Updated, Dec. 21, 11:58 a.m. ET
Mike DeVito is about to wrap up his sixth season in the NFL.
He’s played in 80 career games and all 80 have been with the New York Jets.
He’s producing a career year in 2012 with a career-bests 60 tackles and a career-best 8.0 tackles for loss/no gain. He was also drew a holding call against Tennessee on Monday, the third time he was held this season, another career high. But it’s also the final year of his contract.
“It’s definitely strange,” DeVito said in the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center locker room after practice this afternoon. “I’m looking at it like nothing’s guaranteed. I mean, I have two games left and then I don’t know what’s going to happen next year. So I’m going to enjoy every minute I get a chance to be on this field, be with these guys and play in these last two games because you just don’t know.”
DeVito sure played like he was enjoying himself Monday night against Tennessee. In that game, he finished with a team-best eight tackles and two of his eight takedowns proved to be tackles for loss when Titans RB Chris Johnson was carrying the ball.
After one of those takedowns of Johnson, ESPN broadcast analyst Jon Gruden said of DeVito: “He’s an excellent football player. He can stuff the run.”
The performance also was the first time in a game in the past two seasons that DeVito led the Jets defense in tackles.
“I kind of took this mindset Monday I’m just going to go out there and have fun and enjoy it and enjoy this time,” No. 70 said. “I definitely was happy with that. Obviously [there are] plays I can get better at though, and I’m going to continue to try and get better each week.”
The tackle total at Tennessee wasn’t a season high for DeVito, but the number certainly caught head coach Rex Ryan’s eye.
“Mike DeVito. he had eight tackles — that’s impressive,” Ryan said at his news conference this morning. “When you watch that game, that might have been his top game since I’ve been here. He was absolutely tremendous.”
Twice this season DeVito recorded nine tackles, against the Dolphins in Week 3 and vs. Houston in Week 5.
“I feel confident out there,” he said. “I feel good and I feel like I can continue to get better. I feel like I haven’t peaked at my talent. I’m not satisfied.”
Except for the second quarter 94-yard TD run — on which DeVito may have been the only Jet to get a hand on Johnson — he and his Jets defensive teammates contained the Titans’ star RB.
“That was so frustrating,” DeVito said of Johnson’s touchdown, “because when you look at the stats, I think it was 20 carries for 28 yards and then they had that one long run. But we can’t let that happen. That’s something we had talked about all week, going into the week, was you can have 20 carries for 28 yards but Chris Johnson can break that one. It’s frustrating, but we learned from it. We saw the mistakes and are moving forward.”
As the Green & White continue preparing for this week’s game against San Diego, DeVito said the Chargers’ offensive line might be the most physical bunch the Jets defense has faced all year.
“I really like their offensive line,” he said. “They’re tough up front. Every time we play against these guys it’s always a battle up front.”
Possibly a good sign for the Jets is that San Diego won’t have primary RB Ryan Mathews, who was placed on injured reserve Tuesday. However, DeVito doesn’t see Mathews’ absence necessarily working as an advantage for the Green & White.
“It will be a good challenge for us up front,” he said, “because when you have an offensive line like that, it doesn’t matter who’s back there.”
It will be the final home game of the season for the Jets at MetLife Stadium and DeVito states his family will be in attendance. But will he be playing in his final home game with the franchise? Only time can determine that answer.
“I’m a New York guy,” he said. “My family is over here and has been here for six years. Obviously I love this organization, and I love the people here, so we’ll see how it plays out.”
Thursday Injury Reports
TE Dustin Keller (ankle), S LaRon Landry (heel) and CB Aaron Berry (hamstring) were the three players who did not participate in team drills at today’s practice. G Brandon Moore (foot/hip) was a DNP Wednesday but was full-go today. Five Jets were limited: WR Braylon Edwards (hamstring), DT Sione Po‘uha (low back), LB Ricky Sapp (ankle), LB Bryan Thomas (chest), and WR Chaz Schilens (calf/knee), who didn’t practice a day ago. Fourteen players were full, including new listees K Nick Folk (back) and WR Mardy Gilyard (illness).
For the Chargers, LB Takeo Spikes (hamstring) and DT Aubrayo Franklin (knee) remained not practicing and LB Demorrio Williams (ankle) remained limited. Two players limited Wednesday, RB Ronnie Brown (hamstring) and LB Donald Butler (groin), were full today.
Tags: Chris Johnson, Jon Gruden, Mike DeVito, Rex Ryan, Ryan Mathews, San Diego Chargers, Tennessee Titans
Posted in John Holt | 68 Comments »
The shame of Monday night is that the defense continued to play at a high level in keeping the Jets in these games down the stretch. Here are several measures:
■ The Titans went 0-for-their-last-10 on third-down plays. That extends the defense’s streaks of third-down dominance to 4-for-46 for opponents since late vs. New England, and 1-for-23 in the second half since Thanksgiving night.
■ Because of that third-down dominance, opponents in the last three games have punted 28 times and have gone 3-and-out 21 times. Both are the best three-game totals for the Jets since the advent of 16-game schedules in 1978.
■ With the four-sack pressure combined with the back end coverage that held WR Kenny Britt to one catch for 7 yards, Jake Locker and the Tennessee passing offense managed 127 net yards, a total that lowered the Jets’ pass defense rating to second in the NFL behind top-ranked Pittsburgh. The last time the Jets were No. 2 was after Week 4 in 2011.
■ Perhaps most impressive, the Jets have turned the ball over 11 times in these last three games, and opponents have managed six points total, two thin field goals, after those giveaways. The last time the Green & White had a similar streak was six points allowed after 11 giveaways over the final 11 games in 1999. The last time they a better stretch: 1977, when they yielded just one field goal after 12 consecutive giveaways over a six-game span.
“That’ll tell you about the kind of pride and how resilient our defense has been playing,” head coach Rex Ryan told reporters on today’s late-afternoon conference call. “I think they’ve been doing an outstanding job. A lot of that credit goes to Mike Pettine and his staff as well as the players. I’m happy with that.”
Flags Still Favoring Jets
At least the Jets’ second-half penalty surplus continued. They were called for only four penalties for 23 yards on the night. The Titans, on the other hand, were hit with 14 penalties for 111 yards. The 14 flags is the most against an opponent since Oakland got 14 in 2008. The last time an opponent had more penalties was the Jaguars’ 15 at Jacksonville in 1996. The 111 yards is the 10th-most marked off against an opponent since 1978.
The Jets’ five turnovers and minus-5 TO margin had much to do with Ryan’s decision to shift from Mark Sanchez to Greg McElroy as his starting QB on Sunday against San Diego.
“Has Mark had better days than that? Absolutely,” Ryan said of Sanchez. “He had, obviously, a poor day, but you know, he wasn’t alone with that. But obviously, we can’t turn the ball over five times and expect to win.”
Absolutely true, that. It was the Jets’ 10th minus-5 game in franchise history and their record is 0-10 (and it’s 0-14 with a margin of minus-5 or larger). In the NFL, the record for minus-5 teams since 2002 is 3-65. The three winners: Dallas (with then-rookie K Nick Folk) by 25-24 at Buffalo in ’07, Jacksonville by 24-20 over Cleveland in ’10, and Atlanta by 23-19 over Arizona four weeks ago.
The average score of those 68 teams that go minus-5 in TO margin: a 33-11 loss. That the Jets had a chance to pull Monday’s game out with 47 seconds to go speaks to how well some parts of their operation (third-down defense, rush defense except for one small 94-yard Chris Johnson run, penalties, punt rush) played in Nashville less than 24 hours ago. But that’s cold comfort for all of us tonight.
Tags: Chris Johnson, Jake Locker, Nick Folk, Rex Ryan, Tennessee Titans, turnover margin
Posted in Randy Lange | 128 Comments »
Here are today’s first-half tweets for the Jets-Titans game at LP Field in Nashville, in case you missed them on Twitter. Follow Bob Wischusen, Eric Allen and me for our tweets during each Jets game on https://twitter.com/nyjets.
#RL Jets gameday captains today: DE Muhammad Wilkerson, C Nick Mangold, S Yeremiah Bell, S Josh Bush, WR Braylon Edwards.
#RL Rob Bironas comes out late to try 46-yd FG, Mo Wilkerson blocks at the line, no good. Bironas now 4-for-5 career vs Jets.
#RL Wilkerson gets Jets’ first FG block since Kris Jenkins vs ARZ in ’08, first road FG block since Shane Burton @ BUF in 2000.
#RL Jets 3rd-and-1 at TEN 25, Tim Tebow first action in 4 games runs forward to get the first down.
#EA TEN helping the Jets on this drive – 3 penalties. Edwards getting in the mix right away on this opening march.
#EA Sanchez has all day to throw the rock right now. Great job by the O-line. TEN was all over Luck last week.
#RL TE Jeff Cumberland appeared to grab 4-yd TD pass from Mark Sanchez, his 3rd TD of yr. But ref Walt Coleman reverses call to no catch…
#RL Nick Folk comes on for 22-yd FG. Good, making Folk 17-for-22 on FGs for the year. Jets lead 3-0 with 4:17 left in 1st qtr.
#RL Kyle Wilson nice third-down tackle on Nate Washington for a 5-yd reception on 3rd-and-8 as 1st quarter comes to an end…
#RL TEN continues as only NFL team not to have scored a 1st-qtr offensive TDs at home. Titans’ only 1st-qtr home TD came on PR in Game 3.
#RL Kyle Wilson nice third-down tackle on Nate Washington for a 5-yd reception on 3rd-and-8 as 1st quarter comes to an end…
#EA This is the Jets’ first lead entering the 2nd Quarter since Week 2 vs. PIT.
#RL Another nifty Robert Malone punt bounces backward from TEN-2 for 53-yd punt gross and net. 14th consec game for Malone with 50-yd punt.
#RL Chris Johnson bursts off RT, goes 94 yds for TD. Longest run vs. Jets since Garrison Hearst went 96 in OT in ’98 opener @ SF.
#RL Johnson 94-yd run is 2nd-longest by opponent in franchise history. Previous 2nd-longest: Sid Blanks, @ HOU Oilers, 12/13/64.
#RL Tim Tebow gets his first full drive as Jets QB, 7 snaps, 6 plays and pen, 22 yards. Has to throw 3rd-and-16 pass away.
#RL Calvin Pace gets his 3rd sack of the season, touching Jake Locker as he scrambles OB for a 2-yd loss on 3rd-and-7. TEN punts.
#RL Garrett McIntyre, starting for LB Bryan Thomas, gets 3rd sack of yr and 2nd big defensive play in 2 games w/ sack of Jake Locker.
#RL Jets go into halftime trailing 3-0. It’s 4th straight game they haven’t scored 1st-half TD, but they won their last 2, over ARZ, JAX.
#RL Jets lead in 1st downs (10-6), possession (15:52-14:08), but Titans lead in yards (198-99), takeaways (1-0) and score, 7-3.
Tags: Braylon Edwards, Calvin Pace, Chris Johnson, Garrett McIntyre, Garrison Hearst, Jake Locker, Kyle Wilson, Mark Sanchez, Sid Blanks, Tennessee Titans, Tim Tebow
Posted in Randy Lange | 86 Comments »
Here are today’s pregame tweets for the Jets-Titans game at LP Field in Nashville, in case you missed them on Twitter. Follow Bob Wischusen, Eric Allen and me for our tweets during each Jets game on https://twitter.com/nyjets.
#RL Weather at kickoff for Jets-Titans is expected to be partly cloudy, possible showers, temps around 50, southerly winds.
#RL Jets 17-22-1 all-time vs Titans/Oilers but have won 5 of the last 6 since the team moved from HOU to TEN, and 3 of last 4 at LP Field.
#RL In first 23 games of rivalry, Jets were 8-14-1 with minus-22 turnover margin. In last 17 games Jets are 9-8 with +13 TO margin.
#RL Mark Sanchez is 1-0 vs Titans. In ’09 Game 3, Sanchez completed 17 of 30 (56.7%) for 171 yds, 2 TDs, 1 INT, 81.4 rating in 24-17 win.
#RL Jets RB Shonn Greene in last 8 games: 154 atts, 666 yards, 4.3 avg., 5 TDs. He needs 117 yds to reach 1,000 for 2nd straight yr.
#RL Jets DE Mo Wilkerson in last 8 games: 4 sacks, 3 forced FUMs, 1 FUM-return TD (@ SEA), 2 PDs, 1 intl grounding forced
#RL TEN QB Jake Locker playing Jets for first time. Locker in 8 starts this yr is 2-6 with 10 TD drives, 9 TD passes, 9 INTs, 4 lost FUMs.
#RL TEN RB Chris Johnson has 1,037 rush yds, 4.7 avg. this season. Johnson in 2 games vs Jets: 32 atts, 143 yds, 4.5 avg, 0 TDs, 0-2 record.
#RL Titans are minus-12 in TO margin in 6 homes games, tied for lowest home margin/game in NFL with Chiefs at minus-2.0.
#RL Jets K Nick Folk playing TEN for 1st time in career. He’s 16-for-21 FGs this yr, 5-for-last-10, 5-for-6 in 4th qtr/OT, 3-for-4 from 50+.
#RL Jets wearing white jerseys, green pants for 2nd straight game. Jets in white/green u/Rex Ryan: 3-4 since ’09, 1-0 this season.
#RL Today’s referee is Walt Coleman. It’s Walt’s 18th Jets game as ref since 1995. Jets have lost last 8 games Coleman has refereed.
#RL NYJ inactives: QB Greg McElroy CB Aaron Berry LB Bryan Thomas DL Damon Harrison G Caleb Schlauderaff TE Dustin Keller WR Stephen Hill
#RL TEN inactives: QB Rusty Smith WR Damian Williams LB Colin McCarthy LB Xavier Adibi G Mitch Petrus T Daniel Baldridge DE Scott Solomon
#RL TEN K Rob Bironas career vs Jets: 4-4 on FGs, 4-4 on PATs.
#RL TEN is only NFL team that has scored no 1st-qtr offensive TDs at home. Titans’ only 1st-qtr TD at LP Field came on PR in Game 3.
Tags: Chris Johnson, Jake Locker, LP Field, Mark Sanchez, Monday Night Football, Muhammad Wilkerson, Nick Folk, Shonn Greene, Tennessee Titans
Posted in Randy Lange | No Comments »
There may be a perception among NFL watchers and fantasy players that Chris Johnson is having a down year. But then again, everything after his 2,006-yard sophomore season as the Titans’ tailback would pale in comparison.
But CJ2K also is making a comeback of sorts. He’s already cleared 1,000 rushing yards for the fifth time in five seasons and his 4.7 yards per rush are his best since his 5.6 in 2009.
“He’s still one of the leading rushers in the league,” Jets head coach Rex Ryan said today. “He’s a dangerous guy. He’s somebody, every time he touches it, you hold your breath. He’s that kind of athlete, so a dropoff in play? I don’t know. I don’t necessarily see it because he’s the same explosive guy to me on tape. You don’t get a whole lot of sleep worrying about this guy, that’s for sure. He’s a great player. Obviously, everybody knows about him. He’s no secret.
“I think when he first got into the league, you weren’t necessarily that sure. You saw a guy, ‘Hey, he’s a little undersized for a running back,’ and then he’s blowing by you and ‘Oh, man.’ You can say a guy is fast, you can read the numbers, but when you see it on the field, it’s happening right in front of you, it’s a little scary. I saw it first-hand several times when we played against him here but also in Baltimore.”
Actually, Ryan defenses have done pretty well against Johnson. In ’08, Rex’s last year with the Ravens, Johnson had 44 yards on 18 carries. The next year vs. the Jets, he had 97 yards on 22 carries. But the Titans lost both of those games.
However, while the Jets have improved in many areas and rankings on defense, is this year’s run defense improved as well? The Jets are still ranked 29th in rush yards allowed per game, not a good omen against Johnson and running QB Jake Locker. Ryan said, “I think our run defense has definitely improved,” but he was clearly unhappy with yielding that untouched 32-yard TD jaunt by Montell Owens at Jacksonville.
Yet one ranking that isn’t mentioned a lot is opponents’ rush yards per carry. The Jets after five games were allowing 4.9 yards per carry, 29th in the league. In the last eight games, the average is 4.0, which has improved their league ranking to 19th.
It will have to be good enough. As Ryan said, this week vs. Tennessee “is a bit of a challenge.”
Tebow Upon Further Review
One day after Rex Ryan said he didn’t see Tim Tebow Wildcatting and personal protecting on Monday night at Tennessee due to his still sore ribs, the Jets coach saw enough improvement at Thursday’s practice to put all the familiar TT roles back on the table today.
“I was just adamant about, well, there will be no Wildcat, but I’m like, he may be able to go back to similar roles,” Ryan said at today’s news conference. “He’s always been cleared to play, but as good as he looked to me, I don’t want to rule that out for the simple fact that this is as good as he’s looked in several weeks.”
Tebow, holding rare back-to-back locker room news conferences (he normally talks to reporters Wednesday and Friday, but before the Monday night game, Thursday was the new Wednesday this week), was encouraged.
“I try to go out there and compete like any other practice. I’m glad he felt good about it and thought highly,” Tebow said, adding about getting ready for game contact for the first time since Nov. 18 at St. Louis, “I’ll be ready for that first hit … I think I will be.”
So the ‘Cat is back in the game plan? “I guess,” Tebow said, “it could be considered.”
Cynics might say this is all a ploy to make sure Tennessee is spending extra time getting ready for the Wildcat when the Jets really aren’t planning to run it. Well, maybe, but as Titans coach Mike Munchak said Thursday, “I think it’s obviously something we would prepare for anyway.”
Friday Injury Picture
Ryan reported today that X-rays on RB Bilal Powell’s toe came back negative. Both Powell and LB Bryan Thomas (chest) went from DNPs to limited work in team drills at today’s practice at the Atlantic Health Training Center. S LaRon Landry (heel) got his usual mid-practice-week day on the sideline. The rest of the Jets report remained the same as Thursday.
WR Braylon Edwards (hamstring) was limited for a second straight day. Ryan: “We’re being cautious there. I’m going to lean on the trainers. We’re hopeful he’ll be able to go on Monday.”
Titans RB Chris Johnson (ankle), who didn’t practice Thursday, and T Michael Roos (knee), who was limited, both were full-go at today’s practice in Nashville.
One Confusing Facemask
Upon reviewing the video of the Jets’ Sunday win at Jacksonville, we wanted set the record straight one more time, primarily because it involved some fans perhaps giving Muhammad Wilkerson a demerit for his latest strong performance when in fact Mo didn’t deserve the markdown.
The play was the fourth-quarter penalty on the Jets (their only flag of the game) for grasping the facemask of scrambling Jaguars QB Chad Henne. Referee Al Riveron got the error parade going by announcing, “Personal foul, facemask, No. 96.” That’s Wilkerson, but No. 98, Quinton Coples, was actually the guilty party, as the CBS slow-mo replay showed.
A referee announcing the wrong number on a penalty isn’t a frequent mistake although it happens probably more than you’d think. In this case, 96 and 98 are swarming the QB, Riveron is told the wrong number by the side judge or the head linesman, he reports it to the world.
However, that’s when network analyst Solomon Wilcots compounded the error as he spoke over the replay of Coples clearly hooking Henne’s mask as Wilkerson was closing ground from the left.
“He was going down anyway,” Wilcots said. “Take a look here. Now why’d you have to grab the facemask? There it is right there, Muhammad Wilkerson. Wow.”
Monday McKnight Football
Laura Clemente, our communications coordinator and social media maven, reports on an opportunity to win a neat prize during Monday’s Jets-Titans game:
“While the team is on the road and you’re tuned in to the Jets-Titans Monday night match-up on ESPN, you will have an exclusive opportunity. All you need to do is check into the game via Viggle on your smartphone or iPad and you could win a Joe McKnight autographed football. So watch the Jets on MNF, download the free Viggle app from the App Store or Google Play and enter for a chance to win! Check out viggle.com for more on how to download the app, win great prizes and get points for rewards.”
Tags: Bilal Powell, Braylon Edwards, Chris Johnson, Rex Ryan, Tennessee Titans, Tim Tebow, Wildcat
Posted in Randy Lange | 30 Comments »
The Jets’ reign at the top of the NFL’s rushing department is over. The Jets held the No. 1 spot for four consecutive weeks, and even occupied the catbird’s seat heading into Monday night’s Tennessee-Houston game after rushing for 104 yards (Thomas Jones had 103 of them) at New England.
But the rejuvenated Titans, with Chris Johnson and Vince Young leading the way, rushed for 228 yards in the win over the Texans and now lead the Jets by 49 yards.
Here are the NFL’s top five rushing teams and their immediate prospects of improving or declining in Week 12 (RO–Run Offense, RD–Run Defense):
|Team||RO Rank||Y/G||Opp||RD Rank||Y/G|
|New Orleans||5th||154.3||vs. NE||14th||109.4|
Another Green & White ranking note: In yielding 31 points to the Patriots, the Jets have now given up 18.9 points per game. That’s ninth-best in the NFL, true, still in the top 10 but also the Jets’ lowest points-allowed ranking this season. This includes all points, including touchdowns not allowed by the defense.
Record Book Entries (Jets)
We reported Sunday on Shaun Ellis’ move up the Jets’ sack list, past Super Bowl III DE Gerry Philbin and into third place with 66.0 sacks. This list is unofficial since it includes all Jets sacks back into the Sixties even though individual defensive sacks became an official NFL statistic only in 1982.
But what is official is that Ellis moved into a tie for most sacks of Patriots quarterbacks since 2000, the Big Katt’s rookie season. Ellis now has 12.0 NE sacks, equaling the dozen takedowns by Buffalo DE Aaron Schobel. And 8.0 of Ellis’ 12.0 sacks have been of Tom Brady, including Sunday’s two drops.
One more historical note on the Smith Bros. blocked punt on Sunday. The Jets/Titans have scored touchdowns off of blocked punts 13 times in their history, and this was the fourth one to come on the road against the Boston/New England Patriots.
In the 1963 season opener, Larry Grantham took a block 20 yards at Fenway Park. In ’68 Mark Smolinski had a 3-yard BPR vs. the home-team Patriots at, of all places, Legion Field in Birmingham, Ala. Then came the Gillette era: David Bowens’ snuff-and-scoop against Hanson in 2007 and Eric Smith’s block and Brad Smith’s return Sunday.
Record Book Entries (Patriots)
Just to make it official, Wes Welker’s 15 catches were the most by an opponent in Jets franchise history. He eclipsed Ozzie Newsome’s 14-catch game at Cleveland in 1984 and 13-catch games by the Oilers’ Haywood Jeffires, the Bills’ Thurman Thomas and the Colts’ Lydell Mitchell.
Welker, with his 192 receiving yards and 11 more on an end-around, had 203 offensive yards to become the first opponent to gain 200 yards from scrimmage against the Jets since Ronnie Brown gained 211 in 2007. And he was the first opponent to gain 200 yards with more receiving than rushing yards since Dolphins WR Mark Duper had 217 yards, all receiving, at Miami in 1985.
Finally, Leigh Bodden was the eighth Jets opponent since 1970 to come up with three interceptions in a game, but the first to do it since Dolphins CB William Judson in 1983. Most prominent on that list is Dolphins LB A.J. Duhe in the 1982 AFC Championship Game. Not on the list is Broncos DB Willie Brown, who had an NFL-record-tying four INTs of Dick Wood in Denver in 1964.
The Rest of the Week
We’ll have our usual full Wednesday of coverage on newyorkjets.com tomorrow as the Jets open their practice week for the Panthers on Sunday. There is no media availability on Thanksgiving Day, but Kyle Richardson will have a story on how the Jets are recognizing the holiday, topped by Mike DeVito and Robert Turner’s visit today to the Interfaith Food Pantry’s turkey distribution in Morristown. And on Friday we’ll have a visit with Darrelle Revis ahead of his matchup with the Panthers’ Steve Smith and a shortened Coordinators Corner.
Tags: Brad Smith, Chris Johnson, David Bowens, Eric Smith, Larry Grantham, New England Patriots, Tennessee Titans, Thomas Jones, Wes Welker
Posted in Randy Lange | 51 Comments »
The Jets’ special teams were the difference in the 24-17 victory over the Tennessee Titans and their contributions did not go unnoticed by linebacker Bart Scott this afternoon. The 28-year-old Scott might be an ascending star now, but he didn’t start an NFL game until his fourth NFL season.
“I knew if I didn’t get out of it before my fourth year, then I would be pretty much labeled as a special teams player for the rest of my career,” Scott said on the latest installment of “Barking with Bart.”
“I said, ‘You know what? When I go to camp, I’m just going to start knocking people out and either they’re going to cut me or they’re going to say, "You know what? Let’s play him." I’m going to take every day, every practice like a game and I’m going to wear people out, and I’m going to make people not want to practice against me.’ "
Eventually the Ravens gave the “Madbacker” a defensive package, and then his football career changed in Chicago on Oct. 23, 2005.
“My opportunity came in the way of Ray Lewis pulling his hamstring Game 6 against Thomas Jones and the Chicago Bears," he said. "My first start was against the Pittsburgh Steelers and all I did in 10 games was put up 120 tackles and five sacks. I was hungry, and when you’re hungry, you either eat or starve.”
And in his 52nd pro game, Scott made his first start count with nine tackles, including six solo stops. He became a fixture in the Ravens’ lineup until he left for the Jets in February. His message to young players, like the Jamaal Westermans of the world, is to continue to grind while maintaining a positive attitude.
“Keep plugging away because at some point football always gives you one chance,” he said. “And if you’re too busy complaining or upset where you are when that opportunity comes, you can’t take advantage of it.”
After starting three years at Southern Illinois, Scott’s name wasn’t called during the 2002 draft and the Ravens signed him on April 25 that year.
“I like to say that I was drafted on Monday. The draft was on Saturday and Sunday, and I was an 18th-round draft pick unofficially of the Baltimore Ravens,” he said. “But I don’t know if I was drafted that I would be standing here. It created a hunger in me and I always play with a little chip on my shoulder.”
We’ve seen that “little chip” early and often as the Jets have started the season 3-0 for just the fourth time in franchise history. Scott’s a bona fide tone setter, a player who makes his presence known to his opponent early.
On the second play of the season, he flattened Texas QB Matt Schaub. Then last weekend he put Tom Brady on his back to end a drive and let the future Hall of Famer know he was in for a long day. And Sunday he stuffed Chris Johnson for a 2-yard loss as Tennessee got off to an ominous offensive start.
In a smashmouth affair against the Titans, Scott was at his best as he paced the “D” with nine tackles (five solos), one stop behind the line and one QB hit. Scott, who’s totaled four tackles for loss and seven QB hits in September, is becoming a headliner in New York.
“There were a lot of shadows over there [in Baltimore] overshadowing me, who already had their name. If you don’t come in as a drafted player, you don’t get the spotlight where people know,” he said. “A lot of people doubted why the Jets brought me here, but Rex Ryan knew what I had done and knew what my role was and knew that I could expand my role if asked to. I played my role as pretty much a fullback for Ray Lewis and picked up blockers for him so he could be successful.”
A key Jets cog, Scott is a passionate soul. Football is a violent game and he lives for the collision. The Jets’ next test is in New Orleans as they’ll face a 3-0 Saints team led by Drew Brees that’s averaging 40 points a game.
“He knows his offense inside and out. He’s able to read coverages on a dime,” said Scott. “And even though he’s short [6’0”], you don’t see a lot of his balls being batted down because he knows hot to move inside the pocket and buy time with his feet. He’s pretty much like Sanchez, but he has a stronger arm, I believe. It’s going to be a tremendous challenge and he’s poised — been there, done that.”
“Barking with Bart,” which airs weekly on Jets TV, will be available to fans on most Tuesdays throughout the regular season and the program will also always be available from our archive.
The Jets have set up an email address — email@example.com — for people to submit their charitable causes and Bart selected his first weekly winner in this week’s episode.
All charitable requests must include the following information: 501(c)3 Tax ID Number, a sampling of programs, and what one would do with a small grant from Bart Scott.
Encouraging fan barks as well, the Jets have an email address — firstname.lastname@example.org — so fans can write in to No. 57 and selected comments and questions will be read on-air.
Tags: Barking with Bart, Bart Scott, Chris Johnson, Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints, Tennessee Titans
Posted in Eric Allen | 32 Comments »
Today is the game in which you can’t tell the teams without a scorecard.
The Jets are wearing their Titans of New York throwback uniforms, the navy jerseys and gold pants in which they’ve posted three consecutive victories. And the Tennessee Titans will be wearing their throwback Houston Oilers white road uniforms with the powder blue piping and helmets.
It’s all a part of the NFL’s ongoing AFL 50th Anniversary celebration. And the Jets would love to put a once-in-a-half-century hurtin’ on the Titans to improve to 3-0, send Tennessee, and continue into next week’s Big Easy showdown at New Orleans with a head of steam.
To do that, the Jets will have to slow down the Titans offense, led by RB Chris Johnson. And perhaps Mother Nature has helped in that regard. It’s still raining at the Meadowlands, has been since about 9 o’clock Saturday night. Randy’s radar (as opposed to Randy’s Radar) is indicating the rain could end sometime in the first half.
The FieldTurf here drains well, of course, but it can’t be close to the home track that enabled Johnson to erupt for 197 rushing yards, 284 yards from scrimmage and three touchdowns in the three-point loss to the Texans.
The Jets will also have to contain the visitors’ offense, QB’d by Kerry Collins, without the services of starting CB Lito Sheppard (quad) and nickelback Donald Strickland (ankle). The two have been deactivated today, which means that head coach Rex Ryan, coordinator and the defense shifts to Plan PD, which will have Dwight Lowery, one of the supporting stars of the win over New England, starting for Sheppard and Drew Coleman coming in on the nickel for Strickland.
Here is the Jets’ full inactive list: QB Kevin O’Connell, Sheppard and Strickland, LB Jamaal Westerman, G Matt Slauson, DE Ropati Pitoitua and WR David Clowney. Erik Ainge returns to his season-opener role as the Jets’ designated third QB.
And here is the Titans’ IA list: P Craig Hentrich, LB Stanford Keglar, OL Troy Kropog, TE Bo Scaife (limited at practice on Thursday and Friday), WR Lavelle Hawkins, DT Sen’Derrick Marks and former Jets DE Dave Ball. For the Tennessee offense, Leroy Harris will start for injured Eugene Amano at LG and Alge Crumpler will start for Scaife at TE.
The Jets’ captains have also been designated for this game. Coming out for the opening coin toss will be RB Thomas Jones, S Jim Leonhard, Ainge and LB Ryan Fowler, who played in 30 games with 17 starts in 2007-08 for the Titans.
Presiding over that coin toss is Mike Carey, refereeing his 15th Jets game since he became an NFL ref in 1995. His first Jets game as referee was the 1995 loss at Carolina — the Bubby Brister "Shovel Pass Game," when the Jets went up against then-rookie starting QB Kerry Collins — and his most recent Jets game was last year’s win at Miami in Brett Favre’s only season opener as the Jets’ QB.
Will the fans be cheering at the Meadowlands today as they did in last week’s 16-9 triumph over the Patriots? The weather is likely to produce a few more empty seats, and the Titans aren’t the Pats. But perhaps today’s hardy bunch of spectators will surprise and make a significant contribution to a second home victory for Ryans’ Jets this season. We’ll know beginning in about an hour.
As usual, Eric Allen will be moderating our CoveritLive chat on newyorkjets.com beginning shortly before kickoff. I’ll be providing tweets on the chat and on the Jets’ Twitter page throughout the game. And EA, Kyle Richardson and I will be reporting on the game from the Jets’ locker room in the hours after the game.
Tags: Chris Johnson, Donald Strickland, Drew Coleman, Dwight Lowery, Kerry Collins, Lito Sheppard, Rex Ryan, Tennessee Titans
Posted in Randy Lange | 16 Comments »
A last Radar entry on the NFL Scouting Combine, not from the Indianapolis Convention Center because I’m back in New York now, having caught my flight back to JFK. It’s on just a few people I ran into during my four days in the shadow of the RCA Dome.
One was Neil O’Donnell, the longtime Jets, Pittsburgh and Tennessee QB. The last time I talked to him a few years ago, he was entrenched doing reporting on the Titans and other local sports topics for a Nashville TV station, plus getting the occasional NFL game assignment on Westwood One’s backup radio team.
O’Donnell was doing really well, from everything I heard and saw, in his career after football, so I was surprised to hear Friday that he is now a salesman — of FieldTurf.
"I got out of that last season," Neil told me. "I learned a lot in television. I never thought coming out of Maryland with an economics degree that years later I’d be editing my own reports for a TV station."
But, he said, the job was time-consuming, eating up his nights and weekends. He has two boys and a girl, ages 11, 8 and 5, and he wanted to watch them play football, cheerlead and do whatever other activities they’ll do as they grow up.
"Now I’m selling FieldTurf out of Nashville, and I’m also back in New Jersey for part of the year," said the former Madison HS star. "And I have a program that involves local players giving back to their high schools by arranging for the schools to get turf for their fields. It’s a win-win situation for the schools and the players. And I get more fulfillment now watching a high school player run out on a FieldTurf field."
I always liked Neil, and I thought when the Jets acquired him in 1996 that he would be the veteran free agent answer at QB. I had stood on the Three Rivers field the year before and watched him hit some sensational passes in the Steelers’ 20-16 AFC title win over the Colts to lift them into the Super Bowl. I think he still has the lowest interception rate in NFL history (although his rate of 2.106 percent is being challenged by Donovan McNabb’s 2.117 after this past season).
Things didn’t go smoothly with the Jets and he moved on to start one season for the Bengals before becoming a strong backup for Steve McNair on the Titans from 1999-2003. All things considered, he was a solid pro QB and a TV reporter and I expect he’ll excel in the synthetic turf field as well.
When I spotted O’Donnell in Indy, he was talking to Art Weiss, who devoted Green & White fans know was and is Wayne Chrebet’s agent. One of the great parts of my gig as editor-in-chief of newyorkjets.com the past year has been not having to deal with player agents anymore, but Art was the exception to that rule and it was good to see him as he made his annual rounds at the combine.
I also heard that Otis Smith was in attendance, although I didn’t see him myself and I don’t know what he’s doing since retiring as a well-traveled professional cornerback for several teams, among them the Jets. This past season Jets head coach Eric Mangini remarked when he worked with Smith on the Patriots, he was one of the best there was at putting the play that just happened behind him and focusing on the next play, an absolutely essential trait for any NFL corner.
And on my way to dinner in downtown Indy, I ran into another former Jets figure on the street. Ted Cottrell, the Jets’ defensive coordinator from 2001-03, was looking good and his laugh sounded just as big and joyful as always. It’s not odd that Ted was at the combine — he was wearing his Chargers jacket, after all, since he became San Diego’s DC last season and was part of the season-long effort of the ‘Bolts overcoming their 1-3 start to make it all the way to the AFC Championship Game before coming up short, 21-12, against the Patriots.
After all the renewal of acquaintances, I had my last good meal at Harry & Izzy’s, the retro-style, upscale restaurant owned by Peyton Manning. Peyton wasn’t there, although our server, the intriguingly named Kemrie, said he does occasionally show up and mingle with the customers at the circular bar.
I enjoyed the famous St. Elmo shrimp cocktail, famous because it was developed at the nearby steakhouse of the same name and uses such incredibly hot horseradish that even I couldn’t eat it without a few coughs, and followed that with an excellent veal chop in a lemon caper sauce, thus helping the older Manning’s bank account a little more.
Now I’m back from my flight from Indy and contemplating the exciting weeks ahead. We’ll continue to cover the Jets and the upcoming free agency signing period and the draft, both with reports from Eric Allen and myself and with contributions from Real Football Services. Thanks to all of you who checked us out for the last four days deep in the heart of Indiana.
A Fast Blast from the Combine
Chris Johnson, the RB from East Carolina, did an eye-popping 4.24 seconds in the 40-yard dash today, topping the more widely known Darren McFadden’s 4.33 by almost a tenth of a second. The wideouts run separately and Desean Jackson of Cal was the fastest there but his 4.35 didn’t catch either Johnson or McFadden.
Since 2000, according to NFLDraftScout.com, the previous fastest 40 was by WR Jerome Mathis of Hampton in 2005 at 4.28 and the fastest running back was Justin Fargas of Southern Cal in 2003 at 4.35 (followed by one-time Jet Derrick Blaylock’s 4.36).
Not surprisingly, Johnson also had the best time in the 20 (2.41 to WR Devin Thomas’ 2.52) and the 10 (1.40).
Tags: Chris Johnson, Darren McFadden, Neil O\'Donnell, NFL Scouting Combine, Otis Smith
Posted in Randy Lange | 39 Comments »