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Kenrick Ellis Is Hard at Work on His Craft

Posted by Randy Lange on July 29, 2013 – 3:08 pm

Updated, 4:42 p.m. ET

For a couple of periods in Sunday’s afternoon practice, Kenrick Ellis looked like the beast that ate Cortland, as the player the Jets envisioned him being when they took a chance on him in the third round in the 2011 draft. No. 93 was knifing past the first-string O-line, making tackles in the backfield and blowing up running plays like an unstoppable defensive tackle should.

“Yesterday Kenrick Ellis decides to totally dominate the 9-on-7 period,” head coach Rex Ryan confirmed at this afternoon’s news conference. “Today we made sure we blocked him, I don’t think there was any doubt about that, whether we were doubling him or whatever it was.”

Ellis noticed that as well. I asked him after this morning’s second padded practice at SUNY Cortland if he could recall a personal highlight from camp so far. He instead chose a lowlight from today’s session.

“You know what? The highlight of my practice was when I got double-teamed and got my butt kicked by 66, Willie [Colon], and 77, Austin [Howard]. And that just showed me I have so much more to work on, man. That’s what stood out to me, not being able to dominate those guys.”

I gently reminded Kenrick that it was in fact a double-team block, their 648 pounds against his 346. Maybe he was being a little hard on himself?

“If you take your craft seriously, double-team or not, you’re still supposed to be able to impose your will,” he said. “They got the best of me.”

That may sound like the Ellis who was fighting to keep his head above water his first two NFL seasons, but I detected just a little smile at the corner of his mouth, a sense that while he’s still talking a nose-to-the-grindstone approach, he knows he’s starting to make those big strides that many want to see.

He gave a little hint of that when he was asked about the Sunday practice.

“It’s a competition,” he said. “We have a bunch of guys on the D-line, so what you do every day is just try to stand out from the rest. You have to come in here with a mentality like ‘I want the job.’ Damon Harrison wants the job. Antonio Garay wants the job. Everybody wants the job. We’re just going to have a healthy competition, compete every day and battle and see who gets it.”

It’s still too early to call the starting D-line, but Ellis, who got that Colon-Howard butt-whooping in line drills, came back in team drills to put a roaring pressure up the middle on Geno Smith, forcing either a hurried incompletion or a sack, depending on who’s scoring.

But one thing is clear no matter who the scorer is. Kenrick is coming on.

Rex Cetera

First-round draft pick Dee Milliner, after agreeing to contract terms Sunday night, spent a good portion of today getting from Alabama to Cortland, N.Y. He is expected to talk with Jets reporters this evening around 7:30 p.m. ET. When he holds that news conference, newyorkjets.com will carry it live.

QB update: Both Mark Sanchez and Geno Smith hit Jeremy Kerley with touchdown passes in 7-on-7 drills today. Sanchez threw a short-zone interception to LB Josh Mauga, who’s had a couple of strong days with the second defense. Smith continues without an interception in 7-on-7 and team drills but also suffered a couple of big pressures that would have been sacks in live action. “Geno’s not throwing picks,” Ryan said, “but we don’t want to be taking sacks. That’s one area he can improve his game, but I’m certainly impressed he hasn’t thrown a pick.”

The kickers were smoking today for the second straight day. Nick Folk was dead-on from 40, 44 and 49 yards, while Billy Cundiff nailed a 53-yarder to end the last two-minute drill of the day, then converted from 42 and 46 in the FG drill to end practice.

Today’s attendance was 970. Tuesday is an off day for the players. Thursday should be a crowd-pleaser as Ryan said he thinks the first live goal-line drills of camp will be held that morning, and goal line will also be a part of Saturday night’s Green & White scrimmage. … Pat Kirwan and Tim Ryan were here this morning taping interviews for their SiriusXM NFL Radio show that airs daily from 3-7 p.m. ET.


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Top 10 Player Nuggets from Yearbook ’13

Posted by Randy Lange on July 8, 2013 – 12:36 pm

The Radar’s been dark for a while, as you all know. Not a lot to talk about on the player front, other than the several who continue to show up at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center on their own to work and sweat in advance of the late-July start of training camp. And we were preoccupied for the past several weeks with whipping the 2013 Yearbook home to the printers.

But we will have a full month of previews, reviews, features and news stories on newyorkjets.com, including new outstanding videos from my partner, Eric Allen, and the broadcasting and multimedia crew, some more EA blogs, and some preview pieces from the Yearbook.

Did I mention the Yearbook yet? As always, it’s a labor of love and a glorious print paean to the 2013 Jets, with some top-notch stories from EA, reporter John Holt and myself, along with the fantastic still photography of Al Pereira and the sharp design work of Rob Krolick and his NCG Visuals team.

The book’s theme is the New York Jets’ Golden Anniversary, as in it’s been 50 years since the Jets arose from the ashes of the Titans of New York to begin life with the 1963 AFL season. The cover is graced with a timeline of great Jets images from Joe Namath to Jumbo Elliott to David Harris, and more of those classic images appear with my feature inside.

Many of those photos are gracing this year’s ticket package that is going out to season ticket holders. One of my favorite shots in the book, one that is not on the tickets but is featured prominently in the feature, is Wesley Walker being raised to the Jets pantheon by Marty Lyons after a particularly significant achievement in September 1986. The lensman was Jerry Liebman, a frequent Jets contributor back in those days.

The 2013 Yearbook itself will be out the first week of camp (first full practice: Friday, July 26), available for non-season ticket holders at SUNY Cortland, online at jetshop.com and at the Jets Shops in Manhattan and at MetLife Stadium.

One of the things I look forward to executing every year are the factoids at the bottom of each of the full-page veteran and draft choice pages, a trading-card-like note on each player’s recent past and anticipated immediate future. I won’t spoil too much of the fun, but here for some flavor of this year’s Yearbook and to keep us all going a little while longer is a list of my Top Ten Player Nuggets:

■ Antwan Barnes, who played his first pro game as a Ravens rookie against the Jets on Sept. 16, 2007, had five sacks in his first 40 NFL games, then erupted for 18.5 sacks in 38 games as a Charger since ’10.

■ Willie Colon, as a New York City high school all-star in the early 2000s, played in the Empire Challenge and thus practiced for the game at the Jets’ fields when they were stationed at Hofstra University.

■ Demario Davis should increase his playing time this season after an active rookie campaign in which he led the Jets with 371 special teams plays and was second behind Nick Bellore with 15 ST tackles.

■ D’Brickashaw Ferguson played in every one of the Jets’ 1,074 offensive plays, and he extended his career-long ironman streaks to 112 games and starts — both the longest streaks among active NFL tackles.

■ David Harris led the Jets with 1,196 plays, including special teams, and again topped the defense in tackles — the fifth season that “the Hitman” reached 100 tackles and led the Jets in the process.

■ Chris Ivory, described as “a very physical, violent runner” by GM John Idzik, can move the chains — his 5.11 yards per carry is eighth-best in the NFL for all RBs with at least 250 career carries since 1970.

■ Jeremy Kerley, who led the Jets in receptions and receiving yards last season, has had a hand in the Green & White’s last seven 40-yard pass plays — five on the receiving end and two as the passer.

■ Joe McKnight’s 29.4-yard kickoff-return average in 2011-12 combined is the best in the NFL in back-to-back seasons since Hall of Famer-to-be Gale Sayers posted a 31.3 for the Bears in 1965-66.

■ Darrin Walls, whose only career interception came for Atlanta on New Year’s Day 2012 vs. Tampa Bay, has been reunited with Jets LBs coach Brian VanGorder, his defensive coordinator with the Falcons.

■  Kellen Winslow, signed June 14 after his tryout at the Jets’ full-squad minicamp, ranks third among all NFL tight ends since 2006 with 698 targets, fourth with 433 catches, and fourth with 4,798 yards.


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A Few Final Notes from the Buffalo Finale

Posted by Randy Lange on January 2, 2013 – 2:16 pm

As we come off the holiday and into the bright, harsh sunlight of 2013, we’re awaiting any developments in the Jets’ postseason plans along with the start of the playoffs. While in neutral in that area, here are a few loose ends that we wanted to tie up from the season finale at Buffalo:

Big-Play JK

For many skill position players, their 40 time is important. For Jeremy Kerley, his “40” plays are paramount.

Kerley had a pair of 40-yard receptions from Mark Sanchez at Buffalo — the slip screen that converted third-and-16 in the second quarter (which as we noted Sunday was the longest third-down conversion completion since Sanchez-to-Braylon Edwards on third-and-21 in 2009 Game 5 at Miami, Edwards’ first game as a Jet) and the sideline grab over Stephen Gilmore in the third quarter.

This generated several 40-yard factoids:

■ It was the first time in 41 games that the Jets completed two 40-yards-plus passes in a game. The last time was 2010 Game 10 vs. Houston, when Sanchez hit Santonio Holmes for a 41-yard TD, then found Edwards late for the 42-yarder that set up Holmes’ comeback-securing second TD.

■ It was the first time a Jet had two 40-yard receptions in the same game since the 2009 AFC Wild Card Game at Cincinnati, when TE Dustin Keller nabbed 45- and 43-yarders from Sanchez.

■ It was the first time a Jets WR had two 40-yarders in the same game since 2007 Game 15 at Tennessee, when Jerricho Cotchery caught 48- and 41-yarders from Chad Pennington.

■ And just for fun, I went back to the last time a WR caught two 40-yarders in a Jets victory. That was Santana Moss, who had a 65-yard TD and a 43-yard catch from Pennington in the 2003 Game 9 overtime win at Oakland.

Here’s some related trivia:

The Jets’ last seven 40-yard pass plays have all involved Kerley. He had five 40-yard receptions this season. And he completed the 41-yard pass to Matt Mulligan in the 2011 season finale at Miami and the 42-yarder to Clyde Gates vs. San Diego.

All we can say is, Jeremy, keep ‘em comin’ … and maybe if you can cut back on your NFL-record number of punt fair catches from this season as well, that would be AOK, JK.

Third-Down D Lost Its Grip

The Jets defense put together a strong piece of third-down efficiency since the end of the New England Thanksgiving turkey. Through the first third-down situation of the third quarter Sunday, the D had allowed just seven conversions on 63 third-down plays. That’s an 11.1% rate that’s great in anyone’s book.

However, the defense couldn’t hold on after that as the Bills converted six of their last nine third downs, including a pair of Brad Smith “Mizzou”-style runs, for the 4-yard touchdown and a 16-yard pickup.

And it sometimes gets overlooked in assessing “crunch-down” defense but from Arizona on, opponents converted on six of seven fourth downs, including Tashard Choice’s late 13-yard dash on Sunday.

Still, the Jets finished 12th in the NFL with an opponents’ third-down conversion rate of 30.2%, and that was quite an improvement from 31st at a 40.8% rate after the Patriots game.

Penalty Progress

Muhammad Wilkerson had only one roughing-the-passer penalty marked off against him all season, back in Game 6 vs. Andrew Luck and the Colts. And it didn’t really look like a flaggable offense when Mo crushed Ryan Fitzpatrick hard in the pocket, not late, no helmet-to-helmet, no blow to the head, in the third quarter and was called for roughing by ref Terry McAulay.

Wilkerson evidently didn’t think so either, because on the next series he popped Fitz again, quite legally, then looked at McAulay with his hands out, as if to say, “Was that one OK, ref?”

The Jets took four penalties for 45 yards on the day at Buffalo, one of which was quite unusual — when LB David Harris jumped offside on a Fitzpatrick hard count on the Bills’ opening drive. It was the Hitman’s first penalty of any kind in 33 games, or since getting served for a facemask against BenJarvus Green-Ellis in the 2010 AFC Divisional Round Game at New England, and Harris’ first presnap penalty in his six-year career.

The team totals were still in keeping with the Jets’ emphasis on cutting down on penalties in the second half of the season. They finished fourth in the NFL for fewest penalties with 83 and third for fewest penalty yards with 708. The last time they had less than their 233 yards in penalties from Games 9-16 in an inseason eight-game span was in ’07.

Turnover Tale of Woe

We wrote about how important it was for the Jets to come up with a big takeaway/giveaway effort in our advance for the game at Tennessee. It didn’t work out that way, of course, as the Jets went minus-5 in that game, the centerpiece of their turnover travails late in the season.

Mark Sanchez had 18 interceptions, eight lost fumbles and 26 individual giveaways for the second straight season. And the offense had a 17.5% turnover drive rate (34 GAs, 194 drives) that was third-highest in the NFL behind Kansas City (18.8%) and Philadelphia (17.9%).

But the defense didn’t lighten the load down the stretch. The Jets had no interceptions their last three games, and the Mike DeVito force/Yeremiah Bell recovery of C.J. Spiller’s fumble to open the third quarter was the only FF and FR in the last five games.

Revising that GA/TA stat we mentioned last week, the Jets combined for a minus-14 turnover margin for the season, their lowest since the 1996 team went minus-20. And their minus-15 over the final six games equaled the lowest inseason six-game TO margin in franchise history, set in the final six games of the ’76 season.


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This Hayden Smith Guy Just Might Catch On

Posted by Randy Lange on December 26, 2012 – 5:42 pm

We’ll start the week with a few passing fancies, either or both of whom could find themselves fancied by Rex Ryan and Tony Sparano in the Jets’ offensive game plan for Buffalo on Sunday.

Hayden Smith, after short careers as a small-college basketball player and a high-level rugby performer, has been getting his feet wet in this, his first season as a 27-year-old NFL rookie tight end. It just so happened that Tim Usasz, one of his rugby buds and a fellow Australian, was in the New York area and came over to the Sunday game at MetLife Stadium against San Diego to watch his countryman play his new game.

Smith said Usasz’s immediate reaction when, late in the first half, Smith let Chargers LB Melvin Smith leak past him into the Jets backfield was, “Uh-oh, looks like Hayden made a mistake.”

That’s just what he and the Jets wanted the Chargers to think. Immediately, Greg McElroy pivoted from right to left and floated a pass with perfect touch and location past Ingram’s flailing outstretched left hand and into the hands of the former lock forward for the USA at the 2011 Rugby World Cup.

“Probably the one similarity between rugby and football is running with the ball,” Smith said about his nifty 19 yards of YAC on the 16-yard play behind a D’Brickashaw Ferguson block to the Jets 41, converting a third-and-9 in the process.

“The funny thing about it was they called the play and I knew it was coming to me, and just as we got out there, there was a timeout, so I had about five minutes to think about it,” Smith said, referring to that American TV marketing concept of the five-minute-long two-minute warning. “We’ve had the play up for a couple of weeks, but we just hadn’t had the opportunity to call it until Sunday. It’s a great play, we got the look that we wanted and executed it well, so it was all positive.”

Smith’s been active for four games now, with 14 plays on offense and 13 on special teams. Sunday’s pass was the first ball thrown to the 6’6″, 255-pounder. He looked like he knew exactly what to do with it, and it would be nice to see confirmation of that perception a few more times in Sunday’s season finale at “the Ralph.”

Kerley’s Distinction

The other passing-game nugget worth noting was that Jeremy Kerley is currently the only player in NFL history who has thrown two or more passes and completed each one for more than 40 yards.

Yeah, I know, that’s a fun fact that won’t last very long. JK’s one of only 54 players who have completed every pass they’ve thrown as pros with at least two completions. And the minute one of his Wildcat passes hits the turf, he’s out of this club forever. But until then, Kerley’s 41-yard strike to TE Matt Mulligan at Miami in last year’s season finale and his 42-yard play-action chuck to Clyde Gates against the Chargers makes him an army of one.

The only members of this exclusive group who have more than Kerley’s 83 passing yards are Packers punter Ron Widby (2-for-2, 102 yards, 1972) and Broncos WR Arthur Marshall (2-for-2, 111 yards in 1992-93).

Now Kerley could etch his name in stone if he keeps it up. The NFL record-holder for most consecutive completions from start of career is St. Louis backup QB Billy Donckers, who hit all six of his career passes in 1976-77, followed by a certain University of Florida QB by name of … Kerwin Bell, who completed all five of his throws for the Colts in 1988.

Kerley’s on-the-money throw to Lex Hilliard on Sunday was wiped out by an illegal formation, so he’s still got to hit his next five to grab that Hall of Fame-esque distinction. No pressure, Jeremy.

As for if Kerley will be used in a similar Wildcat role against the Bills, head coach Rex Ryan said today, “It’s certainly a possibility, and if it’s something they have to prepare for and I wasn’t going to do it, I probably wouldn’t say it, either.”

Wilkerson on the Sideline

Muhammad Wilkerson is on the Jets’ injury report for the first time this season. The DE, who’s been on a tear for better than half a season, is listed with a concussion and a knee injury and did not participate in today’s team drills.

“That would be a big concern” if Mo can’t go, Ryan said this morning at his news conference. “He’s one of the best interior linemen in the league. Hopefully, he’ll get that kind of respect  when the Pro Bowl voting comes out. But forget all that. I’d like Mo to play and I am concerned he can’t practice today.” Ryan said he thought Wilkerson underwent concussion testing after Sunday’s game and that Rex didn’t hear about Wilkerson’s injury status until Tuesday. Merry Christmas.

By the way, the NFL will be making the initial unveil of its AFC and NFC Pro Bowl rosters tonight at 7 p.m. ET on NFL Network. We’ll have a separate story on the Jets’ Pro Bowlers live on our site shortly after the announcement by the league.

The Rest of the Injury Picture

The other DNPs today were Keller (ankle), WR Braylon Edwards (hamstring/knee), CB Ellis Lankster (concussion), LB Bryan Thomas (chest), WR Chaz Schilens (knee) and CB Aaron Berry (hamstring).

The other 18 Jets on the report were all full-go for the team drills at today’s practice, which started outside on the Atlantic Health Training Center turf field, then headed indoors when the rain/snow started coming down shortly in the early afternoon.

Among the full participants were QB Greg McElroy (abdomen) and NT Sione Po‘uha (back), who’s listed as full for the first time in 13 weeks and for only the sixth time in this season’s 46 game-week practices. Way to work all the way “back,” Sione. You’ll find the Jets’ full injury report here.

The Bills list 15 players of their own. DNP — S Jairus Byrd (ankle), TE Scott Chandler (knee), G Andy Levitre (knee), WR Ruvell Martin (non-injury-related), S Da’Norris Searcy (groin), DT Kyle Williams (knee). Limited — DE Mark Anderson (knee), LB Nick Barnett (knee), RB Dorin Dickerson (ankle), WR Marcus Easley (hamstring), CB Justin Rogers (foot), LB Chris White (hamstring), C Eric Wood (knee). Full — RB C.J. Spiller (shoulder), DE Mario Williams (wrist).

“Inside the Jets”

Tonight’s “Inside the Jets” radio show, scheduled for tonight, is going on live as scheduled at 7 p.m ET on ESPN 98.7 FM at the Grasshopper in Morristown, N.J. Larry Hardesty is hosting. Due to this afternoon’s snowstorm in the area, no players will be appearing at the restaurant but players will be calling into the show.


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Some Naughty, Some Nice for the Holidays

Posted by Randy Lange on December 24, 2012 – 2:09 pm

What do you want first, the good news or the bad news?

All right, good news first.

With one more favorable set of games on the last day of the season next Sunday, the Jets will have the NFL’s No. 1 pass defense for 2012.

Stay with me on this.

The Jets are No. 2 for the second week in a row, behind Pittsburgh’s No. 1 unit, but the gap closed significantly on Sunday. As the Jets were yielding 136 net yards (passing yards minus sack yards), to the Chargers, the Steelers gave up 253 to Andy Dalton and the Bengals. That leaves the Jets 30 yards behind the Steelers.

A Green & White shutdown of Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Bills coupled with a Steelers showing vs. Brandon Weeden and the Browns that is 31-plus yards than the Jets allow (and barring an even greater lockdown by No. 3 Arizona against No. 4 San Francisco or vice versa and by No. 5 Seattle against St. Louis) and the Jets will wear the No. 1 crown for pass defense in a year in which they didn’t have Darrelle Revis for 13 games and only lately started to bring serious, consistent pressure on opposing QBs.

What’s the point, you may ask over your eggnog. No. 1 pass defense isn’t a secret tiebreaker to get the Jets into the AFC playoff grid. It doesn’t pay incentives. There isn’t even a plaque for the wall downstairs at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. And where was the vaunted passing D in Sunday’s third quarter?

That last question is easiest to answer, although I’ll sound like a coach here when I say they’re paying the Chargers, too. Philip Rivers is still a decent QB, Danario Alexander is a dangerous downfield threat, Antonio Gates is one of the long-time gold standards at TE. Yeah, it would’ve been great to see Antonio Cromartie play that ball to Alexander better and for Eric Smith to drop Gates right after the catch, but most teams would kill for a defense that gave up 10 of its 20 points off of short fields and allowed 136 yards of passing offense on the day.

“The defense played really well for the majority of the game,” head coach Rex Ryan said on a conference call with beat reporters today. “I thought we gave up two huge plays. One we really thought we had the coverage, then did a poor job from a technique standpoint. Then you’ve got to give them credit for a nice job of scheming us when they got Gates isolated. That was obviously a big play for them. I think that’s obviously the difference in the game. They were absolutely dominated on defense and they made enough plays on offense to win the game.”

But at least consider there’s carryover from everything, good, bad and mediocre. However the Jets’ offense shakes out in 2013, the defense figures to be a cornerstone for the Jets going forward. Mo and Q, the Hitman, Cro and Revis Island, et al., should be a major force in the future, and nothing like a top ranking to underscore that for newcomers to the fold. Plus 1 isn’t a crooked number and is better than a sharp stick in the eye.

And Now for the Naughty

The bad news is that, besides a sudden blocking problem — “That was as poor as I can ever remember, as far as pass protection is concerned,” Ryan said of the 11 sacks suffered by Greg McElroy and the offense — another issue has lately reared its ugly head. It’s a turnover problem.

We hate to say it on Christmas Eve, but the Jets have been doing too much giving and not enough taking.

In their last five games, they have a minus-14 turnover margin (four takeaways, 18 giveaways), dropping them to minus-13 on the year, 27th in the NFL. Furthermore, it’s tied for the most lopsided five-game in-season margin in franchise history with a stretch of the Jets’ inaugural season as the Titans in 1960, when they went minus-14 from Games 5-9 (14 TAs, 28 GAs). The only worse five-game stretch spanned the 1976 and ’77 seasons, when they had a minus-18 (9 TAs, 27 GAs) through the ’77 season opener.

On the one hand, this kind of trend can undo a lot of the good things a team might do, such as playing great pass defense or getting off the field on third down or returning and covering kickoffs. On the other, at least the Jets won two of the games in this five game span, vs. Arizona and at Jacksonville.

Regardless, some members of the defense spoke with me about optimizing takeaway opportunities, and that hasn’t happened with no turnovers for the defense, not even a forced fumble, the last two games. Just like great pass defense can continue into the offseason and the next preseason, so can that often whimsical but always important turnover habit.

There is no better time for McElroy and the offense to work on ball security and the D to step up its ball thievery than this season’s last live action against the Bills, who are minus-14 for the season and minus-8 in their last three games alone.

Rex Cetera

Ryan was grilled again about quarterbacks following the game. He deflected Sunday stories about sources offering information regarding Tim Tebow being active but not playing against the Chargers while Jeremy Kerley ran the Wildcat on several plays, most notably the 42-yard completion to Clyde Gates on the Jets’ second drive.

“You’re assuming something’s a fact or whatever,” Ryan said regarding questions about some of those sources. “I’ll say this: If I would’ve asked Tim to play anything, Tim would’ve gone in the game and done that. … Jeremy looked good in practice. That’s why I went with him. I could’ve used Tim. If I’d chosen to use Tim, I believe without any hesitation Tim would’ve been out there.”

Reporter John Holt will have a story on Kerley that we’ll post Christmas morning. And we’ll have more on Rex, the quarterbacks, and the rest of the Jets when we all return to the facility for Wednesday’s practice for the Bills. Until then, we’ll sign off now and wish you and yours the happiest of holidays.


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Jets-Jaguars: 1st-Half Tweets

Posted by Randy Lange on December 9, 2012 – 2:24 pm

Here are today’s first-half tweets for the Jets-Jaguars game at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, 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 today: Tim Tebow and LaRon Landry.

#RL JAX won opening coin toss, deferred. It’s 4th time opponents have won toss, deferred this yr. Jets record in first 3 games: 3-0.

#RL Mardy Gilyard makes catch on 3rd down, comes up inches short of 1st down. Gilyard’s first NFL reception since 2010.

#EA Antonio Cromartie was in there at WR on the first play from scrimmage.

#RL Jags in RZ, but Garrett McIntyre hits Chad Henne as he throws, Bart Scott picks off. Jets’ 1st takeaway in 4 games all-time at JAX.

#RL Jags in RZ, but Garrett McIntyre hits Chad Henne as he throws, Bart Scott picks off. Jets’ 1st takeaway in 4 games all-time at JAX.

#RL That’s the first time this season JAX has been prevented from scoring in the red zone after 25 successful chance (14 TDs, 11 FGs).

#RL Bart Scott’s INT was his first since 2006 with Baltimore.

#RL Robert Malone gets off 50-yd punt (49-yd net), 13th consec game he’s had at least one 50-yd punt, longest streak by Jets P since ’91.

#EA That was Bart Scott’s first regular season pick as a Jet. He now has 4 INTs in his career.

#EA Stephen Hill, who stepped up last week with 5 catches, getting looked at on the sideline. Hopefully the rookie’s right leg is OK.

#RL Jets WR Stephen Hill has a knee injury, his return to this game is questionable.

#RL Josh Scobee hits 31-yd FG to give JAX 3-0 lead over Jets. Scobee FG-kicking career vs Jets: 7-for-8. Scobee this season: 21-for-22.

#EA All turnovers are reviewed. Don’t think the TD will stand, but the Jets have 2 turnovers in +territory now.

#RL Jets D has no sacks of Chad Henne but pressured him into 3 incompletions for their first three-and-out series this afternoon.

#RL Josh Scobee 55-yd FG attempt to end 1st half is wide left. Scobee hit a 55-yder vs. Jets in Game 2 last season. Jets trail at half 3-0.


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Sanchez Verdict ‘Wasn’t Too Big of a Shock’

Posted by jlholt32 on December 5, 2012 – 8:10 pm

It was a typical Wednesday practice at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center this afternoon.

Yet from an outsider’s perspective it never appeared that way.

Two days of uncertainty regarding who the Jets’ starting quarterback at Jacksonville would be came to an end this morning when head coach Rex Ryan announced that he would be sticking with Mark Sanchez.

“It wasn’t too big of a shock to the guys,” wide receiver Jeremy Kerley said.

“It really was no news to take in,” right tackle Austin Howard added. “Personnel decisions are made by Rex, the GM and the owner. They’ve been here a long time to make those decisions.”

Just three days ago, as the Jets were facing the Arizona Cardinals, Ryan decided in the third quarter that it was the appropriate time to pull Sanchez from the game. The QB had struggled mightily all afternoon, throwing three interceptions in his first nine pass attempts, and also was sacked three times. The benching proved to be the first time the fourth-year QB had been taken out of a game as a pro.

“I think quarterbacks get a lot of the blame for everything, good or bad,” Kerley said. “But I think it falls a lot on his shoulders, good or bad. But we’re an offense. We don’t point fingers. We take the blame for what we put out there.”

With backup quarterback Tim Tebow unavailable to go due to broken ribs, third-stringer Greg McElroy entered the game and led the Jets to the come-from-behind 7-6 win.

“I think for Greg, it just gives him the confidence,” tight end Konrad Reuland said. “Whenever his number is called in the future, he has the confidence to go out there, and he knows he’s led a comeback victory already in his career, threw a touchdown pass on his first drive. So I don’t know how you wouldn’t have confidence after the way he played. I think in the long run, it might make this team stronger, because now we have three quarterbacks that have experience what it’s like to lead teams to comeback victories and win games in the NFL.”

On Monday, Ryan said he needed more time to make his decision and he wanted to make sure to get feedback from several of his coaching counterparts before announcing anything.  

“It was Rex’s decision,” cornerback Ellis Lankster said. “We’re not mad or anything. We’re just going to follow Rex’s decision and going to play behind him.”

The players had the previous two days off from practice, but that didn’t mean the QB chatter wasn’t heard around them. 

“I was walking into stores and people were asking me about it,” Lankster said. “I was like, ‘I don’t know. I haven’t been to practice or anything yet.’ So I didn’t know what it was going to be.”

Other players simply ignored the matter.

“I don’t really pay much attention to it,” guard Brandon Moore said. “It’ll get figured out. That’s why Rex is the head coach and he makes those decisions. I’ve got to worry about the game plan.”

While the decision wasn’t an easy one for Ryan to make, it’s clear that year four for Sanchez hasn’t been as smooth as many anticipated it would be. The Jets offense ranks 31st in the NFL and No. 6 has thrown 13 interceptions and had 18 turnovers through the team’s 12 games this season.

“I think everybody does the best job they can,” rookie WR Jordan White said. “Nobody goes in there and wants to mess up at any position. You just do the best you can. Some things might not go your way sometimes, but what can you do but come back to work the next day and get back to it. That’s what everybody’s done.”

The issue with Sanchez has never been his drive. Many of teammates say he’s one of the most dedicated people inside the locker room. 

“Mark’s a very hard worker,” fullback Lex Hilliard said. “Week in and week out, he’s here constantly, sometimes till 10 or 11 o’clock at night.”

Reuland, who also was Sanchez’s teammate at Mission Viejo High School, described a story of when their school lost in a California Interscholastic Federation championship game during Sanchez’s junior year and how that loss inspired the QB.

“They didn’t have a state championship in California back then,” Reuland said. “But it was basically as far as you could go. It was a big loss and he bounced right back the next season and led us to a No. 2 ranking in the country, undefeated [season]. He bounced back from that.

“That was definitely an adverse situation because we were expected to win it all. But I don’t think he would be here, at this level, if he didn’t know how to overcome adversity. Look at his career at USC. He battled for three years before getting a chance to start. As soon as he did, he took advantage of it.”

The players were going to support Ryan’s decision either way. But now that it’s been made, everyone was pleased it didn’t drag out.

“I think the clarification is good on all parts, receivers, tight ends, running backs,” Kerley said. “The whole offense, we needed that.”

And what seemed to impress Sanchez’s teammates most was the way the quarterback processed the situation he’d been dealt.

“Hats off to Mark,” Howard said. “He handled it like a pro.”

“He was very supportive of Greg,” Reuland said. “And I know it was tough for him, but at the same time he was very supportive. I feel like Mark just wants to win like all of us. Obviously deep down, it’s got to hurt a little bit. But at the same time, I think he did a good job of cheering us on and I feel like he’s going to bounce back.”

While many probably have lost belief in Sanchez, the people who truly count most have not.

“I got a lot of faith in him,” Lankster said.

“He’s going to put his best foot forward and give the team the best shot he’s got,” Hilliard said. “So that’s all you can really ask for.”

It’ll be interesting to see how Sanchez performs Sunday in Jacksonville. But one big question was answered today and people have to accept it one way or another.

“I think with Mark, it’s literally just he’s a couple of great plays away from being right back to where he’s been in the past,” Reuland said. “Everyone in here has been through a time where they were a little down on themselves or whatever and all it takes is one or two plays to get right back out of it — ‘Oh, wait, yeah, I can do this.’ So I think that’s going to happen. I think that’s going to happen in this game.”

Wednesday Injury Reports

The Jets’ injury list is at 22 players today. New to the list: WR Stephen Hill didn’t practice with a knee injury, DT Mike DeVito (shin) was full-go and so was FB Lex Hilliard (finger). Two other DNPs were WR Clyde Gates (concussion) and TE Dustin Keller (ankle). Four limited players: RB-KR Joe McKnight (ankle/ribs), G Brandon Moore (hip), NT Sione Po‘uha (back) and QB Tim Tebow (ribs). The Jets’ full injury list can be found here.

The Jaguars listed eight players who didn’t practice today, among them RBs Maurice Jones-Drew (foot), Greg Jones (thigh) and Rashad Jennings (concussion), centers Brad Meester (foot) and Michael Brewster (hand), WR Cecil Shorts (concussion), CB Aaron Ross (calf) and DE George Selvie (concussion).

Limited were CB Derek Cox (hamstring) and DE Austen Lane (foot). Full were DT Tyson Alualu (calf) and CB Rashean Mathis (groin).

Sack Ex-Changes

The Elias Sports Bureau has revised the scoring of three plays, all of them sacks, in the Jets-Cardinals game. The Cards’ final offensive play of the game was originally scored a split sack between DE Muhammad Wilkerson and LB Bart Scott, who swarmed rookie Ryan Lindley, but upon further review, the full sack has been given to Wilkerson, which lifts him past Bryan Thomas’ 2.5 sacks and into the team lead with 3.0 sacks.

The other two sack revisions were both on Arizona takedowns of Mark Sanchez. The early-second-quarter sack split between LB Sam Acho and DT Darnell Dockett now goes fully to Acho. And the late-second-quarter sack divvied up between S Adrian Wilson and DT David Carter now goes all to Wilson.


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STS*: Struggles Past, Challenges, Opportunities Ahead

Posted by jlholt32 on December 1, 2012 – 11:15 am

For whatever reasons, ever since returning from their bye week, the Jets’ special teams haven’t been as sharp and efficient as usual.

Trouble began in Seattle on Nov. 11 when punt returner Jeremy Kerley muffed a second-quarter punt, which the Seahawks recovered and soon thereafter turned into seven points.

That was followed up at St. Louis the next week when one of Nick Folk’s field goals was blocked and a Tim Tebow fake-punt shovel pass to Lex Hilliard was stopped.

And most recently, against the Patriots on Thanksgiving, Joe McKnight fumbled a kickoff return, resulting in a TD for the opposition.

Special teams coordinator Mike Westhoff didn’t have a clear explanation for the recent struggles.

“We do things in practice,” Westhoff said, “but there’s only so many things you can do. I mean, we can’t run a live kickoff coverage in practice this time of the year. We’ve already had a million. You have to be able to hang onto it. So those instances, even though they’re separate entities — very, very frustrating.”

Yet Westhoff was pleased with his kickoff covereage unit against the Pats.

“They couldn’t get to the 20,” Westhoff said. “They couldn’t have gotten to the 20 with an all-star team running that against what we were doing. We had it. I look at it technically. I know what I’m talking about. So we have them covered.”

Westhoff was shocked the McKnight miscue occurred, particularly because it looked like he had a chance to take the return all the way.

“Here I’m seeing this develop,” the ST coordinator said. “I’m thinking, ‘We’ve got them. We’re going to hit this.’ All of a sudden it ends up becoming a gigantic play for them and they get the big Thanksgiving celebration and we get a weekend in Palookaville.”

Jets seventh-year safety Eric Smith said the mistakes and errors on special teams haven’t only been discouraging for Westhoff but for the entire unit.

“We’ve just given up a lot of plays that we don’t need to,” Smith said. “We’ve got them schemed up well, we’ve just got some guys out of position, missed some tackles or missed some blocks.”

The Arizona Cardinals, Sunday’s opponents, feature one of the NFL’s premier punt returners in Patrick Peterson. Last season as a rookie, Peterson tied the NFL single-season punt-return touchdown record, finishing with four, with all four of his scores at least 80-yard returns. Those impressive numbers certainly haven’t gone unnoticed by Westhoff.

“I’ll tell you what he’s incredible at aside from being a prolific punt returner,” Westhoff said. “He rushes field goals as good as maybe anybody I’ve ever seen. He can run under a chair. He explodes and he’s low. He’s strong. At 220 pounds, he runs through a lot of things aside from being so explosive. He’s a real factor.

“Sometimes his numbers maybe aren’t quite what he would want them to be. He takes chances. I mean, he ran a 99-yard punt return. That meant he fielded it on the 1. A lot of guys wouldn’t do that. He does that kind of stuff. So he’s very daring.”

When Peterson entered the NFL out of LSU in 2011, Westhoff listed him as his top draft prospect.

“He’s extremely, extremely talented,” Westhoff said. “I have tremendous respect for him.”

The unit is also hoping personal protector Tim Tebow will be ready to go after he didn’t see action in last week’s game due to his broken ribs.

“I think I know Tim Tebow pretty well,” Westhoff said. “The guy’s pretty tough. Anytime you have one of those things, there’s always a safety or precaution because you don’t know what it could become.”

If the Jets envision being successful Sunday, one area they should attempt to capitalize on McKnight’s specialty, kickoff returns. Arizona ranks 30th in the NFL in both their 27.9-yard average return allowed and opponents’ averaged 24.3-yard-line drive start. But as Westhoff cautioned, it all circles back to fundamentals.

“Every play is measured by the proper execution of that play,” he said. “Sometimes a really good punt return is a fair catch. That can be a heck of a play, things like that. Whatever the situation requires, I want to try to win at that situation. And I want everyone to win at it, every single guy. That’s my goal.”

*Special Teams Saturday


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McKnight, Ellis Won’t Make the Trip to Seattle

Posted by Randy Lange on November 9, 2012 – 1:32 pm

Updated, Saturday, 12:10 p.m.

The Jets will be traveling to Seattle today without two contributors they thought might have been available for the Seahawks after an otherwise healing bye week. Head coach Rex Ryan announced at his news conference today that RB-KR Joe McKnight (ankle) and NT Kenrick Ellis (knee) will stay home.

“We’re going to keep them back here,” Ryan said before the team hops buses for Newark Liberty Airport and the six-hour flight to the Pacific Northwest this afternoon. “Kenrick was limited in practice. He’s just not quite ready to play. Hopefully next week he’ll be ready to go.”

Ellis hurt his knee in the Oct. 8 game against the Texans and hadn’t practiced at all until Thursday and today, when he was limited for the first time. But the nose tackle position will be manned as it was last week by Sione Po‘uha, who made his first start in four games and got in 21 plays against Miami after working through his own back injury, as well as rookie Damon “Snacks” Harrison.

McKnight, one of the NFL’s top kickoff returners for the second straight season, injured his ankle against Indianapolis on Oct. 14, played on the ankle at New England and vs. Miami, but aggravated the injury against the Dolphins.

“Joe is one of those type of deals where if he can get 25 percent better by not playing in a game, it’s probably time to do that,” Ryan said. “We’re going that route and hopefully we’ll be able to get him back so he can practice and play.”

The Jets have listed Antonio Cromartie and Kyle Wilson as the backup kickoff returners to McKnight on their weekly game-notes package for reporters, but a new alternative roared into action when speedy second-year WR Clyde Gates ripped off a 47-yard return with the second-half kickoff vs. the ‘Fins and might have become the eighth different Jet to return a kickoff for a touchdown under special teams coordinator Mike Westhoff, had he not run into rookie Demario Davis near midfield.

The rest of the Jets injury report was pretty much the same all week. Six players were limited at today’s practice at the Atlantic Health Training Center, but Ryan said, “I believe all of them will play” at Seattle. Those six: C Nick Mangold (ankle), G Brandon Moore (hip), RB Bilal Powell (shoulder), LB Bart Scott (toe), S Eric Smith (knee) and Po‘uha. WR-PR Jeremy Kerley (heel) today became the 17th player listed on the injury report this week but practiced full and is probable for the Seahawks. Also, G Hayworth Hicks, signed this week from Indy’s practice squad, did not make the trip and has been ruled out for the game.

Update: Sorry, due to computer issues en route to Seattle, I couldn’t post the Seahawks’ injury report/game status. Here it is now:

Out — LB K.J. Wright (concussion), G James Carpenter (concussion).

Doubtful — DE Greg Scruggs (oblique).

Questionable — DT Clinton McDonald (groin).

Probable — WR Doug Baldwin (ankle), DE Red Bryant (foot), S Kam Chancellor (quad), WR Braylon Edwards (knee), DE Jason Jones (ankle), RB Marshawn Lynch (back/wrist), G John Moffitt (knee), CB Richard Sherman (illness).

Statement for the Region

Ryan wore a new baseball cap to today’s “Fast Friday” news conference. The logo on the front said it all: “NJ/NY STRONG.”

“I’m going to wear this hat at the game on behalf of our organization,” Ryan said. “Basically, it’s just to let people know, especially people in our region that were affected by Hurricane Sandy that our thoughts and prayers are with them. Hopefully they’ll see this hat on the sideline and they’ll understand that we’re with them and thinking about them, and also that we’re representing our region when we go up there and play this game.

“If they can get something encouraging out of our performance, that certainly motivates us and drives us as well.”

On Thursday owner Woody Johnson said the Jets are donating $500,000 to the relief efforts in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, which last week devastated the New Jersey/New York area, and are dedicating their Thanksgiving night game against New England at MetLife Stadium to helping and honoring all those affected by the storm.


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At Midseason, Rex and the Numbers Speak of Inconsistency

Posted by Randy Lange on November 2, 2012 – 4:38 pm

It’s been a tough week all around in this neighborhood as people continue to dig out from the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Power’s still not restored in many places, trees are lying on people’s houses and in roadways, gas lines hearken back to the late Seventies.

The Jets have fared OK in the sense that the Atlantic Health Training Center is in good shape, the building has full power, and we haven’t heard any ugly storm stories from the players and the coaches.

But the Jets have needed to correct their different kind of power outage as much as possible this bye week before they gather back together next week to get ready for the NFC West leg of their schedule, road games at Seattle and St. Louis, then two weeks later at home for Arizona. (Not to mention the Patriots’ visit on Thanksgiving night.)

“You’re at the halfway point of the season and you really analyze where you’re at. And 3-and-5’s not getting it done,” head coach Rex Ryan told my partner, Eric Allen, late this week in video remarks that you can see and hear on this week’s “Jets Flight Plan” on Sunday morning on WCBS-TV. “We have to really look at what we’re doing and see areas where we can improve, expand roles, take roles away, those types of things. At the same time you start your preparation for Seattle and other teams down the road.”

Ryan and his coaches were making those analyses throughout the week here. What had they found at the time of this interview?

“I think we’ve been inconsistent throughout as a football team,” he said. “Usually a strength of ours would clearly be the defense and clearly be our special teams. And we’ve had moments where that’s been the case, but then we also had moments where those two areas have hurt us.

“Then offensively we’re searching for our identity. Sometimes we’ve been running the ball very effectively, other times not as much. I think we’ve had some excellent days protecting the quarterback, then other times when it hasn’t been as good. So we’ve really got to focus on how we can improve this team and see what happens. But clearly, 3-5, that’s certainly not acceptable, not to our fan base, nobody accepts it. We have to do a better job, and I always say it starts with me.”

“Inconsistency” comes through loud and clear in these stats, rankings and factoids that I’ve shaken out of my databases and spreadsheets at this season’s midpoint:

MARK SANCHEZ

It’s a mixed bag with the quarterback.

■ His ball-in-the-air-yardage is at a career-high clip of 8.6 yards per pass. But his receivers’ yards after catch is at a career-low rate of 4.0.

■ He followed one of the best-passing fourth quarters of his career at New England (10-for-12, 114 yards, 1 TD, 134.0 rating) with one of the worst-passing third quarters of his career vs. Miami (5-for-14, 53 yards, 1 INT, 17.9 rating).

■ Some key passing numbers, if sustained through the final eight games, would be career lows (52.9% accuracy, 6.38 yards/attempt), while the passer rating of 72.8 would end his increases there since his rookie year.

■ Three-and-outs continue to be an issue. Sanchez’s three-and-out drive rate of .292 (26-of-89) is 31st out of 33 qualifying QBs, ahead of Jacksonville’s Blaine Gabbert (.316) and Oakland’s Carson Palmer (.298).

TIM TEBOW

Tebow’s been on the field for 54 offensive plays, 6.8 per game, plus 49 special-teams plays, giving him 103 snaps this season, about 13 a game. With those he has compiled 23 runs for 78 yards (3.4 yards/carry) and two completions on three passes for 32 yards, one sack and a 102.1 passer rating. He’s moved the chains nine times.

Ryan was asked on his Monday conference call if the Jets look at ways to use Tebow more in the second half of the season. “I definitely think that’s a fair statement,” he said.

GROUND GAME

Inconsistent fits here as well. The Jets are 16th, right in the middle of the NFL rankings, in rushing yards per game, 22nd in yards per carry. Shonn Greene had a career day with his 32-carry, 161-yard, three-TD outing vs. the Colts and a regular-season-long 36-yard bolt against the Dolphins. But for all eight games he’s at a career-low pace of 3.7 yards/carry, which breaks down unofficially to 1.3 yards before first contact, 2.4 yards after.

The good news, perhaps, is that Greene started slow in last year’s first half, too (1.5 before, 2.3 after, 3.8 total) before finishing muscularly (1.8-2.8-4.6) in the second half. The returns of a healthier Bilal Powell and Joe McKnight to the RB mix and Shonn’s November-December push could help the offense pick things up.

RED ZONE

A big difference from a year ago is the performance on drives inside the opponents’ 20. In ’11 with Plaxico Burress doing his best work as a Jet, Sanchez had 10 TD passes at the midway point of the season, compared to eight this year — without Santonio Holmes, that’s not bad.

But Sanchez has already thrown three RZ interceptions this season, equaling last season’s total, and in the last 11 games dating to last year he’s had six giveaways inside the 20.

And the offense’s rate has dropped off, from last season’s franchise-record 65.5% touchdown rate to 48.1% (13 TDs in 27 drives) this year. Again, like many other areas on the team, the Jets’ five TDs in five tries vs. Indianapolis and a good showing at New England (two TDs, two FGs in 4 trips) were negated by the 1-for-4 showing against the Dolphins — one of only two times since ’78 that the Jets failed to score any points on three RZ trips in a home game (Atlanta, 2009).

Meanwhile, the defense has given up TDs at a too-high rate of 60.9% (14 on 23 opportunities), 26th in the NFL through eight weeks and the team’s highest rate since the ’87 strike-year team yielded TDs at a 61.5% pace. And the last time Jets opponents averaged more than this year’s 5.2 points per red zone trip was in 1980 (5.6).

THIRD-DOWN EFFICIENCY—OFFENSE

As we laid out last Friday, the Jets’ short-yardage rushing game on third down has been strong. Greene is 7-for-7 on converting third-and-1’s, and with Lex Hilliard’s pair of “and-one” rushing conversions vs. Miami, the Jets remain the NFL’s only perfect team when running on third-and-1-or-2/fourth-and-1-or-2 combined at 15-for-15.

Getting to third-and-short has been successful as well. The Jets on average face 6.2 yards to go on third down this season, which if it holds up would be their best third-down yardage figure since averaging third-and-6.1 in 1993. But with such favorable yardage on third down, they need to convert better than their 39.5% rate, which is 17th in the NFL.

SPECIAL TEAMS

Through six games Mike Westhoff’s special forces were doing very well. Using a simple rating system for ST big plays (7 points for return scores, 3 points for blocked FGs, 1 point for takeaways, non-TD blocked kicks and successful onsides kicks), the Jets were purring along with a plus-12 through six games.

Then came long kickoff returns at New England and vs. Miami, plus all the other issues vs. the Dolphins. The Miami game by this scoring system was a minus-11. The only worse game in Coach Westy’s Jets phase (2001-present) was the “Ted Ginn Game” vs. Miami in 2009 (minus-13).

Even with his sore ankle, Joe McKnight has been close to the once-in-a-quarter-century form he displayed last year in returning kickoffs. He had his second career TD return vs. Houston and his 29.3-yard average is sixth in the NFL.

Jeremy Kerley has been equally impressive on punt returns with the Jets’ first PR TD since Santana Moss at Pittsburgh in the 2004 playoffs and the first one at home since ‘Tana vs. Cleveland in ’02. JK’s 14.1-yard average is third in the league. But his 50% fair-catch rate (10 of 20 punts fielded) is among the league’s highest.

Nick Folk was on a season-opening 11-for-11 tear before suffering the block late in the first half vs. Miami. Still, his 4-for-4 from mostly long range at Gillette was “remarkable” (Westhoff) and his first half has been “phenomenal” (Ryan). He and his KO cover unit were No. 1 in the NFL in opponents’ average drive start after kickoffs until the last two games, when two long returns dropped them to 20th.

Robert Malone’s first half is comparable to Steve Weatherford’s 2010 first half. Malone has a better gross than Weatherford did (46.9 to 44.7), Weatherford had the better net (39.7 to 39.1), inside-the-20 total (17 to 12)  and average hangtime (4.77 to 4.53). Weatherford fell off in the second half of ’10 (except for his NFL-record-tying I-20s). If Malone suffers only minor slippage on his gross and he and his punt cover team improve their net (and cut out the punt blocks), he could threaten the franchise records set by Curley Johnson in 1965 (45.3 gross, 39.7 net).

DEFENSE

Individually, the Jets have some shining lights. LB David Harris is on pace for another 100-tackle season with 62 at the halfway point.

DE Muhammad Wilkerson leads the defense with 8.0 tackles for loss/no gain, putting him on track for the best total since Bart Scott’s 18.5 TFLNGs in 2010 and the best by a D-lineman since DE Marvin Washington’s 16.0 in ’95.

Antonio Cromartie is picking up where Darrelle Revis left off with his season-ending knee injury in Week 3. Cro leads the defense with 10 pass defenses and three interceptions, including the fifth return-TD of his career and his first as a Jet with his INT-return TD in the opener vs. Buffalo.

Teamwise, the numbers are not what we’re used to seeing from a Rex Ryan/Mike Pettine defense:

Overall yards/game — 16th in the NFL. Ryan’s previous seven defenses as coordinator or head coach never finished a season lower than 6th.

Rushing yards/game — 29th. The last time the Jets finished that low in a season was 29th in ’07 and before that in ’05.

Net passing yards/game — 6th. This is still in the Ryan ballpark. Rex’s Ravens finished 8th, 6th, 20th and 2nd, and his three previous Jets teams came in 1st, 6th and 5th.

Points allowed/game — 24th. Ryan’s ’07 Ravens scuffled to a tie for 22nd. The last time the Jets finished lower was 29th in ’96.

What would make everything better would be a big-time rush. With only 12 sacks, the Jets’ sack rate is 25th in the league, and their 24-sack pace would produce the fewest sacks in a 16-game season since the ’78 and ’79 squads each had 22 sacks.

Something else that would improve things would be fewer flags on the D. The defense has had 25 penalties marked off for 286 yards. The most penalties on a Jets defense were the 59 in ’95 and the most yardage since ’78 was 533 in ’86. Leading the way individually: Cromartie with six flags for 81 yards and fellow CB Kyle Wilson with five for 49.

That’s it on the raw midterm facts and figures. The Jets face an uphill road in the second half, one that seems in equal parts their making and that of the injury gods. But a few good teams overcome the bad IR and injury hands that they’re dealt to do great things (the ’11 Giants and the ’10 Packers among others). How did Rex want his players handling this week between Games 1-8 and Games 9-16:?

“I hope they get away from it for a little bit,” he said, “but also they have to look at what they want. I think we all want the same thing. There’s no magic formula. I think the big thing is hard work and dedication. And I’m confident that they’re recharging their batteries to be ready for Monday.”

Barring any unforeseen events over the weekend, we’ll recharge our batteries —literally and figuratively — this weekend and we’ll check back in with you the fan on Monday when the Jets return to work.


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