Updated, 3:38 p.m. ET
There’s something different about Kyle Wilson this offseason, and it’s a lot more than the absence of the trademark dreadlocks the cornerback wore his first three seasons in green and white.
“I’m excited about where Kyle is,” head coach Rex Ryan said this morning before the start of the final practice of the Jets’ full-squad minicamp at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. “This is the best [offseason] he’s had, and its not close. I’ve been proud of the way he’s come into these OTAs, the way he’s competing.”
Wilson said there are no big secrets to the offseason he’s had.
“I’m just using my experience to my advantage,” he said. “I know exactly what to look for, I know why we’re calling stuff in different scenarios. I try to use that to think like a coach out there so I’m not having rookie mistakes. But you can see things and understand what we’re trying to do defensively to put myself in a better position.”
Wilson has a couple of things going for him in the Jets’ post-Island world. When Darrelle Revis went down for the season at Miami in Game 3, Kyle moved into Revis’ left corner spot for the last 13 games and 14 overall opposite Antonio Cromartie, giving him his most playing time as a pro — he averaged almost 60 defensive snaps a game playing either outside or in the slot.
The other element is the drafting of Dee Milliner ninth overall. Many assumed Milliner, the Alabama corner, was taken to plug into the starting lineup after Revis was traded to Tampa Bay the week of the draft.
“That’s wrong,” GM John Idzik said at the time. “It may be perceived that way, but the reality is Dee was one of our highest-ranked players, regardless of position on the board, so we took him.”
And the offseason reality has been that Milliner has been sidelined by his shoulder rehab as expected while Wilson has been picking up where he left off.
Motivation? “Yeah, it’s going to do something,” Wilson said in the locker room today before he and his teammates split for their last extended downtime of the year before the start of training camp. “But me just staying focused is going to help me out and that’s exactly what I’m going to do.”
“Certainly there’s going to be competition for that spot,” Ryan said. “Dee will have every opportunity to compete for that as well. You take a guy with the ninth overall pick for good reason. We’ll see how it goes.”
“Right now my focus is it doesn’t matter to me who’s here and who’s not here,” Wilson said. “I don’t think anything is going to change the way I go out there and perform on the field. That’s really my focus of getting better, doing my best personally to help out the team.”
Geno Comments a Day Later
Rookie QB Geno Smith clarified his no-comment responses to several questions at the end of his Wednesday locker room news conference regarding his attending Jets West, the independent get-together of Jets skill players that Mark Sanchez holds back in his Southern California stomping grounds.
“When you guys asked me about Jets West yesterday, myself and Mark, we hadn’t met to discuss that,” Smith said. “It kind of caught me off guard because it’s not on my schedule. Basically I didn’t comment because I was always taught if you don’t know what you’re answering, not to comment on it. We hadn’t talked about it.
“But from my understanding, it’s something that’s done annually, all the guys go out there, and it’s been a great event. Mark hasn’t officially extended the hand to me, but I’m pretty sure there’s no problem there. I’m more than willing to go there, get some work, and work with the guys, because it helps team bonding. I fully support that.”
Ryan on the minicamp and offseason: “I’m happy where the team’s at. Clearly we have a long way to go in a lot of areas, but we threw so much at our guys. I’m really proud of the preparation our guys showed, and obviously I think we made a lot of strides in our strength and conditioning. We’ve got a ton of stuff to improve on, we know that. This is just the beginning of the process.”
Receivers’ hands showed up better today. Stephen Hill had a nice go-route, wrong-shoulder grab of a Geno pass over Josh Bush during the final practice inside the Jets’ fieldhouse. Veteran tryout WR Mike Sims-Walker also had a nice grab. … Demario Davis and Aaron Berry had nice aggressive interceptions. … Ryan on the possibility of signing tryout WR Kellen Winslow: “I’m not going to discuss that now but I see exactly what you see. … You can certainly feel his presence.” … RB-KR Joe McKnight tweaked his ankle Wednesday but finished that practice and worked today.
Tags: Dee Milliner, Geno Smith, John Idzik, Kyle Wilson, Mark Sanchez, Rex Ryan
Posted in Randy Lange | 44 Comments »
Here are today’s first-half tweets for the Jets-Titans game at LP Field in Nashville, 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: DE Muhammad Wilkerson, C Nick Mangold, S Yeremiah Bell, S Josh Bush, WR Braylon Edwards.
#RL Rob Bironas comes out late to try 46-yd FG, Mo Wilkerson blocks at the line, no good. Bironas now 4-for-5 career vs Jets.
#RL Wilkerson gets Jets’ first FG block since Kris Jenkins vs ARZ in ’08, first road FG block since Shane Burton @ BUF in 2000.
#RL Jets 3rd-and-1 at TEN 25, Tim Tebow first action in 4 games runs forward to get the first down.
#EA TEN helping the Jets on this drive – 3 penalties. Edwards getting in the mix right away on this opening march.
#EA Sanchez has all day to throw the rock right now. Great job by the O-line. TEN was all over Luck last week.
#RL TE Jeff Cumberland appeared to grab 4-yd TD pass from Mark Sanchez, his 3rd TD of yr. But ref Walt Coleman reverses call to no catch…
#RL Nick Folk comes on for 22-yd FG. Good, making Folk 17-for-22 on FGs for the year. Jets lead 3-0 with 4:17 left in 1st qtr.
#RL Kyle Wilson nice third-down tackle on Nate Washington for a 5-yd reception on 3rd-and-8 as 1st quarter comes to an end…
#RL TEN continues as only NFL team not to have scored a 1st-qtr offensive TDs at home. Titans’ only 1st-qtr home TD came on PR in Game 3.
#RL Kyle Wilson nice third-down tackle on Nate Washington for a 5-yd reception on 3rd-and-8 as 1st quarter comes to an end…
#EA This is the Jets’ first lead entering the 2nd Quarter since Week 2 vs. PIT.
#RL Another nifty Robert Malone punt bounces backward from TEN-2 for 53-yd punt gross and net. 14th consec game for Malone with 50-yd punt.
#RL Chris Johnson bursts off RT, goes 94 yds for TD. Longest run vs. Jets since Garrison Hearst went 96 in OT in ’98 opener @ SF.
#RL Johnson 94-yd run is 2nd-longest by opponent in franchise history. Previous 2nd-longest: Sid Blanks, @ HOU Oilers, 12/13/64.
#RL Tim Tebow gets his first full drive as Jets QB, 7 snaps, 6 plays and pen, 22 yards. Has to throw 3rd-and-16 pass away.
#RL Calvin Pace gets his 3rd sack of the season, touching Jake Locker as he scrambles OB for a 2-yd loss on 3rd-and-7. TEN punts.
#RL Garrett McIntyre, starting for LB Bryan Thomas, gets 3rd sack of yr and 2nd big defensive play in 2 games w/ sack of Jake Locker.
#RL Jets go into halftime trailing 3-0. It’s 4th straight game they haven’t scored 1st-half TD, but they won their last 2, over ARZ, JAX.
#RL Jets lead in 1st downs (10-6), possession (15:52-14:08), but Titans lead in yards (198-99), takeaways (1-0) and score, 7-3.
Tags: Braylon Edwards, Calvin Pace, Chris Johnson, Garrett McIntyre, Garrison Hearst, Jake Locker, Kyle Wilson, Mark Sanchez, Sid Blanks, Tennessee Titans, Tim Tebow
Posted in Randy Lange | 86 Comments »
Rex Ryan and the Jets did in fact enjoy their two-hour plane ride back from St. Louis to Newark on Sunday night, as he suggested they should. And the head coach was still smiling over the Jets’ not-perfect-but-strong-nonetheless 27-13 win over the Rams the day before.
But Ryan and his players had no time to banter or trashtalk too much about their Thanksgiving night home matchup with Bill Belichick, Tom Brady and the Patriots.
“Right now we’re just swinging,” Rex said, going into heavy boxing/UFC metaphor. “We’re going to focus on our opponent specifically, but we’re behind where we have to be. We can only focus on ourselves. Like I say, just find a way to punch and swing. We earned where we are and we have to find a way to punch our way out. I’m not even worried about tweaking New England. It’s to a point where we have to focus on just us.”
The Jets did that with an altered schedule, returning to the Atlantic Health Training Center this morning and working out and meeting all day before starting the “first practice of the week” late this afternoon into early evening, which necessitated the lights ringing the complex’s outdoor turf field to be turned on for the session’s conclusion.
If any of the players lose focus now, it might not just be about losing that one-game-at-a-time mentality but also realizing how achy and breaky one’s body is after playing in St. Louis and before taking the field against the Pats’ band of offensive wizards and defensive opportunists three nights later.
“You have to see today like it’s a Wednesday practice,” TE Dustin Keller said from the . “You have to forget about the game yesterday. If you think about the game yesterday, you’re going to make yourself that much sorer.”
“It was a good win for us,” QB Mark Sanchez said. “We’re past that now, on to the next one. We have to try to get as many as we can.”
But only one at a time, CB Kyle Wilson said.
“We’re just really looking to improve this week, get better every day,” said Wilson. “We’re just focusing on New England. That’s all that’s there.”
One player who may not be there at MetLife Stadium, at least not in uniform, is New England’s Rob Gronkowski. Belichick told Patriots reporters on a conference call today, “I really don’t have anything” on the condition of the monster TE’s left forearm. And the Patriots’ official injury report released this evening only lists him as Did Not Participate in today’s practice, with a “forearm/hip” injury.
Unofficially it was being reported that Gronk fractured the arm while blocking on the final extra point of the Pats’ 59-24 win over the Colts and would be undergoing surgery sometime today.
“They have like five tight ends on their roster, so I don’t know if they will put another guy in that role,” Ryan said. “I’m not sure how they’ll do it. New England’s so multiple, they’ll give you four wides, five wides, a bunch of tight ends, so we’ll see as the game goes on how it affects them.
“Obviously, Gronkowski’s a huge target, especially in the red zone. I never like to see anybody get hurt. I’m not sad that he’s missing our game, but I hope he gets back soon.”
Sanchez has experienced the lows and highs of life as a quarterback the last two games, specifically when it comes to third-down accuracy.
At Seattle, Sanchez was 1-for-7 on third down, a 14.3% accuracy that was the lowest on that down of any game in his career.
Then at St. Louis, he rebounded with 8-for-9 accuracy at crunch time vs. the Rams. The 88.9% figure is the highest on that down in any game in his career.
On the other sideline, QB Sam Bradford and OC Brian Schottenheimer experienced those highs and lows in the same game. After one quarter, which was Bradford and Coach Schotty’s impressive 13-play opening touchdown drive, the Rams passer had a rating of 135.4 on 6-of-8 for 60 yards and the TD to Brandon Gibson.
The rest of the game, Bradford had to wonder where the magic went. He was 17-for-36 for 110 yards, one more TD to Gibby but one interception to Eric Smith, which all toted up to a 51.9 rating.
Love Those Short Fields
A few more note on the Jets-Rams drive chart. With the Rams help, the Jets finished 10 of their 13 drives in St. Louis territory. And two of those three series they didn’t cross the 50 were the Sanchez end-of-half kneeldowns.
Further, thanks to their three takeaways, the onside kick that Dustin Keller rescued, and a loss on downs after that, the Jets started five drives in St. Louis territory. That all added up to an average start on all drives of the Jets 45.9-yard line.
That is the best average drive start in a road game since we started tracking that number in 1990. There are only three home games that exceeded that number: 2001, Game 13, vs. Cincinnati (46.8), 2003, Game 5, vs. Buffalo (49.8), and 2008, Game 4, vs. Arizona (49.8). That last is the last time the Jets and Cardinals met before they’re set to do it again a week from Sunday. But first, of course, the Jets must figure out ways to maximize their field position and hidden yardage on Thursday night vs. the Patriots.
The Early Injury Picture
This is the week for the special Wednesday Injury Report, Monday Edition. The Jets and Patriots both filed reports after their practices today.
For the Jets, 19 players are on the report but it has the feel of last week’s report, which is to say fairly healthy for November. Only one player didn’t participate today and that’s WR Jason Hill (low back), who hasn’t played in the last two games after being re-signed.
Six players are limited, including WR Jeremy Kerley (heel/hamstring), who participated in only 19 offensive plays and none on specials vs. the Rams as he played through his issues. Also, NT Kenrick Ellis, who left the game after aggravating the knee injury that kept him out the four previous games, said he feels OK and did some work. The other limiteds: RB-KR Joe McKnight (ankle), DT Sione Po‘uha (low back), LB Bart Scott (toe) and CB Aaron Berry (quadriceps).
Also for the first time since before the Week 6 game vs. the Colts, C Nick Mangold is no longer being listed with an ankle injury, only with a thumb deal. He’s one of 12 Jets who were full-go today.
For the Patriots, G Logan Mankins (ankle/calf) and rookie DE Chandler Jones (ankle) joined Gronkowski as DNPs. Thirteen players were limited: DT Ron Brace (elbow), S Patrick Chung (shoulder/hamstring), G Dan Connolly (back), S Steve Gregory (hip), TE Aaron Hernandez (ankle), LB Dont’a Hightower (hamstring), WR Brandon Lloyd (knee), OL Nick McDonald (shoulder), DE Trevor Scott (hamstring), LB Brandon Spikes (knee), T Sebastian Vollmer (back/knee), WR Wes Welker (ankle) and LB Tracy White (foot).
LB Bart Scott is known for his Thanksgiving charity work in the city of Baltimore, where he started his pro career in 2002. Since ’03, he’s fed 250 men in the Helping Us Mission homeless shelter there, and this the fourth Turkey Day that Bart has conducted the dinner from a distance. The Ravens RB Ray Rice hosts in Bart’s absence, but the Madbacker talks with the attendees through Skype. This year’s event is Tuesday night.
Now rookie D-lineman Quinton Coples joins in the holiday cheer. Coples, who has a special affinity for his hometown of Kinston, N.C., gave away 250 turkeys in that town today. “Q” also is here in New Jersey, so his representatives, Millennium Sports Management, and volunteers distributed the birds on his behalf.
Tags: Bart Scott, Bill Belichick, Dustin Keller, Kyle Wilson, Mark Sanchez, New England Patriots, Quinton Coples, Rex Ryan, Rob Gronkowski, St. Louis Rams, thanksgiving, Tom Brady
Posted in Randy Lange | 34 Comments »
Rex Ryan didn’t wait until gametime Sunday, or Saturday before the team’s flight, or for the first question to be asked today. The Jets head coach said at the top of his afternoon news conference that CB Darrelle Revis, along with TE Dustin Keller and LB Bryan Thomas, will not travel with the team and so those three starters will not play Sunday when the Jets take on the Steelers at Heinz Field.
“We’re just following NFL protocol,” Ryan said about Revis’ mild concussion suffered late in the opener against Buffalo. “Darrelle’s been cleared for non-contact, but he hasn’t been cleared for contact.
“We say it all the time. It’s really about the decal on the side of the helmet. We say guys who step up to replace a guy, they have to play as well, maybe a little better. In this case, we’ll take a little less.”
Kyle Wilson, the Jets’ first-round draft choice in 2010, is the player who will be stepping into Revis’ shoes as a starting corner opposite Antonio Cromartie. Wilson, who made the third interception of his career vs. the Bills, has started 12 games as a pro, but in 10 of them he was a slot corner. In only two games in 2010, in Game 3 at Miami and Game 16 vs. Buffalo, did he start on the outside.
Ryan said the Jets have faith in him to handle this next starting assignment against the heavy hitters in the Pittsburgh wideout corps.
“We have a lot of confidence that Kyle will step up in the starting role,” the coach said. “He’s a guy who over the last two years spent time with Darrelle in the offseason, training with him, learning football from him. I think that tells you about Kyle’s commitment. He wants to be a great player. Why not learn from the best?”
For the first time this week, Revis participated in practice, putting on his helmet and jogging out to participate in position drills and also getting in limited work during team drills.
At TE, Ryan said of Keller’s sore hamstring that “he kind of tweaked it a little bit Wednesday. It’s just best that he sit out, miss this game, and be ready to go next week.”\
Jeff Cumberland, the third-year man who had career highs of three catches and 33 yards off the bench on Sunday, is in line to make his first NFL start for Keller, the Jets’ leading pass-catcher the previous two seasons. Konrad Reuland, the first-year waiver pickup who saw action in more than 20 plays vs. the Bills, also will play, and the Jets re-signed Dedrick Epps off the Bears practice squad to their active roster to also help with the TE depth.
Reporter John Holt will have a Q&A with Cumberland that will be posted a little later this afternoon.
Thomas, who started vs. Buffalo after missing the final 12 games last season with a torn left Achilles tendon, suffered a left ankle injury vs. the Bills that he said is unrelated to the Achilles issue. But he was rehabbing furiously this week to get on the field for the Steelers.
“I’ve been in there getting treatment four times a day to give them the confidence to say that I can go out there and play,” he said. “At the end of the day, it’s a trainers decision, a doctors decision, but I want to prove to them that I can go out there and do it, no matter what. Especially coming off the injury from last year. I missed some games and that was tough last year. I don’t want to miss any this year.”
However, B.T. will miss at least one, with Garrett McIntyre, who started three consecutive games last season at Denver, vs. Buffalo and at Washington, in line to get this start. Aaron Maybin may also see his snaps go up.
The Rest of the Report
On the flip side of the injury list, Ryan did report that 11 of his listed players practiced full during team drills today and are all probable for the Steelers, including DT Sione Po‘uha and S Eric Smith, who both sat out the Jets’ opener against the Bills. Also full/probable were Cromartie, DT Mike DeVito, WR Stephen Hill, WR Jeremy Kerley, S LaRon Landry, LB Josh Mauga, G Brandon Moore and WR Chaz Schilens. Limited in practice and questionable for the game are FB John Conner (knee) and CB Isaiah Trufant (ankle).
The Steelers’ Friday report lists LB James Harrison (knee) and S Troy Polamalu (calf) as questionable after not participating in team drills today, while RB Rashard Mendenhall (knee) is listed as doubtful.
Another Tebow Rumor Put to Rest
Tim Tebow spoke with reporters again today and predictably, he was asked about a story early in the week in which an unnamed NFL source said the backup QB will be looking to move on from the Jets after this season if he doesn’t become a starter. Tebow found the report amusing.
“That’s what these guys told me about a little bit ago. I find that pretty funny,” he said. “It’s about as true as me living in Hoboken, I think. I guess it’s just part of what you have to deal with, rumors and stuff like that, I don’t know. All I can say is I love being here as a Jet, I’m thankful for it and I want to be here for a long time. I guess you just have to put up with stuff like that.”
That was an earlier rumor, that Tebow had set up shopt in the New Jersey city of Hoboken. He was asked if he had anything against the town.
“Nothing,” he replied, “except everybody says I live there, still to this day.”
Tags: Aaron Maybin, Bryan Thomas, Darrelle Revis, Dedrick Epps, Dustin Keller, Eric Smith, Garrett McIntyre, injury report, Jeff Cumberland, Konrad Reuland, Kyle Wilson, PIttsburgh Steelers, Rex Ryan, Sione Pouha
Posted in Randy Lange | 44 Comments »
Updated, 3:51 p.m. ET
Are you ready for some football? Darrelle Revis always is, and he’ll help get Jets Nation ready as well when ESPN airs its new Monday Night Football spot that features No. 24 along with several other players and one owner during the day Monday.
“I’m just going to take it in stride,” Revis told me after today’s midday training camp practice at SUNY Cortland. “They want to feature several guys and I was there with a bunch of guys a few months ago. We just chopped it up and had a great time.”
The other players involved in this spot are Texans RB Arian Foster, Eagles RB LeSean McCoy and Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski. The owner is noted Cowboys wallflower Jerry Jones.
As you can tell from the image in our centerpiece (courtesy of ESPN Images), there will be a Revis Island-y kind of theme for Darrelle’s latest national exposure, which will first be viewable on ESPN Front Row and then later tomorrow on the network.
“We have had great participation from Jerry Jones and a number of NFL players this summer and we appreciate the time they gave us during their offseason,” said ESPN Marketing senior director Seth Ader. “Their involvement really speaks to our new tagline that ‘It All Comes Down to Monday Night’.”
Revis had one very big Monday night in 2011, his Game 6 home showing vs. Miami when he defensed four passes, two of them interceptions and one of them his much-discussed and celebrated 100-yard return vs. Matt Moore and Brandon Marshall. That was by far the biggest performance of the six Monday appearances in his career, but despite that and this year’s MNF spot, Revis isn’t treating Monday night’s any differently than he always has.
“It’s just another game on the schedule that you prepare for,” he said. “It is more hyped up. That and Sunday night football, they’re probably the most hyped games to play because you’re center stage so that pressure does come with it. Monday night, I don’t try to focus in on the hype. I just try to look forward to it as another game, just execute and do my job.”
Revis Rings Up Bell and Coples
Revis passed around praise for some defensive mates in the wake of the loss in Cincinnati on Friday night. On safety Yeremiah Bell’s Jets debut, he said, “I think it went great for him. Yeremiah called the plays when he was in Miami, so he’s comfortable with that, he’s used to that. So even though Eric [Smith] went down, we know Yeremiah can step in and call the plays.”
And on DE Quinton Coples’ impressive debut in green and white: “Well, he’s the No. 1 pick. We drafted him there for a reason. He showed why he’s a No. 1 pick. He made a lot of plays out there, he had a great game. There’s still a learning curve, he has a long way to go, but I think he’s going to do great wonders for us this year.”
And on the game in general: “There were a couple of mistakes out there, but overall I think the coaches were satisfied with the effort by the defense and the offense as well. There’s a couple of things we need to clean up but I think we’re going on the right path.”
We’ll have Darrelle’s remarks about their upcoming home preseason opener against the Giants at MetLife, along with comments from a bunch more Jets, later this week.
Ryan touted the play of RT Austin Howard, filling in for Wayne Hunter at Cincinnati: “Anyone that can play the way he played is trying to tell you something and you have to find a way to get him out there. … He is driving and finishing. That’s what we’ve been talking about and I’m really encouraged by him.”
Ryan on his injuries: Hunter (back) returned to practice. WRs Santonio Holmes (rib) and Jeremy Kerley (hamstring) remain out. Of Kerley, the coach said, “Hopefully by the end of the week we’ll be able to see him out there on the practice field.” S Eric Smith (shoulder/knee) didn’t go and is listed as day-to-day.
CB Kyle Wilson had an active practice this morning, getting one interception on a Tim Tebow tipped pass and another on a good break over the middle on a Mark Sanchez ball in 7-on-7 drills. … Two pretty receptions: Raymond Webber with another grab of a bobbled downfield ball, and Wes Kemp bringing in Greg McElroy’s long ball down the middle with a great leap and fingertip grab. … Sanchez and Tebow each found TE Dustin Keller for TDs. … Jets announced this morning they have waived P Travis Baltz. … Today’s SUNY Cortland practice attendance: 4,257.
Tags: Brandon Marshall, Darrelle Revis, ESPN, Kyle Wilson, Matt Moore, Miami Dolphins, Monday Night Football, Quinton Coples, Raymond Webber, Wes Kemp, Yeremiah Bell
Posted in Randy Lange | 22 Comments »
Gerald Alexander says it’s really great to be here as the newest member of the Jets. He says it for several reasons.
One is it’s great to be employed anywhere. Even in the NFL, especially in the NFL, jobs can be hard to come by.
“It’s just about opportunity. That’s the way it is in this league, being able to take advantage of any opportunity that you get,” said Alexander, who in the wake of Jim Leonhard’s season-ending knee injury has moved in behind Eric Smith, Brodney Pool and Tracy Wilson as the Jets’ fourth safety. “Sometimes the odds of that opportunity may be stacked against you. But this is a blessing to be on this team. I feel honored to be on this team.”
That’s because, being in his fifth season as an NFL player and having made stops with four teams, including AFC opponents Miami and Jacksonville, he’s noticed the Jets and has always liked the cut of their jib.
“This is a team I’ve always wanted to be a part of, just for the way they play, the way they coach,” he said. “I really love the ‘Play Like a Jet’ mentality. I love what it’s all about.”
And that extends to the Rex Ryan/Mike Pettine defensive scheme, which he said after his first two days doing a speed-learning course on it is a little more complex than others he’s known.
“I feel like I know football. I’m really a student of the game,” he said. “It’s fun for me to learn this information from scratch, especially at the fast pace I have to learn. … I want to be a coach when I’m done playing. I’m honored to be able to learn this defense, especially from guys like Mike and Rex.”
Alexander’s even got a former Boise State teammate in the Jets secondary with him. That, of course, would be corner Kyle Wilson, who was a “young pup” in his first two years at Boise while Alexander was in his last two. Now Kyle’s the experienced guy at the door greeting the young Jets pup in a manner of speaking.
“As a player, Gerald was always around the ball,” Wilson recalled. “Just coming in, I respected him right away. He was a three- or four-year starter. He did a lot of things right. I admired his work ethic and attention to detail.”
One last reason Alexander likes the lie of the land here at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center is because he’s already been greeted warmly by Jets Nation.
“I’m very active on Twitter,” said Alexander. “I talk to fans, I conversant, I tell jokes. People can really see the person I am off the field. And the love I got from the Jets fans was unbelievable: ‘Welcome, we’re happy you’re part of it.’ The love I got from Jets fans was unlike any other team I’ve been with.”
He said he knows where the fans, even the feisty ones, are coming from because he was once in that place himself growing up in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.
“I was once a diehard Raiders fans,” he said. “I know what it’s like to have your emotions attached to Sunday, and to not be able to watch TV for the rest of the week when your team loses. You don’t want to see highlights, you don’t want to hear anything.”
Now his goal is to help the Jets be on the winning end Sunday for their game at Philadelphia. Rex Ryan wasn’t committing to Alexander being in uniform on Lincoln Financial Field just yet. But Alexander said he’s ready for the call if it comes.
“I’m going to make sure I’m mentally prepared to play,” he said. “It’s going to be a crash course, definitely. If they feel confident with me on the field with the information I know, then I’ll be ready to go.”
Between a Rock and a Hard Place
Michael Vick brings out the lyrical best in opponents. Ryan was asked if the Eagles QB was as elusive as the Steelers’ Ben Roethlisberger.
“Ben escapes much differently than Vick does,” Ryan said. “Vick’s more of a make-you-miss-in-space guy. Ben’s more of a shake-you-off guy. They both make plays.”
LB Aaron Maybin was describing how he and the Jets need to approach Vick in the pocket Sunday. He was asked if Vick is almost like a soccer penalty kick, where the defender has to play goalie and guess which way the QB is going to go. Maybin said no, you can’t guess and play tentative against a player with Vick’s quacks.
“Guys like Vick make overaggressive people look foolish,” quota Mayhem. “But he makes hesitant people look stupid.”
Somewhere between stupid and foolish, hesitant and overaggressive, is the path to stopping Vick in his tracks.
The Jets’ injury list changed little today, but the one move as expected was that G Brandon Moore, who didn’t practiced Wednesday, was limited today. “And he’ll be full tomorrow,” Ryan said. CB Marquice Cole (knee) was the only Jet who didn’t practice and Ryan termed him “very questionable” for the Eagles. S Eric Smith, DT Mike DeVito and DL Marcus Dixon remained limited for team drills.
The only Eagle not practicing today was DE Darryl Tapp (ribs). T Todd Herremans (ankle) and DT Cullen Jenkins (groin) were both limited in team drills, while Vick (ribs) and WR Jeremy Maclin (hamstring/shoulder) both were full-go.
Tags: Aaron Maybin, Boise State, Gerald Alexander, Kyle Wilson, Michael Vick, Mike Pettine, Philadelphia Eagles, Rex Ryan
Posted in Randy Lange | 68 Comments »
PDs can be Pretty Darn Slippery. Sometimes a team can get a lot of pass defenses in a game and get scorched through the air. Sometimes it can get only a couple and still shut down the other team’s passing game.
But for the Jets on Sunday, their unofficial total of 13 PDs actually was quite impressive and in keeping with the quality of their pass defense against the Redskins. And two of the cornerbacks who had a few of those PDs told me in the locker room today that the showing was no accident.
“We did a great job last week,” said Antonio Cromartie, who had one of his best games of the year. “We got a lot of tipped balls, even from our front line, and our linebackers were getting their hands on passes. Nothing’s really changed for us. It’s just being a lot more aggressive.”
“Overall, we’re really just playing our techniques. Coach [Mike Pettine] is calling the plays and we’re going out and executing to the best of our ability,” said Kyle Wilson, who came up with the late interception, the second pick of his career, off of Donald Strickland’s deflection. “When the ball’s in the air, we’re attacking it. That’s definitely been a point of emphasis the last few weeks and I think we’re doing a better job of it.”
How good? Just in terms of unofficial numbers, the Jets have had only one other game in the last 15 seasons in which they had as many as 13 PDs. That was in 1999, when they flew to pre-Tebow Denver off of a season-opening three-game losing streak and picked off Brian Griese and Bubby Brister five times in their 21-13 come-from-behind win. S Victor Green and LB Mo Lewis each had three PDs that day.
On Sunday, the Jets spread the wealth around, with Jim Leonhard, David Harris, Cromartie and Strickland each getting two defenses apiece. Sione Pouha and Muhammad Wilkerson each batted down a Rex Grossman pass behind the line.
Interestingly, Darrelle Revis had no PDs but that’s probably because Grossman was wary of the Island. Revis much of the game was covering WR Jabar Gaffney, who was targeted only three times by the ‘Skins QB and had no catches.
The Jets almost had a first-half interception when Brodney Pool snared a Grossman overthrow, but Strickland’s illegal contact on TE Fred Davis wiped it out. But the play seemed to underscore the renewed stress on the defense.
“We’re just trying to emphasize getting more and more turnovers,” Cro added, “to give our offense more opportunities to score.”
Wilson’s pick didn’t produce points, but the first second-half fumble recovery led to a Nick Folk field goal try (his only miss, from 40 yards out) and the second FR led two plays later to Shonn Greene’s second TD run of the game.
Even with the reminders from head coach Rex Ryan, Pettine and DBs coach Dennis Thurman, were coming off of three low-PD games — seven breakups and no picks combined in the New England-Denver-Buffalo stretch. So was Washington a one-off or the start of a trend? We’ll know more when first-year QB Tyler Palko, sore-fingered vet Kyle Orton and the Chiefs’ receivers pay a visit this Sunday.
Blackjacking the Redskins
That touchdown, by the way, was part of one of the quickest streaks to 21 points in franchise history. In a note that we first reported in our E-blast to season ticket holders and subscribers Wednesday, the Mark Sanchez-to-Santonio Holmes TD pass and Greene’s two TDs all came in a span of 3:02, which is the shortest amount of clock time the Jets have used to score three times since at least 1980.
The quickest had been the 3:29 span of the third quarter at Buffalo in Game 4 of the 2010 season, during which the Jets hung up 21 points on the Bills in their 38-14 victory. Quickest before that was 1985 Game 9 at Indianapolis (3:43).
Ryan’s take today on the Jets’ mentality heading into the Chiefs:
“There’s a sense of urgency, without question. But it’s just a purpose, a focus. That’s where we’re at. We know what’s at stake. We have to win this game. There’s all the scenarios in the world, three out of four might get us in, but there’s no scenarios where you can lose an AFC game. We have to win our two remaining AFC games and we’ll worry about all the other stuff later. We know we have to win this game. With that understanding, it’s dialed up our intensity and focus.”
Mike Westhoff said he isn’t ruling Jeremy Kerley out of returning punts Sunday, although he acknowledges along with Ryan that Jim Leonhard has the experience and sure-handedness the coaches like. Westhoff put much of the blame for that muff not on Kerley but on Washington’s Niles Paul getting through two Jets and blasting Kerley almost as soon as he touched the ball. … Westhoff said if Joe McKnight can’t return kickoffs due to his elbow, Antonio Cromartie is next up and Kerley behind Cro.
G Brandon Moore sat out his second practice of the week but Ryan is still not worried about his availability for the Chiefs. “No, I feel good about Brandon,” the coach said. “How many starts in a row does he have? It’s over 100, I know. He can probably miss a practice or two.”
DT Mike DeVito also sat out his second practice and is less certain to be ready for Kansas City. Safety Eric Smith (knee), DT Marcus Dixon (hip) and RB-KR Joe McKnight (elbow) were all limited for team drills at today’s practice. LB David Harris (ankle) and CB Ellis Lankster (low back), who weren’t full-go Wednesday, practiced full today.
The Chiefs’ slim report added a fourth body today when LB Jovan Belcher (shoulder) was listed as limited for team drills. QB Kyle Orton and C Casey Wiegmann also remained limited and LB Demorrio Williams probable.
Tags: Antonio Cromartie, David Harris, Jeremy Kerley, Jim Leonhard, Kansas City Chiefs, Kyle Wilson, Mike Westhoff, Washington Redskins
Posted in Randy Lange | 27 Comments »
Updated, 6:37 p.m. ET
Rex Ryan was unapologetic, as you might expect, a day after the Jets sweated out their 28-24 victory over the Buffalo Bills.
“I’ve said it for three years now — I don’t care if I’m known as the luckiest coach in the league. That’s fine with me,” Ryan told reporters at this afternoon’s news conference at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. “It’s funny how if we make a mistake we’re horrible, but if we make a play, oh, we’re just lucky. Maybe it’s the green, I don’t now. But I hope karma’s with us and I hope we continue to be lucky. I’d rather be lucky than good. I’d rather be both, and I think we are.”
But that’s not to say the coaches and players didn’t go over their corrections today and will continue to work on the things that made Sunday’s win too close for a lot of comfort.
On offense Ryan referred to “Some of those things, poor decisions or whatever, there’s no doubt we’ve got to clean that up. Are we running routes exactly the way they’re supposed to be, at 12 yards or 15 yards or whatever? We’ve really got to get that tightened up.”
But he continued to praise Mark Sanchez — “He did throw four touchdown passes. … Mark Sanchez is not our problem. He’s one of the strengths of our team.” And he lauded his wideouts, his O-line again, and RB Shonn Greene — ” I don’t think he aggravated anything. I just think he was playing through it,” Ryan said of Greene’s rib injury from Denver. “It seemed like every time he made a run, he got up slow. But he ran great, averaged 6 yards a carry and was really running hard.”
Defensively, Rex said of the Bills’ last drive, “Was it the prettiest thing? No. I’d much rather have ended up with a sack or an interception.”
But he lauded several contributors, such as LB Aaron Maybin — “He plays with his hair on fire. He’s encouraging to watch” — NT Sione Pouha — “He continues to really handle that middle of our defense” — and LB David Harris, who “had a huge game for us as well.”
On specials, Ryan changed the number of this season’s lost fumbles or muffs to five after Antonio Cromartie’s muffed fair catch led a play later to Buffalo’s final TD. The coach went over the reasons for Cro stepping in (Jim Leonhard had the wind knocked out of him the play before, Jeremy Kerley was out and Joe McKnight had a larger role on offense for this game). But he said the reasons didn’t make the turnovers acceptable.
“It’s happening too often to our football team,” Rex said. “It’s uncharacteristic of Jets special teams, that’s for sure.”
Yet the negatives do not detract from Ryan’s belief in his team as it has begun to embark on this perilous trip down the home stretch.
“I definitely think we’re a playoff team,” he said. “We have to prove it on the field but I absolutely think we’re a playoff team. Once we get there, anything can happen. It’s hard to get into the playoffs every year, but that’s certainly what we plan on doing.”
And the plan lives as the Jets make their corrections and get ready to take on their next NFC foe, the Redskins at Washington on Sunday.
At least two players won’t be available for that game though:
DT Mike DeVito — “It looks like he’s got a bit of a knee, an MCL. It’s a different knee from before, though. But I don’t think Mike’s going to play this week.”
S Emanuel Cook — Cook, who recovered the botched Bills squib kick to set up the Jets’ second TD drive, was waived today. Ryan declined to go into details of the release: “Every decision we make is for the benefit of our football team. I’m not going to get into the specifics of what led us to make a decision one way or another. But he was released and we’re going to activate Tracy Wilson off our practice squad. He’s been doing a great job. He’s one of the hardest-working guys we’ve got on this team.”
Ryan didn’t specifically address LaDainian Tomlinson, but LT is getting closer to a return from his knee injury, as is Kerley from his knee. “We’ll be excited to get him back,” Ryan said of his rookie WR/PR. “I’m hopeful he’s back this week.”
“Inside the Jets”
The Jets’ Monday night radio show will be held at Grasshopper Off the Green in Morristown, N.J., from 7-8 p.m. ET tonight and will also air live on 1050 ESPN New York. Ryan Ruocco is guest-hosting for Bob Wischusen and the special guest tonight is cornerback Kyle Wilson.
Jets on “NFL Replay”
The Jets-Bills game will be featured this week on NFL Network’s Week 12 airing of “NFL Replay.” The game, which features the show’s mix of bonus NFL Films and NFL Network footage, will air at 8 p.m. ET, with the Broncos-Chargers game set to air right after Jets-Bills at 9:30 p.m.
Tags: Aaron Maybin, Buffalo Bills, David Harris, Kyle Wilson, Mark Sanchez, Rex Ryan, Shonn Greene, Sione Pouha, Washington Redskins
Posted in Randy Lange | 82 Comments »
Updated, 4 p.m. ET
At 5-3, the Jets are halfway through the 2011 campaign. The final eight games will determine the outcome of their season, and it starts with Sunday’s highly anticipated primetime matchup with the New England Patriots.
The halfway point also seems to be a good time to catch up with this year’s first-round draft pick, DL Muhammad Wilkerson. He has started every game in his rookie year, totaling 23 tackles, one sack that produced the safety vs. Jacksonville, and one pass defense. The transition from college to the NFL can be a galactic leap for some, but Wilkerson is becoming increasingly more comfortable in his role.
“For me, I’m trying to stay positive,” said Wilkerson. “I’ve been having ups and downs. I’m trying to stay focused on mentally preparing for what I need to do with my alignment and technique so I can finish this year strong.”
The numbers don’t jump off the page, but his impact cannot always be understood through statistics. While the Green & White rush defense struggled earlier in the season to contain the outside runs, a rallying cry of “Set the Edge” rang through the locker room. Wilkerson takes pride in that role.
“I have to make sure everything bounces inside to the great linebackers we have, or just letting Sione [Pouha] and [Mike] DeVito clean it up,” he said.
His job description is akin to that of a point guard, setting up his teammates to make the impact play. After a rough 60-minute stretch against the Pats in Week 5, Wilkerson and his linemates were challenged by head coach Rex Ryan this week.
“Looking back on the first time we played them, there were a lot of ups and downs in that game,” he said. “More downs than ups. We were watching a lot of that film this week, and you really don’t want to watch it, but we have to face the facts. We have to put that aside and show what we’re capable of doing.”
Speaking of capability, Wilkerson feels he still has plenty to prove over the final eight games:
“In every game, there are things that I do good, and some things that, not that I do bad, but that I can do better. I’m just trying to do everything to the best of my ability.”
The transition will continue, but he knows what lies ahead.
“Nothing is easy,” Wilkerson said. “I just take the coaching, and I’m learning. I’ll go from there.”
Wilson Making Strides
As a rookie, CB Kyle Wilson made the same transition that Wilkerson is making right now. Wilson’s struggles were well-documented, leading him to lose confidence and playing time. This year he’s a new player with a fresh outlook.
“Personally, I feel a lot better,” said Wilson. “Having last year to use as experience, I‘ve just been putting in a lot of work. I learn from the guys in the room that I’m working with, like Cro [Antonio Cromartie] and Darrelle [Revis] and continue to accept the coaching.”
“We liked Kyle when we took him,” said Ryan. “We thought he might have been the top corner in the draft when he came out. I’m not surprised at the kind of year he’s having. He’s having as good a year as any nickel in the league.”
It’s high praise for Wilson, who is arguably the most improved player on the Jets’ roster. After logging five tackles in increased action against the Buffalo Bills last week, it’s safe to say he will be on the field early and often against the pass-happy Pats.
With New England having dropped their last two games, QB Tom Brady has found himself under the microscope.
“I love hearing that Tom Brady is struggling,” Ryan said sarcastically. “Based on what? Last year was a once-in-a-lifetime season — four picks, a zillion touchdowns. That’s going to be hard to match. He’s as good as it gets right now.”
As usual, the focus for the Jets defense will be on pressuring Brady, and taking him out of his comfort zone.
“If you can’t get pressure on Brady, you’re going to get destroyed,” Ryan said. “We’ve got to find ways of getting in there. Whether it’s a four-man rush or something creative, I don’t know. We have to get pressure on him.”
TE Shawn Nelson (illness) and S Brodney Pool (knee) did not practice this afternoon and have been listed as questionable for Sunday’s game.
All the other injured Jets practiced full and are listed as probable for the game, including WR Plaxico Burress (back), DT Mike DeVito (knee), RB-KR Joe McKnight (toe) and CB Isaiah Trufant (hamstring). The Jets’ full injury report can be found here.
The Patriots have declared LBs Brandon Spikes and Dane Fletcher out of the game. WR Wes Welker (rib) practiced full after two limited practices and is probable for the Jets. All 10 other injured Patriots were limited in today’s team drills and are questionable for the game: CB Kyle Arrington, S Patrick Chung, DE Shaun Ellis, RBs Kevin Faulk and BenJarvus Green-Ellis, LB Gary Guyton and Jerod Mayo, WR Taylor Price, T Sebastian Vollmer and OL Ryan Wendell.
Tags: Kyle Wilson, Mike DeVito, Muhammad Wilkerson, Plaxico Burress, Rex Ryan, Tom Brady
Posted in Andrew LeRay | 19 Comments »
The Jets, Bills and Pats are tied atop the AFC East with 5-3 records. After trampling the Bills in Buffalo, the Jets get another shot at the hated Patriots Sunday night at MetLife Stadium. So who’s the team to beat in the AFC East?
“We are,” said Jets CB Darrelle Revis on the latest installment of “Four Quarters” which was filmed in front of a live audience and will air Thursday on newyorkjets.com. “We believe that — even in the three-game losing streak. We have a lot of confidence no matter what’s going on.”
Revis, who has four interceptions and has been the NFL’s best defender at the season’s midway point, believes the Green & White have “great character” and it shone through when the chips were down.
“It’s very tough at work. The coaches are mad and you’re mad because we’re losing,” he said. “Through that time we just worked together and we took it one week at a time.”
The Jets’ last loss came exactly a month ago, Oct. 9, when they dropped the 30-21 decision to the Patriots in Gillette Stadium. Revis, a defensive captain, has been instrumental in their climb back to the top. His 100-yard interception return against the Dolphins in Week 6 broke up a lethargic start on Monday night and he added another pick for good measure in the 24-6 drubbing.
Then New York’s AFC representative again held serve at home in Week 7 as Revis completely flipped the script against the Chargers, intercepting Philip Rivers in the fourth quarter when the ‘Bolts were driving and had a 21-17 lead. His 64-yard return put the Jets in the red zone and led to the game-winning score. Rex Ryan’s club improved to 4-0 at home with the 27-21 “W” over the Chargers and Revis made absolutely gigantic plays in three of the triumphs. His Week 1 fourth-quarter pick of Cowboys QB Tony Romo set up Nick Folk’s winner from 50 yards out.
“We’ve been doing great at home. You want to be undefeated at home,” he said. “You get to perform in front of some unbelievable fans we have and show them a great job. That’s what we’ve been doing this year at home games.”
Under Ryan, the Jets own a 2-0 home mark against the Pats and they knocked the Men of Belichick out of the playoffs at their house last January. Wes Welker, on pace for a 1,900-yard season, had five receptions for 124 yards back in October and he’ll figure to see a lot of No. 24 this weekend.
“He’s having an unbelievable season. I respect him a lot as a player,” Revis said. “We had our battles in the past and I love covering him. He’s very competitive. I call him the ‘Energizer Bunny’ because he never stops. You can slam him and throw him around. I’ve tried every trick in the book and he just keeps on chucking and keeps on coming after you.”
The Jets hope to maintain pressure on Tom Brady all Sunday evening. They sacked Brady four times in defeat last month and racked up five sacks of him in the divisional playoff win.
“To get Tom Brady out of his game, you have to pressure him. You have to get guys in his face all the time and get him a little bit jittery in the pocket,” said Revis. “If you don’t, he can sit back there and pick you all day, throw the ball all day.”
Prolific as usual, the Pats rank No. 1 in the NFL in pass offense and average 325.6 yards per game. But Revis leads the Jets’ No. 7-ranked pass defense, a unit that absolutely smothered the Bills in the pasting last weekend.
“We’re playing tighter coverage. Kyle Wilson has stepped up a lot this year. He’s had an unbelievable season and he’s only going to get better,” said Revis. “The safeties are playing tighter coverage. I think everybody is doing his job very well.”
After eight games, the Jets have already eclipsed their interception total from a year ago with 13 compared to 12. Conversely, Brady, who threw only four interceptions in 2010, has been victimized by 10 picks.
“We just tried to improve on turnovers. That’s the biggest thing on defense,” said Revis. “We’ve been doing it and we’re going to continue to do it. If we can just carry on with that year after year, that’s what we want to do as a defense. We want to be aggressive and we want to make turnovers. We struggled last year a lot, but I think guys, being in this system a couple of years now, we kind of understand the defense.”
Everyone knows the Green & White have the personnel to thrive in man coverage and that starts with Revis. But Ryan and defensive coordinator Mike Pettine don’t just do an excellent job with their overload blitzes — their disguises in the back end have paid healthy dividends as well.
“We do play a lot of man, but we do play a lot of zone as well. When we play zone, we disguise it very well. The safeties do a great job — Brodney Pool and Jim Leonhard and those guys. They might show one side and then run over to the other side when they hike the ball,” said Revis. “Everybody is just focused on their job and doing what they need to do to help the team win.”
Tags: "Four Quarters", Darrelle Revis, Kyle Wilson, New England Patriots, Tom Brady, Wes Welker
Posted in Eric Allen | 53 Comments »