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STS*: Fake Punts Are No Trickery, Just Execution

Posted by Randy Lange on October 20, 2012 – 12:14 pm

If the Jets execute a fake punt every other game, does it no longer qualify as a fake?

As special teams coordinator Mike Westhoff said this week in response: “I’d rather execute than trick. That’s me as a coach. I don’t think we really tricked anybody.”

But to be sure, the Jets have out-executed three opponents in the past four weeks. That’s 3-for-3 on Tim Tebow-triggered plays. The only other time in the last 30 years that the Jets have reeled off three fake punts for first downs  was in 2009, when they went 4-for-4. Add in fake field goals and the only time besides ’12 and ’09 that the Green & White went 3-for-3 was in 1987. (

“We have to execute. That’s what it comes down to,” said linebacker and “tight end” Nick Bellore. “But I think we’ve got a lot of confidence in what we’re doing right now.”

Bellore worked in tandem with Tebow to pull off the 23-yard jump-pass conversion on fourth-and-11 at the Colts 40 on Sunday. Who’d a’ thunk it that Nick, who’s picked off a few passes over his years in the game but doesn’t remember ever catching a pass, would have gotten wide-open, taken TT’s pass flawlessly, and then motored and leaped for 14 yards after the catch?

“YAC. That’s what they brought me here for,” Bellore said Friday.

Westhoff said there was never a doubt in his mind that No. 54 would get it done.

“Nick’s just athletic, and when we did it in practice, he caught it well,” Coach Westy said. “I think there was one time when we did it in practice that he didn’t report. Now our officials caught it and they were going to throw the flag, and then he was begging them — he knew I would kill him — he said, ‘Please don’t tell him, don’t tell him.’  So that did happen, but no, I have a lot of confidence in Nick.”

The confidence in the first two plays was of a different sort. Tebow kept for 5 yards on fourth-and-3 from the Jets 25 at Miami, then two weeks later he bulled ahead for 3 yards on fourth-and-1 from the Jets 24.

For both runs Tebow plowed off his left side with the short snap from Tanner Purdum, with the help of some strong blocking from Garrett McIntyre, Josh Mauga and Konrad Reuland. I’s all in a day’s work for Reuland, a tight end, but Mauga (since IR-ed) and Mac, they’re used to shedding blocks, not blocking sheds.

“It’s a little different,” McIntyre said, “but it’s pretty easy, just get off the ball as hard as you can and block the guy.”

Easy to say when it’s the Dolphins’ punt-block team, but the Texans smelled a rat and sent out their first defense to try to stop the potential primetime fake. The 255-pound McIntyre found himself going up against 284-pound starting DE Antonio Smith.

“It was crazy for a second, but there was a big bubble next to him and Tim found the bubble. He’s given me a little props for my blocks,” Mac said. “Running these fakes is great in the fact that we can help extend the drive. That’s an awesome feeling.”

Indeed, the Jets turned a three-and-out series into a 15-play field goal drive against the Dolphins, another three-and-out into a seven-play drive vs. Houston, and Bellore’s beautiful catch-and-run turned a six-play punt possession into an 11-play, 70-yard touchdown march vs. Indy.

Dare we say a drive-extending out-execution against the Patriots might be extremely helpful as the Jets compete up at Gillette Stadium with the Pats? OK, we dare not. And as Bellore reminded:

“Against New England, it’ll be tough. I’m not saying the other teams we ran our plays against weren’t tough, but we’re playing a lot  of really, really good special teams units this season.”

But then as Westhoff reminded reporters on Thursday, “I’d run more of ‘em than that if we could. We have them up all the time. Many times on fakes you catch someone totally unprepared. That really has not happened too much with us, especially after we’ve run them, because people now know and they’re going to gear up for it.

“But we still think we can do it.”

Malone’s Monster Game

Kudos to Malone for his five-punt, 52.0-yard gross, 48.0 net game vs. the Colts. The net is actually a franchise mark of sorts, equaling the best net in a game, minimum of four punts, by a Jet since 1976. Brian Hansen previously held that distinction alone with his five punts in the Astrodome against the Houston Oilers on Dec. 24,1994.

“Last week, his first punt we were disappointed in — he tried to muscle it,” Westhoff said of a ball that Malone told me was blown out of his hand a bit by the early Meadowlands gusts and still hopped out of bounds for a 50-yard gross and net. “After that I thought he was outstanding. He’s got a very strong leg, a powerful leg. I think he’s got a lot of future ahead of him. Now he’s got a lot of things to do to work out his technique, his drops, to get all those things consistent, but he’s worked at it very well.”

Westhoff is certain the Patriots will have Wes Welker returning punts Sunday, so if Malone’s got a bunch more of those 5.13-second hangtimes in that powerful leg (that’s my unofficial average for his last four punts of the day), it will help Ellis Lankster and ‘Zaiah Trufant to keep WW thinking fair catch and help the Jets in the all-important field position battle.

*Special Teams Saturday


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Maybin: Coples ‘Deserves’ That Extra Half-Sack

Posted by Randy Lange on October 17, 2012 – 6:43 pm

Quinton Coples assured reporters today that he’s not in a first-round D-line competition with the Patriots’ Chandler Jones.

“We’re cool. I’m cool with all the defensive linemen who came out in my class,” said Coples. “I’m definitely good friends with him. It’s not about keeping track of stats or anything like that. Before the game we’re going to shake hands and then at the end of the game we’re going to shake hands again. It’s not a comparison thing.”

That being said, it helps if Coples can push two full stacks of chips instead of 1½ stacks into the middle of the table next to Jones’ five stacks for the Patriots.

Did I say stacks? I meant sacks, of course. A scoring change by the Elias Sports Bureau credited Coples with a full sack of Andrew Luck late in Sunday’s game, taking away the half sack originally credited to LB Aaron Maybin on the play. For the game and for his pro career, the Jets’ first-round DT has two full sacks.

On some other team, this could occasion some frazzled feelings, or at the very least a little trash talk. But that’s not the way Coples rolls.

“That’s not important to me. At the end of the day, we got him on the ground. That’s all that matters,” he said. “Whether I get 1½ or two for the game, it was a win.”

And Maybin, who’s been searching for his first sack of the season after racking up six sacks in his third NFL season last year, was also upbeat despite having lost that half sack that he had for about three days.

“Quinton had a hell of a game. He deserved it,” Maybin said. “But hey, that was the kind of game that, while I can’t necessarily be satisfied with it, if you asked me if I was pleased who how the defense played and my involvement in the grand scheme of things, I was.”

Maybin in fact was flying around like he did last season. Before almost sneaking in for that late half-sack, he had back-to-back QB hits on Luck at the top of the fourth quarter. Both resulted in incompletions from the Jets 29. And as Bob Wischusen, the radio voice of the Jets, and I were discussing in the locker room, Coples doesn’t get a sack for his heavy pressure of Luck that resulted in the third-quarter intentional grounding, but perhaps he should.

All of this talk is a roundabout way of saying that maybe the Jets’ pass rush is finally coming to life. Coples, Maybin and DE Muhammad Wilkerson, who also had a very fine game, kept Luck on the move all game, and rookie safety Antonio Allen showed that he could get to the QB as well with his first pro sack in his first pro game — and start — as part of a nickel package.

“Quinton, he’s head over heels better than he was at the start of the season. He’s moving faster, progressing faster,” Maybin said. “I’m excited to see him, a young guy, starting to flash. That opens up things for the rest of us. It’s exciting for all of us.”

And that brings us back to the Patriots. It’s never more exciting than to take No. 12 to the turf, be it at Gillette or MetLife. And Tom Brady’s been sacked 13 times in six games already. But then again, he’s been hurrying up, taking those short drops and flicking the ball to Wes Welker, Brandon Lloyd and Rob Gronkowski with amazing frequency.

“I’m just studying Brady, his moves, his offensive tendencies. It’s just a matter of us getting as many details as possible,” Coples said. “This is a rivalry game and we want to make sure we come out on top.”

“At this point,” added Maybin, “I’m trying not to internalize the game so much to where it’s just about him. The game starts and ends with Tom, but there’s so much more that you have to keep track of with their offense. You can’t zone in on Brady alone.”

But at the end of the day, Coples and Maybin wouldn’t mind if the Jets can go into Foxboro and come out with an AFC East victory and if, in the process, they and their defensive mates can rack up some hurries, hits and sacks on Tom Terrific.

Getting in His Face(mask)?

Coples was asked about grasping Luck’s facemask rather blatantly in the third quarter. Some speculated that Luck had a few choice words for Coples at the end of the play, but Coples said the former Stanford QB was quite gracious.

“He just said to me, ‘I know you didn’t mean it,’ ” Q recalled. “We were both in ‘game mode’ at the time, but we talked about it after the game. He wasn’t sweating it at all. We got to know each other before the draft. I definitely think my draft class was very open. The bonds of friendship were there. Regardless of where we went, when we see each other we definitely recognize each other and make sure we speak to each other.”

More civility on the field of battle? What’s the NFL coming to?

Another Roster Move

Rex Ryan announced at his news conference that FB John Conner, the Jets’ fifth-round pick in 2010 who answered to the nickname of “The Terminator,” was terminated, although perhaps only temporarily. Conner, who’s had knee and hamstring injuries that have limited him to 50 offensive snaps over three games, was waived/injured.

Taking his roster spot, the Jets signed free-agent rookie LB Marcus Dowtin from the practice squad. Ryan said re-signing Conner “down the road could be a possibility.” If he’s still available at that time, needless to say.

Injury Reports

The Jets take two steps forward, then one step back in their team health. In the step-back area, RBs Joe McKnight (ankle) and Bilal Powell (shoulder), injured on the same third-quarter series Sunday, both did not participate at today’s practice. Ryan wasn’t tipping his hand on either player: “We’ll see about their availability as the week goes on.”

Five other Jets DNPs were DT Kenrick Ellis (knee), WR Clyde Gates (shoulder), C Nick Mangold (ankle), DT Sione Po‘uha (back) and S Eric Smith (knee). And there were four limited players: WR Stephen Hill (hamstring), TE Dustin Keller (hamstring), LB Bart Scott (toe) and LB Bryan Thomas (hamstring).

The steps forward were the departure of six Jets from the injury list altogether: LBs Nick Bellore and David Harris, CBs Antonio Cromartie and Aaron Berry, TE Jeff Cumberland and T Austin Howard.

The Jets’ 17–player injury list, the shortest it’s been in five weeks, is now available here on newyorkjets.com.

For the Patriots, two players were DNPs up in Foxboro, Mass., today: RB Brandon Bolden (knee) and LB Tracy White (foot).

And 11 Pats were limited: S Patrick Chung (shoulder), WR Julian Edelman (hand), S Steve Gregory (hip), TEs Rob Gronkowski (hip) and Aaron Hernandez (ankle), LB Dont’a Hightower (hamstring), G Logan Mankins (calf/hip), C Nick McDonald (shoulder), CB Sterling Moore (knee), T Sebastian Vollmer (back/knee) and WR West Welker (ankle).


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Still Much Respect, No Concessions for Patriots Week

Posted by Randy Lange on October 15, 2012 – 5:50 pm

The conservative way to play it would have been to say yes, New England’s up next, it’s important because it’s a division rival, no more, and why don’t we talk about the Patriots on Wednesday when we really start up our week of preparation, and let’s bask one more day today in the warm afterglow of Sunday’s satisfying win over the Colts.

But Rex Ryan didn’t play it that way at his day-after news conference. The media wanted to know his latest take on the Pats. And he didn’t disappoint.

Are the Patriots, at 3-3 like everyone else and his brother in the AFC East, more vulnerable than they had been in the past? the Jets head coach was asked.

“Are they more vulnerable? I don’t know. They’ve lost three games. That’s probably more than they normally lose in a season,” Ryan said. “But we need to worry about ourselves more than anybody else. I think that’s where we’re at today, tomorrow, or some of our preparation even on Wednesday, but we obviously have to dial into our opponent specifically as well. For us to get to where we want to get to, we have to improve ourselves. I think that’s what we’re really working on doing as well.”

So when did he begin thinking about the Patriots?

“I’ve never stopped thinking about the Patriots, but that’s it,” he said with a laugh. “That’s a team we have to beat to win our division. And obviously Buffalo and Miami are improved, not taking anything away from them, but the team that’s won our division since I’ve been the head coach here is always New England. That’s the one you have to beat for sure. You think about them, you even build your roster sometimes in trying to compete, trying to beat this team. You’re always thinking about them.”

We’ve never known Rex to diss the Patriots. Even when he was talking about not having “come here to kiss Belichick’s rings,” it wasn’t to run down Bill Belichick’s, Tom Brady’s and New England’s successes but rather to let them, plus the Jets’ fans, players and reporters, know that he wouldn’t be going into these games with his hat in his hand.

Still, some take Ryan’s belief in his team when it’s Patriots week to somehow be disrespectful toward one of the NFL’s great franchises. Thus a reporter’s question today about why Rex likes to “tweak” the Patriots. Ryan explained his position again.

“Well, I just think that I want them to know — and they know — that I think we’re going to beat them. I don’t buy into all that other stuff,” he said. “Look, I recognize that they’re a great football team. Belichick’s a great coach. I never once said that he wasn’t. Again, we’re not going to back down or concede to anything. They’re going to get our best shot, we know we’re going to get theirs, so it really doesn’t matter who says what. We are going to be ourselves.

“We’re coming up there to take our swing, and we’ll see if we land that punch to win a game.”

Jets visits to Foxboro have been a mixed bag this millennium, with some magnificent victories and some resounding defeats. But the Jets needed something like their plus-margin win over the Colts (plus-4 in takeaways, plus-211 rushing yards, plus-7:20 in possession time and plus-26 on the scoreboard) to fortify them for the swings they are about to take.

More on Jets-Patriots to come on Wednesday, plus we’ll unveil a remarkable first in franchise history from Jets-Colts that not even Rex Ryan knew about and is quite happy with.

Smitty Weighs In

Reporter John Holt notes that S Eric Smith always gets excited this time of year, and his reason for excitement isn’t due to Halloween quickly approaching. Instead, like with their head coach, it’s because he and his teammates begin preparation this week to face Tom Brady and the Patriots.

“It’s a big rivalry for us,” Smith said this afternoon. “It’s a division game. We’re both at the top right now. You know it’s usually going to be a good game.”

Over the years, the AFC East foes have had plenty of intriguing battles. Last year New England defeated the Jets in both the team’s meetings, winning, 30-21, in Foxboro and 37-16 five weeks later at MetLife Stadium. But in 2010, the Green & White overcame the Patriots’ impressive 14-2 regular season by defeating Brady & Co., 28-21, in the AFC Divisional Round Game, which advanced them to the conference championship for the second year in a row.

Both teams will enter Sunday’s contest with 3-3 records and knotted up a top of the AFC East standings. The Jets are coming off a 35-9 win over Indianapolis, while New England will look to bounce back from a 24-23 loss at Seattle. Regardless of the Pats’ record, Smith knows they are still the team to beat in the division.

“You know they’re going to come ready to play and cause a lot of problems in matchups, and things we’re going to have to deal with,” he said.

The seventh-year pro is optimistic that the offseason additions of safeties LaRon Landry and Yeremiah Bell boost the secondary’s ability to slow down New England’s high powered offense.

“We do have a lot of guys that can cover and play man-to-man well, so that might give us a little bit of an advantage,” Smith said. “But with this offense they’re running, it’s up-tempo. It’s going to put a lot of stress on us.”

As a member of the Jets defense, Smith said game-planning for New England’s offense always presents a challenge because not only can they spread defenses out with their passing game but this season have proven they can beat opponents on the ground as well.

“Guys are just going to have to get off blocks and run to the ball,” he said.

To emulate the Patriots’ up-tempo offense, No. 33 said the scout team will move at a faster pace this week in practice. He added that the Jets faced a similar task when they prepared for Miami earlier this season.

“It’s a rivalry game,” Smith said. “It’s one of the ones you’re up for no matter what.”

RB Ups and Downs

For the Jets running game, there were many highlights besides those already mentioned Sunday. Shonn Greene started cooking in the first quarter when the Jets rushed for 57 yards, a seemingly modest amount and yet their most in any quarter in the last 11 games, or since they gained 58 in the opening frame of the home win over Buffalo last year.

That distinction stood only until the third quarter, when McKnight’s 61-yard dash was the centerpiece of the 97-yard rushing quarter, the most in any quarter in the last 25 games, or since that “other” Bills game, when they rushed for 96 yards in the 2010 regular-season finale.

The downside was that on the same series, McKnight (ankle) and Bilal Powell (shoulder) left the game. Ryan today said both backs are undergoing magnetic resonance imaging exams today and that he would update reporters on their injuries on Wednesday.


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Jets-Colts: First-Half Tweets

Posted by Randy Lange on October 14, 2012 – 2:38 pm

Here are my first-half 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 Jets gameday captains: G Brandon Moore, TE Dustin Keller, G Caleb Schlauderaff, LB Demario Davis, DT Daniel Muir.

#RL Jets win opening coin toss, defer. It’s only 2nd toss they’ve won this season, they’ve deferred both times (last week vs. HOU).

#RL Jets are 11-12 in games in which they’ve won the opening coin toss and deferred under Rex Ryan since ’09.

#RL Adam Vinatieri 20-yd FG is good, Colts lead 3-0 with 6:02 left in 1st qtr. Vinatieri career vs. Jets: 38-for-41 FGs (92.7%).

#RL Shonn Greene bursts up middle for 21-yd rush, his longest of the season.

#RL Sanchez-to-Stephen Hill for third-down completion to 10 yds. Hill’s first catch since opening day.

#RL Jets have 57 rushing yds in 1st qtr, their most in any quarter in the last 11 games, or since 1st qtr, Game 11, vs BUF, last year.

#RL Sanchez-to-Stephen Hill for 6-yd touchdown. Hill’s 3rd pro TD catch, 1st since opening day. Jets lead 7-3 with 14:13 left in 1st half.

#RL Aaron Maybin personal foul wipes out Antonio Cromartie’s 2nd INT-return TD of the season but Jets have ball on Colts 35.

#RL Shonn Greene on second-and-a-foot goes 10 yds for TD. Jets’ longest TD run since Greene went 25 yds @ WAS in Game 12 last year.

#RL Jets’ 11-point lead at 14-3 is their largest lead in the last 18 quarters, or since the final quarter of their opening-day win over BUF.

#RL Antonio Cromartie has second INT-return TD this game wiped out by a penalty–his own pass interference on Reggie Wayne.

#RL Jets rookie S Antonio Allen credited with sack of Andrew Luck on 1st down. Allen’s first pro game, first pro sack.

#RL Adam Vinatieri from 50 yds out–good. That’s his 2nd career 50-yard FG vs. Jets. 1st came in 2010 AFC Wild Card Game @ IND.

#RL Shonn Greene carries of 19 (from Tim Tebow handoff) and 6 puts Jets over 100 rush yds with 4:43 left in 1st half.

#RL Tim Tebow fake punt, pass to NICK BELLORE. 1st career reception for Bellore, first-and-10 at Colts 17, 2-min warning.

#RL Jets’ first fake-punt completion since 12.13.09, Brad Smith to Eric Smith for 27 yds at TB.

#RL Sanchez-to-Dustin Keller for 6 yds. Keller’s first reception since opening day vs. BUF.

#RL Another Sanchez-to-Hill TD 5-yd TD pass. This one to Jason Hill. Folk PAT gives Jets 21-3 lead with 27 seconds left in half.

#RL Jets’ 1st 3-offensive-TDs first half since Game 13 last year vs. KC. Jets go in with 21-6 lead at halftime.

#RL Jets have first 100-yd rush game in last 5 games, with a half to go. Shonn Greene: 14 carries, 91 yds. Sanchez 9-for-13, 62 yds, 2 TDs.


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Jets-Colts: Pregame Tweets

Posted by Randy Lange on October 14, 2012 – 11:57 am

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.


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STS*: McKnight’s Patience Paid Off in Primetime

Posted by Randy Lange on October 13, 2012 – 9:08 am

With his second kickoff-return TD as a pro and with his average again inching upward toward 30.0 yards per return, Joe McKnight was asked this week how good he can be as an NFL return man.

“Devin Hester’s the best now. Hopefully I can have my name next to his or around his somewhere. That’d be great,” McKnight said. He went on to explain that when he was an eighth-grader in River Ridge, La., he already had some notion that he’d like to follow in Hester’s fast footsteps some day.

“I used to look up to him. He wore No. 4 and I wore No. 4,” Joe recalled. “I always wanted to go to the University of Miami. I was a big Clinton Portis fan and a big Devin Hester fan.”

Interesting that McKnight knew at that tender age that he wanted to be like a top UM return man and a top ‘Canes RB. The storyline a few weeks back was that he was being made into a (temporary) defensive back and that he thought Rex Ryan and the Jets were saying he might not be wanted as a back.

Not true, said Rex. For the time being, McKnight is back at RB and got his most plays (9) and touches (4) of the season on offense on Monday night. And he made like a superback on his 100-yard return down the left sideline to juice up the Jets and the fans for their close-but-no-cigar 23-17 loss.

In fact, ST coordinator Mike Westhoff is serious in saying that he thinks in terms of running the ball when he draws up those now famous kickoff returns of his.

“All of our plays are based off of running plays,” Westhoff said. “That’s what they look like and what they should look like, where we’re going to try to double and trap and wall and run a counter off of that. It’s very similar to what an offense would run on an off-tackle play. We blocked it well. We blocked it very well. And we hit it.”

Indeed, McKnight took the “handoff” from Houston kickoff man Shayne Graham at his goal line and proceeded to use his speed and cuts to get the Jets back in the game. First game the double team by his two-man wedge, Garrett McIntyre and Konrad Reuland, on the Texans’ Bryan Braman, with McIntyre then sliding up and taking out Troy Nolan. Downfield a little further, Nick Bellore and Bilal Powell applied the second double-team, boxing up Jesse Nading.

Simultaneously, to McKnight’s right, Ellis Lankster neutralized Shiloh Keo and new signee Lex Hilliard continued his impressive first night in green and white by delaying Mister Alexander’s outside rush toward the ball.

McKnight slalomed past through the “gate” opened by Reuland and Lankster, then exploded past the diving Alexander and stiff-armed Graham. Suddenly it was a footrace with rookie safety DeVier Posey. McKnight won, squeezing past Posey along the left sideline and curling the ball inside the pylon as he dived into the end zone.

“I felt like I had to make some plays. The first couple of games I was disappointed that I didn’t get to break anything,” he said. “But I didn’t want to try to press the issue and go out and look for stuff. I just had to be patient and wait till they came to me.”

And while he was waiting, he was making a few things happen elsewhere on teams. He also is a part of the Jets’ kickoff cover team that also features Lankster and ‘Zaiah Trufant as their advance team. It was No. 25 you saw blurring by on your TV screen, in part because of his speed and in part because of a shove in the back from Braman that started the Texans out at their 4-yard line late in the opening period.

McKnight’s always gives his blockers their props — “It’s a give-and-take,” he said. “You give me something, I give you something.”

He means that literally. Last year he dished out an iPad and some high-end headphones. For this return, he said he’s planning on presenting a 50″ TV from a recent interview to either Reuland or Bellore.

And he wouldn’t mind continuing to play early Santa in the weeks ahead. Might the Colts’ cover team be in danger? They’re 25th in opponents’ kickoff-return average.

“We got some good double-teams this week,” he said, respectfully but confidently, “and next week we’re going to try to do the same.”

*Special Teams Saturday


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Inevitability on the Island: Revis Goes to IR

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

Updated, 6:20 p.m. ET

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hill Will “Try to Make a Big Difference”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Rest of the Injuries

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

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

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

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

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

Cena Steps into the Ring Sunday

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


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Mauga Goes on IR, Muir Comes Aboard

Posted by Randy Lange on October 10, 2012 – 4:41 pm

Updated, 6:35 p.m. ET

A new week, a new injury, a new Jet.

Head coach Rex Ryan confirmed at his midday news conference that LB Josh Mauga had torn a pectoral muscle during the Monday night game against the Texans. Mauga joins recently IR-ed players Santonio Holmes and TEs Dedrick Epps and Josh Baker as well as Darrelle Revis, who remains listed as “out” with his serious knee injury.

To take Mauga’s roster spot, the Jets have signed a DT with Indianapolis ties in Daniel Muir.

“He’s a former Colt, a former Packer, a guy that has some experience,” Ryan said. “We’re excited to add him.”

In keeping with the recent trend of newly signed Jets, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the 6’2″, 322-pound Muir get some reps Sunday against the Colts, his team of the previous four seasons. NT Sione Pouha (back) didn’t participate in today’s practice after sitting out the Texans. Neither did Kenrick Ellis (knee), who “doesn’t look good for this week,” said Ryan.

“Do I want to play Sunday? Of course,” Muir told me after practice. “But my main thing is I’m going to let the coaches make that determination. It doesn’t matter what I want. They’ve got to see it and I’ve got to show it. I’m going through a crash course now.”

So who does that leave on the inside? Is Po‘uha definitely out again?

“I’m not sure. We’ll just see how the week goes on,” Ryan said. “We’ve got ‘Snacks’ [Damon Harrison], who’s doing a good job. And [Mike] DeVito can play in there. He’s done that in the past as well.”

Despite the IR-ed Mauga, who in the first five games was in for about 50 plays on defense and about 165 including special teams, the Jets’ injury list appeared to slightly improve ahead of today’s practice compared to last week’s 24-man list.

This week’s full post-practice list had 23 players. Four others besides Po‘uha and Ellis were DNPs — FB John Conner (hamstring), C Nick Mangold (ankle), WR Clyde Gates (shoulder) and S LaRon Landry (heel) with his regular midweek day of rest.

Seven others were limited, including TE Dustin Keller, who’s missed four games, and rookie WR Stephen Hill, who’s sat out the last two, both with hamstring injuries. Did Rex have confidence in either receiver’s return for Indy?

“I would say Dustin now — his injury’s had more time to heal,” he said. “But I’m hopeful both of them will be out there.”

Also limited were three LBs — David Harris (hamstring), Bart Scott (toe) and Bryan Thomas (hamstring) — plus WR Jeremy Kerley (finger/illness) and S Eric Smith (knee). Ten others were listed as full participants. The Jets’ full preliminary injury report can be found here.

The Colts’ first list of the week had 10 players, but eight who didn’t participate today. Familiar names were old pass-rushing nemeses Dwight Freeney (ankle) and Robert Mathis (knee), now both LBs in Indy’s 3-4 scheme, as well as CB Vontae Davis (ankle), RB Donald Brown (knee), and former Jets NT Martin “MTV” Tevaseu (ankle). The three other DNPs were LB Pat Angerer (foot), DE Fili Moala (knee) and G Joe Reitz (knee).

Cushing’s Knee

Ryan was asked about Houston LB Brian Cushing’s season-ending knee injury, which he suffered on a cut block by guard Matt Slauson in the second quarter on Monday. The Jets coach was unhappy to hear about the injury to the Texans’ defensive star but defended his player on the play.

“It’s an unfortunate thing. Clearly in this league it’s all about the players, and Brian’s a great player. I hate to see that,” Ryan said. “Obviously we’ve experienced our own [injury] issues.

“It’s something that definitely was not intentional. It’s a legal block. We don’t cut very often. Sometimes we’ll cut on the second level and things. … [Houston's] zone running schemes, they cut every single play. It’s not dirty. It’s a technique. Almost every single run on the back side, they’ll do that. With us, it was a thing that was unintentional. I feel terrible for Brian, and for the league. The league loses when you lose a player like that.”

Rex Cetera

Muir’s best seasons were 2009 and ’10, when combined he played in 34 games with 28 starts, including Super Bowl XLIV. He’s been more of a double-team eater than a pocket-collapser in his career with a total of 124 tackles but only 1.5 sacks. Interestingly, the only full sack of his career came in the 2010 AFC Wild Card Game, a first-quarter, first-and-10 sack of Mark Sanchez in the Jets’ 17-16 triumph.

Reporters are keeping Tebowmania on the simmer but Ryan declines to turn up the heat. About the questions he continues to get about his QBs, he said: “I’ve got no problem answering questions each week.” And about a perceived public clamoring to see more of No. 15, even as the starter, he said:

“We picked Tim up because we know he’s a good football player. One thing I know about the public is that the public wants to win. I understand that. The decision on playing Tebow is going to be my decision. It’s not going to be the public’s decision or anybody else’s. It’s on me. Quite honestly, I think I’ve learned through the years to tune out the public a little bit. That’s probably a good thing. Sometimes what you hear is not real flattering. You learn to walk off the field with earmuffs on.”


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Rex and Staff put Tom Moore to Work at Practice

Posted by Randy Lange on December 1, 2011 – 4:07 pm

A semi-special guest at the Jets’ practice today at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center was Tom Moore. “Semi-” because Moore is, after all, a consultant for the Jets, but “-special” because he hasn’t come to the complex much since training camp, instead breaking down Jets practice videos and advancing the Green & White’s next opponents primarily from his Hilton Head, S.C., home.

“Tom came in late last night and we put him out there, put him to work,” head coach Rex Ryan said at his daily news conference following practice. “It’s always good to have him in there, his knowledge and perspective. … He and Schotty talk all the time, they send emails back and forth. We got him out of the house and he’s here today. I’d like to get him around here more. I’m going to try to keep him here. We’ll see if his wife will let him.”

Moore is, however, retired, so we’ll see how well that goes. But as an on-site consultant, you can be sure that Rex, OC Brian Schottenheimer and even DC Mike Pettine will bounce some ideas off of the former offensive coordinator for Peyton Manning and the Colts.

Offensively, of course, one trend the Jets sure want to cure is their slow-starting engine. Dating to Game 4 of 2010 at Buffalo, the Jets offense has generated one first-drive touchdown and two first-quarter TDs.

The Jets have picked up the pace in the last three quarters — their 20.3-points-per-game average over Quarters 2-4 in their first 11 games puts them on a 323-point pace for those quarters, which would be their most since the 1998 team scored 338 points over those three quarters. But still, a faster start in the final five games would make things easier during the Jets’ uphill stretch run.

“We’ve tried a bunch of things,” Ryan said. “I haven’t asked him that specifically, but maybe I will while he’s here.”

As for the defense, the Jets are doing some very nice things this season. They’re eighth in the NFL in total yards allowed, seventh in passing yards allowed, fourth in opponents’ third-down conversion rate, and third in opponents’ passer rating. But closing out games? After the Tim Tebow Broncos rescued their Week 11 game over the Jets on their final possession and the Bills almost did the same Sunday, Ryan and Pettine are seeking answers to that question.

“If you’re going to be a true dominant team on defense, you’ve got to close those things out,” Ryan said. “Are we a dominant defense? I don’t think there’s a dominant defense in the league this year. But are we pretty good? I think we’re pretty good. I think we’re capable of being better.”

Maybe Moore, whose Colts offenses frustrated the Jets defenses a few times over the years, such as in 2006 in the Meadowlands and in Lucas Oil in the 2009 AFC Championship Game, has a few pointers for the Green & White defense this time around.

“The players really respect Tom. He talks to the defensive guys, the offensive guys. It’s good to have him here,” said Rex, who added that after Moore was on hand for the Jets’ October win over the Chargers, he’s “trying to get him to come to the game” against the Redskins at FedEx Field on Sunday.

Injury Reports

The Jets injury report following today’s practice was identical to Wednesday’s, with Mike DeVito (knee) the only DNP and Vlad Ducasse (knee) the only player limited during team drills.

The Redskins’ report grew by two players to 13 today, with WRs Jabar Gaffney (foot) and Terrence Austin (hamstring) added to the list as limited in today’s practice. Also, LB London Fletcher (ankle), who didn’t practice Wednesday, was limited.

No Flex-ing Next Week

The Jets’ home game next Sunday, Dec. 11, vs. Kansas City will remain as originally scheduled with a 1 p.m. ET kickoff.

Tom Moore Helping the Jets Fly


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Report: Bob Sanders Visiting Green & White

Posted by Nick Gallo on March 2, 2011 – 11:43 am

Former Colts safety Bob Sanders is visiting with the Jets today, according to ESPN 1050 New York.

The recently released Sanders (5’8″, 206) has visited the Jaguars and Bills as well this offseason. Sanders, an Iowa product, was named the AP’s NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2007 but has played in only nine games the past three seasons while battling injuries.

In all the 30-year-old Sanders has played in 48 games in his seven-year career and has compiled six interceptions, 373 tackles, 3.5 sacks, two forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries. He has never played 16 games in a season, but in the two seasons that he played in more than six games for the Colts, he was a Pro Bowler, in 2005 and ’07.

Two More Transactions

The Jets announced two more player departures late this afternoon when they waived DE Vernon Gholston, the sixth overall pick of the ’08 draft, and terminated the contract of veteran tight end Ben Hartsock.

JT: Let’s Do It Again

Jason Taylor, another former Defensive Player of the Year, released by the Jets on Tuesday, told The Associated Press today he would like to play another season with the Green & White.

“I want to play in New York for sure,” Taylor told AP before the Honda Classic pro-am golf tournament. “I told Rex yesterday, if I’m going to play, I want to play with the Jets. If they’ll have me, I think I would enjoy doing it again.”

The 6’6”, 250-pound pass rusher played for the Dolphins for 12 seasons and the Redskins for one before coming to the Jets last offseason.

Taylor filled in while OLB Calvin Pace rehabbed his broken foot and played in the OLB rotation all season, making a few game-changing plays. His late strip sack of Tom Brady secured the Jets’ Week 2 victory over the Patriots, and his safety helped the Jets defeat the Steelers in Week 15 at Heinz Field in Taylor’s hometown of Pittsburgh.


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