One of Bill Parcells’ favorite phrases to reporters gushing about one player or another at his many NFL stops was “Let’s not send him to Canton on roller skates yet, fellas.”
Parcells didn’t exactly get to football’s shrine on an express train, but he got there as he should have nonetheless. He was voted for induction on Feb. 2, is being introduced tonight along with the Hall’s Class of ’13 by Jets great Joe Namath at the Gold Jacket Dinner, and will be enshrined in ceremonies at Canton’s Fawcett Stadium on Saturday night.
“The Big Tuna” did many great things at his head-coaching stops with the Giants, Patriots and Cowboys, but a significant part of his legacy and of Jets history was his three-season tenure as the Jets’ head coach from 1997-99.
“Bill Parcells infused new life into this franchise on many levels,” owner Woody Johnson said in a statement back in February. “From acquiring players like Curtis Martin to bringing back a winning culture, we will always be grateful to Bill for his contributions to the New York Jets. On behalf of the entire organization, I congratulate Bill on his selection to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.”
Below is my top 10 list of Bill Parcells coaching victories in those three seasons. It’s far from a scientific survey, just a list based on the importance of the game and the stage it was played on (primetime, playoffs). You may have some comments on other favorite BP games, so send them on to me, and you can also vote on your favorite regular-season Parcells win in the poll on our home page. (Games in chronological order, CAPS denote home teams.)
Aug. 31, 1997 — Jets 41, SEAHAWKS 3
It doesn’t start any better than this. In Parcells’ first regular-season game as head coach, the Jets pummeled the Seahawks in the Kingdome. Neil O’Donnell threw five touchdown passes, two to Wayne Chrebet and two to Jeff Graham, as the Green & White posted a 38-point win that to this day is the largest opening-day margin of victory in franchise history.
Oct. 19, 1997 — JETS 24, Patriots 19
New England came to the Meadowlands undefeated and opened a 12-3 lead on the first drive of the second half. On the Jets’ first drive of the half, Parcells made an unexpected switch at QB, replacing starter O’Donnell with backup Glenn Foley, who directed three straight touchdown drives to forge the 24-19 triumph for Parcells’ first win over the team he left to coach the Jets.
Dec. 14, 1997 — JETS 31, Buccaneers 0
The Jets were reeling after two losses dropped them to 8-6 while Tampa Bay came to town at 9-5. But the winds of the Meadowlands breathed new life into the Green & White for a win-and-we’re-in regular-season finale at Detroit the next week. Key Trent Dilfer tormenter this game: Otis Smith, who returned two interceptions for TDs in a 4:46 span of the second quarter.
Sept. 20, 1998 — JETS 44, Colts 6
Vinny Testaverde was getting his first start as the Jets QB since Parcells brought him in as a free agent in the offseason. His opposite signalcaller: first-pick-of-the-draft rookie Peyton Manning. This one was no contest as Testaverde threw four touchdown passes and Leon Johnson scored three TDs.
Oct. 19, 1998 — Jets 24, PATRIOTS 14
Parcells was so “disgusted” that he walked out on a midweek practice before this Monday night road test against 4-0 New England. The ploy had its effect as the Jets stayed close to the Patriots, then Testaverde struck for a touchdown toss to Kyle Brady and a 43-yard go-route TD to Dedric Ward in a 5:25 span of the fourth quarter to pull away for the inspiring triumph.
Oct. 25, 1998 — JETS 28, Falcons 3
This one turned out in retrospect to be the most frustrating win of the Parcells tenure, since the Jets disposed of Atlanta, which went on to finish 14-2 and represent the NFC in the Super Bowl. Victor Green (strip of QB Steve DeBerg) and Jerome Henderson (fumble-return TD) teamed up for one score and Testaverde threw two third-quarter TD passes.
Dec. 13, 1998 — Jets 21, DOLPHINS 16
Jumbo Elliott confirmed after this Sunday night game that Parcells had “promised” him back in the offseason that the Jets would be going to the playoffs this year. That’s in fact what they clinched with this triumph, as LB Chad Cascadden applied the crushing score on a strip-sack of Dan Marino and fumble-return TD with 1:51 to play.
Jan. 10, 1999 — JETS 34, Jaguars 24 (PO)
This was the centerpiece to the Parcells tenure in green — the Jets’ first home playoff game since ’86, which turned into their first playoff win in 12 years as Keyshawn Johnson scored on a reception and then an end-around, recovered a Jacksonville fumble and intercepted Mark Brunell’s Hail Mary pass to send them on to the AFC Championship Game at Denver.
Nov. 15, 1999 — Jets 24, PATRIOTS 17
It was a Monday night in Foxboro Stadium and not much of a contest was expected from the 2-6 Jets vs. the 6-2 Patriots. But Ray Lucas, back as the starter after sitting a game with injury, directed the Jets offense to three second-quarter touchdowns that held up to down Drew Bledsoe & Co.
Dec. 27, 1999 — Jets 38, DOLPHINS 31
The Jets won their last four games in ’99, all against playoff teams. This one was symbolic of that closing kick as Lucas defeated Marino for the second time in three weeks, this time in Miami on Monday night and coming from behind in the fourth quarter with a pair of 50-yard scoring strikes, to Wayne Chrebet and Dedric Ward.
Tags: Bill Parcells, Hall of Fame, Keyshawn Johnson, Vinny Testaverde, Wayne Chrebet
Posted in Randy Lange | 67 Comments »
Congratulations to Antonio Cromartie, the latest member of the NFL’s Two-Way Football Club.
Many Jets fans are aware that Cro got a rare double start on Sunday at Jacksonville. He was lined up at split end on the game’s first offensive play and he was at his old, familiar right corner spot for the defense.
Have any other Jets done the double before Cro? I can’t find any back to 1977. Of course we remember WR Keyshawn Johnson doing it all in the 1998 AFC Divisional Round Game vs. Jacksonville, including coming up with an interception off of an end-of-game Hail Mary fired up by none other than Jaguars QB Mark Brunell. But Key didn’t get the start on defense. And Bobby Humphery started four games at WR in 1984 before flipping over to LCB, where he started 35 games, including every game in 1988-89, but again, Humphery never started on O and D in the same game.
However, we can say that Cromartie became the first NFL player since 2008 to start for his team on offense and defense in the same game. The last player with that daily double was Spencer Larsen, who was the Broncos’ precocious rookie middle linebacker in ’08 and at Atlanta on Nov. 16 also started at fullback.
(As a completely unrelated trivia aside, five other players besides Larsen started that day in that game who either previously had been or subsequently would become Jets. How many of those five can you name? Answer below.)
We remember Cromartie getting his feet wet at wideout this summer. He got his first work with receivers in the second half of individual drills at the Aug. 13 practice at SUNY Cortland, after which he said he’s looking forward to playing offense in a game.
“I’ve been waiting for the opportunity to try to play both ways in the NFL for a while,” Cro said then. “It’s fun. It’s just an opportunity to get the ball in your hands and another challenge. I’m looking at going out and playing receiver as a challenge for me. I’ve been asking for it since I was a rookie in San Diego.”
AC didn’t take his WR game into the preseason nor into the first four regular-season games. But he was on the offensive side of the ball for three plays against the Texans and had two passes thrown his way by Mark Sanchez, both incomplete. Including his three offensive plays at Jacksonville, he has 15 plays on offense this season.
And counting his one catch for a 2-yard loss against the Jags, Cromartie now has one pro catch for minus-2 yards. His debut as a pass catcher instead of a catch preventer came late in the first quarter, when he motioned out of the slot, took a short pass from Mark Sanchez, and couldn’t escape the clutches of Jason Babin to get upfield.
Will Cro’s wideout career ever get flying? He could obviously still be used in a pinch in the final three games this year. However, if Braylon Edwards is healthy and ready to participate immediately (we’ll find that out Thursday), if Stephen Hill’s knee sprain comes around quickly, and/or if Clyde Gates gets clearance from his concussion, plus Jeremy Kerley, Chaz Schilens and Mardy Gilyard, there may not be any spare reps to be had at the position.
But we expect Cromartie to keep turning up here and there regardless as he just keeps trying to help his team win.
Pro Bowl Stretch Run
It’s been a rough year for the Jets and that is reflected in the Pro Bowl snapshot as the fan online balloting on NFL.com heads down the stretch. No Jet is in the top 10 as released by the league today, and no Jet is a leader at his position among AFC vote-getters.
But needless to say, some Jets may still get their names called for the annual all-star game, and if you want to help your favorite player in green and white make it to Hawaii, you can still vote here on NYJets.com.
Balloting concludes Monday, Dec. 17, following the conclusion of the Jets-Titans Monday night game.
Would you like to see C Nick Mangold make his fifth Pro Bowl and fourth as a starter? Want to send LT D’Brickashaw Ferguson to Oahu for his fourth straight appearance? Support RG Brandon Moore, who went to his first PB last year? Drape Cromartie, DE Muhammad Wilkerson, S LaRon Landry or LB David Harris in leis and in the red-and-white AFC jerseys the week before this year’s Super Bowl?
The AFC and NFC squads are based on the consensus votes of fans, players and coaches. Each group’s vote counts one-third toward determining the 43-man rosters that represent the conferences. NFL players and coaches will cast their votes on Dec. 20-21. The game is Jan. 27, 7 p.m. EST, televised live by NBC from Aloha Stadium.
Edwards is expected to wear uniform No. 17, as he did when he was with the Jets for 34 games in 2009-10 and in fact as he has worn for his entire pro career. … Falcons starters on 11.16.08 against Denver were DE John Abraham, FS Erik Coleman and TE Ben Hartsock. Broncos starters that game were former Jets first-rounder Dewayne Robertson and C Casey Wiegmann, who played three games for the 1996-97 Jets.
Tags: Antonio Cromartie, Bobby Humphery, Brandon Moore, D'Brickashaw Ferguson, David Harris, Keyshawn Johnson, LaRon Landry, Muhammad Wilkerson, Nick Mangold, Pro Bowl, Spencer Larsen, Tennessee Titans
Posted in Randy Lange | 52 Comments »
Last week, in Tone’s Flags Drawn, Chapter 1, we examined the four penalties Santonio Holmes forced the Steelers into as they tried to cover him at Heinz Field, and how rare that accomplishment was in recent Jets history.
It’s so rare that in Miami, Holmes did it again. A pass interference against CB Nolan Carroll and an illegal contact and a PI against Richard Marshall were marked off for first downs. And a hold on Marshall was declined, because of course it came on Tone’s 38-yard hookup with Mark Sanchez that set up Nick Folk’s winning field goal.
Holmes thought about it when asked how to explain this case of yellow fever he’s been inducing in opposing DBs, and he came up with a few thoughts.
“It’s Coach Sanjay [Lal] telling me to play fast,” he said. “He studied a lot of film on me, from the moment he walked in, and that’s all we’ve been talking about: How can Number 10 play faster? I think just playing faster and being smarter, knowing I have an advantage with my stride length, my speed, my quickness, my ability to catch on these defensive backs. These guys are going to play to their advantage. I would rather take the penalty if I was a defensive back than to give up a big play by Number 10.”
Needless to say, Number 10 would prefer the catch over the flag.
“It’s really messing with my catches, I can honestly say that. It’s keeping them down by having the penalties drawn,” he said. “If we can keep stats on penalties per game per player, I think those yards would add up. We can add them to our receiving yards. They really do count.”
That’s why we’ve been counting the penalties drawn against the Jets as well as those caused by the Green & White since the mid-Nineties. These numbers are not official, since the Elias Sports Bureau only recently has been even unofficially charting penalties by individual players. But what Holmes has done in three games, in addition to his nine catches for 147 yards vs. the Dolphins, has been stunning.
He already has forced eight penalties this season (seven marked off). The only Jets wideouts who forced eight penalties in an entire season since ’95 are Keyshawn Johnson (13, 1999), Wayne Chrebet (14, 2000), Laveranues Coles (eight in 2005, 10 with one coming in the playoffs in 2006), Plaxico Burress (eight last season), and Holmes (10 for 120 yards last season).
So in his three Jets seasons, Holmes has coaxed 24 flags. And by maintaining his pace of the first three games, he should end up with, oh, 42 or 43 penalties drawn this year.
But then again, with the NFL referees replacing the replacement officials this week, perhaps Tone’s flags will taper off. But Santonio’s fine either way.
“It really doesn’t make a difference who’s out there calling it,” he said. “We could have guys off the streets just come in and call fouls on the football field. It’s according to what we do and how well we execute. For me as a receiver, my job is to continue getting open and drawing penalties, no matter what.”
So far, so good.
McKnight’s Still Wanted at RB
Head coach Rex Ryan let fans — and Joe McKnight — know today that McKnight’s days on offense are not over, despite the concentration this week on his new role in the secondary.
“I think Joe misunderstood,” Ryan said at his midday news conference at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. “He still has a role on offense. It’s not that he’s being forgotten as a running back. I want him to learn the coverages and things like that on defense because the way the league is now, you almost can’t have enough corners. They’re going four or five wide receivers.
“From a talent and physical standpoint he can definitely match up. He has some natural instincts. When we used to put him on the scout team, that’s what we saw. I’m putting him in defensive meetings right now because I think he needs that. He has enough grasp on the offense. We’re going to work him on defense and he still will have a role on offense.
Thursday Injury Reports
The Jets’ injury report grew by one to 20 today with the addition of G Matt Slauson (knee), but Slauson practiced full. LB Bart Scott was elevated from not participating Wednesday to limited participation today. So was S Eric Smith (hip/ankle), while S LaRon Landry did his usual Thursday deal, sitting out practice to help keep his heel at its so far optimum level.
The Jets could get one offensive weapon back for San Francisco on Sunday but lose one as well. TE Dustin Keller (hamstring) was limited for the second day this week. “Hopefully, Dustin will be out there this week,” said Ryan. “I assume he will be.”
But rookie WR Stephen Hill’s aching hamstring, which resurfaced late in Miami, has kept him sidelined this week and could keep him out of the 49ers game.
The Niners’ five-player I-report was identical to Wednesday’s report. Isaac Sopoaga (ankle/knee), their starting NT, remained a DNP while WR Ted Ginn (ankle) and RB Brandon Jacobs (knee) were limited.
Tags: Dustin Keller, joe McKnight, Keyshawn Johnson, Laveranues Coles, Matt Slauson, Rex Ryan, Santonio Holmes, Stephen Hill, Wayne Chrebet
Posted in Randy Lange | 27 Comments »
Updated, 10:04 p.m. ET
Stephen Hill’s first training camp visit to Revis Island went swimmingly.
Hill, the second-round WR from Georgia Tech, got past Darrelle Revis for a Mark Sanchez deep ball early in today’s first practice of training camp at SUNY Cortland. He got the full Revis treatment — tight trailing coverage, then, with the ball in the air, a sublte, timely forearm to the side. As the two started to tumble, No. 24 batted the ball away, or it so it seemed. But somehow, No. 84 latched onto the gyrating leather and cradled it as they hit the grass together for, oh, a 40-yard play.
“Basically I saw the way he was playing me and I just tried to box him out to make the catch as much as I could,” Hill said. “Oh, yeah, definitely it was exciting. That was my first play of training camp.”
And did the top corner in the game say anything to the raw but riveting rookie?
“Yeah, he said, ‘Good catch. Next time you ain’t going to get it,’ ” Hill said.
Hill may not make a circus catch over Revis again, but it seems possible he could put together a parade of catches for a rookie highlight video.
“Young, fast,” head coach Rex Ryan captured Hill in two words, then offered up a few more for emphasis. “The most impressive thing today, there was the catch over Revis even though Revis had great coverage. But on a running play, I saw a block and I saw a corner go down.”
That, too, was Hill on Revis, although the rookie admitted he gave the corner a shove on the play when Revis had already lost his balance.
“It was Revis? All right,” Rex said with a smile. “I guess with that Georgia Tech background, Hill probably played with a full-cage facemask. He’s impressive, and you know how I felt. We draft a wide receiver in the second round and we trade up to get him? Oh, you’re kidding me. … Really, he’s been impressive.”
Sanchez was in full agreement.
“It was awesome, and right out of the gate, too,” the QB said. “Reeve made a good play to tip it and Stephen stayed with it. It was another encouraging play and something fun, something all of us could rally around. It was big for Stephen. He didn’t show it much, but I know he was nervous. For a first day, for a first-timer like that, that’s big and it gives him a lot of confidence. You could tell that weight was kind of lifted off his shoulders.”
Another observer, a former Jets first-round wideout who famously wore No. 19, also liked what he saw at today’s practice.
“I think it’ll be a pretty good transition for Stephen from college to the pros,” said Keyshawn Johnson, on his first visit to Cortland as a member of the ESPN contingent. “At least we do know he’ll block because this is a running-style offense. We know the physical attributes are there for him. But it’s going to take time. For rookie receivers it takes a minute to learn the game.”
A New York minute in some cases. And Hill said he’s learning the game from a few folks wearing the green and white.
“I can still see myself as a little raw,” he said, “but Mark Sanchez and Santonio Holmes, they’re staying in my ear a lot. Even [Antonio] Cromartie and Revis are helping me out with little things they’re seeing.”
Almost as an afterthought, Hill was asked about the hamstring injury from early June that sidelined him for the full-squad minicamp. He said John Mellody and his training staff are keeping an eye him so as to have him ready to go for the Sept. 9 opener vs. the Bills. But from today’s work, Hill seems to have no beef with his hammy.
“Now I’m back,” he said, “and I’m ready to make plays.” Even a play (or two?) on the Island.
Johnson had an impromptu performance today that was similar off the field to his on-field roles in the 1998 AFC Divisional Round win over Jacksonville when he had a catch for one touchdown, ran for another, recovered a Jaguars fumble to set up his TD run, and intercepted a Hail Mary pass (thrown by Mark Brunell) as a DB at the end of the 34-24 triumph.
Today Key was an ESPN talent commenting on practice with Sal Paolantonio, a Los Angeleno giving fellow Southern Californian Sanchez a bro hug, a gray eminence trading confidences with fellow wideouts Holmes and Hill, and the proud owner of 23 Panera Bread franchises in the L.A. and central California regions. He also admitted to being a first-time Ryan admirer.
“Rex — I love him. This is the first time I’ve really met him. Man, I like him a lot,” Johnson said. “He’s tough. He’s a defensive coach. He kind of knows he has to put up or shut up. And he’s the coolest looking head coach in the NFL. He’s lost weight, he looks healthy, he has cool shoes and a tat on his calf.”
Keyshawn also gives a conditional thumbs-up to the Sanchez-Tim Tebow experiment assembled by Ryan, Mike Tannenbaum and Tony Sparano.
“They can’t split the reps, and I think they know that,” he said. “If you give one guy 15 plays because the offense has started out of rhythm or you want a change of pace, that’s OK. But if it’s a 50-50 split, they won’t win.”
And his advice to Jets fans if Sanchez hits a skid?
“I would have to say to the fans, sit patient,” he said. “There are other players on the team. This quarterback [Sanchez] has shown he can throw the football and win games at times, although there have been some issues. But I don’t know that a two-game skid warrants a new starter.”
Ryan said he liked a few elements of today’s opening session. For one, even though the players were in shells, not full pads, “The 9-on-7 mentality, I can’t wait to see that drill every day. On defense we have the kind of mentality that we can stop anybody from running the football. And on offense we have the exact opposite mentality, that we can run the ball on anybody. It’s an interesting mindset, and when they put the pads on, that’s one you want to watch for sure.”
Rex also liked today’s tempo of practice, which was so quick and efficient that in some periods the Jets got in almost twice as many plays as they had scripted, which is a big help to the third units, which got most of those extra snaps. And with that Sparano-inspired tempo, the coach said, “We’re a team that will be in shape.”
Ryan confirmed the LaRon Landry pitch count after the veteran safety, taken off the A-PUP list Thursday, was dressed but mostly stretching and watching today’s practice from behind the secondary. “We’re going to have him go full-speed every third practice. We may alter that as we go. He’s a full-speed guy. You don’t want him to be reckless. You want to make sure you get him to opening day to play Buffalo. That said, he’s also got to make up some ground, learn the defense, compete with his teammates.”
CB Donnie Fletcher had a nice leaping breakup of a Greg McElroy deep ball for TE Dedrick Epps. … RB Bilal Powell had a nice series with several artful interior runs and receptions. … Revis got Sanchez back in 7-on-7’s with a sideline pick. … Tebow has a penchant for wanting to string out seemingly lost plays and then save them with a big downfield throw, not just via an improvised run.
Punter T.J. Conley showed the fruits of his offseason of strength and practice work by rocking a 63-yarder, 4.3 hangtime, out of bounds at the 7, followed immediately by a 65-yarder, 4.8 hang, OB at the 5. … To end practice, K Josh Brown missed from 42 and 44 yards, Nick Folk hit from 46 and 48, then Brown concluded by rocking through 50- and 52-yard field goals.
Tags: Antonio Cromartie, Darrelle Revis, Josh Brown, Keyshawn Johnson, Nick Folk, Rex Ryan, Stephen Hill, T.J. Conley, Tim Tebow, Tony Sparano
Posted in Randy Lange | 21 Comments »
Another career snapshot of Curtis Martin, who is in the running to be a first-year inductee into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Feb. 5 in Dallas:
Here’s a list of the starting quarterbacks that Curtis Martin played alongside during his Jets and Patriots careers: Vinny Testaverde, Glenn Foley, Ray Lucas, Rick Mirer, Chad Pennington, Quincy Carter, Brooks Bollinger, Scott Zolak and Drew Bledsoe. During that stretch from 1995-2005 when Martin was active, none of these quarterbacks could say what he could — that they had a perfect passer rating of 158.3.
In the 2000 season and again in 2001, the Jets’ No. 28 threw the ball once for an 18-yard touchdown pass to WR Wayne Chrebet. For his career that makes Martin 2-for-2 for 36 yards and two TDs. Not a bad statistic to go along with the fourth-most rushing yards in NFL history.
The two games in which he threw those passes couldn’t have been any different. The first touchdown pass was the game-winning score in the fourth quarter of the “Flashlight Game” when the 3-0 Jets visited the 3-0 Buccaneers. In the week before that game, Buccaneer wideout and former Jet Keyshawn Johnson referred to himself as a “star” and Chrebet as a “flashlight”.
Martin, who had 120 yards rushing and receiving, had already caught a touchdown pass from Testaverde to bring the Jets within three points with 1:54 to play. Martin then put the Jets ahead for good, 21-17, with his strike in the back of the end zone to Chrebet with 52 seconds left. Afterwards, Key and Curt gave a hug at midfield, as the photo in our centerpiece captures.
A little more than a year later, back in Martin’s hometown of Pittsburgh, the 7-4 Jets faced the 9-2 Steelers in a game that could have drastically improved the Green & White’s playoff status with a victory. Unfortunately, the home team dominated the day, but the highlight for the Jets was Martin’s touchdown pass to Chrebet, which resulted in their only points of the night as they fell 18-7.
Regardless of the outcome, Martin, who had 87 yards rushing and receiving, proved in two important contests that he could be relied on to be a weapon not only on the ground, but also through the air.
Visit the Curtis Martin for Hall of Fame page
Tags: Curtis Martin, Keyshawn Johnson, PIttsburgh Steelers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Wayne Chrebet
Posted in Nick Gallo | 14 Comments »
The Atlantic Health Training Center in Florham Park, N.J., is not only a grand new home for the Jets players and organization, but as a side benefit, it is also a magnet for NFL television megastars.
We had the full parade of league broadcasting teams come in here for production meetings during the season, of course, but already this off-season the Jets have gotten a number of visits, from ESPN’s Chris Mortensen to SNY’s Greg Buttle.
And today Sal Paolantonio is setting up shop in one of the glass-walled conference rooms on the AHTC’s second floor.
Sal Pal is one of the very best NFL TV reporters in the game, and he was gracious enough, in between recording spots and meeting with Jets GM Mike Tannenbaum, to sit with Eric Allen and myself for one more bonus show in this jam-packed week of "Jets Two-Minute Drive." (
But he is, after all, a product of Queens and Long Island before he moved down to Philadelphia newspapering and back northeast to Bristol, Conn., and ESPN. "Those were my teams growing up," he confided to me as we walked down to the spacious Jets Radio studio. "Jets and Mets."
EA’s first question was about the new facility, and Sal didn’t have to go far back in his memory to compare it to the Jets’ previous home base. "This is spacious compared to Weeb Ewbank Hall back at Hofstra," he said.
My immediate thought was to ask Paolantonio about one of his most talked about early moments for the Worldwide Leader in Sports. Less than two years into his gig, he had the remote draft duty from Hofstra in 1997, reporting live from "the Weeb’s" locker room before and after each Jets pick (while I and my fellow beatwriters were a few first downs away, sealed behind the green door in the old media room).
This, of course, was Bill Parcells’ first draft as the Jets’ football boss. Paolantonio remembered how the Jets traded the top pick of that draft twice to get down to No. 8 overall and take LB James Farrior. But when Parcells joined Sal Pal for that standup:
"All I could think about was Keyshawn Johnson’s book, ‘Just Give Me the Damn Ball!’ We were even standing right in front of Keyshawn’s locker. Bill always declined to talk about the book. We were on air and I asked him about it once and he said he didn’t want to talk about it. I asked him again and he was a little more forceful about not talking about it.
"I asked him one more time about it and he rightly was upset. I didn’t come back for day two."
Sal went on to report that he and Parcells have since reconciled and that the Tuna, now executive vice president of football operations for the Dolphins, was a valued resource for him as he wrote his book, "How Football Explains America" by Triumph Books, now in its fifth printing.
It is an excellent, well-argued idea book on where the game came from and where it’s going, with many stops in between, such as alongside Joe Namath’s lounge in Miami before Super Bowl III and for Parcells’ short but telling stay at West Point on his way to the Giants, Jets and other teams.
As far as all the rumors about the Jets’ interest in trading for Arizona WR Anquan Boldin or in acquiring another quarterback, Sal shared his intriguing thoughts about those topics with us and will again during his several-day stay here in my neck of the woods. I’ll leave you to find his reporting on ESPN and his chat with EA and me on Jets Radio. His interview will be up on newyorkjets.com shortly.
Update, 10 p.m. — ESPN is reporting on its Bottom Line tonight that Tannenbaum told Sal Paolantonio that the Jets would like to trade up in the first round. There has been no statement about the Jets’ trade intentions from the team.
Tags: Bill Parcells, Eric Allen, Keyshawn Johnson, Mike Tannenbaum
Posted in Randy Lange | 30 Comments »
This is an odd week for the Jets and many fans. The franchise has played 10 times on Thursdays (six on Thanksgiving) and in the previous six times before Thursday night at New England, the Jets had lost and thus had a nice 10-day hiatus to stew over their defeat before taking it out on the next opponent.
Put another way, the 34-31 overtime win over the Patriots was the first time since the 1962 Titans won at Denver on Turkey Day that the Jets are resting up after such a short-week win.
So with nothing to do today but watch some NFL games and monitor the scoreboard for the Tennessee-Jacksonville doings, I wanted to bring you a few more thoughts from the Patriots game before we move on Monday into preparations to play the latter-day Titans at Nashville.
Just to make sure we don’t gloss over Jerricho Cotchery’s contributions to the second-quarter drive that enabled the Jets to open their 24-6 lead. How about those catches?
We have to pluralize the word because J-Co’s 46-yard one-handed, against-the-helmet-David Tyree-style grab — while being interfered with by Ellis Hobbs, let’s not forget — was one for the franchise highlight video. And right behind it, and coming right after it, was Cotchery’s catch and quick-thinking stretch to break the plane of the goal line to put the points on the board.
"It was pretty amazing," head coach Eric Mangini said on his day-after conference call, more about the 46-yarder although he surely appreciated the TD grab as well. "In our first game [vs. the Patriots], I don’t know if you guys remember he ended up getting called for offensive pass interference, but he had another amazing catch over the top.
"Jerricho has unbelievable hands and some of the things that he comes down with are amazing. He’s such an understated guy that you lose track of how gifted he is as a receiver."
So many other great catches in Jets history flood to mind in thinking about that reception — improbable snags by Wayne Chrebet, stretching fingertip grabs by Wesley Walker, traffic stoppers by Al Toon and Keyshawn Johnson, Namath hookups with Don Maynard and George Sauer, not to mention a few more catches by Cotchery and Laveranues Coles (most of them seeming to come against the Patriots. Hmmm …).
I have a few of my favorites but if any of you, in some "receptive" moments today and into the new week, want to share a snapshot of your favorite Jets catch, ship them my way and we’ll get them up on the site for others to reminisce about.
Lead Lost, Lead Regained
Speaking of the Jets’ 18-point second-quarter advantage at New England, that was the third-largest blown lead in franchise history in a game in which the Jets still went on to win.
The two largest almost-lost leads were both 21-0 fourth-quarter advantages.
In 1980 the Jets were caught at Shea Stadium by the Houston Oilers twice, at 21 and 28 (by Kenny Stabler’s third and then fourth TD passes of the fourth period), before prevailing on a Pat Leahy overtime field goal, 31-28.
And in 1991 at Foxboro Stadium, the Patriots caught the Jets at 21 before Ken O’Brien rescued the Green & White with his third TD pass of the game, this one to TE Trevor Matich, with 57 seconds left for the 28-21 win.
Like almost everything in life, we can look at this most recent hiccup from two different angles. It would have been much more impressive had the Jets doubled their lead to 48-12 instead of having to fight off 24-all and 31-all comebacks by the Pats. They enabled a huge victory to become too close for comfort.
But the Jets also never lost the lead. And they showed extreme grit in a hostile environment to twice regain the lead, against a nemesis that wasn’t going to die. And that’s a good thing.
"I think it showed a lot of heart and a lot of mettle on our part," said Jay Feely, the guy who supplied that second and final lead with his game-winning 34-yard field goal. "Having the lead the whole game and allowing them to come back, it could’ve been a heartbreaking loss. Now it’s something to build on."
As an aside, I would dispute the theory that this win came down to the luck of the coin flip that the Jets won to get the ball to start OT. That presumes the Jets defense would have yielded a Patriots scoring drive just has they had in the final 1:04 of regulation. But of course they would have played the Pats differently in OT than they did in that drive. And keep in mind that three of the five Pats possessions before that remarkable TD were ended in punts, two of them in three-and-outs.
But would I have preferred that this game not have come down to an OT coin flip to begin with? Yes, without question. But since it did, I’m with Feely on the "something to build on" approach.
And finally one last point on Dustin Keller’s contributions to the effort. Each game this no-longer-a-rookie TE is showing how valuable he is to Brett Favre, the offense and the Jets operation. Two numbers that may have been glossed over when considering Keller’s 16-yard reception on third-and-15 and eight catches for 87 yards are these:
Seven first downs made and five third downs converted.
For a TE, those are Tony Gonzalez/Antonio Gates numbers. Consider that in recent history
The last Jets receiver at any position to have more than seven receiving first downs in a game was Coles with eight at Minnesota in 2006. No Jets tight end has had as many as seven first downs in a game since 1991.
Same goes for five 3DCs in a game. Keller is only the third receiver since ’91 to get that many, and the first to do it in a winning effort. Here are the three:
|1996||WR Wayne Chrebet||at JAX||5||Jaguars, 21-17|
|2006||WR Laveranues Coles||vs. NE||5||Patriots, 24-17|
|2008||TE Dustin Keller||at NE||5||Jets, 34-31 (OT)|
I regret to say that my personal records in this area don’t go back farther than ’91, so I don’t have any of the great chain-moving games of Mickey Shuler, Walker, Toon, Maynard, Sauer, et al. Some day, some day.
And for the rest of this day, enjoy the rest of the NFL action from the Jets’ first-place perch in the AFC East. Check in this evening when Eric Allen will check in with his thoughts on the Titans-Jaguars game.
Tags: Don Maynard, Ellis Hobbs, Eric Mangini, George Sauer, Jerricho Cotchery, Keyshawn Johnson, Laveranues Coles, New England Patriots, Wayne Chrebet
Posted in Randy Lange | 64 Comments »
This was another way to make me feel old. WR Keyshawn Johnson retired Wednesday.
It seemed like only a year ago, even though it was a year and a decade ago, that Hurricane Key blew in from Southern California and whipped up the Green & White in more ways than one. It was 1996 and the Richie Kotite Jets, as their reward for going 3-13, had the first pick of the draft. They went with Johnson and the fun began.
As he held out after that draft, there was confusion between his two agents about which media people would be involved in a conference call (or was it a conference call?) with their new star. Some writers, including myself, were left off the invite list, leading to a minor uproar even before he had signed his first NFL deal.
Johnson showed up for training camp, and I remember he was on fairly good behavior — until after his first game as a Jet, the season-opening debacle at Denver, when he complained that he couldn’t do anything if his new team wasn’t going to complete passes to him. A week later, Keyshawn speculated loudly about why he should be starting ahead of a certain No. 80.
Key had a decent rookie season — 63 catches, 844 yards, eight TDs — then filled up his off-season after the Jets’ 1-15 meltdown with his first major commercial venture, "Just Give Me The Damn Ball," which promised to keep the pot boiling until after Al Groh insulted him by likening him to a kid who can’t get an allowance increase from his father and the Jets traded him to Tampa Bay before the 2000 draft.
The most uncomfortable part about the Keyshawn persona was his relationship with Chrebet, which seemed forever on the verge of breaking out into a scene from West Side Story. In large part that was because the proud wideouts maintained their lockers next to each other for all four years of their stay together as Jets.
But while the two were never going to leave practice arm in arm for a couple of Bluepoints at Bogart’s, both admitted a grudging respect developed between them. As a Jets beat writer and a correspondent with Sports Illustrated in 1997, I asked Johnson in the bowels of the Meadowlands after a game about his relationship with Chrebet, and he surprised me with his response.
"When I first came into the league, it was kind of weird to see Wayne playing in the positions where the Jets drafted a bunch of guys and signed guys as free agents,” he said. ”But after you look a year later and you see he’s doing the same things he did a year ago, with a different staff, you’ve got to admire some of those things he does."
Even though Johnson mellowed some over the years, his outspokenness (not to mention his winning smile) led him inexorably to ESPN, which has hired him after his critically acclaimed on-air work during this year’s draft. But we must not remember him as just another talking head. He was one heck of a tough, clutch receiver, and he did his best NFL work in the New York phase of his career. Here are the top nine four-season reception totals by wide receivers in franchise history:
|Jets Wide Receiver||Seasons||Games||Receptions|
What’s more, Johnson was a voracious reader, often of stories about him. He would grab a copy of the daily clips package intended for the beatwriters, and during the media’s locker room session, he’d address each reporter by name and critique that day’s critique of him, thumbs up or thumbs down, it didn’t matter.
An unsolicited first name. There aren’t many shorter paths to an ink-stained wretch’s heart, other than a free golfclub or a free meal. I was not one of the Jets writers who remained close with Key after he moved on to Tampa Bay, Dallas and Carolina. Yet in Tokyo for the Jets-Bucs American Bowl game in August 2003, 3½ years after we last talked, he greeted me by name.
I didn’t always love Keyshawn the person, but I respected Keyshawn the player. And I suspect I’ll feel the same about Keyshawn the broadcaster.
Tags: Keyshawn Johnson, Wayne Chrebet
Posted in Randy Lange | 13 Comments »