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 »
The NFL released the full seven-round order for the 2011 draft late Thursday. It holds no surprises for the Jets, who have six selections.
The Green & White currently sit at No. 30 overall, a position similar to their 29th spot last year due to reaching the AFC Championship Game two consecutive years.
The Jets have their own selections in Rounds 1, 3, 4, 5 and 6. They will be alternating between 30 and 29 in each round with the Bears, the NFC Championship Game losers.
They also have the fifth pick of Round 7, 208th overall, from the Cardinals in last year’s trade for S Kerry Rhodes. They don’t have their picks in Round 2, which went to San Diego in the Antonio Cromartie trade, and Round 7, which went to Detroit (and has since been traded to San Francisco) to finish the trade for QB Kevin O’Connell.
The number of selections could always change, needless to say. If GM Mike Tannenbaum and the Jets spend their six picks, it would be the most in one draft since 2008. In ’09 the Jets had three choices and last year they had four. The last time they had more selections in one draft was 2006, when they had 10 choices, some of which brought in D’Brickashaw Ferguson, Nick Mangold, Kellen Clemens, Eric Smith, Brad Smith, Leon Washington and Drew Coleman.
The Jets’ selections:
Round 1 — 30th overall (own selection)
Round 2 — 61st (to SD in Antonio Cromartie trade)
Round 3 — 94th (own)
Round 4 —126th (own)
Round 5 —161st (own)
Round 6 —194th (own)
Round 7 — 208th (from ARZ in Kerry Rhodes trade)
Round 7 — 231st (own, to DET in Kevin O’Connell trade, then to SF)
Tags: 2011 draft, Antonio Cromartie, Kerry Rhodes, Kevin O\'Connell
Posted in Randy Lange | 93 Comments »
Mike Tannenbaum had a conference call with Jets beat reporters this afternoon, and while there wasn’t a lot of hard news in the call, the GM did provide some tasty tidbits and interesting background on Jets subjects in the middle of the fourth day of the free agency signing period.
One of the main topics was the background to the Kerry Rhodes trade to the Arizona Cardinals on Saturday. Tannenbaum, who on a Friday call said he anticipated Rhodes being with the team in the off-season and into next season "and beyond" but cushioned that observation by saying "unless things change," admitted things did change quite a bit in the following 24 hours.
"I think Arizona’s position changed a little bit when they lost [Antrel] Rolle," Tannenbaum said. "For us it was a combination of economics, the two draft choices we were able to receive, and the fact that we like the depth at that position. … Once Rolle moved from Arizona to the Giants, that precipitated things moving quickly. Those are hard decisions, but again we felt it was in the best interests of the team."
Tannenbaum agreed that there were issues between Rhodes and the coaching staff this past season but nothing that couldn’t have been worked through had No. 25 remained in green and white.
"He did wind up playing in 89 percent of the plays and did a lot of good things," the GM said. "There were a lot of positives. Sometimes there are bumps in the road. Some bubble to the surface, some don’t. I was looking forward to another offseason with Kerry and the defensive coaches, but obviously that didn’t come to fruition."
As for the depth part of that three-part thought process, Tannenbaum talked about what he likes with the three veteran safeties he’ll have back at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center for the start of the offseason program in several weeks in Jim Leonhard and especially in Eric Smith and James Ihedigbo.
"Smith and Dig, those are two guys we like a lot," he said. "There are three safeties in the building that have played for us that we’ve been successful with. We felt with these three guys we can line up and play winning football on defense. So we’ll certainly add one, maybe two guys there, but that could be in the draft, it could be in free agency, I’m not really sure."
Tannenbaum was asked about a number of other topics that face the Jets in free agency. Here are some quick hitters:
TE Ben Hartsock — Mr. T wasn’t ready to announce Hartsock’s signing to a new deal but gave the impression things were moving in that direction. "We’re close. I don’t know if we can officially announce that yet," he said. "He played in 46 percent of the snaps last year, we led the league in rushing and Ben deserves some credit for that. That’s an important piece for us to try to re-sign."
FB Tony Richardson — "We hold Tony in the highest regard for what he does on and off the field," Tannenbaum said. "We’ve talked with him more than once. Rex just saw him Saturday night. We’ll see how that goes. I wouldn’t rule anything in or out at this point." Mike also mentioned Jason Davis enters into the T-Rich equation. "Jason did a nice job for us on the practice squad. We like his physicality. Those are the tough calls we have to make, Woody, Rex and myself."
WR Laveranues Coles — LCIII isn’t about to happen, but the GM provided the beguiling information that he has texted Coles, released by the Bengals, and has talked with his agent. "Maybe at some point, but we’ll see," Tannenbaum said. "I have all the respect in the world for Laveranues. But as we build the roster here and try to fill our needs, I would not say anything is imminent." Could there be talks after the draft? "That’s a possibility." But Tannenbaum reminded not to forget about David Clowney, Aundrae Allison and Britt Davis.
LS James Dearth — "I know James is out there looking at offers. We signed a guy a few weeks back, Tanner Purdum, so we’ll see where we go with that. I wouldn’t rule out James coming back but right now we’re kind of in a holding pattern with him."
And when asked about how handcuffed he’s felt by the "Final Four/Final Eight" unrestricted free agency restrictions, Mr. T gave one of his typical "I pity the fool who doesn’t look under every rock every day" responses.
"I mentioned this a few days ago, and I mean this sincerely: I look at the offseason as a continuum," he said. "You look at Hartsock … we signed him in August. We acquired Braylon Edwards in September. Our challenge is to be prepared throughout the year. We try to budget that way, we try to scout that way. It’s just important for us to keep in mind, on the fourth day of free agency, that we went to the AFC Championship Game last year and two key pieces were added way late."
Tags: Arizona Cardinals, Eric Smith, James Dearth, James Ihedigbo, Kerry Rhodes, Laveranues Coles, Tony Richardson
Posted in Randy Lange | 73 Comments »
What we have in the National Football League is confusion and what we all hope for is clarity.
Since the owners opted out of the Collective Bargaining Agreement last May, no progress has been made in talks with the players’ union. The league is headed for an uncapped 2010 season, which will commence on March 5.
And let’s be honest — there probably aren’t going to be any last-minute deals because both sides have dug in for a long battle. You might have a better shot of going to Las Vegas tonight with $1 savings and coming home with $100,000.
“Our focus is on trying to get an agreement as soon as we possibly can," NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said last week. "Before there is any kind of a work stoppage or any of the  scenarios … we still have a lot of time and a lot of important opportunities here to structure something that makes sense for everybody.
“And as I said, we’re committed and we’re determined to do that. Our focus is on the immediate future. In the next 30 days or so, we’ll be going into an uncapped year if we are not successful. A lot of players will be affected by that. We’d like to see if something can get done.”
As it stands right now, 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 will become unrestricted free agents on March 5. The Jets, one of four teams who participated in the conference championship games, won’t be able to sign any UFAs themselves unless one of the aforementioned seven signs with another club.
“We can’t sign one until we would lose one, and again, that’s someone whose contract expires and they have been in the league for six or more seasons,” said GM Mike Tannenbaum. “If a player gets cut by another team, they become a free agent and we would be able to sign them.”
The Jets don’t have a large group of UFAs because only players who have been in the league six years or more will qualify for free agency in 2010. Before we turn our attention to restricted free agents (RFAs), there is a salary-matching component to this whole UFA situation.
For example, let’s say one of the above Jets veterans becomes a UFA and signs a three-year deal with the Atlanta Falcons for $1 million in year one, $1.3 million in year two and $1.9 million in year three. The Jets could in turn sign one player themselves, but his first-year salary couldn’t be more than the $1 million the former Jets vet received, and then the club would be limited to a 30 percent jump from that original $1 million each additional season. So the Jets could go as high as $1.3 million in year two and then $1.6 million in year three.
Even if the Jets wanted to make a play for a Julius Peppers-type player, the likelihood of that happening would be slim and none. If the Panthers don’t sign Pep to an extension or place the franchise tag on the star before Feb. 25, he’s going to be a UFA and will want to be the highest paid defensive player in the NFL. Also, ESPN’s Adam Schefter recently reported that the Jets may work on an extension for the game’s best CB, Darrelle Revis.
The Jets’ group of restricted free agents stands at 11 — QB Kellen Clemens, CB Drew Coleman, WR Braylon Edwards, DT Howard Green, T Wayne Hunter, S James Ihedigbo, WR Brad Smith, S Eric Smith, RB-KR Leon Washington and WR-special teams ace Wallace Wright. Although the deadline for the Green & White to tender qualifying offers is March 4, Mr. T. already announced that the club is “definitely” going to tender Washington, Edwards was a “similar situation” to the explosive back and Clemens would receive a tender as well.
By placing a tender on a restricted free agent, the Jets protect themselves from losing that player in a couple of ways. Other teams can make contract offers to the Jets’ 11 RFAs from March 5-April 15, but New York’s AFC representative would have one week to match anything that was signed, with the last possible matching date landing on April 21. If the Jets choose not to match an offer, they would receive compensation in the form of a draft pick or picks determined by the player’s tender and draft selection.
“We need a little bit more time,” Tannenbaum said when asked about what tender Washington would receive. “There are some fairly complicated rules in terms of draft classes and who you can tender at what level, so we will take a close look at that as well.”
According to an Associated Press report, there are more than 200 players who would have been UFAs and now will be RFAs under these new rules. And there are some big-time names in that category around the league, including WR Vincent Jackson and LB Shawne Merriman of the Chargers, WR Brandon Marshall and DE Elvis Dumervil of the Broncos, Cowboys WR Miles Austin, Texans LB DeMeco Ryans, Colts S Antoine Bethea, Dolphins RB Ronnie Brown, Vikings DE Ray Edwards, Redskins QB Jason Campbell, and Bucs RB Carnell “Cadillac” Williams.
Even if a new CBA was miraculously reached before March 5, the NFL would probably have to implement a transition rule that would apply for those players who were going to be RFAs before the deal was reached but then became UFAs afterward. But with no agreement, the league will enter into an uncapped year and teams will have no spending limit. Keep in mind that teams can release players with no cap consequence in 2010, but it should be noted Mr. T. has already said LB Vernon Gholston, the No. 6 selection in the 2008 NFL Draft, will return.
The Jets are not going to throw money around like they’re printing it down in the equipment room. RB Thomas Jones and S Kerry Rhodes are reportedly due bonuses and there are decisions to be made with both players. Then you’ve got the case of CB Lito Sheppard, who’s reportedly owed a huge contract bonus in March.
“You still have budgets you have to hit. You still have targets that you have to be at,” Tannenbaum said. “Also, we don’t know what the new system will be and you have to be prepared that you can transition from uncapped to capped. I certainly don’t know what [a deal] might look like, so we have to be prepared for that as well.
"These are always tough judgment calls and we will always do what’s best for the Jets.”
Tags: Kerry Rhodes, Leon Washington, Mike Tannenbaum, Roger Goodell, Thomas Jones
Posted in Eric Allen | 43 Comments »
There would be no bombshells this afternoon at Mike Tannenbaum’s year-ending news conference.
At different points, Mr. T was asked if he thought RB Thomas Jones, S Kerry Rhodes, RB Leon Washington, WR Braylon Edwards and LB Vernon Gholston would return in 2010 and the answer was yes each time.
The 31-year-old Jones, who led New York’s AFC representative with a career-best 1,402 yards and a franchise-record 14 TDs, was held to just 2.6 yards a carry and 117 yards in the playoffs while rookie Shonn Greene ripped off a 5.6 average and 304 yards over three games.
“There are some economic issues that obviously have to be looked at over the next month, but you know, we hope that [Jones] is back," Tannenbaum said. "He’s done a lot for our team — both on and off the field. Rex has talked about what he’s done from a leadership standpoint. We look at his production and it’s really remarkable, but it’s a testament to TJ.”
A day after Rhodes told SNY that he wanted to remain with the Green & White, the Jets GM was asked about the reported roster bonuses due to both Rhodes and Jones in March.
“You still have budgets you have to hit, you still have targets that you have to be at. Then also, we don’t know what the new system would be and you have to be prepared that you can transition from capped to uncapped as well,” he said. “I certainly don’t know when we get it done what it might look like, so we have to be prepared for that as well. These are always tough judgment calls and we will always do what’s best for the Jets.”
The team will place tenders on Edwards, Washington and backup QB Kellen Clemens. Edwards was viewed as a vertical threat and a strong blocker by defenses that were forced to play differently against the offense with him in the lineup. A return of a healthy Washington would give the Jets even more explosion and Tannenbaum stockpiled quarterbacks last season to get in a favorable position.
“If another team came along and was interested in Kellen, we will certainly evaluate that. When we traded for Kevin O’Connell, that was certainly a thought in my mind,” Mr. T said. “We may not have Kellen forever, and that was something that Ron Wolf always talked to me about — get a quarterback every year. And so I like to deal from a position of strength when it comes to that depth.”
Although Gholston hasn’t met expectations, the Jets’ 2008 first-round pick will in all likelihood get another shot in 2010.
“He has not played as well as he has hoped or we would have hoped,” said Tannenbaum. “The attributes of why we drafted him are what give me hope. He has a really a great work ethic, he’s 23 years old, and this is going to be an important offâ€‘season for him.”
Due a reported $10 million roster bonus if he remains with the club, CB Lito Sheppard, many think, will not be a part of the Jets’ future plans.
“We have not finalized any decision on Lito yet, but what’s interesting from my standpoint … Rex loves small guys, which is really the antithesis of what you would think of a big, blitzing defense. He loves DBs,” said Tannenbaum.
If no new Collective Bargaining Agreement is reached, the NFL will enter into a “Final League Year” on March 5, featuring no salary cap and restrictions on free agency. After finishing in the NFL’s "final four," the Jets would operate under some constrictions.
“We can’t sign one [unrestricted free agent] until we would lose one," Tannenbaum said, "and that’s someone whose contract expires and they have been in the league for six or more seasons. If a player gets cut by another team, they become a free agent and we would be able to sign them.
“We would also be able to sign a restricted free agent that was tendered by another team and obviously trades are another possibility. But we cannot sign an unrestricted free agency, one whose contract expires, until one of our unrestricted free agents signs with another team.”
Tags: Braylon Edwards, Kerry Rhodes, Leon Washington, Lito Sheppard, Mike Tannenbaum, Thomas Jones, Vernon Gholston
Posted in Eric Allen | 31 Comments »
Every team can use a slogan, and while this is by no means the official catchphrase of the 2010 Jets, head coach Rex Ryan used it to give his players and coaches guidance as they head into their all-too-short off-season before beginning the ’10 campaign with the start of the off-season strength and conditioning program in early April:
"Find a way to get better."
"What I told the players," Ryan said at his final news conference of the ’09 season, one day after the Jets’ Sunday title loss to the Colts, "is that next year — this year — when we come back, we can’t make the assumption we’re going to get back to where we were in the AFC Championship. We have an excellent team, no question. The work ethic, the resiliency, all that’s why we were in that situation, what we did in the off-season, putting in a brand-new defense, having this all-weather offense, and watching it come together especially the last couple of months.
"But we enter this season zero-and-zero, so there’s no guarantee we’re going to get back. My challenge to myself, our players and all our coaches is to find a way to get better individually, whatever that is — I don’t know what it is. But everybody get a little bit better and when that happens, maybe that’ll put us over the top."
One reason to get over the top is to proceed toward the stated goal of winning a Super Bowl. Another reason is to avoid the gnawing sensation, the pit in the stomach, that all the Jets feel today.
"This is two years in a row that I helped coach a team that got beat in the AFC Championship Game, and that’s brutal," said Ryan, referring to the Ravens’ loss at Pittsburgh a year ago. "You get so close, yet you don’t find a way to get it done. It definitely hurts, no question."
But as his players eloquently put it in their Lucas Oil Stadium locker room Sunday evening and again in their own locker room today, their bitterness and emptiness are mixed in with a pride of accomplishment shared by Ryan.
"Most teams, when you’re 4-6, or you lose two of your best players, Pro Bowl players, a lot of times teams would not necessarily quit but would not find a way to get it done," he said. "Our team found a way to get it done. We believe in each other, we believe in our system, in our way of doing things. That’s great. Going into the season, I told our players I wanted to be the team nobody wanted to play, and we’re there."
The Jets are there for even more reasons. In rookie QB Mark Sanchez on Sunday, Ryan said, "We just saw our future." Their No. 1 rushing offense will get back Leon Washington. Their No. 1 defense, Kris Jenkins.
And Rex noted an interesting twist on "changing the culture" of the Green & White. It changes not only for those already here but for others who would like to come here.
"It’s definitely me being me," he said of the role of his personality in the alteration. "But it’s a belief I have in our guys. It’s something I wanted them to know, how I see our players, how I see our system, how I see our coaches, how I see our organization. It’s a true belief I have. Is that changing the culture? Maybe it is."
Yet that means players old and new need to buy into the culture.
"I want guys who play loose and have fun," he said. "But you also have to be accountable, not just to me but to your teammates. That’s where our team is at right now. That’s why I have so much confidence in this group. Whoever we bring in in the future has to play, has to study to a certain standard, or else you’re an outcast and you’ll be gone."
One other messages he sent the players away with today had to do with hunger.
"Let’s come back hungrier than ever," Ryan said he told the players at his last team meeting of ’09-10 after they underwent their exit physicals this morning. "Let’s try to get a home game and play this game in front of our fans in our stadium, the New Jets Stadium. I can’t wait, man. We’re not the visitors in our stadium. This is our stadium. We’re the biggest show in town."
Another had to do with the wearing of the green, and he wasn’t talking about St. Patrick’s Day.
"I’m wearing Jets gear from now on," he said. "I told our players to wear their Jets stuff, too, be proud of it. There’s no reason we shouldn’t be proud to be New York Jets. And I want fans to wear Jets stuff, too. Not every day, but at least two or three times a week would be fine."
More on All-Star Shaun
In my earlier blog this afternoon, I speculated that Shaun Ellis, although selected as an alternate to play in Sunday’s Pro Bowl, likely wouldn’t make it to the game due to his broken left hand. But Ryan seemed to think Ellis would make it for one more game this season.
"He’s going to be out there with his club and he’s ready to roll," the coach said. "I told all those guys, too, that are going to the Pro Bowl, you represent yourself but you also represent the Jets. Outwork everybody there. Just show ‘em what the Jets are all about. I’m proud to have Shaun out there. He can use that club to start wearing people out with it."
Ryan was especially complimentary toward the Colts and Peyton Manning, who put up 461 yards of offense and 360 net passing yards. "After looking at that film, we still lost. And we deserved to lose," he said. "Our defense let us down yesterday, but really I don’t know if it was as much our defense letting us down as Peyton Manning and Co. beating us. No question they were outstanding."
Rex said he "definitely" wants WR Braylon Edwards back in Green & White. But he declined to say one way or the other on Kerry Rhodes, adding that he and his safety had a recent private conversation. "We’re the only ones who know what was said in there. It’s not a bad thing. … I’d rather just keep it individual."
Ryan said five coaches on this year’s staff won’t be continuing with the club for 2010. Assistant defensive backs coach Doug Plank won’t return. Three coaches have contracts that are expiring and won’t be renewed — Kevin O’Dea (special teams), John DeFilippo (assistant quarterbacks) and Brian Smith (quality control–defense). And Chuck Smith, who was a defensive consultant, is accepting the defensive line coach’s position at the University of Tennessee.
Jets-Colts: Ratings Grabber
The Jets-Colts game on CBS drew 46.9 million viewers to rank as the most-watched AFC Championship Game in 24 years. On Jan. 12, 1986, the Patriots’ 31-14 victory over the Dolphins in Miami on NBC drew 47.5 million viewers.
Tags: Braylon Edwards, Indianapolis Colts, Kerry Rhodes, Mark Sanchez, Rex Ryan, Shaun Ellis, Super Bowl
Posted in Randy Lange | 86 Comments »
The weather outside was indeed frightful Sunday night as our beloved New York Jets closed out their 26-year run off-Broadway at the Meadowlands. But like the song says, inside it was just delightful. The popsicle-friendly weather did little to dampen the spirits of the full house, or the team, as a crisp 37-0 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals meant a playoff berth and, just as important, the Green & White were able to close out the place in style.
From a pregame tour of our new home, the New Meadowlands Stadium, with Jets greats recent and vintage, to the bombastic introductions, it was a night of fireworks and fun. The halftime ceremony was one for the ages, with players from each year of our tenure charging upfield from the tunnel to thunderous applause.
You know the story of what took place between the whistles. Any night that ends with Kerry Rhodes and Mark Sanchez giving coach Rex Ryan a Gatorade bath has got to be good, no? For an encore, the entire team took a victory lap that is surely among the greatest memories at the stadium.
I’ve gathered up my favorite shots from that electric night, with two assists — Henry O’s dramatic shot of Mark Sanchez before the intros and Lee Weisman’s heroic stadium shot. Hope you like them all. If home is where the heart is, then the Meadowlands will always be with us.
Tags: Cincinnati Bengals, Kerry Rhodes, Meadowlands, Rex Ryan
Posted in Al Pereira | 20 Comments »
Rex Ryan didn’t issue a call to the fans of Jets Nation this week to fill the Meadowlands one last time for Sunday night’s "win and in" game against the Bengals. He didn’t have to — there will be "a butt in every seat," as Rex said Wednesday.
But the head coach of the Jets still is champing at the bit to feel the heat from the full house in the North Jersey cold (forecast of 16 degrees, minus-2 wind chill).
"I’m excited to see our fans and to play this game in front of our fans," Ryan said at this afternoon’s news conference. "I think it’s going to be a huge advantage for us. We’re preparing, no distractions. If they want to kick it off early, that’s fine with us. Our team is ready to play.
"Our fans want this. I don’t know if they want it as much as our team does, but you really sense how much they want to get to the playoffs."
Safety Kerry Rhodes said the same thing in today’s locker room.
"The fans get on you anyway, but when you’re doing right and winning the game, they’re behind you. I’m a guy who feeds off the fans."
Rhodes also recalls the most recent time the Jets and fans came together in a similar situation, for the win-and-in home game against Oakland in the 2006 regular-season finale. With the crowd roaring louder and louder and twirling their white handout towels faster and faster, the Jets methodically wore down the Raiders, 23-3.
"The crowd was crazy. It was a great atmosphere," Rhodes recalled. "But I’m thinking this week will be even more crazy. I think the fans are really, really excited to see us come out and play and get a win."
The first 70,000 fans will each get a towel Sunday night as well. The white cloth with green lettering reads "WIN AND WE’RE IN!" (Where have we heard that before?)
There will be some holdouts and pessimists who want to blame the Jets for beating the Colts on Sunday, or for struggling in those key games we all know about this season to make this road to the playoffs all the harder, or will want to dabble in that mantra, "Same Old Jets."
That’s OK. We’re all entitled to our opinions. But just remember that those who fall back on SOJ can use that to explain every Jets outcome short of a Super Bowl victory. It’s all right to look backward, but if you look at the present or the future, something good is being put together at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center and the Meadowlands, regardless of the outcome of Sunday’s game, or the game the week after, or the week after that.
"You just can’t worry about the outside critics," said wise head Shaun Ellis. "You just have to tune in as a football team and talk amongst yourselves and collectively bond together during this time. You can get criticized that we back-doored our way in and don’t deserve to be there, things like that. As long as we stay a close-knit group and go out and play our style of football, we should be fine.
"I honestly believe when we get in, we’ll be a dangerous team. We are an all-weather team. We run the ball. We play great defense. We just tone down the mistakes and not turn the ball over and it will be one of those games that comes down to a field goal. We have a great field goal kicker. We have all the weapons. It’s just being confident amongst each other in going out there and getting it done.
Ryan, needless to say, is as confident as Ellis and all his players.
"Our guys have practiced well this week," the coach said. "That’s obviously not selling Cincinnati short. They swept the defending Super Bowl champions, they beat Baltimore twice, they’ve had a great season so far. I like the way they’re building their team. They’re being physical running the ball, the defense is really improved from where they were the last couple of years.
"We know we’re going to be tested. But we’re going to lay it out there and see what happens in front of our fans."
And to all you fans who will be at the game or will be following in front of your favorite TV, radio or Internet site, Happy New Year, stay safe and healthy and make it through the weekend, and we’ll see you at the big game Sunday night.
Ryan reported that cornerback Darrelle Revis, sent home Wednesday with an illness, was back full-go today, and Revis looked good in the locker room. Also, Thomas Jones and Tony Richardson, who were held out of Wednesday’s drills, were back today as well.
But Ryan said CB Donald Strickland (quadriceps bruise) sat out again today. "It doesn’t look that good right now. That’ll be a stretch, to see if he goes," the coach said. "I know he’s trying like heck to play but I don’t think he will."
Tags: Cincinnati Bengals, Darrelle Revis, Donald Strickland, Kerry Rhodes, Meadowlands, Rex Ryan, Shaun Ellis
Posted in Randy Lange | 31 Comments »
Topic A for many Jets fans and reporters is Mark Sanchez. But Rex Ryan wasn’t ready on this afternoon’s conference call with reporters to declare anything about his starting quarterback for Sunday’s next big game, against Atlanta.
"I’m not sure yet," said the Jets head coach. "Mark did a great job of getting the treatment over the weekend. I think Wednesday we’ll see how he feels."
Ryan remained optimistic about Sanchez’s right knee but not to the point where he’s handicapping the QB situation. He’s confident the rookie QB will participate in practice this week, with some splitting of the first offense reps with Kellen Clemens until everyone can assess where Sanchez is physically.
"Clearly, if Mark’s going to be playing, I want him to get the majority of the snaps, just like I would if Kellen was going to be playing," Ryan said, adding that if healthy, Sanchez is the starter: "If we think he’s ready to go, he’ll be in there."
Here are some other topics Ryan addressed today:
The coach had words of praise for the veteran safety, who returned to the starting lineup in a three-safety sub package along with Eric Smith and Jim Leonhard tailored for the Bucs’ offense.
"I knew going in that to open the game I wanted to get that three-safety look and match Kerry up on Kellen Winslow," Rex said. "That’s why I knew he’d be starting but I wasn’t going to tell everybody that Eric would be starting as well. As the game went on, Kerry played more snaps than Eric."
And Rhodes, said Ryan, played those snaps successfully.
"Kerry played his best game since I’ve been here. He was tremendous. He had a couple of big hits, a great play in the running game, and obviously the interception he made was an outstanding play," the coach said. "It almost looked like mentally and everything else that this was his best game."
Winslow was held to four catches for 26 yards, nothing longer than 8 yards, by Rhodes and the pass defense, which again is No. 1 in the league.
Which segues into a general riff on the Jets’ phenomenal "D" of late. Among all the No. 1 rankings the unit will have after tonight’s Arizona-San Francisco game is over, the Green & White are now and will in the morning be the NFL’s No. 1-ranked defense in total yards. You’ll recall last week that the Jets were No. 1 on Monday but No. 2 on Tuesday after Green Bay rose up to shut down Baltimore. But neither the Cards nor the Niners can catch the Jets this week.
"We’ve given up one third down in the last 25 attempts, two out of the last 38 third downs have been converted against us. So I think we’re playing OK on defense," Rex deadpanned. "I think our guys are more familiar with what we’ve been doing. I think their preparation has been great. Pretty much the plan’s in place. I thought we might be in a groove here defensively as the year went on, with people being familiar with our system. They’re understanding this is our defense now. It’s not Baltimore’s defense, it’s the New York Jets defense. And I think the guys are getting a great grasp of it."
Several noteworthy stats and charts have come out of Sunday’s game and out of the recent stretch of games to underscore Ryan’s view of the D. For instance, Tampa Bay’s six first downs were tied for the fourth-fewest in a game by an opponent in franchise history. (The two most recent low-FD games were 1997 against the Buccaneers in the Meadowlands, a 31-0 rout, and on Christmas Eve 2000 in the 34-20 loss to Rex Ryan’s Ravens in Baltimore.
And the 124 yards allowed marked the third consecutive game the Jets defense has held an opponent to less than 200 yards. That’s only the third time in Jets annals that this has happened, with the other stingy stretches coming in 1971 and 1981. No Jets team did it four consecutive games.
But the chart I like has to do with TD-to-INT margin. We all know that quarterbacks are often measured by this handy gauge. But let’s turn it around and examine the defense’s’ INT-to-TD margin for the past three games, vs. Carolina, at Buffalo and at Tampa. The Jets have given up no touchdown passes in those three games while posting eight interceptions. So that’s a plus-8 margin.
That’s merely the best three-game stretch in franchise history. Here are the 10 Jets teams that posted plus-7’s over the years (Jets home games in CAPS):
Ryan said Bart Scott will still have some "restitution" to pay for his unnecessary-roughness penalty that gave the Bucs their first first down of the game and enabled them to get close enough for their only points on Connor Barth’s field goal to ruin the defense’s shutout bid. But Rex wasn’t saying exactly what the payback will be.
"That might be a private issue, but absolutely there’s going to be some ramifications for Bart," Ryan said. "I’ll just let him tell you. He’ll find out Wednesday. It’s good news/bad news for Bart. We’ve got a few things in mind for him."
Scott taped his weekly "Barking with Bart" segment with my partner, Eric Allen, during which he talked a little more about the background of the penalty. The show and EA’s blog will both be live on newyorkjets.com Tuesday.
Ryan was asked about giving his players off today the day after the 26-3 Tampa thumping. A number of players were at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center for treatment and to do running but there were no required corrections walkthrough or position meetings.
"They definitely earned it," Ryan said. "It was really warm out there [in Tampa], we were getting in late, and I just thought it was appropriate to give them a little rest. We’re going to have to play a physical game when the Atlanta Falcons come in here and we’ve got to be ready to roll."
If you want to hear Ryan’s conference call today, there will be audio (but no video) of the call available from the newyorkjets.com home page soon.
Tags: Bart Scott, Eric Smith, Kellen Clemens, Kerry Rhodes, Mark Sanchez, Rex Ryan, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Posted in Randy Lange | 38 Comments »
Calling it the best news the Jets could have hoped for, head coach Rex Ryan announced today that Mark Sanchez has a sprained PCL and he’s hopeful that the rookie quarterback will be able to start the Jets’ next game at the Buccaneers on Dec. 13.
“We’re optimistic that he’ll be ready to play against Tampa Bay, but we’ll see how he progresses throughout the week,” Ryan said this afternoon after Sanchez had an MRI in the morning on his right knee. “Obviously that will be a decision that I’ll have to make with the advice of the medical staff and I’ll make the decision always in the best interest of Mark — and really any player in that situation — and the team second.”
Instinct took over for Sanchez yet again Thursday evening as he dived for a first down in the third quarter of the Jets’ 19-13 win over the Buffalo Bills at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Canada. Spotting an opening on a third-and-6 play from deep inside the Jets’ end, Sanchez went head-first and got 8 yards before getting hit by rookie corner Reggie Corner. Replays clearly showed the Jets signalcaller landing hard on his right leg on the rough turf and he came limping out of the ball game just two plays later.
“I’m just trying to get him to see the big picture: ‘I’m not going to make the first down this time. I’m going to slide and protect myself,’ ” Ryan said of the approach he wants from the 23-year-old passer. “It’s weird for me to say that, but it’s the truth. More than anything, I want him to be healthy.”
This is not a new request from Ryan. Months back when the Jets were going through summer paces in Cortland, N.Y., Sanchez memorably rolled out on a goal line drill and put his head first to cross the plain. Bart Scott had him lined up for a killer shot, but fortunately for Sanchez, the Madbacker recognized the red jersey and appropriately didn’t eliminate the young talent.
“We got on him in training camp when we had that little scrimmage one time around the goal line when he dove head first,” Ryan said. “This thing has been an ongoing thing. It’s not his instincts to do that and we’ve got to keep drilling it into him.”
Last Sunday against the Panthers, Sanchez injured his left knee on a scramble and missed just a few snaps. So Ryan reached out to the New York Yankees and their skipper, Joe Girardi, visited the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center on Tuesday and gave No. 6 a sliding lesson.
“He did a much better job than I would have,” said the Jets’ first-year head coach. “That’s a baseball maneuver on the football field.”
Even though Sanchez has great feet and has three rush touchdowns on the season, the Jets brought him here mostly for his arm. If he does take off in the future, they’re crossing their fingers he’ll slide legs first.
“If we had to play today, obviously he wouldn’t play, but we think he’ll progress throughout the week and hopefully be ready to roll against Tampa,” said Ryan who also indicated that Sanchez will wear a brace initially to stabilize the leg.
Rhodes to Base
Safety Eric Smith started for a second consecutive week, but Kerry Rhodes saw more time in the base than he did against the Panthers.
“I was trying to get Smitty a break — he’s playing on every special team," Ryan said. "It’s funny because I heard ‘Eric has 13 plays’ and I was like ‘What, that’s it?’
"We’re trying to use our players because this is a team — we’re going to do what’s best for our team. The more players you can play and have a bigger role, the better your team’s going to be, whether it’s been Jamaal Westerman in, whether it’s been Big Howard, Howard Green in there, we’re going to do that. We don’t just have 11 good football players."
Ryan did not disclose whether he planned on returning Rhodes to the starting lineup. The Jets defensive backfield had a great night against the Bills, holding Ryan Fitzpatrick to 98 gross passing yards and, after subtracting sack yardage, 71 net passing yards.
Shaun Ellis might be 32 years old, but he’s sharing the water with Thomas Jones. Ellis had two sacks Thursday, giving him a team-leading 6.5 this season, and Ryan loves the effort he continually gets from the longest-tenured Jet.
“He still plays like a young man. He gives great effort, he’s always hustling and he’s always productive. He’s a hard man to block one-on-one,” said Ryan who lauded Ellis for getting up off the ground to make the tackle on a second-quarter third-and-10 screen from Ryan Fitzpatrick to Fred Jackson that gained 8 yards.
“He has a great motor. He’s also got leadership skills. He’s a guy that can get his teammates pumped up. He loves to compete and he loves playing with this group. So he’s been a joy.”
Tags: Eric Smith, Kerry Rhodes, Mark Sanchez, Rex Ryan, Shaun Ellis
Posted in Eric Allen | 24 Comments »