Here are today’s first-half tweets for the Jets-Cardinals game 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 captain vs ARZ: LB Calvin Pace, backed up by David Harris, Bart Scott, Demario Davis, Nick Bellore, Garrett McIntyre, NT Sione Po‘uha.
#RL Jets win toss, defer. Since 09 Jets have won opening toss and deferred 29 times (6 times this yr). Jets record in pvs 28 games: 12-16.
#RL Jets stop Cards on their 1st 3rd-down attempt of the game, Eric Smith PD, Donnie Fletcher on blitz vs QB Ryan Lindley.
#RL Jets run defense stops ARZ on 3rd-and-1 and 4th-and-1, get ball back for the offense at Jets 18 following Sanchez INT on first off play.
#RL Nick Folk 46-yd FG attempt off left upright, no good. Folk now 5-of-7 at home this year with only other miss a blkd try vs MIA.
#EA Bilal Powell off to a good start in the backfield. He has quality vision and continues to be an asset in pass pro.
#EA Jets D doing what they’re supposed to do. Zona last in the NFL in 3rd down conversions (28.4%) entering – now 0 of 3 today.
#RL S Kerry Rhodes has his 2nd INT of Mark Sanchez. 1st Jets opponent w/ 2 1st-quarter INTs since LA Rams’ Kirk Collins in ’83.
#RL Ryan Lindley’s rushed third-and-8 pass incomplete, Jets defense has now stopped Cardinals on all 5 third-down plays.
#EA Jets have held Beanie Wells to 1 yard on 7 attempts. They are winning the battle up front against a young line.
#RL LaRon Landry makes his 2nd INT of season, on Ryan Lindley longball intended for rookie WR Malcolm Floyd. Landry returns to ARZ-38.
#RL Nick Folk tries to convert from 52 yards out. This try hits the right upright. He’s 0-for-2 with two uprights, game continues scoreless.
#RL Nick Folk had hit his previous 4 FG tries from 50-plus yards before the 52-yard miss.
#RL Jets defense in last 6 drives has an INT, a fourth-and-1 stop and 4 three-and-outs.
#RL Defense bringing it today: Cards had 33 drive yards on their opening series and have 26 yards combined on their last 6 series.
#RL Rookie WR Stephen Hill grabs 6-yd pass for first down. Hill now leads all receivers in this game with 4 catches for 37 yds.
#EA Stephen Hill has 4 receptions in the first half. The rookie’s career-high was 5 in Week 1 vs. BUF.
#RL Rex Ryan challenging spot of Dustin Keller completion, a foot short of 1st down. Ryan’s been successful in 12 of previous 17 challenges.
#RL Rex now 13 of 18 on replay challenges. Keller gets 1st down, Jets have it 1st-and-10 at ARZ-44.
#RL Rashad Johnson goes 40 yds on fake punt snap. Longest fake by Jets opps since 40-yd pass from Rohn Stark to Michael Prior vs IND in ’90.
#RL Ex-Jets K Jay Feely hits 48-yd FG as time expires in first half. Cards lead 3-0 over Jets at halftime.
#RL Jets lead at half in yards (146-115), 1st downs (9-4), possession (17:14-12:46), Cards lead in takeaways (3-1) and score (3-0).
#RL First 3-0 Jets game at halftime since 2011 Game 8 (@ BUF, Jets 3-0), first at home since 2010 Game 7 (vs GB, Packers 3-0).
Tags: Arizona Cardinals, Dustin Keller, Jay Feely, Jeff Cumberland, Kerry Rhodes, Mark Sanchez, Patrick Peterson, Rex Ryan
Posted in Randy Lange | 87 Comments »
Here are today’s pregame tweets for the Jets-Cardinals game 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 Foggy day in East Rutherford town for Jets-Cards at MetLife Stadium. Forecast for game: partly cloudy, temps low 50s, light wind.
#RL Jets, Cards have played 7 times previously. Jets lead series 5-2, winning last 5 games (78, 96, 99, 04, 08) by average score of 27-15.
#RL Jets set franchise single-quarter record with 34 pts in 2nd qtr vs ARZ in 2008. Jets K that day: Jay Feely, who’s now Cards’ kicker.
#RL Protect the ball: Mark Sanchez in 35 career wins has turned ball over 24 times (0.7/gm), in 29 losses has 58 turnovers (2.0/gm).
#RL Jets RB Shonn Greene in last 6 games has averaged 4.4 yards per carry. Greene leads Jets this yr with 33 1st downs, 11 3rd-down convs.
#RL ARZ WR Larry Fitzgerald, who had 8 catches for 122 yds in 08 game vs Jets, leads Cards with 55 catches (for 627 yds, 4 TDs) this yr.
#RL ARZ QBs (Kevin Kolb, John Skelton, rookie Ryan Lindley starting today) have been sacked 46 times, most of any team in NFL thru 12 wks.
#RL Walt Anderson is today’s referee. This is Anderson’s 11th NYJ game as ref since ’03. He worked MIA home game 5 wks ago.
#RL Thom Brennaman, Brian Billick calling game for FOX. Billick, Rex Ryan’s boss 99-07 @ BAL, is working his 2nd Jets game as network analyst.
#RL NYJ inactives: QB Tim Tebow, WR Clyde Gates, CB Aaron Berry, LB Ricky Sapp, DL Damon Harrison, G Caleb Schlauderaff, TE Hayden Smith.
#RL With Tebow deactivated, Greg McElroy is active for today’s game for the first time in his NFL career.
#RL ARZ inactives: QB Kevin Kolb, WR Andre Roberts, RB Alfonso Smith, G Senio Kelemete, T Pat McQuistan, TE Todd Heap, DE Calais Campbell.
#RL Jets wearing green jerseys, white pants today. 22nd time Jets are green/white under Rex Ryan (11-10 since 09), 6th time this yr (2-3).
Tags: Arizona Cardinals, Jay Feely, Larry Fitzgerald, Mark Sanchez, MetLife Stadium, Rex Ryan, Walt Anderson
Posted in Randy Lange | 4 Comments »
Having the better field position on the Sun Life Stadium pitch on Sunday will be a valued piece to the puzzle if the Jets eke out a win over the Dolphins and squeak into the AFC playoff grid. And there are a few areas to watch to see if the Green & White are giving themselves the best chance for the road win.
On the punt return front, it’s better late than never. Jeremy Kerley is getting up a head of steam.
“I’m starting to feel more comfortable and more confident back there,” Kerley said of his role early in the season and now late on the calendar as the team’s main punt returner. “That’s what you need to play with. That’s what you’ve got to have as a punt returner and a kick returner. You’ve got to be confident in yourself. When something goes wrong, you’ve got to shake it off and put it in the back of your head, because you can make a mistake thinking about what just happened.”
No mistakes Saturday — Kerley was as good as he’s been all season against the Giants. His first return was a 22-yarder to near midfield to start the Jets on their opening TD drive. Then he reeled off returns of 28, 14 and 10 yards. That’s four returns for 74 yards. He had 80 yards in Game 3 at Oakland, and those two games are among the four top PR-yardage games for the Jets in the last eight seasons.
The list includes Santana Moss’ 83-yard, one-TD game in the ’04 playoff game at Pittsburgh and Leon Washington’s 77-yard outing vs. Cincinnati in ’08.
Someday Kerley is going to go the distance and that would be most welcome for coaches Mike Westhoff and Ben Kotwica and Jets fandom because that return will likely be the one that ends the Jets’ drought of 118 games without a punt-return TD, tied for the longest in the NFL. But JK’s already got some of that professional perseverance working for him. He’s not going to force the issue at Miami.
“It’ll come, it’ll come. You’ve just got to be patient,” he said. “I’m approaching this game how I approach all of the games, because when you try to do too much, that’s when something will happen.”
On the kickoff front, the Jets in theory could have the edge in any KO exchanges. With Joe McKnight and Antonio Cromartie splitting the return duties recently because of McKnight’s elbow/shoulder issues, the Jets are off of their blistering season-opening pace yet still handily lead the NFL in average drive start after returns (26.4) while Miami’s coverage is 17th in opponents’ average drive start.
McKnight has been getting full-time treatment this week as he tries to finish his first regular season by nailing down several distinctions. He currently leads the NFL with a 31.9-yard average and could become the first Jet since Justin Miller in 2006 to lead the league in that department. And he could also break Bobby Humphery’s franchise record of 30.7 yards per return, with which he led the NFL in his rookie season in 1984.
While the Jets’ kickoff returns remain among the best in the game, their kickoff coverage unit has risen to prominence and could also play a field position role Sunday. Nick Folk’s kickoffs are resulting in an opponents’ drive start of their 21.3-yard line, seventh in the league, while the Dolphins’ returners, led by rookie Clyde Gates and his 25.0 return average, are again middle of the pick, 16th in the league with an average return to their 21.8.
It’s not just the coverage of the Jets’ big four special tacklers — Nick Bellore, Josh Mauga, Jamaal Westerman and Garrett McIntyre. Folk’s hangtime has had a lot to do with the Jets’ averages and their 25 inside-the-20 stops, third in the NFL.
“I’ve always had that. My natural kick is to get it up in the air pretty good,” Folk said this week. “I’m going to work on trying to get a little more drive on it this offseason. Early in the year I had that down, then as they year went on, well, I’ve got to make sure that stays more consistent throughout the year.
“But when you’re leading the league and they’re starting right at their 20 almost every time, you can’t really get mad at that. Our guys, they want to go down there and make tackles, try to get a turnover and whatnot. They’re excited about the touchbacks, but they’re also excited to make a big play inside the 20.”
It surprised me when I went back to check on the Jets’ kickoff hangtimes that I’ve kept over the last decade. From Doug Brien through Mike Nugent and Jay Feely, none of them ever had a season in which they averaged 4.00 seconds per kickoff. The closest was Feely’s 2009 season at 3.92. Folk came in last year and averaged 4.12 seconds, and this season he’s up to 4.24, a figure that was anchored by his current streak of 41 of his last 42 kickoffs hanging for at least 4.00 seconds.
Every tenth of a second helps, especially with a season on the line in the warm Miami air Sunday.
*Special Teams Saturday
Tags: Doug Brien, Jay Feely, Jeremy Kerley, Leon Washington, Miami Dolphins, Mike Nugent, Nick Bellore, Nick Folk, Santana Moss
Posted in Randy Lange | 34 Comments »
Three days before the Jets journeyed 2,000 miles west to play the Broncos one mile up, special teams coordinator Mike Westhoff expressed a desire for his kicking teams and for kicker Nick Folk:
“I hope we can hit the ball and it stays up there forever.”
It nearly did.
Folk had a golden day for a Jets kicker, nailing a franchise-long 56-yard field goal (which we wrote about Wednesday) and also scoring touchbacks on all five of his kickoffs, which he drove either through the end zone or more than half deep into it.
“That was my best kickoff day, I think, in the NFL,” Folk told me. I think a lot of it, I was just trying to get back to being a very good kickoff guy. That’s what I did in college. I was an extremely good kickoff guy.”
“When I watched him work out,” Westhoff said about the day Folk first came to the Jets back in February, “the thing he improved the most was his kickoffs. Now he’s been up and down with that, that’s been an inconsistency for him, but you could see he had it and his technique was very, very good.”
OK, before we get carried away that Folk won’t be allowing any more kickoff returns this season, we must issue the Denver disclaimer. There is no question that kicks here don’t behave the way they do at sea level. Two facts illustrate that sharply:
■ This season alone, all kickers at Invesco Field at Mile High have produced touchbacks on 84.6 percent of their kickoffs (22 of 26), while all kickers in all other NFL stadiums have gone a mere 16.8 percent (140 of 831).
■ Folk had as many touchbacks in his five kickoffs Sunday as he had in the previous 200 kickoffs in his four-year NFL career.
■ The day Folk broke the Jets’ record for longest field goal in the franchise’s 51-year history, the Broncos’ Matt Prater tied the franchise record for the longest FG by an opponent with his 59-yarder.
Nevertheless, the Green & White played at old Mile High Stadium many times and none of their other kickers had a day like this. Consider that Folk is only the second Jet since NFL kickoffs were moved back to the 30-yard line in 1994 to have five TBs in a game, matching that equally awesome game by John Hall in his rookie debut in the old Kingdome in 1997. And according to the Elias Sports Bureau, Folk is only the fourth Jet with five TBs in a game from any distance since Bobby Howfield (kicking off from the 40) had six in a game in 1972.
We could put it another way: As long as one isn’t fooled by Denver, it’s a great place to work through things.
“I was just trying to get after it a little more because the previous week I had hit one or two kind of short and I wasn’t too happy with those, even though it was really wet, the ball was really heavy,” Folk said reminiscing about rainy Monday night vs. Minnesota.
“We knew they had a good returner back there in Eddie Royal and then [Perrish] Cox or [Demaryius] Thomas, whoever they had back there, was a very dangerous returner, so I just did whatever I could to help us out. I mean, it’s tough to go against our defense, go 80 yards. If we kick off five times, it’s tough to even go once let alone twice or three times.” In fact, the Broncos did it just once.
So that mission was accomplished, and the new hope is that Folk brought some of that Rocky Mountain goodness back east with him for next Sunday against Green Bay and all of November and December. Of the Jets’ last 10 games, all but one (inside in Detroit) will be played outdoors in the Northeast.
“We’re trying to keep it going. We’ll see if we can sneak out a couple of touchbacks and stuff because we’re going to need those late in the year,” he said. “I just try to do whatever I can to help this team win games and I’m happy to just be winning ballgames. That’s the big thing.”
*STS: Special Teams Saturday
Tags: Bobby Howfield, Invesco Field at Mile High, Jay Feely, John Hall, Mike Westhoff, Nick Folk
Posted in Randy Lange | 9 Comments »
Nick Folk was still hanging around North Jersey today before heading out to Arizona to watch “little brother” Erik Folk kick for Washington at AU this weekend, and we wanted to catch up to the Jets’ unassuming foot man for a little more insight on his franchise-record-setting 56-yard boomer at Denver on Sunday.
Insight No. 1 was that Folk didn’t know it was a record-breaker until he and holder Steve Weatherford were trotting off the Invesco Field at Mile High pitch.
“I try not to go out and look at the yard line, really,” Folk said late this morning. “You know when you’re standing on top of the other team’s logo that you’re pretty far back there. But I kind of get the spot based on the ball, wherever it is, and then I give it to Steve and I’m not worried about anything but that kick.
Then afterwards, Steve said, ‘Wow, that was 56, man.’ I said, ‘Really, that was 56?’ You’re back on the logo, you could be 54, 56, 57.”
Folk put that moment aside because he had another kickoff to focus on pinning the Broncos back at their 20. But after notching the third of his five touchbacks in the air up there, he and Weatherford mused some more.
“Steve said, ‘Yeah, I think that’s the record because they have all those records up down by the meeting rooms,’ ” he said. “So I obviously had seen those but I had no idea who owned the records at all.”
That’s Insight No. 2. Head coach Rex Ryan and his staff have been proactive about putting the history of the Jets on the first-floor walls of the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center where the players can see them and linger over them if they so desire. The wall to the players’ dining area has the all-time team photos, another wall has all players listed by uniform number. There is a Pro Bowl wall and also a record-book wall.
Folk knows Jay Feely, whom he replaced this offseason. He could have run into John Hall, who was at the celebration of the Jets’ Monday Night Miracle win over Miami 10 years ago. Certainly he’s heard of Pat Leahy. Those three Jets kickers had accounted for the four 55-yard field goals in franchise history (Feely had two).
When told that Hall hit his 55-yarder on his very first regular-season kick as a pro in Seattle’s old Kingdome in the ’97 opener, Folk replied, “That’s awesome,” which is something Hall could easily say about Folk’s kick a decade later.
As for the difficulty of the kick, Folk supplied Insight No. 3 when he said he treated the kick just as he treated the PAT he kicked after the Jets’ second-quarter touchdown, kind of.
“I know it sounds kind of weird that you’re going to make an extra point or a short field goal look like a 56-yard field goal,” he said. “But you don’t want to be really changing your swing. You want it to be the same smooth swing the entire time.
“I knew I could make it going in that direction — in pregame we hit one from 64 or something like that. So we wanted to just make sure that I was smooth and that we had a good operation time and just got the ball up in the air. And I had trust in my leg that I could get it there and it went right through.”
As simple as that. The altitude also didn’t hurt, since it produced the most prodigious game of kickoffs in Folk’s four-year NFL career and possibly in Jets history. We’ll talk about that in part two of my conversation with Nick when Special Teams Saturday rolls around in three days.
By the Bye
Here’s a little Jets bye week trivia to keep you occupied heading into a weekend without Green & White football, hopefully the first of three such weekends this season:
All-time since bye weeks became a regular feature of the NFL schedule in 1990, the Jets are 11-10 the game after their bye week (remembering that the league gave two byes per team in 1993). They’re also 6-2 in their last eight games after byes and 9-4 in their last 13.
By head coach that breaks down to: Bruce Coslet, 2-3; Pete Carroll, 0-1; Rich Kotite, 0-2; Bill Parcells, 3-0; Al Groh, 0-1; Herm Edwards, 3-2; Eric Mangini, 3-0; Rex Ryan, 0-1.
Tags: bye week, Denver Broncos, Jay Feely, John Hall, Nick Folk, Pat Leahy
Posted in Randy Lange | 11 Comments »
Nick Folk was asked this morning about special teams coordinator Mike Westhoff. He responded by talking about Friday morning, which will be the biggest day to date in his Jets career.
"He’s been great so far. We’re going out tomorrow to kick a little bit," said Folk in front of his locker during the media availability period in the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. "That’ll be my first kicking experience here except for my workout. It’ll be good."
It’ll also be Folk’s first Green & White outdoors workout as the most experienced PK on the Jets’ roster, after Jay Feely’s signing with Arizona last week. But that’s not what will make the outdoor session (perhaps in the rain here in North Jersey) so good for him.
"Coach Ryan told me somebody will probably be in here competing with me," he said. "I’ve competed two out of three years for someone, so it’s not bad. I don’t mind it at all. It’ll bring out the best for the team and I think it should bring out the best in you."
Folk needs to show his best because it’s better than how he ended last season with Dallas. Many remember his struggles as he went 4-for-11 on his field goal tries in a six-game span before the Cowboys released him with two games to go in the regular season.
Looking back on December, he was asked, was he surprised he was let go?
"The way I was kicking? It was going to happen at some point unless I started making kicks," he said.
But the downside of this game often is that the good work of players and teams gets forgotten in the blink of the eye that is the NFL’s 16-game season. What folks might forget about Folk is that for 2½ seasons, he was fashioning a career as one of the league’s best young kickers.
Folk wasn’t going to go into all the reasons that career got put on hold for a while. But he allowed that a lot had to do with the hip procedure he underwent in May 2009 after that joint had bothered him for much of ’08.
"I don’t want to blame anything, but everything leads back to the surgery. That’s what I can kind of attribute it to," he said. "I talked with my kicking coach and there was something really minor I had picked up, and it was because I felt I needed to get more aggressive to the ball to compensate for things. That’s just the way it was. But everything feels good now."
There’s no telling who all will be competing against Folk for the kicking job this off-season and training camp. On Tuesday the Jets announced the signing of Clint Stitser, the Fresno State kicker who reminds me just a bit of John Hall — not quite as big at 6’1" and 200 pounds as Johnny was, but still big enough, and raw with 71 percent career accuracy at Fresno, similar to how raw Hall was coming out of Wisconsin as a free agent under Bill Parcells in 1997. Stitser had a strong workout for Westhoff and the Jets before signing on and for now he’s in the competition.
But Folk is even bigger at 6’1", 225, and he looks as if he’s got back the confidence that led him to a Pro Bowl appearance as a rookie in 2007 and an even better non-PB season the next year.
"It’s such an up-and-down game. I’ve just got to keep my head to the grind, keep working, keep going," he said. "We’ll get it fixed."
I asked him about the possible opportunity to open another new NFL stadium in style. Last year Folk converted the first placement, an extra point, in Cowboys Stadium’s Aug. 21 preseason debut, then hit all his kicks (4 PATs and a 47-yard FG) in the official Sunday night unveiling in the loss to the Giants last Sept. 20. He may well have the chance to hit the first kick in New Meadowlands Stadium in the Monday night preseason opener against the Giants, not to mention the first "real" kick in the the Jets’ NMS history in the Monday night regular-season opener.
"It’s important, but I think it’s more important for the team to get a win in the first game," he said. "We didn’t win the first one last year in Dallas. I could care less how many field goals I kick. I could kick extra points all day long if we win games and win the Super Bowl."
I reminded him that I didn’t think he’d ever missed an extra point in all the ups and downs of his three-year pro career. He didn’t say a word, just knocked on the wood panel at the side of his locker, before heading to today’s practice.
Here are some pertinent breakdowns for Folk and the NFL the past three seasons. They don’t prove anything, but they should remind us that the Jets have a pretty decent kicker on the roster.
|2007 Week 1–2009 Week 9||FG-FGA||Pct||XP-XPA||Pct|
|All Other NFL Kickers||1938-2331||83.1||2827-2855||99.0|
|2009 Week 10–2009 Week 17||FG-FGA||Pct||XP-XPA||Pct|
|All Other NFL Kickers||752-919||81.8||1152-1172||98.3|
Tags: Clint Stitser, Dallas Cowboys, Jay Feely, Mike Westhoff, new Meadowlands stadium, Nick Folk, Rex Ryan
Posted in Randy Lange | 17 Comments »
As one of the four clubs who participated in conference championship weekend, the Jets haven’t been able to sign any unrestricted free agents unless one of their UFAs agreed to a deal with another team. But now with K Jay Feely flying west to the Cardinals, the Green & White can jump into the UFA market and they have plans to host former Cards K Neil Rackers this week.
The 33-year-old Rackers, originally a sixth-round pick of the Cincinnati Bengals in 2000, had a highly successful tenure in Arizona from 2003-09. Over the past two seasons, Rackers connected on 41 of his 45 field goal attempts for a 91 percent success rate. He suffered a groin injury late last season, missing two games and then making just one of his three postseason FG tries.
A career 78 percent kicker, Rackers established an NFL record in 2005 by connecting on 40 field goals. He not only connected on 95 percent of his FGs that Pro Bowl campaign, but he also added 22 touchbacks on his kickoffs and his 140 points set a franchise mark.
Known for a strong leg, Rackers hit twice from 55 yards and once from 50 in the Cardinals’ 25-17 win over the Seattle Seahawks on October 24, 2004. His three makes from 50-plus in a game tied Morten Andersen for the league record, and the Pro Football Hall of Fame got Rackers’ shoes after the booming performance.
The Jets also have veteran K Nick Folk on the roster.
After starting with seven UFAs, the Jets’ list now stands at four. TE Ben Hartsock and FB Tony Richardson re-signed with New York’s AFC representative, Feely joined the Cards, and LS James Dearth, DE Marques Douglas, LB Ryan Fowler and LB/ST Larry Izzo are still on the market.
Update: All Rackers-Jets talk became moot on Monday night when reports first came in that the kicker signed with the Houston Texans.
Tags: Arizona Cardinals, Jay Feely, Nick Folk
Posted in Eric Allen | 33 Comments »
The ball is now in Nick Folk’s court. Make that on his foot.
Jay Feely is now an Arizona Cardinal. The Cards made it official on their team Website this afternoon, saying that Feely agreed to a two-year deal late Thursday night. And Feely, of course, made it official via his Twitter account. Here are some of his tweets this afternoon:
I am officially an Arizona Cardinal!! Very excited to head to the desert with former teammates @kerryrhodes and Joey Porter.
I am truly sad to leave the Jets organization. The relationship I had with the fans was awesome. Thanks for all the support
My Jets teammates and coaches will be truly missed. There are a lot of great guys on that team and that atmosphere is phenomenal.
Feeling I got from the Cardinals organization is that it is filled with the same kind of people and atmosphere as the Jets.
Feely, who came to the Jets after the 2008 season opener, when Mike Nugent got hurt, and kicked almost the entire past two seasons for the Green & White, had said he wanted to remain with the Jets. General manager Mike Tannenbaum said the Jets wanted to keep Feely as well. But when a player leaves a team as an unrestricted free agent, all bets are off. And because it became clear that Feely would test the free agent market early last month, Tannenbaum and the Jets brought in Folk, the free agent formerly with the Cowboys, on Feb. 23.
Folk spoke with Eric Allen during the locker room media availability period Thursday, before word of Feely’s signing was out. About signing with the Jets, Folk said:
“My agent and I were in contact with Mike and Rex for quite a while. I ended up getting a workout right before the combine. It was a Friday and I flew back to Dallas and then we finalized everything on Monday, so it was a good weekend for me.”
One of the highlights of the career of the kicker from, yes, Hollywood, Calif., and the University of Arizona was the Cowboys’ Monday night frosting of the Bills in Buffalo on Oct. 8, 2007, when Folk converted all four FG tries, including the 53-yarder with no time on the clock (twice, since Bills coach Dick Jauron tried to ice him the first time) and executed the onsides kick to set up the winner, in that 25-24 comebacker.
"It was a long time ago," said Folk, who was a rookie en route to the Pro Bowl that season. "It was a good Monday night game for us. We weren’t playing very well and I ended up having to make a couple of field goals at the end there. It was a good night for me."
Folk began his Dallas tenure strongly, hitting 60 of his first 70 field goal tries (85.7 percent), but ended it with a rough stretch, missing seven of his last 11 FG tries before being released following the Cowboys’ 24-17 win at New Orleans last Dec. 19. But he remains confident in his abilities in general and in kicking in the cold that he may well be faced with here. He hit two field goals against Steelers at Pittsburgh on an 8-degree wind-chill day in December 2008, so he’s not fazed by the cold.
He also knows that whatever he experienced at the old Meadowlands stadium is out the window with the New Meadowlands Stadium opening for football business in August.
As for right now, he’s just immersing himself into the Jets’ offseason strength and conditioning program to get ready for a big 2010.
"I’m getting stronger and trying to get back in shape kicking-wise," he said. "I took a little bit of time off there, but now I’m getting back into the flow of things and getting stronger so that I’m ready for the new season.”
Tags: Arizona Cardinals, Dallas Cowboys, Jay Feely, Mike Tannenbaum, Nick Folk
Posted in Randy Lange | 66 Comments »
Mike Tannenbaum took his turn at the Indianapolis podium today, as almost all GMs and head coaches do during the course of each year’s NFL Combine. And while he didn’t drop any bombshells on the gathered reporters from the New York area as well as from less snowy climes around the country, he did shed light on the situations regarding Thomas Jones, Mark Sanchez, Jay Feely, Braylon Edwards, Darrelle Revis, Leon Washington and Vernon Gholston.
Here are excerpts from the Jets general manager’s 15-minute news conference at Lucas Oil Stadium:
On Jones’ contract situation…
"Nothing’s really been finalized on TJ. We’re getting closer to a decision there, but nothing’s been finalized yet. All I can say is we were really fortunate we traded for him three years ago. He’s done a lot of great things for us on the field and even more off the field. He’s really been our leader, a tireless worker, he’s a really good player and a better person. We have a few more days to get that finalized and once we do we’ll let everyone know."
On the signing of K Nick Folk and what it says about Feely’s Jets future…
"We did that because Nick’s a young kicker who went to the Pro Bowl a couple of years ago and it was good business to sign him. What happens with Jay, we’ll see. He’s going to make it to the free agent market and we’ll keep the lines of communication open. He did a great job for us down the stretch, made some really big kicks in the playoffs. He was a big reason for our success. I don’t know if he’ll be back. The opportunity to sign Nick Folk presented itself and I felt that was smart to handle that situation proactively, but by no means does that say that Jay definitely will not come back."
On tendering Edwards…
"This is going to be a really important offseason for Braylon in terms of him being more acclimated with our offense, working with Mark every day. Braylon did a lot of great things for us. As Rex has mentioned more than once, he really helped our running game. He’s a tremendous blocker. I think how defenses played us after we traded for Braylon changed. So he’s done a lot of things that maybe didn’t show up on the stat sheet. We’re really glad he’s here. We will tender him. And then like I said, it’s a really important offseason for him to be with us all the time. I really believe the guys we’ve got in the building give him the ability to be a much better player long-term by being in our program every day."
On Sanchez’s rehab from knee surgery…
"We’re not exactly sure when he’ll be back on the field yet. It’ll be before training camp. If I say ‘well before training camp,’ the trainers will get mad at me, so I can only say ‘before training camp.’ But he’ll be fine. The guy’s really worked hard, but we just don’t want to put a date on it. It’s one of those injuries everyone recovers from at different rates."
On trying to sign Darrelle Revis, Nick Mangold and other young veterans to extensions…
"Those are all challenges. Those are guys we want here long-term. There’s a lot of challenges trying to sign players to extensions, the way the rules are, but we’re looking at those things. And the players you mentioned are really core guys for us that we need to have sustainable success."
On Washington’s rehab…
"He’s doing better, doing some walking in our underwater treadmill, doing a great job. As you know, Leon’s a tireless worker. We’ll never bet against Leon. We’re really glad he’s on our team. He should be ready to go by opening day."
On Gholston’s second season as a Jet…
"You go back to our season, we started off 3-1 with Calvin Pace being suspended for four games, Shaun Ellis being suspended on opening day. We won at Houston, beat New England and Tennessee at home, and defensively played very well at New Orleans. And Vernon played a lot. Unfortunately, that consistency did not continue throughout the season. … He needs to play better. We all know that. He would tell you that if he was standing here. But he did do a lot of good things at Ohio State and it was based on a tremendous work ethic and talent. We’ve got to get that out of him on a more consistent basis."
On the Jets’ task ahead as one of the NFL’s "final four teams"…
"We’re prepared for the uncapped year. Our staff’s done a great job of preparing for all the rules. Ari Nissim [director of football administration] is here — he’s done a great job — as is our whole staff from the pro and college side. We’re prepared for next Friday. The rules will be a little bit different for us, but we’re embracing that challenge and we’ve got to look at all the different mechanisms to improve the team. Going back to last season, someone like Chauncey Washington, who we signed off the Cowboys’ practice squad, we’re really excited about him. And there’ll just be different ways we can improve the team and we’re going to look tirelessly to do that."
Next will be Rex, as head coach Rex Ryan gets his turn at the podium Saturday at 11:45 a.m. Eric Allen will bring you word on his remarks tomorrow afternoon.
Tags: Braylon Edwards, Darrelle Revis, Jay Feely, Leon Washington, Lucas Oil Stadium, Mark Sanchez, Mike Tannenbaum, NFL Combine, Nick Folk, Rex Ryan, Thomas Jones, Vernon Gholston
Posted in Randy Lange | 25 Comments »
The National Football League’s 2010 Scouting Combine kicks off today as the offensive linemen, tight ends, kickers, punters and long snappers all arrive in Indianapolis. It’s just another important offseason step for the Jets and their league brethren before free agency commences next Friday.
The league certainly appears headed for its first uncapped season since 1993. DeMaurice Smith, the NFLPA’s executive director, sent a memo to the players and their agents on Tuesday that was released to The Associated Press.
"While we are doing all that we can to reach a fair agreement with the NFL before the start of the 2010 league year, it appears likely that no new CBA will be reached and the 2010 season will be uncapped," Smith wrote.
The Jets have seven players — LS James Dearth, DE Marques Douglas, K Jay Feely, LB Ryan Fowler, TE Ben Hartsock, LB/special teamer Larry Izzo and FB Tony Richardson — who are scheduled to become unrestricted free agents on March 5. Feely became especially newsworthy on Tuesday when the Jets signed street free agent K Nick Folk.
The addition of Folk doesn’t necessarily mean the Jets are parting ways with Feely. GM Mike Tannenbaum hasn’t commented on the transaction, so you can only logically guess that the Jets have added an insurance policy if Feely bolts or that they’ve added a strong leg to compete with the veteran if they both are on the roster when training camp starts.
It should be noted that the Jets have the ability to sign Feely at any point before March 5. He is officially a Jet until 12:01 a.m. next Friday and other clubs won’t be able to negotiate with him until then.
“I appreciate all the support from the Jets fans,” Feely posted on his Twitter page this morning. “I have truly enjoyed being a Jet and my sincere wish is to be one til the end of my career.”
The Jets, as conference championship game participants, won’t be able to sign any unrestricted free agents (players who have completed six or more seasons if there is no labor agreement by March 5) themselves unless Feely or one of their other UFAs signs with another club. There is also a salary-matching component to this UFA situation, so it’s not like the Jets could go out and sign DE Julius Peppers if one of their seven UFAs signs with another team.
But like Folk, there will be some interesting street free agents out on the open market and the headliner at this point is former Chargers RB LaDainian Tomlinson. The ‘Bolts released LT from his contract and thus clubs have no restrictions to move in and place an offer on the future Hall of Famer.
Travel restrictions will be in full effect Thursday all over the Northeast due to another wintry storm, so the Jets’ operations department scrambled this afternoon to get the offensive coaches on a flight out of Newark this evening. The defensive staff won’t fly out until Friday because the defensive line, linebackers and defensive backs will be the last to arrive and work out.
Pundits’ Early Picks for the Jets
It’s always interesting to examine the draft pundits’ big boards and mock drafts at this time of the year. ESPN’s Mel Kiper has the Jets selecting Rutgers CB Devin McCourty in his latest mock. The 5’10”, 186-pound McCourty, an All-Big East first-team performer, is a good athlete and a physical player who isn’t afraid to come in and throw his weight around. He totaled six interceptions for the Scarlet Knights, but he’s solid in man coverage and that will get Coach Ryan’s attention.
Even though ESPN’s Todd McShay has the Green & White taking Illinois WR Arrelious Benn with the No. 29 selection, he lists McCourty as his No.1 riser. Not only can the Rutgers product cover well, but he’s also a dynamic special teams player who participated on punt return, punt coverage — he blocked seven kicks in his career — kickoff coverage and kickoff return units.
Scouts Inc. has McCourty ranked 31st overall and actually has another corner — Alabama CB Kareem Jackson — in that 29th slot. Jackson played 14 games for the national champions his junior season, hauling in an interception and collecting 49 tackles. He also is comfortable in man coverage and the early entrant will be missed by Tide head coach Nick Saban.
CBSSports.com has a draft section entitled “NFLDraftscout.com” and draft pundit Rob Rang has the Jets selecting USC WR Damian Williams. Mark Sanchez could definitely give the Jets some help in their scouting of Williams, who had 12 catches for 189 yards in the Trojans’ Emerald Bowl win over Boston College.
Chad Reuter is another prognosticator who sees the Jets going corner — only this time a vote goes to Boise State’s Kyle Wilson. He benefited from an impressive Senior Bowl week after registering three INTs as a senior — two of which he returned for touchdowns. Wilson also is a quality punt returner as he posted a 12.7-yard career PR average and took three back for touchdowns.
Tony Pauline is producing a lot of Sports Illustrated’s online draft content and he ranks Wilson 29th on his pre-combine draft board. The consensus is Florida’s Joe Haden is a sure-fire top-10 pick, but this is a good year if you’re searching for a top-flight corner because there’s quality depth early. Don’t forget about Florida State’s Patrick Robinson and ‘Bama’s Javier Arenas, either. P-Rob’s a big-time athlete who had six interceptions in 2007 and just one the past two years combined. But Robinson also excelled in Mobile, Ala., and Arenas could be a terrific nickel corner and returner on the next level.
Now let’s see who makes their mark in Indy.
Tags: Jay Feely, Kareem Jackson, New York Jets, Nick Folk
Posted in Randy Lange | 25 Comments »