th||29th||23rd||27th|
"The first part of the season here, you lose five games by seven points or less, that’s a tough situation," he said. "But it’s encouraging in the sense that those games are close, and if we can improve, if we can make some strides like we did last year during the bye, then some of those will turn in our favor."
I am not going to offer a defense that close losses are like victories. I remember a few times when Bill Parcells was asked, probably in 1999, if he felt as if his team was really a 1-6 team or a 4-8 team. "What’s our record?" Tuna would ask rhetorically. "That’s the team we are." I’m sure Mangini feels the same.
But my point would be to argue — bear with me on this — that the close nature of most of the Jets’ games this season is a good omen for a bounceback next season. I base this on all the NFL teams that started 1-8 since the 16-game schedule was introduced in 1978.
There are 39 of them, and some of those teams were outscored through the struggles of their first nine games by less than a touchdown a game, while others were being thumped on average by two touchdowns or more.
And the definite, although not ironclad, conclusion, is that if you’re competitive through those first nine games, you’ve got a better chance of being one of those NFL turnaround teams of the new millennium.
The Jets, being outscored by 7.7 points per game, are in the 8.0-and-under group that does the best the following season. No guarantees of playoffs or anything, but The average improvement in that category is along the lines of going from 3-12-1 to 7-8-1.
And of the 11 teams that were better than minus-8.0 after nine games, five made it to 9-7 or better the next year and three — Cleveland in 1984, Houston in ’86 and San Diego in ’91 — made it to the playoffs.
It’s not much to hang your hat on. But this is why the coach does things like punting into the "Evil East" end zone from Washington’s 39 in overtime yesterday, why he says he’s "proud" of the way the Jets fought in the loss to the Redskins. Not to upset you, but to keep trying to win, to keep things competitive and to keep the Jets players’ heads in the game for this season. If that happens, next season often falls into place.
That’s What Roomies Are For
Joe Kowalewski got everybody pumped up with his first pro touchdown and his resulting celebratory actions in the second quarter of the Redskins game.
"I was as happy as anybody can be for him," said fullback Stacy Tutt. "He works hard. He deserves the opportunity."
But that’s not the only reason Tutt made sure he picked up the ball Jo-Ko spiked and handed it to the first-year free agent tight end.
"He’s my roommate," Tutt said. "I wasn’t going to let that ball get away."
"I was waiting so long to spike a ball," Kowalewski said. "In college, we weren’t allowed to spike the ball after touchdowns. I’ve been waiting a long time for that."
And losing the souvenir pigskin was never in doubt. "Stacy’s got my back," he said.
‘Inside the Jets’
The guests on tonight’s "Inside the Jets" will be rookie CB Darrelle Revis and Kowalewski. With regular host Bob Wischusen working a college football game tonight, Greg Buttle steps in and kicks the proceedings off from Charlie Brown’s restaurant in Garden City, N.Y., at 7 p.m.
Tags: bye week, Eric Mangini, Joe Kowalewski, Stacy Tutt
Posted in Randy Lange | 36 Comments »