4:46 p.m. ET: Here’s the compensation. To get to No. 5 and get Sanchez, the Jets dealt DE Kenyon Coleman, S Abe Elam and QB Brett Ratliff to the Brownies in addition to both their first (No. 17 overall) and second (No. 52) selections in this year’s draft.
4:42 p.m.: What a moment! I have to write some other stuff now. Be back to you soon.
4:39 p.m.: Sanchez is putting the jacket on. Looks like Mark Sanchez is coming to Gotham! Crowd going nuts at Radio City! He’s just put the Jets hat on.
4:35 p.m.: Just want to say I love Curry. What an outstanding kid and a wonderful football player. Great pick for the ‘Hawks. Don’t you smell a trade here? Eric Mangini loves defense, so is Boston College DT B.J. Raji the play? There are also a bunch of talented offensive tackles on the board. But is Cleveland listening to a couple of offers?
4:28 p.m.: We’ve reached a pivotal moment here. Do the ‘Hawks grab Sanchez? I say it’s 50/50 (with Wake LB Aaron Curry getting that other 50). If Sanchez falls to No. 5, this is going to get really fascinating.
4:15 p.m.: Chalk, baby. The Rams take Baylor T Jason Smith. Interesting one up next with the Chiefs. We know they won’t take Sanchez. Is it Tyson Jackson time?
4:08 p.m.: The commissioner formally announces the Detroit Lions’ selection of Georgia QB Matt Stafford. That was a shocker! The Rams are on the clock.
4 p.m.: Good afternoon. The draft is finally upon us and I can’t wait to get this darn event started already. Let’s just review the latest speculation on the Jets, who own the No. 17 overall selection, before the Detroit Lions officially announce the pick of Georgia QB Matt Stanford.
Multiple media outlets have reported that the St. Louis Rams are taking calls for the No. 2 overall selection. The thinking is the Rams want to take an offensive tackle — either Baylor’s Jason Smith or Virginia’s Eugene Monroe — but perhaps they could get blown away by a trade offer. If the Jets are as high on USC QB Mark Sanchez as many people think they are, they might be in talks right now.
In that third slot is the Kansas City Chiefs and you have to think they’re going to the defensive side of the ball (LSU DE Tyson Jackson or Boston College DT B.J. Raji) or trading down to stockpile picks. KC got its quarterback with the acquisition of former Patriots backup Matt Cassel.
If Sanchez slips to No. 4, then things are going to really heat up. With Matt Hasselbeck on the roster, do the Seahawks really want the former Trojans signalcaller? Or did we all just watch a lot of smoke blow our way from the Pacific Northwest?
Then Eric Mangini comes back into the picture at No. 5 …
I’ll be with you all day, providing you my thoughts on the spectacle as it happens. I encourage your comments and questions.
Sanchez: ‘I’m Ready to Play My Butt Off’
Mike T Again Demonstrates His Trade Craft
Hollywood to Broadway: Here Comes Sanchez
Woody Praises Sanchez, ‘Huge Team Effort’ to Get Him
Jets Select Sanchez at No. 5
Clinkscales, Sanchez, Mayock on Jets Radio
QBs: Stafford, Sanchez Are Best in Class
JetsTV: Exclusive Interview with Jets QB, Sanchez
4/26 QB Sanchez 2009 Draft Press Conference
NFLN: Mike Tannenbaum on Moving up to Pick Sanchez
Coach Ryan Discusses Trading up to Get Sanchez at No. 5
Coach Ryan on Process to Select Sanchez at VIP Draft Party
4/25 2009 Draft Round 1 News Conference with Mike Tannenbaum and Coach Rex Ryan
NFLN: Interview with Sanchez, Newest Member of the NY Jets
USC QB Sanchez – Highlights and Analysis
SNY: Sanchez Talks about the Jets and 09 Draft
Sanchez Impressive at Pro Day Workout
2009 Draft Top QBs – Sanchez, USC
NFLN: 2009 Combine – Top QB Performances
Sanchez on Jets Radio
Jets Radio: First Interview with Jets QB, Sanchez
Jets Radio: Sanchez Discusses the Jets and 09 Draft
Jets Radio: SI’s Don Banks on 09 Schedule, Draft, Sanchez
First Round Pick – USC QB Sanchez Photos
QB Mark Sanchez Wallpapers
Tags: 2009 NFL Draft, Eric Mangini, Mark Sanchez
Posted in Eric Allen | 81 Comments »
Congratulations are in order for Dave Szott. The 14-year guard who spent his last two seasons of 2002-03 with the Jets, continues to lead-block for his teammates now that he’s the Green & White’s director of player development.
The Jets won the Outstanding Players Assistance Services Award, for assisting players in their adjustment to life as professional athletes and helping them prepare for life after football, from the NFL Players Development Department at the recently concluded owners’ meetings in California. The award is one of four awarded annually by the department.
And it’s a coup for Szott, who is the first "rookie" player development director to win such an award. Between the end of his playing career and the start of his front office life, Szott served as the Jets’ chaplain.
"I didn’t expect or anticipate it," Szott told newyorkjets.com. "I give my thanks to the league office for the efforts they made and the resources they provided me in fulfilling all the needs of our player assistance program."
He also takes his hat to owner Woody Johnson, general manager Mike Tannenbaum, head coach Rex Ryan and the coach Ryan replaced, Eric Mangini, for the current state of the Jets’ program.
"Mr. Johnson, Mike Tannenbaum and Rex Ryan fully support the mission and role of player development. For this I am very appreciative," Szott said. "All programs are for the benefit of the of players and their families. They are completely supportive."
One of Szott’s areas of expertise is education. He reported that two players are graduating from college this year — QB Brett Ratliff from Utah and RB Danny Woodhead from Chadron — while four more are enrolled in grad school — WR David Clowney, T D’Brickashaw Ferguson, WR Brad Smith and S Eric Smith.
Besides helping players with every-day challenges, Szott worked diligently to assist players with the relocation process as the Jets transitioned from Long Island to Florham Park, N.J. Moving is often stressful, but Dave communicated to the players that they would have help in managing the changes so they could still focus on their jobs.
Also, each team schedules a Life Skills session each regular season, which is mandatory for all players. The purpose of the session is to address the stressors of life in the NFL, including media scrutiny, leading public lives and balancing the demands of work with friends and family. Although it was his first time organizing this meeting, Szott utilized his experience as a former player and invited several well-respected former players to participate, including Curtis Martin, Bart Oates, Tony Siragusa and Anthony Pleasant.
More uniform number changes:
QB Erik Ainge hung with No. 9 all last season, but now he’s hung up No. 9 and is switching to 10. That was Chad Pennington’s number, of course. It was also Ainge’s number in four years as Tennessee’s starting QB.
CB Dwight Lowery, who wore 34 all last season, is downshifting to 21. He was 25 at San Jose State but Kerry Rhodes has staked out that territory for four years.
Newly signed Donald Strickland, who wore No. 30 for the 49ers when he started at LCB against the Jets in San Francisco last season, comes in at No. 34, but we’re hearing he also will "trade down" if the number is right.
Tags: Brett Ratliff, Danny Woodhead, Dave Szott, Eric Mangini, Mike Tannenbaum, Rex Ryan, Woody Johnson
Posted in Randy Lange | 35 Comments »
Tom Petty was right. (Tom Petty’s always right.) The waiting is the hardest part.
I’ve been a part of these head-coaching waits when I was on the outside looking in (Little Anthony was right, too) as a Jets beatwriter from 1994-2006. But as a beatwriter, to be more accurate, the waiting wasn’t the only hard part.
The other equally difficult element of an NFL head-coaching search is going to sleep at night thinking you’ve got that day’s story nailed, then waking up the next morning to find you didn’t quite have it nailed, or someone else nailed it differently and perhaps better.
My first head-coaching watch I remember being an easy one. Then-Jets owner Leon Hess removed Pete Carroll as the Jets’ head coach after only one year. But there was no dog-and-pony interview process in early 1995. Hess knew who he wanted from the beginning and that was Richie Kotite, who Hess remembered "busted a gut" trying to get plays down from his coach’s box to the field when he was a Jets assistant.
Two years later Kotite "stepped aside" after his two Jets teams went a combined 4-28, and again there wasn’t much of coaching search intrigue. Hess, who as a kid used to go clamming on the shores of Asbury Park, N.J., knew what he had to do: reel in the Big Tuna.
But there was intrigue, and it had to do with the New England Patriots not wanting to let Bill Parcells go to their division rivals. This all led to some great NFL theater on Feb. 3, when Bill Belichick was introduced as the Jets’ new head coach alongside a microphone on the table next to him, which was connected telephonically to the team’s new consultant, Parcells, at a remote location.
Eight days later, Hess, Pats owner Bob Kraft and then-commissioner Paul Tagliabue hammered out the matter in a New York City office. The Jets gave up four draft picks, the Pats gave up any hold to Parcells.
Hess before he died went 1-for-3. He probably should’ve kept Carroll. Kotite didn’t work out. But Parcells was Parcells.
The BP era of Jets football was too short, three seasons. Then as Woody Johnson was about to come aboard as the new owner in early 2000, Parcells announced his retirement and was attempting to contractually turn the football controls over to Belichick. But BB had other designs than to become the H.C. of the N.Y.J. And the hunt was on again.
I recall writing, once Belichick resigned after one day as Jets head coach, that many good candidates were available, among them Marty Schottenheimer, Gary Kubiak and Jets assistants Dan Henning, Maurice Carthon and Al Groh.
Parcells listened to the new owner and decided to stay on as general manager for a year, and recommended to Johnson that it was time to Groh. So that coaching search didn’t take long.
But it was good for less than a year, until I broke the story in the days after the end of the 2000 season that Groh was leaving the Jets after one season to coach at the University of Virginia.
On to the next coaching search, this time with Terry Bradway as the Jets’ new GM. Bradway interviewed four candidates: Carthon, Ted Cottrell, Dom Capers and Herm Edwards. Even though the search was on for three weeks, Edwards was the frontrunner from the beginning, in part because of his previous relationship with Bradway in Kansas City and in part because of the incredible energy he brought to his first head-coaching job.
"I heard him on the radio while I was driving in my car,” wide receiver Wayne Chrebet said at the time. "He made me want to strap on my helmet, stop on the side of the road and start hitting things. It was a ‘Remember the Titans’ kind of motivational speech.”
Five years later, in early 2006, Edwards had moved on to Kansas City and Bradway and assistant GM Mike Tannenbaum began an ambitious search for a replacement. The list contained Jim Haslett, Mike Tice, Tim Lewis and Joe Vitt, along with Jets assistants Mike Westhoff, Mike Heimerdinger and Donnie Henderson.
But the frontrunner this time was Eric Mangini, who had decade-long ties with Tannenbaum, and so after another three weeks of interviews and dinners and discussions, Mangini took over the Green & White reins. And we had no coaching searches for three years. Until now.
This is the first one that I’ve been behind the scenes for, and no question the view from here is better. There are some things that the reporters have gotten right, some they’ve gotten wrong. I don’t have to be mixing it up in that arena anymore, especially since the arena has inexorably changed from an AM/PM news cycle into a 24/7 cycle, during which anything you’ve written about, blogged, said or thought is in danger of momentarily becoming yesterday’s news. I don’t envy my former brethren.
Everyone’s entitled to his or her opinion, but I can say that those criticizing the direction or completeness or rigor of this search are out in left field. You may agree or disagree with who’s been interviewed or not, but from what I’ve seen there is no question that Woody Johnson and Mike Tannenbaum want to win and want to find the right man to help them and the Jets do that and they have been thorough and diligent in attacking this task. "Under every rock" doesn’t just apply to players.
And SOJ? That acronym means nothing. As Paul Newman repeated several times in "The Verdict," turning tired repetition into a mantra: "There is no other case. This is the case." For Jets fans, consider that there is no other search. This is the search.
And perhaps in a few days, or two weeks and a few days, it will be over. And the Jets, with a new skipper at the helm, will sail into the future.
Reports: Rams Hire Spagnuolo
According to reports out of St.. Louis this afternoon, the Rams have hired Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo to be their new head coach. Spagnuolo had interviewed twice with the Jets, most recently Tuesday with Johnson and Tannenbaum at Johnson’s Manhattan offices.
Tags: Bill Belichick, Bill Parcells, Eric Mangini, Herm Edwards, Leon Hess, Mike Tannenbaum, Pete Carroll, Terry Bradway, Woody Johnson
Posted in Randy Lange | 85 Comments »
On some days, Bob Wischusen wakes up and has no idea what city he’s in.
“I had to look at the phone in the hotel room this morning just to make sure I knew where I was,” the Jets’ play-by-play voice said this morning, “but I’m in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and I’ve got Memphis vs. Tulsa [in NCAA men’s basketball] tonight. And then I’m home for a few days, thank goodness.”
On Sunday, while the Giants were going toe-to-toe with the Eagles in divisional playoff action, "Shoes" was in El Paso, Texas, calling a women’s basketball battle between UTEP and Houston.
A man on the move for ESPN, Wischusen has kept up to date with the Jets’ off-season happenings. Two weeks after the dismissal of head coach Eric Mangini, Wischusen expressed disappointment in seeing him go.
“I really thought Eric had proven enough, certainly from a work ethic standpoint — nobody could possibly work harder at what they do than what he did at that job," Wischusen said. "I would have liked to see him have the chance to come back and right the ship.”
But Mangini’s the Browns’ skipper in Cleveland and the Green & White will name his successor in the near future. Wischusen, who just finished his seventh season as the team’s play-by-play man, stresses the importance of organizational stability.
“I thought it was kind of funny that the media thought the absolute no-brainer replacement for Eric Mangini was Bill Cowher," he told Randy Lange and myself on the "Jets Two-Minute Drive" radio program, which is on our site now. "The same reporters that are endorsing the firing of Eric after three years think that a guy that took 14 years to win a Super Bowl in Pittsburgh is the guy that has to come here.”
For the fourth time since owner Woody Johnson purchased the team in 2000, the Jets almost assuredly will hire a first-time NFL head coach. But head-coaching rookies experienced great success in 2008 as Mike Smith and Tony Sparano led the Falcons and the Dolphins respectively to improbable division titles while John Harbaugh is preparing the Baltimore Ravens for the AFC Championship Game.
“I think the NFL is a copycat league and if you look at this past year, who are the two or three guys that drew the most headlines in the NFL for doing a spectacular job? They’re first-year head coaches,” Shoes said.
If the Jets have pegged either Ravens defensive coordinator Rex Ryan or Cardinals offensive line coach Russ Grimm as their guy, they won’t be able to officially announce the hiring until that coach’s team gets eliminated from postseason action.
A number of reports this week have indicated the Jets’ top choice is Ryan. After 10 seasons with the Ravens and the past four as defensive coordinator, Ryan added assistant head coach duties to his résumé prior to this campaign. His defense finished second in the NFL in the regular season and has forced eight turnovers in two playoff games.
“I do think the transition would be smooth from a scheme standpoint because obviously Eric Mangini and Mike Tannenbaum over the past three years have done a pretty solid job transforming the personnel the Jets have from 4-3 to 3-4 personnel and that’s what the Ravens run,” Wischusen said. “It would be a pretty natural transition for Rex Ryan to come in here.”
Ryan deserves a lot of credit for this recent Ravens run. He has a couple of potential Hall of Famers at his disposal in LB Ray Lewis and S Ed Reed and there is also great talent around when you include the likes of NT Haloti Ngata and LB Terrell Suggs. But RR’s the man calling the shots and he’s got his defenders flying around every week.
“I don’t think there are too many defensive coordinators who have coached mediocre guys to greatness. You have to have players. There is no question,” Shoes said. “And I think we’ve seen it up close and personal — the Jets have players. They could add more and there are certainly needs on the defense, but I don’t think there is any question that there is at least a core of players on this team that any coach is going to look at and be pretty excited about.”
The Jets could opt to stay in house with offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer or offensive line coach Bill Callahan. Despite Schottenheimer having to make major modifications to his offensive system in August after the Jets acquired Brett Favre, the Jets’ 405 total points were the third-highest total in franchise history and their 48 touchdowns were the second-most.
“I think Brian Schottenheimer is a brilliant young football mind and I think he has a lot of the characteristics you would want in a head coach. I think he is a born leader,” said the voice of the Jets. “Just talking to him, he is wise beyond his years.”
The well-traveled Wischusen just hopes the final pick — whoever that may be — will be around for the long haul.
Tags: Arizona Cardinals, Baltimore Ravens, Bob Wischusen, Brian Schottenheimer, Cleveland Browns, Eric Mangini, Rex Ryan
Posted in Eric Allen | 29 Comments »
This is one of those times in the NFL calendar where the week gets turned on its head. Today took on many aspects of a normal Wednesday schedule, Wednesday will be like Thursday, and Christmas Day will become a Tuesday, with no players or coaches required to be at the Atlantic Health Training Center until Friday, which will be like any other Friday before a game.
So in a way, this is a short week, not quite like a Saturday night game after a Sunday game, but shorter, more pressurized, on top of the pressure media and fans have added for a Jets fantastic finish against the Dolphins.
Yet head coach Eric Mangini, who has practiced his players to the loud vibes of Billy Joel and David Bowie, reacted coolly and calmly and, to one question, passionately at today’s news conference.
"What I feel every week is the same pressure — I want to put these guys in position to be successful," Mangini said. "The greatest pressure I put on myself and my staff is to give them the best chance to win. Anything else from the outside, that can’t be any greater than the pressure we put on ourselves."
But do the Jets need some other motivation to play the Dolphins, whom they must defeat to have any hope of reaching the playoffs?
"Typically, the games against the Dolphins are physical games, tough games, close games," Mangini said. "Four of the last five have been decided by four points or less. It seems like every time we play them, it’s right down to the wire, consistent with our other division opponents.
"Nobody felt good about what happened Sunday, but the time for lamenting that is past. That’s over, that’s done. And the only thing we can do is move forward. If you sit around and lament any more, you lose sight of the opportunity we have in front of us. It’s an opportunity if we take advantage of it. Whatever happens after that, wherever the chips fall, they fall. But there’s no chance if we don’t win the game."
Toward the end of his session with reporters, Rich Cimini of The Daily News, suggested that Mangini’s even-keeled demeanor over the struggles of December leave the impression that he’s "accepting" of what’s been going on lately.
"I’ve never accepted anything but what’s our best possible performance," the coach replied. "There’s no sense of being content with losing, ever. Nobody here is content, nobody is happy about it, nobody is satisfied with where we are. But it’s where we are. Now we have to be able to play the next game and that’s what’s in front of us. The same level of preparation needs to be there, with a much higher level of execution.
"It’s not a lack of accountability," Mangini continued. "I need to execute better, I need to prepare better, the coaches need to do those things better. It isn’t just the players. It’s all of us. Disappointment is exactly how I felt [about Sunday’s loss]. Satisfied, content, OK with it? I’ll never feel that way about losing, and I don’t think any of our players feel that way or any of the coaches."
Mangini already passed those sentiments on to the team, which practiced today on the outdoor turf field, clear of all snow, and will practice again Wednesday and Friday before saddling up for the Week 17 showdown with the Dolphins.
More TJ Achievements
Thomas Jones continues his MVP year, which on Sunday evening may well qualify to be considered a career year. With 47 rushing yards against the Dolphins, Jones would have 1,336 for the season, which would be a personal best in TJ’s nine-year NFL career.
And if he maintains his solid 4.60-yards-per-carry average, he will set another personal best, eclipsing the 4.58-yard mark he established with 137 carries in 2003, his only season with Tampa Bay.
Lastly, Jones remains the AFC leader and among the NFL leaders not just in yardage but in first downs. His career-high 63 rushing first downs and 75 total FDs also are the most by a Jet since, well, Curtis Martin’s last hurrah, his league-leading 2004 season. Here are the Jets’ leaders in rushing and total first downs the last five seasons:
|Year||Player||Rush FDs||Player||Total FDs|
|2004||Curtis Martin||90||Curtis Martin||102|
|2005||Curtis Martin||35||Laveranues Coles||52|
|2006||Leon Washington||33||Jerricho Cotchery||54|
|2007||Thomas Jones||55||Thomas Jones||63|
|2008||Thomas Jones||63||Thomas Jones||75|
Tags: Curtis Martin, Eric Mangini, Miami Dolphins, Thomas Jones
Posted in Randy Lange | 99 Comments »
There’s not a lot of happiness for the holidays regarding the Jets after they lost for the third time in four games on Sunday at Seattle.
But it’s important to keep in mind that the Jets’ season is not over. They can still beat Miami, win the AFC East and get to the postseason. They now need help from some of their AFC friends to do this. But this is the hand they’ve been dealt. It’s not the hand they and their fans want, but it’s a better hand than seven other AFC teams and seven NFC teams have at this moment, and it’s the hand that must be played.
Head coach Eric Mangini stated the grim situation in the simplest of NFL poker odds at today’s day-after news conference.
"We had plenty of time to deal with that issue," Mangini said of any feeling of helplessness now that the Jets no longer are able to win out and get into the playoffs. "Things had been in our control and they’re not anymore. But the one thing that is in our control is Sunday. That’s all you can do.
"Everything else that happens, happens. It’s in New England’s control, it’s in Baltimore’s control. They control their games. They don’t control ours. We control our game."
That game, of course, is against the Dolphins, who can complete their comeback from 1-15 with a win over the Jets that would give them the division title over the Jets and Patriots. And it will be the Jets’ task to beat the Dolphins to keep alive their aim to win the division or at the least nail down the sixth seed over the Baltimore Ravens.
To do that, the Jets will have to endure the "irony," in the word of one reporter, of again defeating their former quarterback, Chad Pennington.
"We started the season that way as well," Mangini said of the opening-day win over No. 10 and the ‘Fins at Miami. "You know anytime you release a good player, you’ve got a good chance of playing against him. I like Chad. I’m happy for Chad’s success. I always had a good relationship with him. I really respect him. None of those things have changed, which would be my expectations.
"I think he’s a good player, a smart player. We play a lot of good quarterbacks over the course of the year. He’s another good quarterback we have to play this week."
And that’s the best way for the coach to frame the Pennington question for his players. Overinflate his accomplishments? To what end? Diminish what he’s done? That doesn’t work, either. Chad was here and now he’s not. Now the Jets need to beat him like they needed to beat a lot of other strong QBs this season (some they succeeded in beating, some they didn’t).
Mangini was asked questions about his calls during the game, which you can read in the Mangini transcript that will go up at midnight or the news conference video, which is available on the site now. The coach was asked two bigger-picture questions that I’ll end with here.
Asked about the prospects of Brett Favre possibly playing his last game as a Jet on Sunday, if they don’t reach the playoffs, of course, Mangini said:
"He and I don’t even touch on that subject. Whatever decision Brett makes is a decision he’ll make after the season. I wouldn’t expect him to be thinking about it and I’m not going to be thinking about it. It’s something for after the season is done."
And on another topic for the off-season, Mangini was asked if he’d like to hear a vote of confidence from owner Woody Johnson on this season.
"No," he replied. "What I’m looking for is to give the players a good plan to beat Miami. That’s what I’m looking for. That’s what I want to do. That’s what our focus is going to be on. That isn’t a focal point of mine at all."
Tags: Baltimore Ravens, Chad Pennington, Eric Mangini, Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots
Posted in Randy Lange | 90 Comments »
My special thought for this edition of Special Teams Saturday is how goofy reporters get sometimes.
Such occurred to me because of several questions posed to Jets head coach Eric Mangini and then to kicker Jay Feely on Friday. Questions along the lines of: Any concerns about Feely because he struggled at Seattle a couple of years ago? Worries that he’ll allow his past performance to affect his play Sunday? Doubts about Feely’s mental toughness?
Why not cut to the chase and ask the kicker about his medication and how it’s possible he’s not a basket case to this day?
But Mangini and Feely answered calmly and confidently about the meaning of that game, when the Giants lost to the Seahawks, 24-21 in overtime, at Qwest Field back on Nov. 27, 2005.
"Jay never once struck me as the type of guy that let a setback set him back the next time," Mangini said. "He is inherently competitive. I felt that the day we signed him, the way he covers kicks in practice, the way he is involved on the show team — things that are unique from a kicker’s perspective. He has a very aggressive personality for a kicker."
"Oh, yeah, it’s a part of your history. You can’t run away from that," Feely said with a smile when asked about how comfortable he was reminiscing about that day. "It made me better, it made me stronger. When you go through something like that, it takes some of the fear out of playing. Especially from a kicker’s perspective, you can’t fear failure. The ones who fear failure don’t last very long."
Just for the record, here are the details of what happened three years ago and what has happened since.
No question, Feely did have a bad day. He went 2-for-5 in the field goal department, with the three misses coming after the two successes, and each of the misses, had they gone through the uprights, would have given the Giants a hard-fought victory 3,000 miles from home.
On the final play of regulation, Feely was wide left from 40 yards. He was short from 54 yards out 4:17 into overtime. And he was short again from 45 with 6:05 left in OT. Josh Brown finally secured a 24-21 Seahawks win on a 36-yarder with 2:45 to play in the extra session.
So let’s examine how Feely "struggled" in his career after this crushing day:
â– He hit 12 of his last 14 field goals that season.
â– He returned to Qwest with the Giants for Game 3 of the 2006 season and showed no sign of the yips, nailing a 46-yard try and all three PATs.
â– Since then, he’s hit 80 of 92 FG attempts, an 87.0 percent accuracy that is 10th among all qualifying kickers from Dec. 4, 2005, to present. (Thanks, Stats Inc.)
â– The three misses that day were the most in a game in his eight-year career. Never happened before, hasn’t happened since.
None of this says Feely won’t have another three-miss game in his career. But if he scuffles Sunday afternoon in Seattle, it will more likely be due to the expected snowy conditions at Qwest rather than the emergence of any lingering psychological trauma. Say what you want about Feely, but he’s a physically and mentally tough professional placekicker.
A Winning Call of a Winning Play
This isn’t teams-related but it is a note about a special call by Greg Gumbel during CBS’ telecast of the stunning 31-27 defeat of the Bills.
Maybe it’s just because of the dramatic nature of Abram Elam’s strip sack of J.P. Losman and Shaun Ellis’ semi-miraculous 11-yard TD to return to snatch victory out of the jaws of defeat. But Gumbel’s call was the peak of efficiency and building tension all during the few seconds of unexpected happenings on the field below. Here is a transcript of Gumbel’s call right after Losman took the snap on second-and-5 from the Bills’ 27 with 2:06 to play.
"Play fake … Losman under pressure — lost the football! … Still on the loose, picked up by the Jets, inside the 5, to the end zone — TOUCHDOWN! Shaun Ellis! Do you believe that?"
At the utterance of that last sentence, the network cut to a shot in the stands of a fan in Halloween-ish mask — a huge green skull and bobbling eyeballs. If you’re a Jets fan, tell me you didn’t feel like Skullman at that moment. Good job, Greg and CBS.
Tags: Abram Elam, Eric Mangini, Jay Feely, New York Giants, Seattle Seahawks, Shaun Ellis
Posted in Randy Lange | 40 Comments »
The tone at times was lighthearted at Eric Mangini’s news conference today, and in part that was due to the afterglow of getting seven of the head coach’s players to Hawaii for the Feb. 8 Pro Bowl.
"I was really happy for them," Mangini said, beaming, in his first remarks since the NFL announced the Green & White bonanza Tuesday afternoon. "There’s recognition outside our room that we have a good group of players. I’m pleased for them and it just reinforces what’s been said over and over.
"What really made me happy was that I called each guy, they were obviously pleased with that, but they all talked about the other guys, it was all about their accomplishments in the context of the guys they work with. ‘This is great, but we have to move on to Seattle.’ I felt like a proud parent."
There were some other light moments in regard to the sweater choices of Newsday’s Erik Boland and the Star-Ledger’s Dave Hutchinson pressing Mangini because the coach wouldn’t single out one or two of his Pro Bowlers above the others that he’s particularly happy for, and to Newsday columnist Bob Glauber’s question about the shots he’s taken from reporters and by extension fans over the past few years.
"You can get a nickname one year and get a revised nickname the next year," Mangini said to laughter from reporters, some of whom helped create those nicknames. "Some are nice, some are not so nice. My mom is probably more affected by that than I am. … I respect the fact that everybody has an opinion on the way things should go and what should be done."
But it wasn’t all seashells and balloons today because there is an important game coming up at Seattle and most of the questions and answers were serious, specifically about the position the Jets find themselves in: winning out and winning the AFC East title, or losing and possibly losing their grip on a playoff berth.
"It’s always about the ability to control your own destiny," Mangini said. "You can create whatever you want to create, write whatever story you want to write. It’s so important that everybody understands that. I really believe that every single day we all get to make choices, and if we make the right choices collectively, good things will happen. But you can’t come in and work hard one day, relax the next day. It doesn’t work like that.
"I think the guys are excited. I think they enjoy where we are at this point of the season. It’s just a great opportunity and now you’ve just got to seize the opportunity."
One thing many want the Jets to do is to seize the opposing quarterback in the pocket more. "Hutch" asked the coach about blitzing.
"I’m not afraid to blitz. I’ve always enjoyed blitzing," he said. "But to me it’s got to be calculated, it’s got be for a specific purpose, it’s got to be sound. All of those things are really important. I think you ve seen some games where we’ve blitzed 60 times and some games where we haven’t blitzed at all. And there’s usually good reason for it — what theyre doing against the blitz, what the matchups are, what the risk/reward is."
Mangini also addressed the three-man-rush question, something he said he and his staff broke down recently.
"There were almost as many sacks in three-man rushes as there were in pressures — which you would think wouldn’t be the case," he said. "But that’s another function of the coverage being better down the field. When you drop eight, the holes are a lot smaller."
My own unofficial research supports the success of the three-man in terms of raw sack numbers. Here are the Jets’ 40 sacks this season broken down by number of rushers:
|Number of Rushers||Sacks||Number of Rushers||Sacks|
|3-Man Rush||7||6-Man Rush||4|
|4-Man Rush||13||7-Man Rush||1|
Snow Big Deal
Needless to say, this doesn’t show the percentages of sacks per total three-man rushes, say, and it doesn’t say how the Jets’ pass defense has fared when the QB doesn’t get sacked and still finds his receivers against the eight in coverage. But as a changeup against the right team, it can produced pressure and sacks.
The snow fell last night, a couple of inches’ worth, and the plows were out this morning clearing the turf field and one grass field outside of the Atlantic Health Training Center. It looked as if the Jets were going to take today’s practice outdoors. But no, Mangini conducted the workout inside the fieldhouse.
He may want to consider taking the show outside Thursday and/or Friday: the weather forecast for Seattle and Qwest Field on Sunday is for 29 degrees and snow.
Mangini announced four practice squad transactions — two departures, two arrivals.
Newly signed are G Ryan Keenan (who was with the Giants and Colts last year before signing with the Packers’ practice squad) and DL Brian Schaefering (released by the Browns in August).
To make room, DL Ropati Pitoitua was placed on Injured Reserve/Practice Squad and OL Kyle DeVan was released.
Also, QB Erik Ainge has returned to the Jets’ locker room following his four-game NFL suspension.
Tags: Eric Mangini, Snow
Posted in Randy Lange | 87 Comments »
We’ve been kicking the Pro Bowl around the Internet office for a few weeks now. And having been around this part of the NFL block for a few years, I wasn’t optimistic for a bountiful Hawaiian harvest for the Jets.
Not that the Green & White don’t have excellent young players and veterans who’ve been to Aloha Stadium a number of times and not as spectators — they do. But it never quite works out the way you think it should.
Until this year.
It’s a stunning news flash that the Jets have seven players who were voted by the NFL’s coaches, players and fans onto the AFC’s 2009 Pro Bowl squad.
That’s seven players, as in the most in franchise history. Seven as in the most for any team in the NFL this season.
"That says a lot," said Leon Washington, who will be making his first trip to Honolulu after bering voted in as the conference’s kick returner. "It says we’ve got really good guys in this locker room. Usually the guys who get voted on take care of business on the field and off the field. Just to be around guys like Alan Faneca, Brett Favre, Kris Jenkins, seeing the older guys who’ve been there before, and a bunch of young guys in their first year going to the Pro Bowl, I’m very, very ecstatic."
No Jets team has ever sent more than five players to the all-star game since the franchise moved from the AFL to the NFL in 1970. Thus it can be reasonably stated that the Jets have never had the most Pro Bowl players in the league before.
But that’s how the initial tally totes up, before some players have to withdraw due to injury and the alternates step up. (And the Jets even had five players voted as alternates!) Here are the four teams with the most Pro Bowlers after this year’s vote was revealed this afternoon:
Jets reporters talked with three first-time Jets Pro Bowlers on a conference call early this evening. And you would have to characterize center Nick Mangold as the most stunned and amazed.
"It’s awfully exciting," Mangold said. "I don’t know if there’s a good set of words to put with it. I’m just dealing with the aftermath. I don’t think it’s really sunk in, the amount of excitement that’s associated with it."
Mangold said he learned of his honor on a call from head coach Eric Mangini while he was driving with his family to do some Christmas shopping. Even though he assured reporters he was street-legal with his hands-free cellphone, "I sort of swerved off the road a little bit. It probably wasn’t a good idea to have to hear that news while driving."
Washington wasn’t driving but rather lifting. On the players’ "off" day, he had just wrapped up a workout in the Atlantic Health Training Center weightroom when he got the call from Mangini just down the hall.
"He actually told me in person. He was very, very excited," Washington said. When one of the beat wags asked how he could tell Coach was excited, Leon said, "He gave me a big hug. You don’t get a hug out of Eric unless he means it."
One thing Washington stressed was that his award was for the Jets’ specialists.
"When we come out before games and huddle up, the guys are always saying ‘Let’s score a touchdown fore Leon,’ " he related. "The guys have talked all year long about how they want to get me to Hawaii. My hats off to those people. We did it."
Darrelle Revis had similar sentiments for his defensive mates. The second-year corner said people were telling him all year long he was Pro Bowl-bound, but he tuned that out and focused on the important stuff first.
"Once it came up, I just know how hard I’ve worked and how hard my teammates have worked," Revis said. "We have a lot of talent. We have a lot of great guys on the team. The chemistry is great. I just want to thank my coaches for being there for us, drawing up schemes for us to make plays. I’ve got to thank my teammates as well for making plays out there as well and for being together as a team."
We’ll hear from those geezers more during the rest of the week — Thomas Jones, having perhaps the greatest season of his career, a Curtis Martinesque year, wise old redhead Alan Faneca, big, boogeyin’ Kris Jenkins, and the old graybeard himself, Brett Favre.
An interesting note is that all seven of these All-Star Jets have arrived in the last three seasons. Revis, Mangold and Washington were draft choices. Favre, Jones and Jenkins were trade acquisitions. Faneca was an unrestricted free agent. They all were acquired by GM Mike Tannenbaum and his staff and coached up by Mangini and his staff. Kudos are deserved.
But Pro Bowl berths and huge contracts don’t buy a team’s way into the playoffs, and all three of our conference callers today noted that while Hawaii is nice, the postseason is nicer and the Jets aren’t there yet.
As Washington put it: "We still have a task at hand."
Shaun Gets Recognition, Too
Shaun Ellis didn’t quite get to the Pro Bowl level this year. He was named second alternate at DE. But he has something this week that none of the above players have, and that’s a spot on the fan ballot for GMC Sierra Defensive Player of the Week after totaling 11 tackles and the game-winning 11-yard fumble-return TD vs. the Bills.
Interestingly, Ellis is on this week’s ballot along with Atlanta’s John Abraham. The Jets made Ellis the 12th pick and Abraham the 13th pick of the 2000 draft. The others in the running are Miami LB Joey Porter, Dallas LB Demarcus Ware and Jacksonville DE Reggie Hayward. You can vote for the player of your choice (subliminal message: Big Katt … Big Katt) on NFL.com.
Tags: Darrelle Revis, Eric Mangini, Leon Washington, Mike Tannenbaum, Nick Mangold, Pro Bowl, Shaun Ellis
Posted in Randy Lange | 66 Comments »
Slicing the football up seven different ways was again a topic for reporters at Eric Mangini’s day-after news conference following the Jets’ 31-27 rescue victory over the Bills.
Today’s overlooked performer again was Leon Washington, who got only two offensive touches. But one of those touches was a "Wow," Leon’s 47-yard burst off right tackle for a key touchdown right before the first half.
"And it was a very productive carry. The element of surprise," the Jets head coach joked with the reporters at the Atlantic Health Training Center this afternoon.
Turning serious, Mangini said, "It’s not a conscious effort not to get him the ball. There’s lots of people we want to give opportunities to get the ball. Our receivers were able to get more touches yesterday. I feel confident in all our skill players that any one of them with the ball in his hands does a good job. The alternative to Leon is Thomas Jones, who has 15 touchdowns and leads the AFC in rushing. It’s not like we’re overlooking Leon to give the ball to an ice truck."
A question in short order came on David Clowney, who punctuated his pro debut with a nifty one-hand flick into his chest for a 26-yard completion. The reporter began his question by asking "Can he … "
"Get the ball?" Mangini finished the sentence with a smile. "Get Leon the ball more, get Clowney the ball more, run the ball more. Who else? Get Laveranues the ball more. There’s only one ball. Get Shaun Ellis the ball more. We’re working on it all. Really, I just want to get the ball in the end zone more."
The coach added a favorable review of Clowney’s appearance, which also included a tackle of dangerous rookie KR Leodis McKelvin at the Bills 21 after a 22-yard kickoff return.
"I was really happy for him," Mangini said. "He had a nice one-handed catch like a lot of the catches he makes at practice. He made a tackle on special teams. It’s going to be an ongoing function of special teams first and then in the offense. He made a good case for himself this week."
Mangini also termed his specialists’ game "a very uncharacteristic performance," and not in a good way, but at least part of the reason for the trouble with coverage and returns was the continuing excellence of the Bills’ teams.
Washington was caught up in that excellence when he couldn’t fair-catch two second-half Brian Moorman punts, which bounced badly for the Jets and were downed inside the 5 for 63- and 52-yard net kicks.
"You always want to field the ball," said the coach. "Usually you give the 10-yard line as your border. You want to be able to catch those. We’ll adjust some things we’re doing."
But some things about Washington’s game need little adjustment. Contained fairly well on Rian Lindell’s first five kickoffs, Leon broke loose for a 43-yarder to midfield. It was part of the fourth-quarter field-position edge that was helpful in the Jets mounting their comeback. And Washington’s return was part of his 186-yard all-purpose day, the 12th 150-yard APY day of his career.
The kickoff return was also Washington’s 10th 40-yard play (including returns) this season. We hear Seahawks second-year man Josh Wilson also has 10 40-yarders and he and Leon are tied for the NFL lead in that category. Interesting showdown in the Pacific Northwest ahead.
More on VG and the WC
Mangini had a great response to a question about Vernon Gholston being deactivated Sunday for the first time this season.
"What I expect Vernon to do this week is come back that much harder and make a case for himself," Mangini said. "David Barrett’s been up and down, active and inactive, Drew Coleman—"
Then, interrupted by a reporter who seemed overly concerned that Gholston is somehow different than those players, the coach continued, "That’s the way it is. We’re going to take the best people to help us win that game. Whether your contract is $20 million, $50 million or $100 million, whether you were drafted first, 10th, 1,000th, if you’re one of those players on the 45, we expect you to contribute. If you’re not, we expect you to come back the next week and make a case for yourself."
And as for this week’s travel plans, the Jets will adhere to their original schedule of a flight to Seattle on Friday afternoon.
"The airline took care of that," Mangini said of the possibility of flying out Saturday for the game Sunday afternoon. "It must be like one of those tickets I used to buy. There’s no give on that.
"I know we researched that and it wasn’t an option," he added. "What I don’t want to get too caught up in is that being some reason why we can’t perform. You saw an East Coast team win back-to-back West Coast games. They took the same flight."
That would be New England, which flew to Seattle and beat the Seahawks, 24-21, last week, stayed out west all week, then flew south to Oakland and dropped the Raiders, 49-26, Sunday.
The Jets’ four takeaways in the fourth quarter Sunday equaled the most in a quarter since 2000. Here are the four four-takeaway-quarter games in the last nine seasons:
|2000||vs. BUF||4th||1-3||Jets, 27-14|
|2004||at ARZ||4th||3-1||Jets, 13-3|
|2008||vs. ARZ||2nd||2-2||Jets, 56-35|
|2008||vs. BUF||4th||3-1||Jets, 31-27|
"Inside the Jets"
The weekly team radio show, "Inside the Jets," will take its usual stage at 7 p.m. at Charlie Brown’s restaurant in Chatham, N.J., tonight, although the broadcast on 1050 AM ESPN will be delayed. Guests on the show will be guard Brandon Moore and defensive end Mike DeVito. Also in attendance will be Flight Crew members Meredith G. and Jennifer S.
Tags: Buffalo Bills, David Clowney, Eric Mangini, Leon Washington, Thomas Jones
Posted in Randy Lange | 95 Comments »