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Two-Minute Drill: First Quarter of the Schedule

Posted by Randy Lange on May 29, 2013 – 9:40 am

It’s never too soon to start prepping for the arrival of the 2013 schedule. In a  biweekly series on into July, I’ll post some blogs capturing some bullet points for each game on the slate, by quarters of the season. Today we review the First Quarter (a.k.a. Games 1-4):

Game 1 — vs. TAMPA BAY, MetLife Stadium, Sunday, Sept. 8, 1 p.m.

■ Jets will be going up vs. remade TB secondary featuring Darrelle Revis, their former Pro Bowl CB, S Dashon Goldson (from SF), and top draft pick CB Jonathan Banks.

■ Jets opened their season once before vs. Buccaneers — at home in the Meadowlands in ’91, 16-13 win secured with Pat Leahy 40-yd FG with 1:22 to play.

■ Jets are 9-1 overall and 6-0 at home all-time vs. TB. Six home wins are the most without a loss for the NYJ vs. any NFL opponent.

■ Green & White’s last home game vs. Bucs: 2005, when QB Vinny Testaverde “climbed off his couch” to start his first Jets game in two years, lead 14-12 win.

Game 2 — @ NEW ENGLAND, Gillette Stadium, Thursday, Sept. 12, 8:25 p.m.

■ Is this the best time to get the Patriots? NE is 8-5 in September since ’09, 1-3 in Game 2’s (and 0-2 vs. Jets) since ’09.

■ Patriots are 10-1 in home openers since ’02. But that one loss came last year, by 20-18 to Arizona — in Game 2.

■ Third time in franchise history Jets will play Game 2 on three days’ rest (1984, Thurs night loss to PIT; 1986, Thurs night loss to NE).

■ 10th time in last 15 seasons Jets will play NE in first two weeks of season, but first time in the first two weeks since 2010.

Game 3 — vs. BUFFALO, MetLife Stadium, Sunday, Sept. 22, 4:25 p.m.

■ Jets will want to welcome new BUF coach Doug Marrone, their OL coach from 2002-05, into the big leagues with a rousing home win over their longtime AFL rivals.

■ Jets lead this series at home, 27-25, after taking four of the last five, including last year’s season-opening 48-28 shootout at MetLife Stadium.

■ Which QB will Green & White face? They’ve never played vs. Kevin Kolb or first-round rookie EJ Manuel, faced Tarvaris Jackson in relief only once in ’06 win @ MIN.

■ C.J. Spiller had 56-yard TD run, 49-yd run in opener, 66-yd TD reception in finale vs. Jets. First Jets opponent with three 40-plus plays in a season since Chiefs WR Carlos Carson (2 games in ’88).

Game 4 — @ TENNESSEE, LP Field, Sunday, Sept. 29, 4:05 p.m.

■ RB Chris Johnson had unusual game vs. Jets last year: 10 yds in his first 7 carries, 18 yds in his last 13 carries, 94-yd TD burst on his 8th carry that helped TEN post 14-10 win.

■ Titans who’ll be familiar to Jets: RB Shonn Greene, four-year Jets back now backing up Johnson, plus DE Ropati Pitoitua, S Tracy Wilson, and ex-Bills QB Ryan Fitzpatrick.

■ Despite last year’s loss, Jets have fared well recently against AFC South, winning 9 of last 13 beginning with ’08 road win at TEN.

■ Jets have lost 16 of 22 on the road in this series, but have won 3 of last 5 on road since Titans moved to Tennessee, including ’98 at Vanderbilt, ’06 in season opener, ’08 when Titans were 10-0.


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Promising Exacta Ticket at the Top of This Draft

Posted by Randy Lange on April 23, 2013 – 4:20 pm

Nine-and-13. If that refers to a major league team’s record after 22 games, it’ll put you off the early pace of the division leader. If the subject is a horse owner’s Derby post positions or a race team’s Indy post position, you’d probably like better.

But positions in the NFL Draft? Now we’re talking.

That’s just what the Jets have at the moment in Thursday night’s first round of the draft at Radio City Music Hall. Their own pick at No. 9 and the No. 13 they acquired from Tampa Bay in the Darrelle Revis trade give them a prized position among the 32 teams, most of which will be spending one pick in Round 1 and none of which have two picks in the top 13 as the Jets do.

We mentioned the other day that the Jets have had that distinction, spending two picks in the top 13 in one draft, just once before since the start of the common draft in 1967. That was 2000, the draft of the “Four Aces,” when DE Shaun Ellis was tabbed 12th and DE John Abraham 13th (ahead of QB Chad Pennington at 18th and TE Anthony Becht at 27th).

But what is the track record of the entire league with two picks in the top 13 of a given draft? There aren’t a lot of examples, but generally those teams that do spend two such high picks fare fairly well in the coming season.

Interesting enough, the last NFL team with this distinction was … those same Jets in 2000 (with an asterisk). In the past 12 drafts, no team wound up using those two picks once it came time to push the chips forward in Round 1.

The asterisk I refer to above is that the Jets weren’t alone in that ’00 selection meeting with two high picks. The Redskins, you may remember, held Nos. 2 and 3 and went for LB LaVar Arrington and T Chris Samuels. Then the Ravens (with a younger Rex Ryan on that coaching staff) spent Nos. 5 and 10 on two offensive players, RB Jamal Lewis and WR Travis Taylor, who weren’t nickel-and-dimers.

Since 1990, that two-in-the-top-13 situation came up 10 times. And a trivia note about those 10 teams is that in the season after they spent those picks, they posted an average improvement in their previous season’s record of 2.5 wins. Eight of the 10 improved their previous record, four made the playoffs (Atlanta ’91, Dallas ’91, Miami ’92 and Baltimore ’00), and the ’92 Colts in part used their 1-2 punch of top pick Steve Emtman and LB Quentin Coryatt to improve eight games, from 1-15 to 9-7.

Splitting the 9 from the 13 for the moment, Since 1990, players selected at No. 9 (… No. 9 … No. 9 … ) have fared pretty well. Not every nine was a winner, but T Richmond Webb (Miami, ’90), RB Fred Taylor (Jacksonville, ’98), LB Brian Urlacher (Chicago, ’00), DT Kevin Williams (Minnesota, ’03) and RB C.J. Spiller (Buffalo, ’10) are among the best.

As for players who were plucked at lucky 13, there are TE Tony Gonzalez (Kansas City, ’97), LB Takeo Spikes (Cincinnati, ’98), John Abraham by the Jets in ’00, WR Lee Evans (Buffalo, ’04), and LB Brian Orakpo (Washington, ’09).

Clearly, this is no guarantee that the Jets will hit a two-run homer with both their picks or improve anywhere from 2.5 to eight wins over last year’s 6-10 mark. And if they trade one of those picks and move out of the top 13, then all of this trivia is for naught.

But the Jets have a good, experienced college draft team now led by long-time scout Jeff Bauer, and a new man at the top in GM John Idzik who has said that this draft and every draft will be a lifeline to how the team does in the season(s) ahead. And their 9-13 exacta could be just the ticket for the next favorable development on the road to the 2013 season.


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Rex Repeats: QB Play Has to Get a Lot Better

Posted by Randy Lange on March 22, 2013 – 5:21 pm

Rex Ryan, fresh from the owners’ meetings in Arizona and a few pro days and perhaps en route to some NCAA Tournament watching this weekend, made a radio stop with Michael Kay and Don La Greca on Mike’s show on ESPN New York 98.7 this afternoon.

And Rex wasn’t about to be pinned by the Kay-La Greca tag team. The Jets head coach declined to discuss any Darrelle Revis speculation or to entertain notions that he’s coaching for his job in 2013.

The best of his take on Revis: “I’m on board with any Jet decision, any decision that’s in the best interests of the New York Jets. I’ve always been on board with it. Any decision we think as an organization is the best move for the organization, I will be behind it 100 percent, regardless of what that move is. And that’s not saying any specifics about this player or that player.”

And his best take on his quarterbacks wasn’t terribly new but was a further firming up of the competitive nature of the beast at every spot on this John Idzik/Ryan creation. It came when he was asked if he knew who his opening-day QB will be.

“No I don’t. It’s going to be a position where we’re bringing in competition,” he said. “That old thing about competition making the best of us all, I think that’ll be true. I don’t think there’s a clear-cut favorite in my opinion. I just think it’s going to be competition from day one.”

Does this hint at a loss of confidence in Mark Sanchez?

“I haven’t lost confidence in Mark, but I do know this: The play at quarterback has to get a lot better, there’s no doubt,” Ryan said. “Whether it’s Mark or somebody else, we know we have to improve in that area. I guess we can file that in the ‘no kidding’ category, but that’s it — it has to get better. I believe Mark will play a lot better. But I also believe there’s going to be some stiffer competition than maybe there’s been in the past here.”

Rex had a few bullet-point opinions on some of the newest Jets. On G Willie Colon: “He’s a huge person, a guy that can knock people off the ball, a mauler, very physical.”

And the thing he liked about RB Mike Goodson besides his explosiveness and speed was that “He was targeted 16 times last year in the [Oakland] passing game and caught all 16. That’ll give you an idea how effective he is out of the backfield.”

That’s a statistic that’s worth expanding on just a little. True enough, Goodson was 16-for-16 for the Raiders, according to Stats Inc., not a lot of passes but nice production with what he got, especially considering his 12.2 yards per catch on those 16 balls.

For his career with the Panthers and Raiders, Goodson caught 59 of the 78 passes thrown his way (75.6%) for a solid 8.9-yard average and a 10.4-yard average after the catch.

It’s certainly not a fair comparison, one player’s four-year career vs. a number of backs’ one season in the same offense, but the Jets’ backs last year unofficially had 80 balls targeted for them and caught 44 (55%) for an average of 7.8 yards per catch and 6.6 YAC.

Of course, those numbers won’t mean much once the Jets take the field in the coming months. This team figures to be vastly different than any of Ryan’s four previous teams. We’ll be pointing out the positives as we are wont to do, but there will be many negatives and bumps in the road as the Jets get themselves back on track.

Yet if that’s the hand you’re being dealt, don’t grumble about it and blame the football gods. Play it the best way you know how. And that’s what Ryan appears to be gearing up himself and his team to be doing soon. That came through in his answer to Kay’s question about his possible lame-duck status heading into ’13.

“I totally disagree with that,” Rex said agreeably. “I believe we’re going to have a football team that’s going to play a certain brand of football that I don’t think we’ve played yet. I think there’s much more for our players to give and I think we’re going to get it out of them.

“We’re going to be committed to that style of football, and quite honestly to playing that style of football that can make our fans proud. We understand that. It was a rough season on the fans as well as on our team. They deserve better than that, and I think we’re going to give it to them.”

Next week we’ll begin to crank up our annual draft preview here on newyorkjets.com with position-by-position previews by reporter John Holt and myself, a piece on the Jets quarterbacks on the roster and perhaps available in this draft from the independent personnel analysts at Real Football Services, and blogs from Eric Allen and myself. For now, enjoy the free agency, the NCAA hoops, and the rest of this weekend.


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Idzik, Ryan Speak on Revis, QBs, Competition

Posted by Randy Lange on February 21, 2013 – 5:23 pm

Updated 6:19 p.m. ET

In theory the NFL Combine is a place to talk with, talk about, time, measure and analyze the draft-eligible college players heading into the draft two months down the road.

In reality, John Idzik and Rex Ryan held an impromptu Darrelle Revis news conference when they spoke with reporters at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis this afternoon.

The new general manager and the fifth-year head coach had the same bumper sticker for the media, fans and the NFL: WE ♥ REVIS ISLAND.

“Darrelle Revis is obviously a great football player, a great New York Jet and a tremendous asset to our team,” said Idzik at the podium shortly after 4 p.m. ET. “I don’t know that anything has really changed. We’ve always wanted Darrelle as part of our team. That has not changed.”

Idzik declined several times to respond to questions about Revis rumors, contract matters or trade terms. But, he stressed, “In respect to Darrelle, our focus is to aid him any way we can in his rehabilitation so he can return to the player we all know he is.”

Ryan followed Idzik to the microphone — each talked for about 16 minutes — and recounted a phone conversation he had with Revis, who’s rehabbing the knee injury that ended his season in Game 3 at Miami, about trade rumors that surfaced the day before Idzik held his introductory news conference at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center.

“I told him it’s not accurate,” Ryan said. “If he’s going to be involved in a trade, I think he and his agents would know about it, as would the GM and myself. There’s no validity to it. I don’t know where that gets drummed up. … I provided him the answer that I know to be true, which is that was not accurate.”

It was certainly likely that the game of Twit-for-Tat between Revis and Seahawks CB Richard Sherman the past day or so would be posed in the form of a question to Ryan. Rex declined to get into the middle of that Twitter war while still strongly supporting his former All-Pro corner.

“I will say this: Obviously the guy [Sherman]‘s a heck of a football player. I don’t know him well enough to compare him to Darrelle Revis,” Ryan said. “But if you’re putting yourself in that company, that’s the company you want to be in, that’s for sure.”

The two-fer news conferences were about more than Revis. Both Jets officials were asked about their quarterbacks, specifically Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow.

Idzik had a new turn of phrase to describe the way the teamwide 2013 depth chart will shake out.

“I don’t think you isolate it to any one or a few positions. We’re going to have a general mantra here with the New York Jets and it’s going to be ‘Competition Through and Through,’ ” he said. “That’s going to be true this year as we enter free agency, it’s going to be true as we go into the draft, it’s going to be true as we come out of the draft, it’s going to be true as we go into training camp and into the regular season. And if we have success and we win a championship, it’ll be true after we win a championship.

“I think everyone, Mark included, recognizes that he, our offense — shoot, our team as a whole — has to perform better than we did in 2012. And we’re going to do that. We’re going to do everything to increase the competition so that he plays better. We’ve got a new offensive coordinator, we have a new quarterback coach, we have staff changes that I think will be healthy for Mark and so that we can again get the juices flowing and turn the page into 2013, not look back to 2012, start anew and get rolling.”

“We’re bringing in competition at every position, not just the quarterback position,” Ryan said. “That’s what we want to do here. To say Mark Sanchez, this quarterback, that quarterback — clearly there’s going to be competition at that position.”

Tebow’s situation arose only late during Ryan’s time at the mike.

“Tim’s under contract to be a New York Jet,” the head coach said, “and we’ll see how things go in the offseason.”

We’re expediting the processing of transcripts of both Idzik’s and Ryan’s remarks today and they’ll be up on newyorkjets.com shortly.

Draft Order Update

The NFL has released its tentative round-by-round order for the 2013 draft. The order is tentative because it doesn’t include compensatory picks, which will be awarded at the bottom of Rounds 3-7 and announced next month. So the Jets’ first three picks are fixed and the positions of Rounds 4-7 will change depend on how many compensatories are inserted at the end of each prior round. Here are the Jets’ picks at the moment:

Round 1 — 9th in the round, 9th overall

Round 2 — 8th in the round, 39th overall

Round 3 — 10th in the round, 72nd overall

Round 4 — 9th in the round (103rd-plus overall)

Round 5 — 8th in the round (134th-plus overall)

Round 6 — 10th in the round (168th-plus overall)

Round 7 — 9th in the round (199th-plus overall)


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Hill’s Rookie Roller-Coaster Lands Him on IR

Posted by Randy Lange on December 19, 2012 – 8:17 pm

It’s been a roller-coaster season of learning for second-round rookie WR Stephen Hill. Just a few weeks ago he talked about what he had planned for the last month of his first pro season.

“I just want to finish this season as hard as I can,” said the tall, fast, earnest young man from Georgia Tech. “I know a little more about what it takes to be great, or greater. I’m going to take that from today and try to build on that every day from today on into the offseason.”

Today Hill learned that he would be spending the final two weeks of the regular season on injured reserve with his knee injury.

The 6’4″, 215-pounder began the season with incredible promise, becoming the first Jet ever to debut with two touchdown catches in his first game in green and white against the Bills on opening day.

But those five catches for 89 yards and two TDs would be the high point of his inaugural season in the play-for-pay league. He had four receptions for 55 yards at New England and 5-for-40 in the 7-6 win over Arizona. But he also had several drops, two in the end zone and one late at Gillette Field that, had he caught it, likely would have iced an upset win over the Patriots.

He fought his way through calf, hamstring and ankle injuries and illness to post 21 catches for 252 yards (12.0 avg.) and three TDs. His last contribution to the cause came on the play on which he reinjured his knee, when he was pulled down by CB Derek Cox to draw a 14-yard pass interference penalty in the second quarter at Jacksonville.

Hill left EverBank Field that day limping only slightly and with an electro-stim device connected to his knee, smiling and talking optimistically about getting back quickly from this latest physical setback. But the progress had been slow, with head coach Rex Ryan saying this morning that Hill wouldn’t practice today at the Atlantic Health Training Center and adding that “He’s not going to be able to go” on Sunday against San Diego.

With the arrival off waivers last week of WR Braylon Edwards, his contribution on a week’s work at Tennessee, and the good condition of his sore hamstring, the Jets decided late today to place Hill on IR. Taking his place on the active roster is CB Donnie Fletcher, signed for the second time this season off the Jets’ practice squad.

Hill becomes the eighth player to go on IR in this painful Jets season, following CB Darrelle Revis, WR Santonio Holmes, LB Josh Mauga, CB Isaiah Trufant, TE Dedrick Epps, FB-TE Josh Baker and CB Royce Adams.

Wednesday Injury Reports

Going on IR, Hill is no longer on the Jets’ I-report, but 20 players were listed today for the Chargers game.

Four players did not practice. Ryan said of the availability of TE Dustin Keller (ankle) for Sunday, “I’m not real sure. I’ll lean on the trainers for that.” G Brandon Moore (hip/foot) is a DNP because “off a short week, I think we’re just giving him a day, pretty much.” WR Chaz Schilens (knee/calf) “did finish the game, so we’ll see about him.” And Ryan said he’s “concerned” with CB Aaron Berry (hamstring).

The Jets’ five limited players are all working through previous injuries: WR Braylon Edwards (hamstring), S LaRon Landry (heel), DT Sione Po‘uha (low back), LB Ricky Sapp (ankle) and LB Bryan Thomas (chest). The other 11 players were all full-go today.

The Chargers listed eight players: Did Not Practice — DT Aubrayo Franklin (knee), LB Takeo Spikes (hamstring). Limited — RB Ronnie Brown (hamstring), LB Donald Butler (groin), LB Demorrio Williams (ankle). Full — T Jeromey Clary (knee), G Tyronne Green (hamstring), WR Eddie Royal (hamstring).


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Inevitability on the Island: Revis Goes to IR

Posted by Randy Lange on October 12, 2012 – 3:58 pm

Updated, 6:20 p.m. ET

Head coach Rex Ryan said he was hoping against hope but that the more medical news that came in, the less hope there was.

So this afternoon Ryan announced that CB Darrelle Revis will be placed on injured reserve, officially ending his season.

“I know I had said before that I’d like to wait for Darrelle to have surgery,” Ryan said at his afternoon news conference at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. “Unfortunately, really with our time situation and Eric Smith being out this week, we’re going to need that roster spot.

“And when I said there was a point-zero-zero-two chance, it’s not that high. In the best interests of the organization and Darrelle, we’ll place him on IR. He won’t be designated for return. And that will be it. I was holding out hope, but the more information we got, the more you realized it wouldn’t be good for Darrelle either.”

Ryan said Revis will undergo surgery on his torn ACL on Thursday, Oct. 18. He also reported that WR Santonio Holmes (foot) and LB Josh Mauga (pectoral) have already undergone surgery for their injuries. Holmes’ Lisfranc injury occurred against San Francisco and Mauga’s came Monday night vs. Houston.

“We’re anticipating and assuming, really, that these guys will be full-go when we come back in the offseason,” the coach said.

The Jets also announced tonight that they are filling Revis’ roster spot by signing S Antonio Allen, their seventh-round pick out of South Carolina, from the practice squad. Due to Smith’s injury Allen could be in uniform Sunday. With Stephen Hill’s potential return to action, it’s possible five of the eight members of the Jets’ 2012 draft class could see action vs. the Colts.

Hill Will “Try to Make a Big Difference”

Newyorkjets.com reporter John Holt reports from the Jets locker room this afternoon on rookie Stephen Hill:

It’s been a little over a month now since rookie wide receiver Stephen Hill broke onto the NFL scene.

The 6”4’, 215-pounder has missed the last two games rehabbing from a hamstring injury that he suffered during the Jets’ 23-20 overtime win against Miami back on Sept. 23.

“It’s been hard,” Hill said this afternoon after practice, “but the guys in here have been keeping me grounded and making sure I get back out there as quickly as possible.”

It appears that No. 84 will make his return Sunday when the Jets host No. 1 draft pick Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts at MetLife Stadium. The Colts hold a 2-2 record and are coming off an impressive 30-27 win over Green Bay.   

“I feel pretty good,” Hill said. “I’m just looking forward to Sunday.”

After catching five passes for 89 yards and scoring two touchdowns in his NFL debut, Hill was held without a reception in his next two games.

While sidelined, one of his biggest mentors, WR Santonio Holmes, suffered a season-ending foot injury. Hill, the Green & White’s second-round draft selection, understands that although he still is a rookie, he will be expected to step up moving forward.

“I’m going to try and make a big difference, as much as I can, any plays that I’m in,” he said. “But other than that, we’ve been doing a great job. We just have to get that connection. Once we get that connection, it’s going to be great.”   

Besides Hill, the Jets also expect to have tight end Dustin Keller back Sunday. Keller, who previously hadn’t missed a game or practice in his four-year career, has missed the past four games, also with a hamstring injury.

With both receiving options expected back, quarterback Mark Sanchez and the Jets offense should receive a significant boost.

“It’s frustrating,” Hill said, “especially as a guy that doesn’t do that, just sit on the sideline for an injury. But you know, I had to go through it and I hope it’s best for me, so I didn’t have to hurt anything.”

The Rest of the Injuries

Besides Hill, the Jets listed three other players as limited today: TE Dustin Keller (hamstring), C Nick Mangold (ankle) and LB Bryan Thomas (hamstring). Keller and Thomas are both probable to play vs. the Colts. As Keller said in one last visit with reporters today, “I would never guarantee anything, but I think I’m pretty much 100 percent.”

Mangold is listed as questionable with the ankle he injured early in the third quarter against Houston. Although he returned at the end of the third quarter and finished the game, he was held out of team drills all this week. But Ryan said today, “I definitely am hopeful he plays” against Indy.

Five players did not participate and all are listed as doubtful: FB John Conner (hamstring), DT Kenrick Ellis (knee), WR Clyde Gates (shoulder), DT Sione Po‘uha (back) and S Eric Smith (knee).

The Colts are listing six players as out for the Jets — LB Pat Angerer (foot), RB Donald Brown (knee), LB Robert Mathis (knee), DT Fili Moala (knee), G Joe Reitz (knee) and DT Martin Tevaseu (ankle) — and one player as doubtful — CB Vontae Davis (ankle). All but Angerer and Tevaseu, the former Jet, are starters.

Three Colts are probable for the game: LB Dwight Freeney (ankle), RB Mewelde Moore (ankle) and C Samson Satele (knee).

Cena Steps into the Ring Sunday

WWE Superstar John Cena will lead the Jets chant pregame and serve as an honorary team captain before Sunday’s game against the Colts at MetLife Stadium. WrestleMania XXIX will be coming to MetLife Stadium on April 7, 2013. Cena will be playing his new role six days after comedian Kevin James handled the chant duties at Monday night’s game against the Texans.


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Still Seeking Ways to Tap into Tebow Potential

Posted by Randy Lange on October 4, 2012 – 7:11 pm

Tim Tebow was happy to hear again today about his expert blocking on Sunday against the 49ers.

“They said I did well,” Tebow said with a laugh. “I got ‘em down, man, I got ;em down.”

Indeed he did. Perhaps it was the Jets coaches, or maybe the Fox broadcast team of Kenny Albert, Daryl Johnston and Tony Siragusa, that he was referring to as “they said.”

On his first play at fullback with 13½ minutes left in the second quarter, Tebow — in effect Mark Sanchez’s personal protector in the alignment — lined up right, went left and rolled through Niners LB Aldon Smith.

“Tim Tebow did a nice job,” Goose crowed as he watched the replay. “He throws a nice little block.”

“That’s real nice,” added Moose, who’d been around the block a few times in his career. “Getting Aldon Smith’s hands down … he’s going to catch some heat in the film room on Monday. ‘Is that a quarterback that took you down, Aldon?’ “

Tebow left the field for a play, then returned in a similar role, this time lining up to Sanchez’s left, going right at the snap, and picking up LB Ahmad Brooks.

“Now Aldon Smith’s got company,” Johnston said, “because he comes across the formation and gets Ahmad Brooks and gets his hands down.”

That’s a nice little sidebar underscoring Tebow’s personal philosophy of “I definitely want to help the team, whatever they ask me to do.” But something tells us this is not what reporters and fans have in mind when they ask questions and make statements this week about wanting to see No. 15 on the field more.

This week’s theme, of course, is about Mark Sanchez’s job security. Rex Ryan said as late as today’s news conference, “I think Mark is an excellent quarterback” and “I think it takes a special guy to be a quarterback in this city and I think Mark has that, even that charisma, to play in this city.” Sanchez continued to answer questions about his performances the past three games and his 49.2% completion rate.

And Tebow continued to deflect this week’s battery of questions to probe his psyche about his role(s) so far with the Jets.

Is it frustrating not to be playing much?

“No … yeah,” he began. A personal revelation about to come, perhaps? “Well, you get frustrated when you lose football games. Other than that, I’m just trying to work hard and get better. We’re 2-2. The season’s not over yet.”

And how about the latest “sources close to Tebow” who say, yes, this fine young man really isn’t happy with his jobs as punt-team personal protector, split end, tight end, now fullback, and infrequent Wildcat QB?

“I haven’t talked to anybody or said anything,” he said. “You all are the only ones I’ve talked to.”

Is he OK with being the backup because of the less pressure that comes with that gig?

 “That’s not how I view it at all,” he said, about as strong a rebuke as any report or reporter will get from TT.

About the strongest Tebow will get about playing time is a wish today that “we could’ve in the past few games broken out a few times and had some bigger plays, yeah.”

That is the sidebar to any QB controversy that may or may not be brewing. After the first quarter of Tebow’s first season with the Jets, the numbers have been tame. Broken down several ways:

When Tebow is on the field: 31 plays, 98 yards, 3.2-yard average, 4 first downs.

When Tebow is triggering the Wildcat: 18 plays, 57 yards, 3.2 average, 2 first downs.

When Tebow carries or throws the ball or has it thrown to him: 13 plays, 46 yards, 3.5 average, 2 first downs.

Nothing to write home about yet. But whether Ryan and OC Tony Sparano use him a lot or a little against Houston on Monday night, they still will draw from the Tebow well to get the Jets’ offense and team ready to ride.

“Tim likes the competitiveness of this group. He’s a competitive guy,” Ryan said. “I think when we talked to him about personal protector when we brought him in, this guy’s all for it. He’s not a guy, ‘I’m not going to do this, I only want to do this.’ He’s just the opposite. If I say right now we want you to line up and play defensive tackle, he’s like, ‘OK, let’s go.’ “

The one reserve that should and will be tapped now that the Jets are down two star players and heading into the teeth of their schedule is that competitiveness. Tebow was asked how the Broncos made it to the playoffs last year when they were 1-4 and he had yet to start his magical run as a starting QB.

“Believing. Believing in each other, showing signs of great things here and there, feeding off of that, then catching on to the momentum when it came,” he said. “The game when we play is so much about momentum, getting that momentum, believing in it, and when you have it, doing great things.”

A lot of times, he chuckled again, those plays didn’t come until the fourth quarter.

“But we were so close together as a team and then you just believe. Someone steps up to make a play and there’s the here-we-go-again-type attitude. That was our mindset.”

Injury Lists

Today’s first injury reports of the week show the Jets’ list growing even longer but at least this time the opponent has a list of its own that’s in the Green & White ballpark.

The Jets have 23 players on their list. CB Darrelle Revis (knee, out) still tops it. Six players did not participate in today’s practice: FB John Conner (hamstring), WR Stephen Hill (hamstring), TE Dustin Keller (hamstring), DT Sione Po’uha (back), LB Bart Scott (toe) and LB Bryan Thomas (hamstring).

Three more were limited: S LaRon Landry (heel), S Eric Smith (hip/knee) and just-signed CB Aaron Berry (ribs). Thirteen more were full-go, including three new listees: S/ST Josh Bush (shoulder), TE Jeff Cumberland (ribs) and WR/PR Jeremy Kerley (finger). You can find the Jets’ full list here.

For the Texans, three were DNPs at today’s practice in Houston: S Quintin Demps (thumb/forearm), WR Lestar Jean (knee) and RB Ben Tate (toe). Six were limited: G Antoine Caldwell (ankle/knee), DT Shaun Cody (back), TE Owen Daniels (thigh), WR Andre Johnson (groin), S Shiloh Keo (neck) and DE Antonio Smith (ankle). And six were full: LB Bryan Braman (hamstring/neck), LB Tim Dobbins (hamstring), RB Arian Foster (hamstring), LB Bradie James (thigh), C Chris Myers (back) and LB Jesse Nading (foot).

The final lists for the Monday night game plus the game status will be available Saturday afternoon.


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Ryan Not Yet Ready to Place Revis on IR

Posted by Randy Lange on September 28, 2012 – 2:55 pm

Updated 4:17 p.m. ET

The Jets all this week have listed Darrelle Revis as out of Sunday’s game against San Francisco, but they have not placed him on injured reserve yet. And head coach Rex Ryan said at his news conference this afternoon that the reason for that is not because the team hasn’t gotten around to it.

“I’ve talked to Darrelle and all that,” Ryan said of his All-Pro corner, who tore his left ACL at Miami last Sunday. “Let’s see what happens when he goes through surgery. Because if there’s that 0.0002 percent chance that he can play in a Super  Bowl or something, why would you take that option away from him?”

Ryan said there obviously is no intention of trying to rush Revis back from knee surgery in two or three weeks if he would be at risk on the field. And the coach said there hasn’t been anything in particular that has caused him, GM Mike Tannenbaum and the team’s medical and training staffs to think the injury might not be a season-ender.

“I think it’s a thing where let’s get through the surgery. You don’t have to make a snap decision, ‘Let’s just place him on IR, replace him with somebody,’ ” Rex said. “If you’re fortunate enough to get there, if he does well with the surgery, is healthy for that, is targeted for that, why wouldn’t you believe in  yourself enough to give yourself that opportunity.”

He said he’s not saying a Revis return this season could happen. But is he thinking about? “That’s probably true,” he said with his Rexian smile.

“I just know our trainers are confident that Darrelle’s going to come back from this injury at some point, they think he’s going to be 100 percent. Now when that time is, I don’t know. I feel great about that and we feel great about that, being Jets fans and in this organization. I think we’ll have a much better understanding to it after he has the surgery.”

Scoring Change No. 1

Revis hasn’t been seen around the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center during media periods this week, but there was a leather relic that was placed in his locker early on. A football rested in one of the locker’s cubicles, white athletic tape wrapped in a band around its middle.

On the band was written in marker: “#24 / Fumble Rec / 3rd Qtr / 9/23/12 / MIA.”

It was the ball that Revis pounced on for the fumble recovery at the Dolphins 26 with 14:08 left in the third frame, his last takeaway perhaps this season before he tore his ACL a little over 10 minutes of clock time later.

NFL equipment teams routinely rescue footballs during a game that have significance to the players who  scored with them, intercepted them or recovered them. Each ball gets wrapped in tape and the player’s number and details of the play are scrawled on it. Then the ball is left for the player, who passes it on to commemorative artists for special painting and printing. The ball comes back ready for the player’s trophy case or mantel.

Perhaps it’s no more poignant, but a scoring change involving that very football was made this week by the Elias Sports Bureau. That play was originally scored by the Dolphins stat crew as a fumble by RB Daniel Thomas, recovered by Revis but forced by Kenrick Ellis. From one angle, it did appear that Ellis performed the strip. From another, it looked as if Revis ripped the ball out of Thomas’ grasp. No replay angles gave a really clear view of who forced the fumble.

After further review and consultation, Elias ruled that Revis should get the force along with the recovery. Recoveries are official statistics, forces are not, but all are duly noted by Elias, the NFL and other statistical purveyors. It’s the third forced fumble of Revis’ career and his first since 2008, while the opponents’ recovery was the fifth of his career.

Scoring Change No. 2

Another scoring change from the Dolphins game was the 5-yard loss that Tim Tebow absorbed on his third-quarter Wildcat play from the Miami 2. It was scored as a running play but was changed to a sack because it was determined that Tebow was intending to throw to Jeff Cumberland, who was covered in the end zone. So it was a pass play, and because the passer was tackled behind the line, it became a sack.

That change ripples through the Jets’ statistics. It was, for instance, officially Tebow’s first pass play as a Jet. With 5 more rushing yards, the Jets break their tie with San Diego to hold 17th in the NFL’s rushing yards/game category. OK, not so impressive. With 5 fewer net passing yards, their 300-yard net game becomes a 295-yard game. (But Sanchez is still credited with a 306-yard individual passing game, the sixth 300-yard outing of his career.)

The change also gave the sack to DT Randy Starks, who’s become something of a Jet-killer lately. Who can forget Starks’ big game in last season’s finale at Miami: two interceptions and one sack of Sanchez.

And who was it that swatted away Nick Folk’s first gamewinning field goal attempt that was nullified because head coach Joe Philbin called the timeout a second before the kick? R.Starks.

The Icing on the Cake

Finally, it should be noted before the 49ers get here that while Philbin’s icing attempt didn’t work, Rex Ryan’s did. The Jets called timeout before Dan Carpenter’s 48-yard try to win it six minutes into overtime and Carpenter proceeded to hook his second kick of the day wide left from that area on the Sun Life Stadium field.

OK, so maybe Rex’s timeout worked and maybe Carpenter would have missed it either way. But that’s the beauty of icing the kicker. We’ll never know for sure what caused the miss, but the bottom line says the timeout worked its magic.

Which raises a trivia question: When was the last time the Jets successfully iced a kicker trying to win a game with a field goal in the last two minutes of regulation or overtime? Answer below.

Friday Injury Reports

The Jets are listing five players as limited at today’s practice and questionable for the 49ers: FB John Conner (knee), TE Dustin Keller (hamstring), LB Bart Scott (toe), LB Bryan Thomas (hamstring) and WR Patrick Turner (hamstring).

Will Keller be ready to roll after sitting out the last two games? “We’ll find out,” Ryan said. “I’m not willing to rule out any one of those guys, Keller, Thomas, Turner, Conner and Scott.”

However, rookie WR Stephen Hill (hamstring) is doubtful for the Niners, and Rex verbally modified that status to “very doubtful.”

One more Jet was added to this week’s list making it 21 players, the same number that last week’s list ended at. That player is RT Austin Howard (back), but he practiced full and is probable for the game. So are Sanchez (low back), S LaRon Landry (heel), S Eric Smith (hip/knee) and the 10 other Jets who had been full-go all week.

Update: For the 49ers, the good news for the Jets is that TE Vernon Davis appeared on today’s injury report. The bad news: Davis (back) practiced full and is probable for the game. So are LB Patrick Willis and P Andy Lee. The three other players on the list all week are questionable: WR Ted Ginn (ankle), RB Brandon Jacobs (knee) and NT Isaac Sopoaga (ankle/knee). Sopoaga did not practice all week.

Rex Cetera

Ryan said the Jets “had a great day of practice” today and “a great week of practice” in preparing for the Niners. “Obviously, you’ve got to be on top of it when you look at this football team, how multiple they are in their formations, shifts, motions. You have to be on top of it, and I think our guys are. I think you’re going to see a great effort from our defense against their offense, and the same thing with our offense. … We talked about their personnel earlier in the week. It’s going to be a challenge no doubt. I think we’re ready to roll.”

CB Antonio Cromartie has said he thinks he’s the best cornerback in the NFL after Revis. Ryan says bravo: “I love it. Now he has to go out there and prove it. But I absolutely love it. As a corner, you have to have that kind of confidence. That’s not half the battle but it’s a big part of the battle. If you think you’re good enough to go out there and man up on the best receivers in the league, you’re certainly going to be challenged. And he’ll have that opportunity to prove it. I’m happy he feels that way.”

The wide receivers’ 97 yards after the catch at Miami was their most YAC in a game in the Sanchez/Ryan era of Jets football. In fact, it’s the most by the wideouts since they had 106 at San Diego in Brett Favre’s third game as a Jet, and the most in a victory since at least 1995. This number got a big boost from Jeremy Kerley’s 55 YAC on his 66-yard catch-and-run with Sanchez late in the third quarter.

Answer to the trivia question (no prizes awarded): The Jets last successfully iced the Chargers’ Nate Kaeding in the 2004 AFC Wild Card Game. Herm Edwards called the timeout with 4:23 left in the first overtime period, then Kaeding went wide right from 40 yards out. Then-SD coach Marty Schottenheimer tried to do the same with Doug Brien. It didn’t work as Brien put through the gamewinner from 28 yards out with five seconds left in the OT.


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McKnight Adding CB to his Jets Bio Page

Posted by Randy Lange on September 26, 2012 – 3:39 pm

Updated, 5:45 p.m. ET

The talk about Joe McKnight playing a role in the secondary has been with him coming out of high school, and it’s been on the back burner with the Jets last season and even this season.

Today Rex Ryan, taking into account Darrelle Revis’ severe knee injury and the desire for some flexibility at the position, moved McKnight toward the corner burner.

“We’ll do that this week with Joe,” the Jets head coach said at his midday news conference. “He’ll have a role on offense, but we’re also teaching him how to play corner — not in a full-time capacity, but he’s going to be over there a ton, in the meetings and everything else.”

With Ellis Lankster (low back) questionable for Miami and then with Revis going down late in the third quarter and Antonio Cromartie even missing a snap after jarring his shoulder, the Jets have the need for some in-game corner flexibility. And with McKnight being used little on offense (seven plays, three rushes, no receptions) and contributing on kickoff returns and a few other special teams units, he is an option to go in the game on the defensive side of the ball.

McKnight played corner his first two seasons at John Curtis HS in Louisiana, and even after he emerged on offense his last two seasons, he continued to contribute at corner, in particular as a junior with three interception-return touchdowns. He has said he was recruited by USC in part due to his secondary skills although he was used primarily as a running back and secondarily as a punt returner by the Trojans.

Needless to say, playing CB even on a part-time basis in the pros would be a challenge — in fact, McKnight said today, “Me playing cornerback in high school is not helping me right now” — but this is something the Jets seem ready to explore as they move forward.

“Even when he was a rookie, we felt he had the necessary skills to play corner, the athleticism, the ball skills,” Ryan said. “I don’t think there’s any reason to think Joe McKnight couldn’t be a corner. It’s just going to take time, obviously, but with DT [Dennis Thurman] and Jimmy O [Jim O'Neil] over there, I think we’ve got great teachers.”

After practice, McKnight put the best face on it, yet he admitted, “I was surprised, but you’ve got to move on. … The way I took it was I wasn’t good enough as a running back. The coach tells you your position’s changed, you’re going to take it a certain way. That’s how I took it. It might not be the case, I don’t know what the case might be, but that’s how I’m taking it right now.”

While surprised, he said he wasn’t “disappointed or anything like that. Coach makes decisions, you’ve got to go out and do what they say to do.”

He even said he enjoyed a productive first day at his new position, coming up with three interceptions.

“Yeah, Mark [Sanchez] threw me one, I think [Tim] Tebow threw me one, and Greg [McElroy] … I think I got one from all three,” he said. The implication was that the QBs each threw No. 25 a pick to welcome him to that side of the ball. In any event, McElroy didn’t recall throwing one in McKnight’s direction.

“But Cro got me a couple of times,” the other Mac said. “I hate throwing picks, but if it translates on Sunday, I’m fine with it.”

And McKnight said he’s fine with this new line on his NFL résumé.

“I’m just happy to be on the football field,” he said. “I’m not one to stand on the sidelines.”

Official Agreement?

Word during Ryan’s news conference came from a reporter that the NFL and the NFL Referees Association may have reached an agreement to end their labor impasse and that the league’s officials could return to work possibly as soon as this weekend’s games.

None of that has been announced yet, but one way or the other, Ryan said it wouldn’t change his approach to getting the Jets prepared for the 49ers.

“If that’s the case, all we can do, all I’m going to do is get our football team ready to play, no matter who’s out there officiating,” Ryan said. “That’s the job of any head coach.”

Injury Reports

The Jets list 19 players on this week’s first injury report. At the top of the list, Revis is being listed as out. LB Bart Scott (toe), WR Stephen Hill (hamstring) and S Eric Smith (hip/knee) did not participate in today’s practice. Four more players — FB John Conner (knee), TE Dustin Keller (hamstring), LB Bryan Thomas (hamstring) and WR Patrick Turner (hamstring) — were limited. The other 11 Jets were all full-go at practice. Click here for the Jets’ full injury report.

San Francisco is listing only five players on their report. LB Patrick Willis (ankle) and P Andy Lee (hand) were full participants in today’s practice in Ohio. RB Brandon Jacobs (knee) and WR Ted Ginn (ankle) were limited. DT Isaac Sopoaga (ankle/knee) did not practice.


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Preparing for the Heat as Well as the Dolphins

Posted by Randy Lange on September 21, 2012 – 3:19 pm

The Jets will be playing a doubleheader this weekend as they attempt to topple the Miami Dolphins in part by triumphing over the Miami heat.

Not as in LeBron-Dwyane-Chris but rather as in hot-hot-hot. The forecast for Sunday in Miami Gardens, Fla., at the 1 p.m. ET kickoff is expected to be around 85°, with a heat-index reading close to 100°. As new Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin reminded Dolfans this week after beating the Raiders last week (and the Jets perhaps subliminally), “Obviously, establishing a presence on your own home field is important, and September 1 o’clock games historically have been successful for this team.”

The Jets are mindful of the heat ahead and have been taking steps to be ready for the blast of South Florida air inside the now aptly named Sun Life Stadium.

“We definitely practiced it all week long,” head coach Rex Ryan said at today’s post-practice news conference at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center, adding that one major component was in simulating the Dolphins’ up-tempo offensive pace. “This team is averaging snapping the football probably with more than 15 seconds on the [play]clock, 20 seconds maybe. They’re super-quick, unlike really any team in the league.

“We challenged our guys during the week, every team period. Our scout team and our coaches did a tremendous job getting lined up and ready to roll.”

Ryan and his trainers also stressed optimum hydration and rest. And you don’t have to tell a player like LB Aaron Maybin twice about hydration.

“I’ve been taking extra Gatorade, Pedialyte and water. I’ll probably have a couple of extra IVs the night before,” Maybin said. “I sweat a lot. And the heat can wear on your defense especially as the game goes on.”

Some Jets wore extra layers of clothing and did extra cardio work this week outside in the mid-70s temps around Florham Park, N.J. It’s all done with an eye toward leveling the playing field somewhat against those heat-tempered Dolphins.

“It’s definitely an advantage because it is hot and humid,” said S Yeremiah Bell, who knows the situation well since he played for Miami his first eight seasons in the NFL. “Why wouldn’t you want to play in the same place you practice? It’s kind of like a cold-weather team playing in the snow.”

But, Bell counseled, “You know what’s coming. All these guys in here know what they’re in for. It’s only an advantage if you let it be.”

It’s also maybe less of an advantage than the Dolphins would like opponents to believe. Their win over the Raiders actually was their first “September 1 o’clock” game in four years, since from 2009-11 their early home games all kicked off either shortly after 4 p.m. or at night. Before last Sunday, the last time they played at home in September at 1 p.m. was against the Jets in the 2008 opener. And the Jets, with Brett Favre in his first game at QB, prevailed, 20-14.

The point being, the Miami heat is an edge but hardly an insurmountable one.

“Most of us have been playing football our whole lives, and we’ve played in hot weather before,” Maybin said.

“Obviously we’ll see when we get out there,” Ryan said. “We feel pretty good about it.”

Final Health Report

The Jets’ injury report grew by one to 21 names today, yet their health should be OK for Miami.

CB Darrelle Revis, after declaring on Thursday that “I’m going to play,” practiced full-contact today and is listed as probable for the Dolphins. And Ryan when asked about Revis specifically, pointed to the 16 probables and said, “I’d say every one of those guys I expect to play.”

LB Bryan Thomas (hamstring) and FB John Conner (knee) are doubtful. It looks as if Garrett McIntyre will start again at OLB and Konrad Reuland will add his increasing number of plays. “Konrad’s got fullback reps, tight end reps, U reps at the other tight end,” Ryan said. “It’s a good thing he’s got that Stanford education. He’s had to use it these past couple of weeks.”

Two more are questionable: TE Dustin Keller (hamstring) and CB Ellis Lankster (low back). Keller, despite his opinion that he’s ready to roll again, is iffy, with Ryan saying Dedrick Epps could be active again, especially if Keller is deactivated but possibly even if DK is active.

As for the probable list, it includes QB Mark Sanchez (low back) and the newest listee, DT Kenrick Ellis (illness). But all the probables practiced full today and appear ready to roll at Miami.

We’ll wrap up Miami’s Friday injury report here when it comes in.

When Flags Flew

Pittsburgh wasn’t a game that will go in WR Santonio Holmes’ time capsule. But say what you want about the flags, Tone caused a bunch of them to fly.

The four penalties for 52 yards called against Steelers Ike Taylor and Keenan Lewis in covering Holmes were the most marked off due to one Jets player since at least the mid-Nineties. The only other time in that span that a Jet drew four penalties in a game was last year when Plaxico Burress forced four penalties on the Raiders, primarily Stanford Routt, but only three were marked off with one declined.

Prior to that, just six other Jets have caused three major penalties by opponents since 1995. WR Keyshawn Johnson did it in ’99 at Denver. WR Wayne Chrebet followed suit the next year at home vs. the Broncos. Keller as a rookie TE got a trifecta at Tennessee in 2008, and Holmes coaxed three penalties out of the Chargers (two on Quentin Jammer) last season.

DE John Abraham is the only Jets defender to get a trio of penalties thrown at his opponents in a game. Abe did it twice — three holds vs. Kansas City in 2002 (one against Hall of Famer-to-be Willie Roaf), and three more holds at Buffalo in 2005.


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