Jets defensive tackle Muhammad Wilkerson’s profile continues to emerge, and one offseason indicator of that is Mo is throwing a big-time formal charity event in a little more than two weeks.
Wilkerson and his Team 96 Foundation along with NBC celebrity Realtor Jay Morrison and his Project Culture Change are staging their first Youth Benefit Gala on Thursday, June 13, at the Crystal Plaza in Livingston, N.J.
The evening includes dinner, silent auction, entertainment and premium open bar. Formal attire is the order of the night. For more information and to purchase tickets at $125, you can visit Wilkerson’s Website here.
Hearing from Mr. Jordan
LaMont Jordan had a very solid pro career, especially his first four seasons playing behind Curtis Martin on the Jets when he averaged 4.9 yards per carry and 8.3 per catch out of the backfield.
Jordan, after moving on to the Raiders, Patriots and Broncos, is retired from the game. Now one of his post-football roles is this year is helping up-and-coming running backs to run safer, as USA Football’s Heads Up Football Ambassador for the coming season.
“My running style with the Jets, I think it varied depending on the opponent, the blocking schemes,” Jordan said earlier this month at Lucas Oil Stadium during his Heads Up Ambassador orientation. “I think overall I’m a right-at-you kind of runner, powerful, low pad level, deceptive speed, just the right amount of quickness. I would say direct, right at you, downhill.”
Jordan also said that at a young age, in high school, he learned about some of the values he’s now teaching to scholastic runners.
“I didn’t personally and I don’t know too many other running backs who deliberately try to lower their head and lead with their head,” he said. “One thing for me, when I’m running and approaching a defender, I try to choose a side. I want to avoid any kind of head contact.”
Other important tips — which no doubt are being used by NFL backs this year with the reemphasis on not striking defenders with the crowns of their helmets — are to bend at the knees and not at the hips, and to keep the eyes open.
“Sometimes you have a tendency, right before contact, you close your eyes. It happens. It’s natural,” Jordan said. “But I think it’s vital, especially with what Heads Up Football is teaching, is keeping your head up and keeping your eyes up. I think that’s one of the biggest things in trying to eliminate the helmet-to-helmet contact.”
Catching the Jets from a Distance
Jets fans outside the New York radio market, ESPN has good news for you:
ESPN Radio has signed individual multiyear agreements with the Jets (as well as with the Giants, Patriots, Steelers and Dolphins) for out-of-market Sunday afternoon syndication rights beginning with the 2013 season. These agreements mark the first time ESPN Radio will broadcast NFL game action nationally on its over-the-air terrestrial network.
The teams will continue to broadcast in their home markets through their official local stations.
In addition, ESPN NFL analysts Herm Edwards, Bill Polian and Damien Woody will each work several of ESPN Radio’s national broadcasts. Edwards is the former Jets head coach from 2001-05 and Woody was the Jets’ starting right tackle from 2008-10. Additional commentators and the complete schedule will be announced at a later date.
Tags: Curtis Martin, Damien Woody, Heads Up Football, Herm Edwards, LaMont Jordan, Mo Wilkerson, USA Football
Posted in Randy Lange | 14 Comments »
By the by, it’s time again to talk about the bye.
No, not the Jets’ bye week, which comes the week after Sunday’s game against Miami at MetLife Stadium. Maybe the banged-up Jets could use a vacation, even some good fraction of a week, but as Herm Edwards said back in 2004: “You don’t have to worry the week before about what happens in the bye week. It’s like going to school at the end of the year. School ends Friday, Wednesday you’re worried about what you’re going to do Friday, then you screw the test up Thursday and you gotta go to summer school.”
A potential danger for the Jets, though, is that the Dolphins are coming off their bye. Does that fact in itself suggest that the ‘Fins are more dangerous than usual to the Jets’ psyche and their desire to sweep their friends from the South?
The current data suggests the bye week does help teams, although not a lot. From 2002 through this past week’s games, teams coming off their byes (not counting when two teams coming off byes meet each other) have done fairly well at 162-128, a .559 winning percentage. That’s pretty much what homefield advantage used to be in the NFL.
So for the sake of argument, teams playing the week after their bye, regardless of where they play, see their chances improve to the chances of winning a home game.
That wouldn’t be good for the Jets.
On the other hand, if this year’s new, improved homefield rising tide — home teams are 64-40 this season, a brisk .615 winning clip — lifts all boats, then the Jets could be buoyed by their home crowd and the Dolphins’ bye-week edge could be neutralized.
How about teams playing games before their bye weeks? Does that help any?
Don’t laugh. I asked Edwards about that about a decade ago and he agreed that teams heading into byes — as long as they weren’t worrying about summer vacation — could get a boost. Something about being energized by wanting to go into the bye and come out of it with some momentum for a big second-half push.
Do the numbers support this theory? Yes and no.
If you go by the 2010 and ’11 seasons, games before byes were a good thing. Teams produced a 31-19 record in those games, a .620 winning percentage.
But this advantage seems to come and go every few years (or doesn’t really exist). In 2006, NFL teams in before-bye games were 12-20, in ’09 they were 12-18, and so far this year they’re a paltry 4-12. The bottom line: From 2002 through Week 7, before-bye teams were 148-148. That’s a coin flip.
How about the Jets and Dolphins alone? The Dolphins are 4-6 since ’02 in post-bye games. This includes last year’s 24-6 Monday night loss to the Jets. The Jets are 4-6 in pre-bye games since ’02, but have won three of their last four — thumping Arizona in ’08, squeezing by the then-Tebowing Broncos in Denver in ’10 and rerouting Philip Rivers and San Diego last season.
In fact, the Chargers came to MetLife off their bye last year, which anecdotally suggests that maybe pre-bye teams have an edge over post-bye teams. Eh, not so much. Since ’09, pre-byes and post-byes have met 16 times. The record: 8-8.
I honestly wanted to bring you some telling trend on bye-week team performances in advance of the Jets-Dolphins, but apparently I feel strongly both ways.
But Chad Pennington left no doubt about his feelings when asked before the Jets’ pre-bye game at Cleveland back in ’06.
“We know it’s important to win every game,” Pennington said. “in this league you can’t say, ‘Well, we can drop a game here and we can let off in this area,’ because you never know what game is going to be a deciding factor on whether or not you’re able to make it into the playoffs. So every game is important for us.”
Interestingly, Pennington’s Jets lost that road game at Cleveland, 20-13, to settle at 4-4 at the bye, then won six of their last eight to finish 10-6 and reach the playoffs.
Here’s a strange note about Nick Folk. Whenever his NFL team gives up an early kickoff-return touchdown, he kicks a late long-range field goal.
In 2007, Terrence McGee had a kickoff return for Buffalo, but Folk nailed a 53-yard FG with no time on the clock at Ralph Wilson Stadium to complete the Cowboys’ memorable 25-24 Monday night comeback win over the Bills. The next year J.J. Arrington took one to the house for Arizona, but Folk’s 52-yarder, again at 0:00, sent that game to overtime, where the Cardinals won, 30-24.
Then on Sunday, Devin McCourty cut loose for his 104-yard first-quarter return. Folk responded with one of his best games as a Jet, going 4-for-4 with makes from 54, 43 and 43 yards. The final 43 gave the Jets their short-lived 26-23 lead with 1:37 to play.
That may be strange coincidence, but this about Folk is money in the bank: He has moved to second-best among all NFL kickers (since 1991, including playoffs, at least six tries) in fourth-quarter FG percentage. Folk is 41-for-43 (95.3%) in fourth-quarter kicks. First is Denver’s Matt Prater (28-for-29, 96.6%). Third is New England’s Stephen Gostkowski (48-for-51, 94.1%), who kicked the game-tying FG as time ran out in regulation and the gamewinner in OT.
Tags: bye week, Chad Pennington, Herm Edwards, Miami Dolphins, Nick Folk, Stephen Gostkowski
Posted in Randy Lange | 59 Comments »
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.
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.
Tags: Antonio Cromartie, Darrelle Revis, Doug Brien, Dustin Keller, Herm Edwards, injured reserve, Kenrick Ellis, Marty Schottenheimer, Nate Kaeding, Rex Ryan, Stephen Hill, Tim Tebow
Posted in Randy Lange | 28 Comments »
When I told Donnie Abraham he has an odd yet impressive distinction in Jets history — he’s still the franchise’s only cornerback ever to return an interception and a fumble for touchdowns in the same season — he sounded pleased.
“Wow, I didn’t know that,” Abraham said from his newest gig as the defensive backs coach for the Arena League’s Tampa Bay Storm. “My three years there I thought was pretty decent. It was the second half of my career being there, being an older player, being a smarter player. I thought I contributed to a team, which I think every player in this league wants to do, He wants to contribute, he wants to be accountable.”
Herm Edwards knew all that, which is why, after his first year as the Jets’ head coach in 2001, he helped transport Abraham from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers up I-95 to the Jets and the Meadowlands as an unrestricted free agent.
“Donnie was kind of a unique deal,” Edwards, who came to the Jets from his stint as the Bucs’ DBs coach and assistant head coach, told me today. “John Lynch was already there when I got there. Donnie was the first guy we drafted our first year. The next year was Ronde Barber, the next year was Brian Kelly. All those guys were built the same way. They were very smart, they wanted to learn the game. All four of those guys could coach. That was a pretty good secondary.”
Edwards broke it up by plugging Abraham into the Jets’ secondary at left corner. He started all 18 games, including playoffs, in ’02. The next year he opened at LCB for two games, then hurt his shoulder and sat out eight games before backing up the rest of the year.
In ’04 he was back to being an 18-game starter, and that’s when he had his happy returns — a 41-yard return of a Rudi Johnson fumble in the season opener against Cincinnati on Sept. 12, then three weeks later a 66-yard pick-six of Jay Fielder at Miami on Oct. 3.
“We needed Donnie,” said Edwards, who the last few years has added his voice and insight to ESPN’s NFL studio team. “We needed a guy who was new but who understood the system, especially the secondary, and could explain it to the guys. It’s one thing when a coach tells the players, but it’s another thing when a player can tell them, ‘This is why we’re doing this.’ “
“I didn’t really know what to expect when I came to the Jets — I was in one place my whole career,” Abraham said. “I did go to New York with a familiar face in Herm Edwards, but when I got there, I thought the organization was great. I was born and raised all my life down south. Then to go up north to the big city and all the media, that was definitely different. But as far as the organization and my three years there, I thought it was pretty decent.”
For more on Abraham’s new coaching career, see my news story here.
Here are the seven players who had at least one interception return and one fumble return for touchdowns in their Jets careers, and the four who had at least one of each in the same season (*fumble-return TD came on special teams):
|Player||1st IR TD||1st FR TD||Same Yr|
|LB Larry Grantham||1970||1962||……..|
|S Burgess Owens||1974||1974*||1974|
|LB Greg Buttle||1977||1976||……..|
|S Darrol Ray||1980||1980||1980|
|S Erik McMillan||1988||1989||1989|
|LB Mo Lewis||1994||2001||……..|
|CB Donnie Abraham||2004||2004||2004|
Tags: Brian Kelly, Donnie Abraham, Herm Edwards, John Lynch, Ronde Barber, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Posted in Randy Lange | 8 Comments »
Another career snapshot of Curtis Martin, who is in the running to be a first-year inductee into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Feb. 5 in Dallas:
One of the very few shortcomings in Curtis Martin’s game over the years was his often slow start out of the gate. But Martin made up for that in one fell swoop as he and the Jets pounced on the Bengals, 31-24, in the 2004 season opener in the Meadowlands.
“I believe so,” Martin said when asked if his rushing line that day — 196 yards on 29 carries and the Jets’ first touchdown (on a 3-yard slip-screen) and their last (24-yard run with 9:35 to play) — was the best of his career. “I just kept telling my line thanks. It feels good especially to get off to a fast start. My MO around here has been to start slow and turn it around.”
It wasn’t only the fastest start of his career but also was and remains to this day the most rushing yards compiled by any Jet on opening day in franchise history.
Coach Herm Edwards, asked if he’d ever seen Martin run as well, said: “My first year , when he ran for 15 hundred. He has that look about him right now.”
Little did Coach Herm and Curtis know. More about the end of Martin’s 2004 season in the coming days.
HOF Latest to Go to Primetime
Martin told reporters on Tuesday’s conference call that he’ll be at home on Long Island on Saturday night, “probably watching TV, doing something simple.” It’s possible he could be watching when NFL Network announces in primetime that he’s made the Class of ’11.
For the first time ever at night, the network will announce the Pro Football Hall of Fame enshrinees, determined by the Hall’s selection committee earlier in the day, on Saturday at 7 p.m. ET. “Road to Canton” will be hosted by Rich Eisen alongside Hall of Famers Steve Young, Rod Woodson and Michael Irvin, who will be joined by new inductees and current Hall members during the show.
Portions of the announcement ceremony will also be available live on NFL.com.
For the second consecutive year, the Pro Football Hall of Fame has teamed up with Van Heusen and JCPenney to allow fans to select whom they believe should be enshrined in the Hall of Fame.
Visit the Curtis Martin for Hall of Fame page
Tags: Cincinnati Bengals, Curtis Martin, Herm Edwards, NFL Network, opening day, Rich Eisen
Posted in Randy Lange | 13 Comments »
Another career snapshot of Curtis Martin, who is in the running to be a first-year inductee into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Feb. 5 in Dallas:
The best move of Martin’s Jets career? There were many but the one I remember best was the unkindest cut he put on Kansas City safety Greg Wesley at the old Meadowlands pitch on Nov. 11, 2001.
The Jets were playing the Chiefs, meaning that Herm Edwards was going up against his former Eagles boss, Dick Vermeil, for the first time as an NFL head coach. Call it the Oedipus Bowl.
Whatever, Coach Herm and coordinator Paul Hackett called the perfect play on fourth-and-1 at the Chiefs 25 with 30 seconds left in the first half and the Jets up, 7-0. Gutsy move.
And Martin made the move work, bursting off his left side, into the secondary, and whipping an ankle-breaker on Wesley before striding into the end zone unscathed for a 14-0 lead.
As J.P. Machado, making his second start for RG Randy Thomas, put it, “Curtis makes up for a lot of mistakes. A lot of times when you block a guy, even if it’s not the right guy or you’re not taking him to the right place, Curtis makes a lot of cuts and gets a lot of yards and makes you look good.”
That was the second of three Martin TD runs on the day. He opened the scoring with a 1-yarder (over Machado’s side) earlier in the second period, then closed with a 5-yarder that made it 24-0 en route to the Jets’ 27-7 victory.
The three rushing TDs were Martin’s second trifecta in two years and his only one at home. No Jet has ever rushed for four or more TDs in a game, and the only time a back has achieved that since then is Thomas Jones with three scoring runs vs. St. Louis in 2008.
“Getting the extra yard is a talent, a confidence I’ve been blessed with,” said Martin, who gained 113 yards on 20 carries in that highly productive day. “There’s something in me that just gravitates to the hole, to get every inch.”
Here are the five Jets who rushed for three touchdowns at home on six occasions in franchise history:
Watch Curtis Martin video (jump to 0:33)
Visit the Curtis Martin for Hall of Fame page
Tags: Curtis Martin, Dick Vermeil, Greg Wesley, Herm Edwards, J.P. Machado, Kansas City Chiefs, Meadowlands
Posted in Randy Lange | 6 Comments »
After becoming the final team to secure a playoff berth in the NFL’s 2009 season, the New York Jets can clinch a berth this weekend and still have three more games to play.
There are three scenarios in which the Green & White can stamp a return trip to the postseason by Sunday night.
Jets (9-3) win over the Dolphins (6-6)
Chargers (6-6) lose/tie against the Chiefs (8-4)
Jaguars (7-5) lose/tie against the Raiders (6-6)
Jets (9-3) win over the Dolphins (6-6)
Chargers lose/tie against the Chiefs (8-4)
Colts (6-6) lose/tie at the Titans (5-7) on Thursday night
Jets (9-3) and Dolphins (6-6) tie
Raiders lose/tie at the Jaguars (7-5)
Chargers (6-6) lose to the Chiefs (8-4)
Colts (6-6) lose at the Titans (5-7) on Thursday night
The Jets currently sit one full game behind the Patriots in the AFC East as both teams are 3-1 in the division after splitting the season series. In conference games, the Pats are 8-2 and the Jets are 7-2. Sunday’s game against the Dolphins is a huge contest because it counts both in the division and the conference, and the Green & White will embark on a tough two-game road swing in Weeks 15 and 16 against teams with a combined 18-6 record.
Jets’ Final Quarter
vs. MIA (6-6), @ PIT (9-3), @ CHI (9-3), vs. BUF (2-10)
Patriots’ Final Quarter
@ CHI (9-3), vs. GB (8-4), @ BUF (2-10), vs. MIA (6-6)
If head coach Rex Ryan’s Jets earn a spot in the postseason, it will mark their first back-to-back dance invitations since 2001 and ’02 under Herm Edwards.
Tags: Herm Edwards, New York Jets, playoff berth, Rex Ryan
Posted in Eric Allen | 46 Comments »
The Jets are warming up at Bank of America Stadium about an hour before the start of tonight’s preseason game against the Panthers. And it would be a welcome turn in franchise history if the Green & White starters (about one quarter) and the twos and threes (about the last three quarters) can put together a complete game in Charlotte, N.C.
They’ve been hard to come by the few times the Jets visited here previously.
Remember the 2005 regular-season game at this stadium? Brooks Bollinger, pressed into duty due to multiple starting QB injuries, threw four second-half interceptions as the Panthers pulled away for a 30-3 victory.
Four years earlier, these teams played a game that so ugly that it got a nickname: “The Shrek Game.” The reason it wasn’t as ugly for the Jets as for the Panthers is that the Jets won it, 13-12, on John Hall’s field goal with 4:53 to play (at the same venue as tonight, although the name then was Ericsson Stadium).
Reporters sniffed about how ugly the victory was, but then-coach Herm Edwards, not one to pass up a great cultural tie-in, employed Shrek, the green, animated ogre who made his movie debut a short while before, to let his players and fans know that every win is beautiful.
We won’t even venture too far back to 1995, when the teams met for the first time (at Clemson Memorial Stadium, just over the NC/SC border) and Bubby Brister committed “the Shovel Pass” that Sam Mills took 36 yards for the INT-return TD that helped the Panthers to the first win in franchise history, 26-15.
And since the teams have never played a preseason game at Carolina, this is certainly a chance for the Green & White to make a small break with the past and send out the message, to their fans and their “Hard Knocks” audience among many, that the entire team is settling into “Play Like a Jet” mode.
As mentioned, the starters, after playing the first half vs. the Giants, have been ticketed for roughly one quarter of work tonight.
“Yes, I think that’s it, no more,” said head coach Rex Ryan on Thursday, his last news conference at training camp on the SUNY Cortland campus. ‘That’s the deal, that’s how we’re going into this game, so it’s really flipped, how you would play the game.”
So Mark Sanchez may get to work on some of the checkdown passes that were the talk of the past week or so, and Matt Slauson and Vlad Ducasse will continue their LG battle. On defense, NT Kris Jenkins, back in the town he called home for his first seven NFL seasons, will take the next step on his road back from his season-ending knee injury of a year ago, and first-rounder Kyle Wilson is expected to get the CB start as Darrelle Revis’ holdout continues.
But the starters will leave early on and Rex and the Jets will then take a look at their backups, such as QB Mark Brunell perhaps throwing to old/new Jets WR Laveranues Coles, a large cast of ILBs (Kenwin Cummings, Lance Laury and newcomer Boris Lee should play, but no word yet on the health status of Josh Mauga and Brashton Satele), and a secondary that could be tested by the Panthers WR corps, which should include some routes being run by former Jet Wallace Wright.
The weather in Charlotte is expected to be in the low 80s under mostly cloudy skies for this game. Because the Panthers are in their white uniforms with blue trim, the Jets will be wearing their green jerseys and white pants.
Tonight’s referee is Clete Blakeman. If you’re not familiar with that name, that’s because Clete is a new referee this season and thus is working his first Jets game.
Kickoff is about an hour away now. Eric Allen and Nick Gallo will be manning the CoveritLive chat on newyorkjets.com for all who want to check it out, while I will be doing my ingame tweeting, along with Jets radio voice Bob Wischusen, with our tweets appearing on both twitter.com/nyjets and the live chat. I’ll have a game story available on our site as soon as possible after the end of the game.
Then EA, Nick and I will do followups through Sunday leading into next week’s final training camp practices — open sessions Monday and Tuesday at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center in Florham Park, N.J., and Wednesday evening at Hofstra Stadium in Hempstead, N.Y. The busy preseason continues.
Tags: Bank of America Stadium, Cliff Blakeman, Herm Edwards, Kris Jenkins, Kyle Wilson, Laveranues Coles, Mark Brunell, Mark Sanchez, Rex Ryan, Shrek Game, Wallace Wright
Posted in Randy Lange | 4 Comments »
The triumph in San Diego can be attributed to many things: a gritty defense that dug in its heels and got better and better as the game wore on, the heady play of the Jets’ two rookies on offense, the Chargers’ troubles with yellow flags and field goals.
But don’t overlook the Jets’ long-standing tendency to act like a pit bull with a bone when they get a decent lead.
This statistic first surfaced during the wild-card win at Cincinnati, and the amazing trend continued through Southern California:
The Jets have won their last 60 games when they’ve gotten a lead of eight or more points in the fourth quarter.
That’s the longest current streak, playoffs included, in the NFL. And the Green & White’s .984 winning percentage (61-1) in those games since the start of 1999 is the league’s best in the last 11 seasons.
What does it all mean? Well, it doesn’t mean the Jets can’t be beaten. The category doesn’t consider all leads, just those of a touchdown and a deuce or more. And what about the games in which the team never went ahead in the final 15 minutes? That’s for another chart on another day.
This trend is related, for example, to the Yankees’ documented excellence in winning games that they lead from the eighth inning on.
Similarly, the Jets have shown themselves to be the masters of avoiding the bad blown lead, of taking a solid edge and putting it in their W bag.
Who can we thank for this tendency? Well, the only player who goes back to even the 2000 season is Shaun Ellis, and surely he deserves a small helping of the credit. As for coaches, Bob Sutton was also here for the start of the millennium and also gets a piece of the pie; all the others have moved on.
But coaching in general has a lot to say about getting leads late and then holding them with expert four-minute offense, some acceptable and effective version of prevent defense (gasp!) and field position provided by the specialists. It’s equal parts player skill, coaching strategy and strength/conditioning work done all off-season and into the year in anticipation of the fourth quarters to come.
So let’s throw some kudos to the head coaches who helped build this mammoth monument to grabbing a late lead and then playing the best keepaway in pro football. Bill Parcells (5-0) started the streak with that ’99 team that began with an ER-full of injuries and finished as the proverbial team not in the playoffs that nobody wanted to face.
The run continued through Al Groh (5-0) in 2000, Herm Edwards (24-0) from ’01-05 and Eric Mangini (17-0) in ’06-08.
And it’s alive and flourishing under first-year man Rex Ryan, whose Jets have won nine games without losing an eight-point lead in the fourth frame, including the last four wins in a row in which they’ve held double-digit advantages down the stretch: at Indianapolis, home for Cincinnati, at Paul Brown Stadium and on Sunday "the Murph."
Here are the winning-percentage and current-streak leaders in games with an eight-point-plus lead in the fourth quarter from 1999 to present:
|Record||W-L||Pct||Current Win Streak||Games|
|1. JETS||61-1||.984||1. JETS||60|
|2. Green Bay||82-2||.976||2. Baltimore||40|
|3. Indianapolis||98-3||.970||3. Atlanta||37|
|4. Atlanta||58-2||.967||4. Philadelphia||32|
|5. Baltimore||85-3||.966||5. San Diego||27|
|6. St. Louis||71-3||.959||6. Cincinnati||20|
Two final notes on the Jets’ big 6-0. The streak began after the ’99 team flew to Oakland, took a 20-10 lead into the last quarter against the Raiders, then fell to a Rich Gannon-led comeback, 24-23.
And while the Jets hold the current lead, they aren’t the only NFL team doing well at putting wins away. In fact, the Indianapolis Colts had built a 77-game streak in this category from 1999 until 2007, when they took a 20-10 lead on New England in the RCA Dome, then lost to the Patriots, 24-20. The Colts’ response was to reel off another 19-game streak, which is current and which they’ll take into Sunday’s AFC Championship Game vs. the Jets.
If either team grabs a 21-13 lead in the final 15 minutes, it will be interesting to see what happens from there.
From 60 Straight to 5 Straight
Fans of the Chargers and, to a lesser extent, the Bengals have been heard to complain about how the kicking of Nate Kaeding and Shayne Graham led to the Jets "lucking out" in their playoff victories. Nice try but the Jets have been victims of some missed kicks in the past as well. Errant field goals count just as much as do errant passes, coaches’ calls and officials’ rulings. They’re all part of the game we love.
But we will grant that it is a strange kicking drought that has helped the Jets reach the AFC Championship Game. With the Bengals’ Shayne Graham missing two kicks under 40 yards and the Chargers’ Nate Kaeding going 0-for-3, including a 36-yarder that snapped his streak of 69 successful tries under 40 yards, one might ask when the last time opponents were similarly off-target against the Jets.
The answer is that this is the first time opposing kickers have gone 0-for-5 or worse in two consecutive games in franchise history. There have been five other 0-for-5 stretches over three- or four-game spans. But since 1968, it’s happened only once before, in 1986 when Seattle’s Norm Johnson (0-for-1), Atlanta’s Mick Luckhurst (0-for-2) and Indianapolis’ Dean Biasucci (0-for-2) got the ankle collar from Games 9-11.
Different Football, Same Goal
Fans of the Jets and women’s soccer in the area can check out a story just posted today on some similarities between the Green & White and Sky Blue FC, the metro area’s franchise in Women’s Professional Soccer. The primary likeness: Sky Blue had a touch-and-go regular season but moved down the stretch from last place in the seven-team WPS to fourth and into the playoffs. Then they went on to win three games in 10 days to claim their first championship.
Congratulations to Sky Blue, whose rookie roster "asked the same question the Jets are asking: Why Not Us?"
Championship Week Begins
The Jets are gearing up for a big fan week before the team heads out to Indianapolis on Saturday. We’ll have a formal announcement of the schedule tonight or Wednesday, but here’s the first event of the week that we wanted you to know about today, because the appearance is tonight.
Wide receiver Wallace Wright and guard Rob Turner will be at the Jets Shop Store in Manhattan signing autographs from 6-8 p.m. tonight. The store is located at 437 Madison Ave. at 50th Street.
As a side benefit for fans at this event and through the week, those who use their MasterCard to purchase merchandise at the Jets Shop store or at jetsshop.com will receive 15 percent off their orders.
We’ll report on more Championship Week events soon on newyorkjets.com.
Tags: Bill Parcells, Eric Mangini, Herm Edwards, Indianapolis Colts, Rex Ryan, San Diego Chargers, Wallace Wright
Posted in Randy Lange | 43 Comments »
Rex Ryan confessed to one "poor decision" Thursday, which was bringing that morning’s OTA practice into the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center fieldhouse when the rain had stopped and he could have worked his team outdoors.
But the fieldhouse is good for many things, and one of them was to act as an echo chamber, the better to bounce the taunts of linebacker Bart Scott around to everyone else’s ears.
But Scott — overheard once even seeming to needle punter Eric Wilbur from the sideline during a special teams period — insisted that "Everything I do is for a reason."
"It takes tremendous energy and cardio to talk and practice at the same time," Scott said in the locker room after the practice. "I enjoy talking because it forces me not to be able to breathe, so it helps me get in shape faster."
It also gets his teammates into a certain condition as well.
"It’s awesome," quarterback Kellen Clemens said. "All it does is up the intensity. It’s fun being out there competing against your boys, and a little bit of trash talk here and there just makes it that much more enjoyable. It’s never personal with Bart or with anybody else. It just keeps it light."
And as kicker Jay Feely informed his Twitter followers:
"That was our most enthusiastic practice yet. If you can’t handle being heckled, don’t come play for the Jets."
Which, said head coach Rex Ryan, is also a part of the method to Scott’s madness.
"You have to let everybody express themselves, as long as it’s not detrimental to the football team," Ryan said. "They’re having a good time out there. Even [Damien] Woody told me, ‘Man, I never heard somebody get on somebody so much. No cuss words, but getting on people. It’s a good thing.’ Yeah, no kidding. He’s trying to pick up everybody’s game. If he can get the offense riled up and ready go, we’re going to get everything the offense can give, whether he’s getting on the punter, whatever.
"And trust me," the coach continued, "the offense is giving it right back, the coaches give it right back. It’s a competitive thing. As soon as somebody’s chirping, you want to prove him wrong. It livens up the practice. It’s hard to have a bad practice when guys are flying around out there."
Thursday’s practice was part of the Rex equation in action. Every NFL coach seeks out ways to focus his team’s attention and optimize its output and get that winning edge.
Some of the weapons in Bill Parcells’ arsenal were the intimidation factor from the Big Tuna himself, plus an us-against-them mentality and exquisite preparation. Herm Edwards stressed "inconveniences" and personal interaction to draw out the Jets’ best. For Eric Mangini, the emphasis wasn’t on trash talk but it was on distractions such as practicing in bad weather and loud music.
Fans can argue which approach is best and how effective any of them were. But what is true is that each of those coaches used his style to get the Jets to the playoffs at least once.
Now it’s Rex’s turn and the Green & White are doing it Ryan’s way. It’s not all about smack, of course. The Jets also plan to have a ballhawking defense, a "ground and pound" offense, their usual high-quality special teams.
But as Feely tweeted, to survive practices like Thursday’s: "You have to have thick skin or earplugs."
Think of what the Jets’ opponents in the foreseeable future will need.
Tags: Bart Scott, Bill Parcells, Eric Mangini, Herm Edwards, Jay Feely, Kellen Clemens, Rex Ryan
Posted in Randy Lange | 32 Comments »