The backup QB beat went on today with head coach Rex Ryan still waiting to declare on Sunday, 90 minutes before the 1 p.m. ET kickoff against the Cardinals, whether or not Tim Tebow will be active with his cracked ribs and whether or not Greg McElroy will be active for the first time in his pro career.
“Seriously, we’re looking into it. Tim’s been limited and really very limited in some of the snaps he does take,” Ryan said. “We’re just tracking it and we’ll see how he feels. Could it be a gametime decision? It could be.”
Tebow, after today’s final practice of the week at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center, maintained his belief in his ability to suck it up and play, with his ribs protected as much as possible by a flak jacket.
“I feel like I’m getting a little bit better every day,” the QB said. “Obviously, I’d love to be out there doing everything, but they’re trying to be smart so I’m just slowly progressing with things every day and it’ll be up to Coach and the docs.”
Tebow’s also well aware of the Wildcat-preparation-time factor that will have gone into Arizona’s practices this week out in the Valley of the Sun.
“If I knew? No, I wouldn’t tell you,” Tebow said with a laugh of whether he’d divulge if he knew today that he would be active on Sunday. “I don’t know. Who knows?”
McElroy doesn’t know anything other than that he went into this week getting himself ready to go just as he had before the 11 previous games this season, for all of which he was deactivated on gameday.
“I’m sure it’ll be a decision made on gameday,” G-Mac told reporters in front of his locker. “Every week I try to prepare like I’m going to be activated. Last year I was on IR all year but I still prepared like I was going to be out there.
“This situation hasn’t changed anything for me. There’s no more adrenaline this week, really. I’m just being consistent in preparing as the third quarterback for whatever my role may be.”
Ryan reiterated his stance from before the New England game, that Tebow would not be put in the position of having to throw 50 passes in a game but wasn’t ruling in or out that No. 15 might be active for a much smaller role. The coach reiterated that Tebow was cleared to play medically and that “people have played with cracked ribs before.”
Similarly about McElroy being active, Ryan said, “I’m not read to declare that yet.” But he asked and answered another question a few sentences later: “Is it a possibility we will have Greg up? That is a possibility.”
Now what would happen if Tebow was again active and McElroy wasn’t, and that both Mark Sanchez and Tebow were to get dinged up during the game? Who would go in at QB for the Green & White. Ryan confirmed it would be WR Jeremy Kerley.
“But again, we’re going to be doing a lot of running if that’s the case,” Ryan said. “He was a quarterback in high school, he was recruited that way, he can throw the football. … Obviously, it’s not the situation you’d want to be in.”
One final point: As Ryan noted, “A lot of teams only have two quarterbacks on their entire roster. I’m saying that if Tim had to play every snap with the ribs, then you’d try to protect yourself with another quarterback.” But if the worst-case scenario hit, “basically you’d be trying to get through the game, then next week it’d be a different situation at quarterback.”
It’s true that every team in the NFL, regardless of if it had two or three QBs on the roster, last weekend had only two quarterbacks active for its game. The team closest to having three QBs active were the Bills with Ryan Fitzpatrick starting, Tyler Thigpen backing up and Brad Smith playing at WR and ready to step behind C if needed.
However, it’s not known if any other team fit into the Jets’ situation of having one healthy and one unhealthy QB active for a game. And in a few days we’ll see if the Jets play it similarly on Sunday or come up with a different take on their operational QB depth chart for the game.
Jason Smith, Decoy … or Is He?
It was one lonely touchdown at the end of a long night, but it was interesting to note who was in the pattern along with Dustin Keller, who caught Sanchez’s 1-yard touchdown flip with 2:21 left in the Jets’ Thanksgiving night loss to the Patriots.
“I know Mark threw an awesome ball to Dustin and he made a great catch,” said T/TE Jason Smith. “Touchdowns for any team in the NFL are very, very important. Me as a player, I’m just one piece to the puzzle. I’m very happy to be a part of this team. I believe in what we’re doing here. The guys who deserve credit are Austin, Brandon, Nick, Matt and D’Brickashaw. Those guys are working real hard to make sure this truck goes.”
We’re not sure how much Jason was pulling our leg, but he is an earnest young swing tackle and blocking tight end on this Green & White truck, and on that play he was an eligible receiver.
As Keller released from the right end of the line and curled to the left in the back of the end zone, Smith, one player over, did the same along the goal line. It could even be said that whether Smith was Sanchez’s first, second, third or fourth option on the play, he helped make the play work by drawing rookie CB Alfonzo Dennard up from Keller to have to guard this 6’5″, 308-pounder wearing No. 63 who was barreling toward him looking like a potential TD target.
Smith has been on the field for about 16 offensive plays a game, almost exclusively as a second or third tight end on short yardage/goal line plays. But we big guys can dream, can’t we?
Buttle Enters the Twitterverse
Jets fans are well aware of Greg Buttle’s work, once as the Jets’ top-tackling linebacker behind the Sack Exchange, more recently as a commenter on the team’s pre- and postgame shows on ESPN New York 98.7 FM. And now Buttle’s reaching out to a whole new circle of fans with his new Twitter account, @buttlenews.
“Don LaGreca talked me into tweeting,” Buttle said of his radio cohost. “We’ll be sitting there watching the game when Don will suddenly start tweeting something like, ‘I can’t believe it happened in 52 second.’ I don’t get it. I’m not into putting stuff out that’s so obvious. But Don and everybody I talk to in the marketing world says if you’re not on Twitter, it’s a mistake.”
We’re about to see if Buttle being on Twitter is a mistake, but we don’t think so. Greg is a Jet all the way, yet still ready to put a lick on his old team if the play on the field requires it. And as he realizes, “People out there, for some unknown reason, love this stuff. They want to hear Nick Nolte say, ‘I can’t stand Eddie Murphy.’ “
In less than 48 hours we’ll get to check out Buttle’s tweets on the Jets-Cards game. Make him feel at home, all you tweetahs. At the moment he’s got only one tweet live, he has three followers and he’s following three others.
Official Injury Status
Ryan didn’t pass on his injury list at his afternoon news conference as he usually does on Fridays, but the lists from the Jets and the Cardinals have now been released. Not too many surprises.
For the Jets, WR Clyde Gates (concussion) is listed as doubtful. Besides Tebow, three others are questionable: CB Aaron Berry (quad), DT Sione Po‘uha (back) and LB Ricky Sapp (ankle). The 15 other Jets on the list are all probable, including G Brandon Moore, the only one of the 15 who was limited rather than full-go at today’s shorter final practice.
For the Cards, six players are questionable: WR Laron Byrd (head), DE Calais Campbell (calf), WR Early Doucet (ribs), QB Kevin Kolb (ribs), WR Andre Roberts (ankle) and RB Chris “Beanie” Wells (knee). The other four on the Arizona report this week, including ex-Jets S Kerry Rhodes (back) are probable.
Reports out of Arizona suggest that Kolb is yet ready to take the rigors of a full game of hits on his ribs (where have we heard that before) so rookie Ryan Lindley is expected to make his second pro start. And there was some indecision about whether Campbell would be ready to display what Ryan called his “Pro Bowl-type” play with the calf injury he suffered during the Cards’ bye week.
Tags: Arizona Cardinals, Calais Campbell, Don LaGreca, Greg Buttle, Greg McElroy, Jason Smith, Kevin Kolb, Mark Sanchez, Rex Ryan, Ryan Lindley, Tim Tebow
Posted in Randy Lange | 41 Comments »
Here are today’s pregame tweets for Jets-Colts at MetLife Stadium, in case you missed them on Twitter. Follow Bob Wischusen, Eric Allen and me for our tweets during each Jets game on https://twitter.com/nyjets.
#RL Weather for today’s Jets-Colts game at MetLife Stadium: partly cloudy, temps rising slowly into 70s, winds gusting to around 15 mph.
#RL Colts lead all-time regular-season series vs. Jets 40-26, Jets lead playoff series 3-1 (wins in SB III, ’02 and ’10 AFC Wild Card games).
#RL Colts lead series since moving to IND in ’84, 26-16. Jets have won 5 of last 9, incl last win in Meadowlands: 41-0 in ’02 AFC WC Game.
#RL Mark Sanchez career vs IND: 47-for-80 passing (58.8%), 552 yds, 2 TDs, 2 INTs, 77.7 rating, 2-1 record.
#RL IND rookie QB Andrew Luck this season: 96-for-177 (54.2%), 1208 yds, 7 TDs, 5 INTs, 77.1 rating, 2-2 record.
#RL Luck in his NFL debut @ CHI turned ball over 4 times. In his next 3 games, all at home, turned it over twice.
#RL Joe McKnight’s 100-yd KOR TD vs HOU was Jets’ 16th KOR TD in last 11 seasons under ST coord Mike Westhoff.
#RL Beginning w/ Chad Morton’s 2 TDs in 2002 season opener @ BUF, Jets have had a KOR TD once every 11 games.
#RL Nick Folk at MetLife Stadium in months of Sept-Oct since ’10 at MetLife : 21-for-22 FGs
#RL Jets 5th in NFL in avg drive start after KOs (24.4-yd line), 1st in NFL in opponents’ avg drive start after KOs (18.0-yd line).
#RL Colts K Adam Vinatieri is 37-for-40 for his career in FG tries with NE (1996-2005) and IND (’09, ’10).
#RL Jets in green jerseys, white pants today. Jets in g/w are 10-9 overall, 8-7 @ home under HC Rex Ryan since ’09.
#RL NYJ inactives: QB Greg McElroy, WR Clyde Gates, RB Jonathan Grimes, S Eric Smith, FB John Conner, NT Sione Po‘uha, NT Kenrick Ellis
#RL IND inactives: QB Chandler Harnish, RB Donald Brown, LB Pat Angerer, NT Martin Tevaseu, G Joe Reitz, DE Fili Moala, LB Robert Mathis.
#RL Bill Leavy is today’s referee. It’s his 14 Jets game as ref since ’01. He’s also presided at Jets’ PO wins @ CIN in ’09, @ NE in ’10.
#RL Jets lineup changes: Lex Hilliard at FB for JConner, Quinton Coples at DE w/ Mike DeVito, Mo Wilkerson to replace SPo‘uha.
#RL TE Dustin Keller, who’s missed 4 games, & rookie WR Stephen Hill, who’s missed 2 games, back in action from hamstring injuries.
Tags: Adam Vinatieri, Andrew Luck, Bloomberg Radio, Don LaGreca, ESPN New York, Greg Buttle, Indianapolis Colts, Mark Sanchez, MetLife Stadium, Nick Folk, Rex Ryan
Posted in Randy Lange | 2 Comments »
As the wild, unpredictable first round of the 2011 NFL Draft unfolds on the enormous videoboards in each corner of New Meadowlands Stadium, one thing can be said definitively: A good time is being had by all who are attending the Jets’ annual Draft Day Party.
The party continues for Green & White fans on the east side of their team’s one-year-old home, with a crowd of 3,500 coming out into the stands onto the turf where their heroes perform during the season on Sunday afternoons and, increasingly, on selected Sunday and Monday nights.
“This is great, what the Jets do for families here,” said Rich, a father from nearby Secaucus whose children took part in an “NFL Combine” featuring a 40-yard dash, broad jump and field goal kick among the Jets Fest inflatables. “My kids had a great time playing on the same field Darrelle Revis plays on.”
The North Jersey weather, which was as turbulent earlier in the day as the first round is tonight, has also been agreeable. After tornado warnings and heavy storms throughout the day, the clouds departed in time for the fans to enter the stadium. Tonight it’s been humid but winds have been helping to keep things enjoyable.
The party, presented by the New York Daily News, Pepsi Max, Toyota and Verizon, had several other attractions. Bob Wischusen, the radio voice of the Jets, hosted a predraft program live on ESPN 1050 from 7-8 p.m. on the Bud Light Stage with Greg Buttle. Buttle was joined by fellow Jets alumni Wesley Walker, Bruce Harper and Bobby Jackson, all of whom spent time with the partygoers, signing autographs and posing for photos.
Jets owner Woody Johnson also was on hand early to great the early arrivers before departing for the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center, where he joined GM Mike Tannenbaum, head coach before coming to the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center for the Jets’ pick, around 8:30, was at the stadium with fans at the party.
“The party was terrific,” said Wischusen. “The different experiences Jets fans were able to enjoy made it completely different than years past, and that’s what the stadium offers. In addition to eating, drinking and watching the draft, families can go on the field, play on the inflatables and go in the Jets locker room. There’s so much more to do. I think people really enjoyed it.”
Rex’s Book Signing Itinerary
Following are the dates, times and bookstores at which fans can have a copy of Rex Ryan’s new book, “Play Like You Mean It: Passion, Laughs, and Leadership in the World’s Most Beautiful Game,” signed by the Jets head coach next week:
Tuesday, May 3, noon-2 p.m.
Barnes & Noble, 555 Fifth Ave. at 46th St., New York, NY 10017. Phone: 212-697-3048
Wednesday, May 4, 7-9 p.m.
Book Revue, 313 New York Ave, Huntington, NY 11743. Phone: 631-271-1442
Thursday, May 5, 7-9 p.m.
Mendham Books, 84 East Main St., Mendham, NJ 07945. Phone: 973-543-4949
Tags: Bob Wischusen, Bobby Jackson, Bruce Harper, Greg Buttle, Jets Draft Day Party, new Meadowlands stadium, Wesley Walker, Woody Johnson
Posted in Randy Lange | 8 Comments »
A week ago, Rex Ryan led off his post-OTA news conference with some semi-humorous words for his kickers, Nick Folk and Clint Stitser, who struggled with their practice-closing field goal tries.
Today Folk responded with an impressive 4-for-4 finish to his day.
"I feel a little better today than I did the other day," the coach said. "Nick made all his kicks. I feel a little better about that."
"Oh, yeah. That’s all right," Folk said about last week’s remarks from his boss. "It’s a learning curve right now. We’re still learning, getting together and working out the kinks. It’s a slow process, but today I think we showed a great deal of confidence in our operation and it showed pretty well in the results."
There is a lot of learning to do even for the kickers at this time of year. The operation Folk talked about was Tanner Purdum snapping and punter Steve Weatherford as his holder. But Kellen Clemens also has held and Matt Mulligan has also been snapping, so there has been some adapting to different parts in the assembly line as well as to some persistent breezes at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center fields.
Needless to say, all kickers will have to deal with such contingencies during the summer and into the season. Today Folk dealt with them by laying down a four-of-a-kind. He finished the first offense’s two-minute drive with Clemens at the controls by punching through a 47-yarder for the "game-winner." Then on three final kicks, Nick was true from 33, 36 and 43.
Stitser, however, missed all three of his tries from those last three distances. No transaction was immediately announced, but Ryan said, "That young man, I don’t think he’s ready right now. Will he be ready in the future? Maybe so. Right now, we’ll move on."
Update, 6 p.m. — The Jets have announced that Stitser has been released.
One Magic Night Out
Being the big man on the Jets campus, Ryan occasionally gets to rub elbows and break bread with the greats. And recently that meant that the Jets head coach, along with owner Woody Johnson and GM Mike Tannenbaum, dined in New York City with Magic Johnson.
"You try to surround yourself with great people," Rex said. "At least that’s what he told me."
The occasion came about because the Jets brass met up with the former Los Angeles Lakers great at the Mayweather-Mosley fight in Las Vegas. Ryan, knowing Johnson was in New York, extended the dinner invite.
"You know it wasn’t Mike because he’s a Celtics fan," Ryan said.
Magic entered this conversation at today’s post-practice news conference at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center because the point Rex was making in dropping one of the biggest NBA names was that his team, with its collection of talented players trying to make it all the way to the Lombardi Trophy by next February, is having some spirited sessions already, and it’s only OTA season.
"Magic was telling me about when he was on the Dream Team," Ryan said. "I asked him what those practices were like. He said they were the most intense things, the fiercest competition he’s ever been in, more than games, more than anything else, because you’re with the greatest players in the world and that’s probably why those guys were like that.
"Special guys love competing. And that’s what you see on the practice field."
Praise for the Smith Brothers
Ryan repeated his thinking at safety that if the season started tomorrow, Eric Smith would be starting alongside Jim Leonhard. But he’d like to see that change for a lot of reasons.
"We’re trying to get Brodney Pool caught up," Rex said. "Ideally, Brodney would be the starter and Eric would play his role. But Eric and Brad Smith are as valuable to our team as anybody. They’re on every special team and they can do special things on offense, in Brad’s case, and on defense, with Eric. Sometimes you start one of those guys and they play every snap and they’re not as effective in their other roles. We feel Brodney’s going to catch up and be [the starter] and we can afford to keep Eric in his role."
Jenkins Roars into the Lead
The Great Weight Chase’s next check-in is Friday morning, and Kris Jenkins is feeling feisty.
"I still have a little jiggle, but it’s going away," the big nose tackle said. "I’m a pound ahead of [Damien] Woody and five pounds ahead of Rex. I’m confident that if I don’t do anything crazy, I’ll be at 85 tomorrow."
That’s five pounds in the two weeks of the competitions, a rate that get him to his goal of being under last year’s 360 playing weight by the time training camp starts at the start of August.
Meanwhile, there’s an interim goal of 10 more pounds, which will get him on the field with his teammates instead of rehabbing from last year’s knee surgery on the sideline. "Absolutely," he said about being ready to roll for the June 14-16 full-squad minicamp. "Everything I’m doing now is just about the conditioning."
Bart Scott was a pass-defending machine at today’s practice. Early on No. 57 broke up a quick slant from Kellen Clemens to Jerricho Cotchery. Then he swatted away a Mark Sanchez 7-on-7 red zone ball for Braylon Edwards in the end zone. Finally, in 11-on-11 RZ, Scott picked off a Clemens ball for Edwards that was deflected into the air and took it the other way.
Clemens, running the first offense in team drills, had some nice rollout completions, then found Cotchery in RZ work in the end zone past rookie CB Kyle Wilson for the score. … J-Co caught another TD that got through Wilson’s hands. … Sanchez got a TD pass to J-Co over the middle vs. Dwight Lowery and another to David Clowney open on a rollout. … Kevin O’Connell worked with the second unit and hit some nice completions: skinny post to Britt Davis despite coverage in position work, TD down the middle to Larry Taylor ("the other LT"), and a down-the-middle strike to rookie TE Jeff Cumberland during his two-minute possession.
Rex on Sanchez: "He’s doing fantastic. He’s probably ahead of where we thought he’d be. Today he even snuck into a team rep. ‘Oh-oh, what’s he doing?’ ‘It’s a run.’ ‘OK.’ "
At practice today: two former Jets and current SNY Jets talkers, Greg Buttle and Ray Lucas. Lucas was impressed with LB Jason Taylor, whom, it should be remembered, Lucas not only played against as a Jet but with as a Dolphin. "Jason? He’s going to shock the world," Lucas told me. "It’d be different if I didn’t play with him in Miami. I’ve seen that work ethic. He’s going to be great. People will come around when he has seven sacks in the first half of the season.
Buttle was concerned about special teams. "Defensively, they’ll be in every game, tough vs. every team," said the one-time Green & White LB. "Offensively, they’re loaded. The only question I’d have there is the health of certain players. To me it doesn’t look like it’ll be too hard to coach the offense and defense. But it’ll be hard coaching the special teams. That’s what [Mike] Westhoff gets paid for. If I’m a Jets fan, I’m sipping some team under an umbrella and I can’t wait to see this team play. But the big question to me is going to be what they’re doing on special teams."
Tags: Rex Ryan, Mark Sanchez, Kellen Clemens, Greg Buttle, Nick Folk, Ray Lucas, Bart Scott, Kevin O\'Connell, Clint Stitser, Tanner Purdum
Posted in Randy Lange | 29 Comments »
It’s that time of year again, when the Jets trade in their hard hats for puffy pants and play golf for good causes.
The sixth annual New York Jets Charity Golf Classic presented by National Communications Group (NCG) will be played Tuesday, and for the first time the event will be held in New Jersey, at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster.
More than 20 current Jets players will mix with a group of Jets front office members, a handful of Jets alumni and foursomes of fans/golfers in the best-ball scramble tournament.
Among the players expected to attend are, alphabetically: Kellen Clemens, Jerricho Cotchery, James Dearth, Marques Douglas, Shaun Ellis, Jay Feely, Vernon Gholston, James Ihedigbo, Anthony Harris, Kris Jenkins, Dustin Keller, Jim Leonhard, Nick Mangold, Brandon Moore, Darrelle Revis, Eric Smith, Donald Strickland, Chansi Stuckey, Jason Trusnik, Eric Wilbur, Danny Woodhead and Wallace Wright
Head coach Rex Ryan and general manager Mike Tannenbaum also plan to be on hand.
Among the alumni, Greg Buttle, Wayne Chrebet, Joe Klecko and Marty Lyons are expected to swing into action. Jets radio voice Bob Wischusen will emcee before the tourney kicks off in the morning and at the dinner to close the day, and Jets Flight Crew cheerleaders will set up around Trump National to sell raffle tickets.
The field has to be concerned about Dearth, who, despite allegedly golfing only about once a year, has been the Jets anchor for the winning fivesomes for the past two tournaments.
Last year there was a three-way tie for second place, broken by a match of cards. The Brad Kassel team placed second, the Wischusen/Buttle quintet took third and the team piloted by Tannenbaum and senior personnel executive Terry Bradway came in fourth.
All proceeds will benefit the New York Jets Foundation, which over the past nine years has raised or contributed more than $9 million to promote youth health, fitness and education, particularly in disadvantaged communities, and about $1 million through the golf tournament alone since 2004.
This event is closed to the public, but newyorkjets.com will bring all you golf geeks and football freaks stories from the event via Twitter and with stories, blogs and photos on our Website.
This is the first event of two weeks of activities in Jets Week, the feature events being the five full-squad minicamp practices on June 9-11 at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center that will be open to the public. Check out our calendar to see the lineup of events.
Tags: Bob Wischusen, Greg Buttle, James Dearth, Mike Tannenbaum, Rex Ryan, Trump National, Wayne Chrebet
Posted in Randy Lange | 9 Comments »
Greg Buttle, the former Jets middle linebacker behind the Sack Exchange front line, was visiting the completed Atlantic Health Training Center this morning for the first time.
"If I’d've had this when I was playing," he said, smiling and striking a pose for a group in the hallway that included owner Woody Johnson, "I’d've been even better."
He might’ve been. Buttle was a fine player. And as a broadcaster, I’ve grown to appreciate him. He remains a proud, passionate guy and he shoots straight from his heart as only a former pro linebacker can.
Buttle was here today for a few reasons. He conducted an interview with Johnson for our Website, and he met head coach Rex Ryan for the first time.
But before going from Interview Room No. 2 to Rex’s office, all on the first floor, he made a detour up to my second-floor perch to say hello. I wanted to check in with him to get some info for a plug I want to give him on SNY’s Saturday 11:30 a.m. season premiere of "Jets Nation," which he’ll have a part in as usual.
And I wanted to ask him what he expected, not at that time having met Ryan, from the new coaching regime.
"I would say this to Jets fans, from my arm’s-length view of what the Jets have done so far this off-season," he said. "Without a doubt, the head coach is a great move.
"Now Bart Scott may turn out to be a great move, and we assume it would be. And Jim Leonhard may be a great move, and we assume it’s going to be a good move. And other players that are moving in and out we assume would be good.
"But Rex Ryan? Great move. This guy’s a throwback, he’s transparent, he’s not hiding anything," Buttle continued. "And you know what? As a player, from a former player, you can appreciate a coach that when he looks you in the eye and tells you something, he means it, and he’s not going to change his mind or tell you something different the next day."
And that, said Buttle, is Rex Ryan: "He comes from those old-school guys, the Buddy Ryans and the Walt Michaels of the world. That’s where it comes from."
I’m not sure how I feel about the now mustacheless Buttle, but I like his input on ESPN Radio and SNY and occasionally for newyorkjets.com. Greg said he’ll send me a blog in the near future about some of his views on the upcoming draft. I’m looking forward to it.
Tags: Bart Scott, Greg Buttle, jets nation, Jim Leonhard, Rex Ryan, Woody Johnson
Posted in Randy Lange | 96 Comments »
Throughout the years, I’ve heard the story often. My father started to tell it when I was just a young kid growing up in Buffalo, N.Y., and he repeated it yesterday when we spoke by phone after I attended the Joe Namath March of Dimes Celebrity Golf Tournament at Bethpage State Park on Long Island.
The year after the Jets’ Super Bowl win, they visited Buffalo’s War Memorial Stadium and Bills fans gave Namath and his teammates a standing ovation for their 16-7 victory over the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III. My dad, a lifelong Bills fan who quietly roots for us in Western New York, was surely proud of the knowledgeable salute to a rival, but he made it clear to me from early on that I should know that this was no ordinary champion.
In my youth, I don’t think I ever fully appreciated that win or its importance to pro football. But now eight years into my tenure with the Jets, I’ve had the opportunity to speak to some of those heroes — Namath, Boozer, Herman, Beverly, Schmitt, Grantham, Hill, Mathis — on at least a few occasions over the years.
And although many of those conversations have been memorable (Ken Ilchuk, who was my former boss, and I interviewed Namath once for more than an hour back at Weeb Ewbank Hall), Tuesday’s golf outing topped them all.
First of all, Namath throws a good party (and kudos to Brooks Thomas, the former Jets PR staffer who put this thing together for the March of Dimes), and all the proceeds will go to a wonderful cause.
Before any celebrity struck a ball, they assembled together and sat on risers for photos. Then former Jets LB Greg Buttle announced all-star casting from the sporting world, including the likes of Julius Erving — Dr. J. — Deacon Jones, Jim Kelly, Gary Carter, Darryl Strawberry, Clark Gillies, “Gentleman” Gerry Cooney, Jonathan Ogden, Ted Hendricks, Steve Largent, a number of Jets alumni and just too many other notables to include in this space.
Buttle saved Namath for last and I have to think Bob “White Shoes” Wischusen will do the same when the Jets honor their only championship team at halftime of the Chiefs game on Oct. 26. Forty years after the Green & White shocked the football world, they’ll come together largely intact in what promises to be an emotional tribute.
During the lead-up to that game, we’re going to relive that magical season here on newyorkjets.com. We’ll give you a snapshot of each game that season with scoring plays and charts, trivia and player commentary included.
Yesterday, I spoke to a number of players from that famed ’68 squad. As expected, some of those regular-season contests are a bit hazy, but these guys still remember many things vividly.
Namath recalled asking for some help from up above when the clock ticked down at the Orange Bowl. John Schmitt told me the Jets had so much hatred for the Raiders that they literally would have fought them in the parking lot. Larry Grantham and Winston Hill praised Ewbank for his ability to connect with players and they both viewed him as a father figure. Randy Beverly discussed his family’s disbelief when they found out the Jets had lost the “Heidi” game in Oakland. And Grantham told me the coaching staff stopped showing them film of the Colts three days prior to the game because they knew the players were so confident that they’d win the game.
I’ve got a few personal favorites that I’ll save for our official 1968 section on the site, but this was a unique group of guys and an excellent football team. There may have been better teams and there were surely better games played, but those Jets won the most important game in pro football history.
The story doesn’t change any — it just gets better with time. Those ’68 Jets are like a fine wine and the organization will pop open that cork at halftime of the Chiefs game.
For people like me, who never saw them play in person or on television, it will be our chance to give them a standing O.
Tags: Emerson Boozer, Greg Buttle, Joe Namath, John Schmitt, Larry Grantham, Randy Beverly, Super Bowl III, Winston Hill
Posted in Eric Allen | 6 Comments »
What I try to do when I write blogs is to think about what fans would think about and then write about those things. For instance, Jets fans would be absolutely thrilled — I said this on my radio show the other night — when asked: What do you think about Tom Brady? And I said, "Every Jets fan out there’s thinking good riddance, that’s what it is." Do you think they feel sorry for him? No. Do you think any player should feel sorry for him? No.
The issue is this: It’s always happened to the Jets. All of this has always happened to the Jets. From Vinny Testaverde’s Achilles’ on down to when I played, back to Joe Namath. You know, it either rained too hard, it snowed too hard, they fumbled the ball, the guy got hurt, we just almost made it.
And now the vision’s there. It’s not that it wouldn’t have been there if Brady was playing. But certainly that now has been made a little clearer. The path to the Super Bowl does go through New England until that changes.
But the winds of change are blowing. They were blowing in the off-season when the Jets redid their offensive line. And then the winds blew a little more when they added to their defense — Pace and Jenkins, to name two of them, were just excellent additions. Forget the deletions because I’m not in here to beat people up, but those two guys alone can help this Jets defense do what it couldn’t do before.
I’ve always said it’s not about making tackles, it’s about making tackles at or behind the line of scrimmage. That’s the difference, that’s what makes a big-play defense. That’s what I think this Jets defense has become. Time will tell how good it’s going to be, but as Jets fans would look at it, they’d say, boy this is a big difference.
That’s because people have historical reference. "Oh, these guys remind me of the Jets defense of the late Seventies, early Eighties." "Oh, yeah, this reminds me of the Sack Exchange." All those kinds of things I think Jets fans are going to start to realize. Or maybe are thinking of right now.
And I don’t blame them because that’s how I think. And I look and say, "Wow, how about the offensive line?" The offensive line that was dreadful last year, and we all know the reasons why. It never got better. It may have cost Pennington his job. It cost a lot of guys their jobs. But the bottom line is Jets fans can say Woody Johnson went out and spent a lot of money improving it.
Now, there is the possibility they could’ve chosen the wrong guys, and time will tell. They could’ve chosen the right guys, and I for one thought Faneca was an excellent choice and Damien Woody was even better. And I mean it in this sense: The line at tackle must be solidified. You can’t run the ball without offensive tackles that seal and cut off. Woody does that as well as anyone.
The Jets offense looks to be in good balance. They’ve got Brett Favre — unquestionably, as far as I’m concerned, the best quarterback to play. I think they’ve got all the pieces. They’ve got wide receivers, they’ve got defense, they have the offensive line, they’ve got the running back. C’mon. The only question left is: Do they have consistency?
And they have a big, big opportunity here to go out and make a statement on Sunday against a very good New England Patriots team without Tom Brady. And as the year wears on and people get injured and you get your weaknesses exposed, the Patriots may not be as good as people think they are.
You know, I’m not an excuse guy. Injuries in the NFL are big. But unless the Jets have something that I don’t foresee in injuries, I look for a big season from them, and I said as much to Jets fans on my SNY show and on ESPN Radio. I said before that the Jets certainly can be an 11-5 team and I’ll maintain it. Jets fans have a lot to look forward to.
Tags: Alan Faneca, Brett Favre, Damien Woody, Greg Buttle, Sack Exchange, Tom Brady, Vinny Testaverde
Posted in Uncategorized | 73 Comments »
In our continuing effort to provide you with quality content here on newyorkjets.com, we’re excited to announce two new features to our site: Internet radio and an expanded blogosphere.
Tony Richardson, the three-time Pro Bowl fullback, will lead us into the airwaves with “Paving the Way with T-Rich.” I’ll join Tony each broadcast as we meet weekly throughout the season. Our first preseason installment is available today and you can listen to it now.
Editor-in-chief Randy Lange and I are also set to host a weekend preview show. “Jets Two-Minute Drive” will air on Friday afternoons during the regular season and the show will be archived so you can get your Jets fix heading into the upcoming game. "The Drive” makes its debut next week.
Once Coach Mangini releases his weekly schedule, we’ll firm up show times and dates for everyone. Guests will appear periodically on both programs and don’t worry if you miss it the first time around — everything will be available via archive.
Our blog space, better known as “Randy’s Radar,” is growing. Jets play-by-play man Bob Wischusen, Green & White color commentator Marty Lyons and SNY personalities Greg Buttle, Ray Lucas and Steve Overmyer will now contribute to the popular blog spot.
Overmyer, whom Randy featured in an article earlier this week, is really into our blogosphere concept and has the first offering, which you’ll be able to read today.
We hope you’ll be pleased with our additions. There are a bunch of quality people coming on board and both Randy and I think you’ll like the product. Please continue reading and commenting, but we ask you to listen as well. If you want to ask T-Rich a question, please email it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tags: Bob Wischusen, Eric Allen, Greg Buttle, Marty Lyons, Randy Lange, Ray Lucas, Steve Overmyer, Tony Richardson
Posted in Eric Allen | 22 Comments »
There will be no games played this weekend, but there are two very important Jets events on the slate.
On Saturday, Eric Mangini will host his seventh annual charity football camp in his hometown of Hartford, Conn. Mangini says he’s anticipating 800 kids, representing about 35 different towns, and 128 coaches.
The Jets’ 37-year-old head coach attended Bulkeley HS and will return there tomorrow. There are a lot of problems that children face in his native community and Mangini, a bright mind and fierce competitor with an unbelievable work ethic, is deeply affected by their plight.
“Every year I see these kids. Unfortunately the stories don’t get better — they get worse,” he said Thursday. “A little boy last year was late. I asked him why he was late and he had been to the funeral of a friend of his. The child was 15 years old and had been shot in the face and killed.
“We’ve got to find some way to get these kids to pick up books instead of guns. We’ve got to find them some way to get in the schools instead of, unfortunately, in jails. It’s our responsibility.”
One of Mangini’s most admirable qualities is his civic-mindedness. He is a talented man who by design is guarded (competitive advantage is the main reason) and, I’ve often thought, misunderstood by fans. While he is completely committed to his football team, he loves his family and does some fantastic things for the community far away from the cameras. He keeps those things private and that’s a tribute to him.
But tomorrow, many members of the media will be on hand as Mangini attempts to reach out to his people. He is a success story from his diverse neighborhood, but he is using his platform to try to create more success stories.
“It’s incredibly satisfying to be able to help out and to be able to effect change. It’s something I learned from my father. He was very involved,” he said. “He did a lot of work with homeless shelters for men, trying to get those men back on track, give them an opportunity to straighten things out and get back on their feet.
“Probably the most dramatic story I remember is when we went to a play at the Hartford Stage Company. We were walking out and there was a homeless man. My dad gave him his jacket. I was young at the time but I’ll never forget it. We have to give more people jackets. We have to give more kids chances.”
Then on Sunday, 52 New York Jets Flight Crew hopefuls will have their final opportunity to impress FC director Denise Garvey and gameday ops director Brian Mulligan at the final auditions. The event, which will be held at Marc Ecko Enterprises in NYC, is CLOSED to the public.
Sorry, I didn’t make the rules. But newyorkjets.com will be on hand with Al Pereira taking photos and Rich Gentile heading the video coverage. By Sunday evening, 21 Flight Crew members will be chosen from an original pool of more than 250 by a panel of celebrity judges. The final member will be chosen by you guys and ladies in an online vote. (By the way, we featured each of the finalists this week with personality snapshots, so feel free to browse the site.)
The celebrity judges include Ecko, Danielle Monaro of the Z100 Morning Zoo, Jets alum Greg Buttle , NY Daily News contributor Jo Piazza, IMG Fashion’s Fern Mallis and a pair of charity-auction-winning Jets fans.
I’ll also be on hand, huddling up with Garvey and Mulligan as they make their decisions. If they ask for input, I’ll let them know what I think but dance isn’t my area of expertise.
If Ecko has wireless capabilities inside his building, you’ll hear from me sometime during the day. In any event, we’ll have a story up Monday on the 2008 Flight Crew along with photos.
Tags: Brian Mulligan, Denise Garvey, Eric Mangini, Flight Crew, Greg Buttle
Posted in Eric Allen | 4 Comments »