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Bookkeeping on Jets’ 16 UFAs/RFAs

Posted by Randy Lange on March 13, 2013 – 8:56 am

Late Tuesday the NFL finally released its official list of available free agents in four different categories for the signing period that began at 4 p.m. While most of you already are aware of this information and a lot more, for those who haven’t heard and in the interest of bookkeeping, here is a summation of what the release reads regarding the Jets:

Restricted Free Agents who received Qualifying Offers from their Prior Clubs and are subject to the First Refusal/Compensation system of the NFL CBA

T Austin Howard, Round 2

TE Jeff Cumberland, right of first refusal

The Round 2 designation for Howard is the pick a new club, if it were to sign Howard to an offer sheet, must send to the Jets, its own choice or a better choice in the round for the April draft. In Cumberland’s case, there is no compensation for a new club that would like to sign him to an offer sheet but the Jets still retain the right to match the offer and retain Cumberland. Offer sheets may be submitted up until Friday, April 19, one second before midnight.

Unrestricted Free Agents with four or more accrued seasons

S Yeremiah Bell

DT Mike DeVito

WR Braylon Edwards

K Nick Folk

RB Shonn Greene

RB Lex Hilliard

TE Dustin Keller

S LaRon Landry

G Brandon Moore

WR Chaz Schilens

G Matt Slauson

LB Bryan Thomas

Players with fewer than four accrued seasons who received no Qualifying Offer or minimum tender from their Prior Clubs

TE Dedrick Epps

LS Tanner Purdum

The fourth category is players who have been designated Franchise Players, but the Jets did not so designate anyone.


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Cro, Landry in the Warmth; Big Games in the Cold

Posted by Randy Lange on January 28, 2013 – 10:43 am

Our congratulations one last time to Antonio Cromartie and LaRon Landry for their participation in Sunday’s Pro Bowl at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu.

Of course, it was a long Hawaiian afternoon for anyone associated with the AFC’s pass defense as the Nationals racked up 420 passing yards, six TDs to one INT and a Pro Bowl-record 62 points in the pullaway over the Americans. But Cro and LaRon, playing as secondary backups and on special teams, did make their positive contributions as well in the annual all-star game.

Cromartie had three first-half solo tackles in the game. The first came after a 5-yard first-quarter reception by none other than Giants WR Victor Cruz. The others came after receptions by Vincent Jackson and Larry Fitzgerald.

Cro also had an offside on a field goal attempt that wiped out an AFC interception-return TD, but that sounds a little more devastating than it was. He was premature in timing the field goal snap on the first play of the fourth quarter. NFC holder Thomas Morstead, with No. 31 closing in, picked up the snap and tried to pass to eventual Pro Bowl MVP Kyle Rudolph, but Eric Berry picked the pass and took off for an 86-yard score.

Cromartie also couldn’t handle a kickoff-return pitch from Joshua Cribbs late in the third quarter, with the fumble being charged to Cribbs and the NFC recovering at the AFC-11 to set up the above nullified field goal. But Cro also later took a lateral from C.J. Spiller on another kickoff return for 23 yards to start the drive that ended with A.J. Green’s third TD reception and the game’s last score.

Landry had one solo tackle, also after a Cruz catch, but otherwise had a low-key game.

Hot and Cold

The weather was a cloudy, breezy 78° for the Pro Bowl, a far cry from this morning in North Jersey, where it’s 28, snowing and with the threat of freezing rain continuing through midday. Last Friday it was 7° in the neighborhood surrounding the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center, and after a brief spring fling Wednesday with temps expected to rise to 60, it’s back into the freezer into and through Super Bowl Sunday.

Which naturally raises the question about the weather exactly a year from now, when the first outdoors Super Bowl in the Northeast will be played at MetLife Stadium. The NFL and the region did a little preview of Super Bowl XLVIII last week but what about snow, freezing rain, winds?

What about the cold? Let’s start with that. It seems Commissioner Roger Goodell and the league are embracing a cold-weather game most of all. It would harken back to the good old days of NFL championships on “the frozen tundra.” Here are the “unthawed three” big games in league history, along with some coincidental notes on wind-chill at each of the games (home teams in CAPS):

Dec. 31, 1967 — PACKERS 21, Cowboys 17, Lambeau Field.

Temp: –13° F. Wind: 14.5 mph. “Old” Wind-Chill: –48.

“The Ice Bowl” has always been the NFL’s cold standard, the game when officials shouted rather than tweeted so their metal whistles wouldn’t bond to their lips, a fan in the stands died of exposure and several players were treated for frostbite. The agreed-upon temp at the 1 p.m. CST kickoff has always been minus-13, may also have been at the end, and so it is altogether appropriate that Packers QB Bart Starr sneaked over the goal line with 13 seconds to play for the TD that won the NFL’s ’67 championship.

The 48-below-zero wind-chill is also legendary, although the National Weather Service switched to a more scientific and realistic wind-chill equation in 2001. In NOAA’s online feature on the game, the “new wind-chill” for the game was –36° at kickoff, and during the game it ranged from –37 to –33, getting slightly “balmier” in the third quarter.

Jan. 10, 1982 — BENGALS 27, Chargers 7, Riverfront Stadium.

Temp: –9°. Wind: Northwest, 20-35 mph. “Old” Wind-Chill: –59°.

 “The Freezer Bowl” was the quintessential game demonstrating that West Coast teams don’t like traveling to the frozen Midwest/Northeast. This AFC title game has always been held up as the wind-chill winner at –59, but that had to be taken near the opening kickoff with a 27-mph wind gust. NOAA’s readings from the nearby Cincinnati airport showed temps rising slightly and the winds staying steady at 23 mph. Translated to the “new” readings, the wind-chill that day fluctuating between –37 and –23. Not cold enough to force those Bengals O-linemen to put on long sleeves, yet still, in NOAA’s opinion, “arguably the most brutal football weather in NFL history.”

Jan. 20, 2008 — Giants 23, PACKERS 20, OT, Lambeau Field.

Temp: –1°. Wind: West 12 mph. Recorded Wind-Chill: –23°.

On the way to their first Super win over the Patriots, the Giants had to vanquish Brett Favre and the Pack in their frozen Lambeau shrine. Favre played like a 78-year-old guy in search of his heated blankie rather than the 38-year-old master of the tundra that he used to be, with a horrid fourth quarter and a game-chilling interception to Corey Webster on the second play of overtime. The wind-chill for this game was listed as minus-23 but we’re not sure where that came from. The recorded temp and wind at kickoff produce a minus-19° wind-chill. Still pretty darned cold.

To bring it all home for the Jets, here are the three coldest games we know of in Green & White annals:

Dec. 26, 1993 — BUFFALO 16, Jets 14, Rich Stadium

Temp: 9°. Wind: WNW 23 mph, gusting to 30 mph. Stated Wind-Chill: –28°

This appears to be the Jets’ coldest game ever. Just ask Cary Blanchard, who tried three times to put a leather rock through the uprights, from 27, 41 and 42 yards away, for the points that might have won this game, only to have each kick pushed wide left by the Western New York winds. Again, not sure for the source of the official wind-chill. With the old formula, it would’ve been –32, with the gusts dropping it to –37. Under the new formula, the WC would have varied from –13 to –15.

Dec. 17, 1972 — Browns 26, JETS 10, Shea Stadium

Temp: 24°. Wind: WNW 40-45 mph. “Old” Wind-Chill: –15°

The season finale at Shea between the Browns, who had already clinched the AFC’s one wild-card slot, vs. the Jets, who were shooting for 8-6 but were out of the running. With Joe Namath and Al Woodall sidelined, Bob Davis started at QB and completed five of 12 passes for 44 yards (24 net after losing 20 yards on three sacks). Winning QB Mike Phipps was more effective in the gusts, although not much more accurate at 7-for-17. The new wind-chill hovered around 3° to 4°.

Dec. 23, 1989 — Bills 37, JETS 0, Meadowlands

Temp: 16°. Wind: NNW 13-20 mph. “Old” Wind-Chill: –11°

Another cold, frosty one poured against Buffalo, this one at home, and another bitter defeat, not only due to the atmosphere (new wind-chill from 1 to –2) as Joe Walton coached his final game for the Jets before being dismissed.

That regime change, to GM Dick Steinberg/HC Bruce Coslet, didn’t generate much more warmth in the ensuing four seasons. Now, after a 2012 season-finale loss to the Bills (15° wind-chill), it’s up to the semi-new regime of John Idzik/Rex Ryan to generate traction. Super Bowl XLVIII? Not even going there at this time. Let’s get through XLVII in balmy New Orleans (expected game-time weather inside the Mercedes-Benz Superdome: 70°, wind of 0 mph), then take on one day at a time, one game at a time in ’13 en route to becoming an all-weather perennial contender.


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Landry Pleased to Get the Pro Bowl Call

Posted by jlholt32 on December 27, 2012 – 6:00 pm

LaRon Landry’s phone rang Wednesday afternoon and the person trying to reach him was Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum.

“At first I didn’t answer,” Landry told newyorkjets.com. “I was like, the GM called me, so I’m trying to figure out what the hell is wrong or what kind of insight he was trying to tell me.”

Landry would return Tannenbaum’s call once he made it home from practice and was relieved to know that he wasn’t in trouble.

“I’m contemplating the whole time, like, ‘What’s going on?’ ” Landry said. “But when I got home, I heard the news and it definitely was an honor.”

The news Tannenbaum passed along to No. 30 for the Green & White was that the sixth-year pro and first-year Jet had been selected to his first Pro Bowl. Landry joins CB Antonio Cromartie as Jets reserves on the AFC roster. The game will be played Jan. 27 in Honolulu.

“It’s definitely a bittersweet kind of situation,” Landry said. “Just to have the season we’ve been having, I just wish we could have made it to the playoffs, probably made it to the championship, and I’m sorry I couldn’t contribute to get into the playoffs. It’s sweet because it’s a goal that I’ve always been looking forward to getting, being six years into it.”

Landry was the sixth overall pick in the 2007 NFL draft and spent his first five years in the league with Washington. However, his final two seasons with the Redskins he played only a combined 15 games due to his heel injury. The Jets were aware of the injury when they signed him in March and have made sure he sits out of practice one day each week. The strategy has worked to perfection as the 6”0’, 220-pounder has played at a high level while not missing a game in 2012.

“It holds a lot of weight,” Landry said of being voted into his first Pro Bowl, “and it’s very valuable to my emotions because I was coming off a two-year injury.”

Fellow safety Eric Smith said he knew when Landry first arrived in Florham Park that he had the potential to make this year’s Pro Bowl roster, adding that he’s enjoyed his time as Landry’s teammate this season.

“He’s laid-back and has a good time,” Smith said, “but when it comes gameday, he’s focused.”

Defensive coordinator Mike Pettine felt Landry was well-deserving of the recognition.

“I think LaRon really came on late in the year,” Pettine said, “when things started to click as far as the mental part of it and he was getting on the same page as everybody else.”

There wasn’t a particular moment this season when Landry said he realized he had a shot at making the Pro Bowl. He said he was only trying to be victorious with his teammates.

“It’s all about winning ballgames,” he said.

Heading into the Jets’ final game Sunday at Buffalo, the former LSU Tiger has produced four forced fumbles, two interceptions and one touchdown return. His Pro Bowl selection makes him the first Green & White safety to make the game since Erik McMillan did it 23 years ago.

“I’m just happy the way I got it with the Jets, coming off IR two years in a row,” Landry said. “It’s definitely a great accomplishment and it means a lot to me to be voted on by my peers of the NFL, coaches, and my fans.”

Landry has never previously visited Hawaii but has been told it’s a beautiful place. He’s glad he’ll be making the trip alongside Cromartie, his teammate in the secondary, and anticipates the experience to be one he’ll hold onto for a long time.

“It was definitely a goal,” he said, “and I didn’t do it alone. This organization as a whole, training staff, everybody within this organization helped me make it.”

Thursday Injury Report\

Greg McElroy’s concussion situation is detailed in our news story on head coach Rex Ryan’s decision to sit McElroy and start Mark Sanchez on Sunday at Buffalo. The good concussion news is that two Jets with head injuries, DE Muhammad Wilkerson and CB Ellis Lankster, have been passing their tests and both were limited in today’s practice. Also limited was WR Braylon Edwards, who didn’t practice Wednesday due to a hamstring/knee flareup.

Besides McElroy, KR-RB Joe McKnight (ankle/illness) didn’t participate in practice, nor did S LaRon Landry (heel), LB Bryan Thomas (chest), WR Chaz Schilens (knee), TE Dustin Keller (ankle) and CB Aaron Berry (hamstring). Berry late today was placed on injured reserve. All 15 other Jets on the injury report were full-go.

The Bills’ injury list, and in particular their “limited” section, grew today. Three DNPs from Wednesday all were limited — S Jairus Byrd (ankle), G Andy Levitre (knee) and DT Kyle Williams (ankle). Two other players were added to the list as limited in CB Justin Rogers (foot) and LB Chris White (hamstring).


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Cromartie’s Starting Feat Not Too Common in NFL

Posted by Randy Lange on December 12, 2012 – 5:18 pm

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.

Rex Cetera

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.


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Arizona, Only Arizona, Comes into Focus

Posted by Randy Lange on November 26, 2012 – 4:47 pm

Rex Ryan pointed the direction: “It’s on to Arizona.”

And the Jets head coach’s finger was pointing to the Cardinals because they’re in the exact opposite direction to the Patriots and the Thanksgiving game the Jets don’t want to see in their rear-view mirror as they put days and weeks in between that game and what remains in their 2012 regular season.

Ryan surely wasn’t selling a playoff push at today’s return-from-the-holiday news conference at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center, but he was asked if his approach for his team was to “run the table” on this season.

“Absolutely, that’s what you’re trying to do,” he said. “Our goal was to beat New England also, but that never worked out. That’s why you play. You try and win every game that you’re in.

“I’m not going to make a guarantee that we’re making the playoffs or that deal. We have to get better. It has to start right now. You can’t look down the road. Of course, you’d like to run the table, I guess that’s human nature to say, ‘Hey, I see what’s on our schedule, we have to win all five games, we have to do this, we have to do that.’ We have to win this game. I think that’s where the entire focus is.”

The shame of it is that the Jets’ final five games are table-runnable. Every opponent — Arizona, Jacksonville, Tennessee, San Diego and Buffalo — is 4-7 or worse. Their combined winning percentage is .327. While not an apples-to-apples comparison, if that strength-of-schedule held up the rest of the season, it would be the lowest SOS of the last five opponents’ records when the Jets played them in any season in franchise history.

But to think ahead at this stage for the equally 4-7 Jets right now would be foolhardy, and no one we heard in the locker room after the midday practice was going there.

Reporter John Holt dropped in on the media gathering around Yeremiah Bell’s locker. Here’s John’s report:

Bell has always considered Thanksgiving a special holiday.

But this year the holiday wasn’t as enjoyable for the Jets’ safety as the Green & White were defeated by the New England Patriots at MetLife Stadium. 

“Just from a feelings standpoint, I mean, that was about as low as you can get, especially on national television,” Bell said this afternoon after practice at the Atlantic Health Training Center. “But you know, it’s over and you just move on to the next.”

“Obviously it was an embarrassing game,” No. 37 said. “Kind of a low point, the way we went out there and kind of what we put on the field. But we know we still have five games left, so we’re more focused on the Arizona Cardinals and taking each game one game at a time.”

Although the Pats won by 30 Thursday, Bell wouldn’t concede that New England was a better team than when the teams first met in Foxboro on Oct. 21. The Jets led that game with less than two minutes to go in regulation before the Patriots sent the game to overtime for the 29-26 win.

“I think they’re a good team, no doubt about it,” the former Miami Dolphin said. “But do I think the score reflects how good they are? Maybe not. They’re good, no doubt about it. But there were some crazy things that happened in that game [Thursday].”

The craziest was three New England touchdowns in a span of 52 seconds, something Bell said he’d never witnessed.

“I’ve never seen a game and the things that happened in that game spin out of control so fast,” he said.

With five games remaining on the schedule, maybe a players-only meeting could prove beneficial.

“We’ve talked as players,” Bell said. “But at this point it’s just about doing your job. I don’t know how much more you can say it or how much more clear you can say it. It’s about guys doing their jobs and not doing the boneheaded things in games; not turning the ball over, not committing stupid penalties on defense and things like that. We just have to do more as a group.”

LaRon Landry, Bell’s safety mate, put the same sentiments in his own words:

“We have five more weeks and I’ll take it one day at a time, one practice at a time, like I’ve been doing. Go out there and give it my all and let the outcome speak for itself. I can only control what I can control.”

“There’s nothing more to say about it — we stunk it up,” LB Bryan Thomas said of their Turkey Day trimming. “Hats off to the Pats. Now we move on. Arizona’s coming in and we’re getting prepped on them, even a little bit today. Our sole focus is on this game. What would we look ahead for?”

And guard Brandon Moore uncharacteristically stepped on some reporters’ questions.

On the games down the road—

“It’s only about today for me.”

—but the possibility of running that proverbial table—

“I don’t know. I’m focused on today. I’m not going to even go there.”

That is the way it is today, will be this week. Only after Arizona will the focus shift to Jacksonville, and Tennessee will be unspoken before the Jaguars game. That’s the way it must be for this Jets team in this season.


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Forced Fumbles on Thursday Night’s Menu?

Posted by Randy Lange on November 21, 2012 – 1:35 pm

Updated, 4:01 p.m. ET

Thanksgiving is a time for turkey, but Thursday night the Jets and Patriots could give each other indigestoin by grilling up several New York strips.

Jets head coach Rex Ryan had Rob Ninkovich on his mind, if not on his tongue, earlier this week in discussing one of the many challenges the Jets will face against the Pats.

“Number 50, Ninkovich, if that’s how you pronounce his name, he’s a good player. I know him by number,” Ryan said. “He’s forced, I think, five, six fumbles this year, so they do a great job of attacking the football. I think they lead the league in forced fumbles. It’s something they’ve always done a great job of, so we have to make sure we’re protecting the ball at all costs.”

Rex’s research was right on. The Patriots lead the NFL with an impressive plus-20 turnover margin. They’ve done it in large part by leading the league unofficially with 19 forces and officially with 14 fumble recoveries. Ninkovich is tied for third individually with five forces and tied for first with three recoveries.

And Ninkovich has been a Jet-killer the past two seasons. He had the two interceptions of Mark Sanchez last year on Sunday night at MetLife Stadium, one returned for a TD, and his overtime strip sack of Sanchez provided the crushing coda to the Green & White’s 29-26 overtime loss at Gillette last month.

“Ninkovich is one of the best at it, it seems,” Sanchez said. “He’s really getting after the quarterback, he’s getting after the football, and that’s really their whole defense, that’s kind of their MO.”

He’s not alone. Two other linebackers, Brandon Spikes (4 FFs) and Jerod Mayo (3 FFs) are in the top 10, along with rookie DE Chandler Jones (3 FFs). That has the attention of Joe McKnight, who looked to be back at close to full speed from his ankle injury with several nice plays on kickoff returns and out of the backfield at St. Louis.

“From the mistakes I’ve made in the past,” he said with a small smile, “I just have to be more conscious of the ball. I’m always thinking about the ball before I even get the ball.”

He even shared his informal mental checklists with us. Before each kick return it’s something like:

1. Put my mouthpiece in.

2. High-and-tight the ball.

3. Two hands in traffic.

4. Make the kicker miss.

5. Score the touchdown.

Before he gets the ball from Sanchez on a run, he has a similar list:

1. Get the ball first.

2. Two hands in traffic.

3. Keep your feet when you run through the smoke.

4. Make the safeties miss.

5. Score the touchdown.

Needless to say, such emphasis for all the Jets’ skill players will be important tomorrow night. But they are not weaponless in this high-stakes game of strip poker, even if they were to lose a fumble. That’s because they’ve been stripping the ball away from QBs and RBs (and even kickoff returners, as New England’s Devin McCourty knows from five weeks ago) almost as well.

The Jets have 11 forced fumbles this season, tied for fourth in the NFL, and recovered 10, tied for third. And recently, they’ve been on even more of a roll. Their six FFs at Seattle and St. Louis are the most in the league the past two weeks and are the most in back-to-back games since they had seven forces on two occasions in the ’08 season.

The movers and shakers in this area have been DE Muhammad Wilkerson and S LaRon Landry. Wilkerson’s been involved in three separate fumble plays in those two games — two forces and the fumble-return TD vs. the Seahawks, and that’s the most in back-to-back games by a Jets player since Calvin Pace was involved in four fumble plays in consecutive games in ’08.

“I’ve been shouting it from the rooftops  since Mo first got here,” NT Sione Po said of Wilkerson’s recent emergence. “His IQ level is more of like a six-, seven- or eight-year player in terms of what he’s playing at, his production and what he does to help this team as a whole. It’s just phenomenal. I’m glad I’m playing on the same side of the ball he is.”

Landry, who has three forced fumbles this year, with two coming against the Rams, declined to give his secrets, other than his patented crunching hits, one of which forced rookie RB Daryl Richardson to cough up the ball Sunday and set up the Jets’ final TD under the Edward Jones Dome. But he provided some general guidelines.

“You’ve got to have a knack for that, man,” he said. “It’s a knack and an attitude. It takes some practice. Part of it is the point of attack, and you’ve got to be aware of what kind of offender you’re going up against, tight end, receiver, running back. And you’ve got to finish. You’ve got to have a knack for it.”

These longtime rivals have shown they’ve got the knack this year. Who’s better at the strip Thursday night may have a lot to say about who comes away with the victory drumstick.

Final Injury Report

The Jets held a short, closed practice at the Atlantic Health Training Center this morning.

Just before 4 p.m., both teams released their final injury reports of the week. The Jets’ injury list seems manageable with seven designated “questionable” for the game: CB Aaron Berry, NT Kenrick Ellis, WR-PR Jeremy Kerley, RB-KR Joe McKnight, NT Sione Po‘uha, LB Bart Scott and QB Tim Tebow. Tebow practiced full today with his sore ribs while the other six were limited.

The 11 probables: TE Jeff Cumberland, DT Mike DeVito, WRs Clyde Gates and Stephen Hill, S LaRon Landry, C Nick Mangold, guards Brandon Moore and Matt Slauson, LB Calvin Pace, RB Bilal Powell and QB Mark Sanchez.

The Patriots listed their three DNPs this week as out for the game: TE Rob Gronkowski (forearm/hip) as expected; DE Chandler Jones, tied for the team lead with six sacks; and G Logan Mankins.

Thirteen Pats are questionable: D-linemen Ron Brace and Trevor Scott, safeties Patrick Chung and Steve Gregory, O-linemen Dan Connolly, Sebastian Vollmer and Nick McDonald, TE Aaron Hernandez, LBs Dont’a Hightower, Brandon Spikes and Tracy White, and WRs Brandon Lloyd and Wes Welker. The three probables are WR Julian Edelman, DT Kyle Love and LB Jerod Mayo.

Happy Thanksgiving to all and one way or another we’ll all meet up at the game.


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Ryan Sticks Up for Belichick on Gronk’s Bad Break

Posted by Randy Lange on November 20, 2012 – 6:29 pm

What’s the Jets-Pats rivalry coming to?

Antonio Cromartie, for instance, today had words of praise for Tom Brady.

“The guy’s won Super Bowls. I have respect for him from that standpoint,” said Cro. “He’s a competitor. He’s going to compete. He reminds me a lot of Philip Rivers in that he’s going to trash-talk back at you.”

And then there’s Rex Ryan and Bill Belichick. When the Jets head coach called the Patriots’ head coach the best coach in football, etc., before previous matchups, some suspected Ryan of being insincere. Not true. Rex really does respect Belichick.

And today he went so far as to defend Belichick against media and fans in the Boston area who were critical of Belichick playing Rob Gronkowski on the last extra-point play of the Patriots’ 59-24 rout of the Colts on Sunday — the play on which Gronkowski suffered a forearm fracture that will keep him out of Thursday’s Jets-Pats tilt.

“Yeah, absolutely ridiculous,” Ryan, on a conference call with Patriots reporters, said of the flak Belichick had been drawing. “It was on an extra point. He’s done that probably 100 times this year for the simple fact of how many points they score. You never see that. Every single team in the league … we have D’Brickashaw Ferguson in there.

“You don’t play the game that way. It’s just an unfortunate thing. That’s just a freak deal that that would happen. But unfortunately that’s part of the game. Injuries do happen. We lose [Santonio] Holmes and [Darrelle] Revis to non-contact injuries and it’s just one of those things and it’s just unfortunate, obviously.”

Belichick seemed touched when told of Ryan’s defense at his own news conference with those same reporters.

“I didn’t hear it, so I’m just taking your word for it,” he said. “I feel like I have a good relationship with Rex. Obviously we want to beat each other. We’re in the same division and that’s just competitiveness. I see Rex from time to time during the year. Like I said, we had his brother on the staff here for four years. I’ve known his father for 30 years, whatever it is, it’s been a long time. I think that there’s a lot of…he’s a son of a coach, he’s a football guy, he’s been around it his whole life. I have, too. There are a lot of things we have in common.

“But this week,” summed up Belichick, back in character, “it’s about two teams trying to compete against each other. That’s all it is.”

The Life of a Hard Hitter

Jets S LaRon Landry was asked about the flap surrounding Ravens S Ed Reed’s helmet-to-helmet hit on Steelers WR Emmanuel Sanders on Sunday night, which initially drew him a one-game suspension and was reduced today after appeal to a $50,000 fine.

“Yeah, I heard he got his [penalty] reduced. That’s good. That’s great,” said Landry as one fellow hard hitter to another. “Being a physical football player, things like that happen. He was just trying to make a play. He’s good at what he does.

“I know Ed personally. I know that was not intentional. It’s football, man. But within this game we have rules that are going to be enforced.”

It’s not just professional courtesy. Landry and Reed are both Louisianans. In fact, they played against each other for rival high schools in the Metairie area.

Rex Cetera

The Jets made two roster moves today. They announced this morning that rookie free agent LB Marcus Dowtin had been waived. Then this afternoon, GM Mike Tannenbaum disclosed on our own “Jets Talk Live” with my partner Eric Allen that veteran WR Jason Hill had been released.

That gives the Jets three openings, since they were at 52 players on the active roster for the Rams. Expect a few signings to be announced before the Patriots game.

A perhaps interesting injury note is connected to J.Hill’s departure. He was listed on Monday’s injury report as not practicing due to a low-back injury. With that listing, the Jets had 19 players on the list. Today’s list is down to 18 after Hill’s release. The Patriots have also listed 19 injured players both days this week, and their two reports were also identical.

So for the first time this season, 32 separate injury reports in all, the Jets have listed fewer injured players than their opponents.


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Pace Clarifies Postgame Remark on Bush

Posted by Randy Lange on September 24, 2012 – 6:11 pm

Moving on to non-Island topics in today’s muted day-after-Miami, LB Calvin Pace came into the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center locker room to clear up a remark he made immediately after the 23-20 overtime win over the Dolphins regarding RB Reggie Bush, who left the game with a left knee injury late in the first half.

“Apparently I said something about Reggie Bush, trying to get him out of the game,” Pace said. “I wasn’t trying to say it as if we were trying to hurt him. I’m sad to see him get hurt. We aren’t running any kind of bounty system or anything like that, and actually, looking at the play, somebody just fell on his knee.

“I guess I need to say things in a different manner, and I’ll do a better job of it next time.”

The word from South Florida today is that Bush’s knee injury isn’t serious and that he may be able to return to action as soon as Sunday when Miami visits Arizona. That’s good news for Bush.

And perhaps not as good for the Jets, who could face him for the second time this season in five weeks at MetLife Stadium. Bush is currently No. 4 on the NFL’s rushing-leaders list this season with 302 yards on 50 carries for a gaudy 6.0-yard average. And it’s an even gaudier 6.5 yards per carry in his three career games vs. the Jets (26 carries, 169 yards).

Figuring Out OT

Sunday’s game was the Jets’ first in overtime under the NFL’s OT rules that were modified for last season. Had they moved into range for a Nick Folk field goal on their first possession and he hit it, the Dolphins and Dan Carpenter would have had the chance to tie it. Since the Jets punted on that first series, Carpenter’s kick was of course for the win.

And with that 48-yarder sailing wide left, Carpenter has begun an unusual new chapter in his career vs. the Green & White. Including Sunday’s first kick from 21 yards out, the Dolphins’ Pro Bowl kicker had made his first 14 field goals against the Jets dating to 2008. But he’ll go into the Oct. 28 rematch having missed two of his last three.

Perhaps Carpenter’s miss and the outcome of the game was preordained, since the Jets have gotten the extra session figured out lately, especially against the Aqua & Coral.

Their last OT games were the back-to-back wins at Detroit and Cleveland in the middle of the 2010 season. In fact, the Jets have won their last three overtime games and their last four on the road.

The Jets are now 19-19-2 all-time in overtime. And that includes a perfect record against their friendly AFC East rivals. They’re 5-0-1 in OT vs. the Dolphins, 2-0-1 at Miami.

Other Notes

Due to overtime, injuries and a few discussions by the replacement refs, the game lasted exactly four hours. The last four-hour game the Jets played: the 2000 Monday Night Miracle in the Meadowlands against the same Fish, a 40-37 overtime win that went 4:10 into the wee hours of Tuesday morning.

Folk’s 33-yard kick to decide things was the fourth gamewinning kick of his Jets career and his third “walk-off” FG. He’s tried six field goals in all to tie the score or put the Jets ahead in the last two minutes of a game or in overtime. He’s missed only one, a 47-yard wide-right miss that would have beaten Cleveland in ’10.

Santonio Holmes won that game vs. the Browns, and he played a big role in Sunday’s triumph. His nine receptions were the most by a Jet since Jerricho Cotchery had nine against Kansas City in 2008, and Tone’s 147 receiving yards were the most by a Jet since Cotchery’s 152 at Tennessee in ’07.

And for trivial trivia, consider that LaRon Landry’s 18-yard interception-return TD was the shortest IR TD by a Jet since Aaron Glenn returned a 13-yarder vs. Ty Detmer and Philadelphia in 1996 and the shortest on the road since Mo Lewis went 15 yards vs. Kerry Collins and Carolina in the “Shovel Pass Game” in 1995.

Late Transactions

Late today the Jets announced that LB Bryan Thomas and WR Patrick Turner — BT and PT — have been re-signed. The team also waived DT Marcus Dixon, T Dennis Landolt and CB Donnie Fletcher, who went on the Miami trip in case Ellis Lankster’s low back strain prevented him from playing. But Lankster did play, Fletcher was deactivated, and for 24 hours he’s in the NFL’s waiver system.


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Revis Declares After Practice: ‘I’m Playing Sunday’

Posted by Randy Lange on September 20, 2012 – 2:18 pm

Updated postpractice, 4:12 p.m. ET

Five words uttered at the top of Rex Ryan’s news conference today were music to Jets fans’ ears:

“Revis is cleared for contact.”

And five more words (two in a contraction) offered by Darrelle Revis at his locker after practice made the music sweeter still:

“I’ll be playing Sunday.”

However, as the Jets head coach cautioned inquiring minds in the media room here at the Atlantic Health Training Center, Revis’ availability to start on the corner at Miami on Sunday is still not a fait accompli.

“I don’t want to be saying something that isn’t true,” Ryan said when asked if being cleared for contact is the final hurdle for No. 24′s returning to action. “I’m going to be leaning on the doctors and trainers. Hopefully, he’ll play, but I guess we’ll see. … I can say I expect him to play, but again, I’m going to lean on the doctors and trainers.”

The one thing Ryan would say is that Revis would practice full today, and he did. That was the first time he practiced full since Bart Scott accidentally kicked him in the back of the helmet late in the Buffalo opener. He didn’t participate in the first two practices after suffering a mild concussion, then was limited the Friday before Pittsburgh and for Wednesday’s practice, all while trying to clear the hurdles of the NFL’s concussion protocol.

“I felt yesterday I could practice full contact, but it’s still protocol … I couldn’t hit anybody yesterday, nobody could touch me,” he said. “Usually when you’re injured, you have to wear the red jersey. I told them I didn’t want to wear it. I felt like I could play full-contact.

“But today it felt good. I actually got a little press in on some guys. … Contact actually feels good today, hitting guys and guys hitting you back.”

Ryan wasn’t going to give a premature game status for Revis, but he did allow that he’s happy that he’d been cleared for contact.

“Without question I’m happy about that, for his sake,” the coach said. “He loves to play, and he’s healthy. I think that’s a big thing. If he’s not the premier defensive player in the league, he’s certainly up there, and having him, as a player, as a player, you’re happy for that also.”

The Dolphins’ happiness was perhaps in inverse proportion to the Jets’. As rookie QB Ryan Tannehill said Wednesday about the prospect of making his first visit to Revis Island: “He’s a great player. You can’t put it any other way. He has good ball skills, good speed, plays tight coverage, man-to-man pretty much the whole game. He’s an All-Pro corner for a reason. We have to have a game plan for it and find ways to attack him.”

Revis was asked if he could be a boost to the Jets’ defense for the important divisional matchup.

“I’m just one guy,” he said. “We have tremendous guys there on defense. I’m just happy to be back. I’m ready to do my job and that’s to compete and play.”

The Rest of the I-Reports

Other tentative pluses for the Jets’ injury report: TE Dustin Keller (hamstring) and S Eric Smith (hip/knee), both not participating yesterday, were limited in today’s practice.

On the tentative minus side, the Jets added one more player to their now 20-player list and downgraded another.

Rex said CB Ellis Lankster “has a low back issue. He hurt it during practice yesterday. So we’ll keep him out of practice and hopefully get him back later in the week.” Lankster, who saw extended action as the Jets’ third DB at Pittsburgh, was limited Wednesday by the mid-practice back strain and is a DNP today.

Rookie DT Quinton Coples (illness) also didn’t participating today. Neither did FB John Conner (knee), LB Bryan Thomas (hamstring) and S LaRon Landry, who’s been sidelined for the third Thursday this season to help his ongoing recovery from his heel issue.

The Dolphins have added starting OLB Kevin Burnett (foot) to their list as not participating today. Also, WR Marlon Moore (hamstring) was downgraded from limited to DNP. The rest of their 10-man report remains the same as the day before.

Heavy Hitters

LaRon Landry followed up his late hit out of bounds on C.J. Spiller in the opener (offset by a Bills holding) with calls of a late hit on Emmanuel Sanders and a horsecollar tackle on Antonio Brown on Sunday.

Ryan said it’s “human nature” for officials to want to keep on eye on Landry during games, but the coach said while his veteran safety hits hard, he hits legal.

“I love the fact that LaRon’s got a reputation as a huge hitter,” he said. “There’s not anybody who’s going to say he’s not a clean player. He’s a clean player. But he’s a hitter. Yeremiah Bell is a hitter, too, but they’re going to do it within the rules.”

Rex cited LB Calvin Pace as an example of that as well, when he had several hard but textbook and legal hits of Ryan Fitzpatrick in the opener.

“You can tell our players are very mindful of that,” he said of hitting with their shoulders and not leading with their helmets. “We’re trying to be as physical a team as we can with in the confinements of the rules. We’re not trying to injure anybody, but we’re trying to hit and be physical.”

Another Long Conversion

A Revis return wouldn’t hurt the Jets defense, which considers itself better than many of its mid-to-low NFL rankings after two weeks of games. One thing the “D” really want to avoid is what happened on the Ben Roethlisberger-to-Mike Wallace touchdown pass in front of CB Antonio Cromartie: opponents’ third-and-long conversions. The 37-yard TD strike, after all, came on third-and-16.

Last year you’ll recall the Jets allowed eight conversions on third or fourth down with 11-plus yards to go. In 2010 they allowed 13 such plays (including two on Roethlisberger passes and one on a Big Ben run in the two meetings with the Steelers). That’s the most allowed in back-to-back seasons since the 22 third/fourth-and-long conversions in 1979-80 (19 in ’79 alone). In the 20 seasons from 1980-2009, the Jets allowed about six of those conversions a season, about the same rate as the Jets offense converted.

Talk about your backbreaking plays. Cutting way back on these unlikely chain-movers would do a lot to help the Jets defense return to top-10 form.


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Cromartie, Bellore (!) Graze with the White Shirts

Posted by Randy Lange on August 14, 2012 – 2:39 pm

It’s not anything like the great Serengeti wildebeest migration, but at today’s SUNY Cortland training camp practice, two defensive players found their way across the trench to the offensive side of the Jets ecosystem.

One we knew about. Antonio Cromartie lined up at wide receiver in 7-on-7 drills again, and this time he caught his first touchdown of camp, from third QB Greg McElroy.

“I’m just trying to get the technique part down and have fun with it,” the cornerback said about getting some times at wideout. “I’m dead serious. This is something I want to do, play both ways.”

As to the playful charge of “traitor” leveled at Cro by LB Bart Scott during the practice, he at first plead not guilty, then changed his plea.

“I feel like I’m a traitor for today,” he said, “but I can take it.”

The other defender who announced his presence on the other side of the ball when his green jersey showed up among the white offensive jerseys during red zone drills was LB Nick Bellore.

“Yes, we have been working Nick some at fullback,” head coach Rex Ryan said at his midday news conference. “He’s been staying after practice working with [RBs coach] Anthony Lynn. Sometimes you have to find depth in different ways. The same way with Cro at wide receiver. If you go into games and somebody goes down, you need to plug somebody in.”

LaRon’s Getting LaReady

Ryan said S LaRon Landry and his feet are feeling so good these days that the Jets’ trainers and doctors have accelerated his practice “pitch count.”

“We changed his schedule a little bit,” the coach said. “He practiced today when initially he would have been rehabbing again. We’re still taking care of him, but he’s feeling really good and he’s progressing along really nice.”

Landry seconded that medical opinion.

“Physically, I feel fine, I feel ready,” he said. “Each and every day I’m out there ready to go. I try to set the bar high. I’m my worst critic. I really grade myself tough.”

Next test: Well, a few more days of practice, then on to Saturday night against the Giants, whom he’s no stranger to. “I played those guys for five years,” said the former Redskin. “I know ‘em like the back of my hand. So I’m looking forward to it.”

Practice Notes

McElroy had some other nice successes this morning, hitting TE Jeff Cumberland with a picturesque over-the-shoulder pass past DB Donnie Fletcher for a TD, then finding Josh Baker with a tight-window connection past rookie LB Demario Davis. … Before those completions, though, a McElroy pass was batted in the air and reeled in by CB Isaiah Trufant for the interception. … Baker also nabbed a Mark Sanchez pass past Calvin Pace for a left-sideline score.

Sanchez scrambled and found RB Bilal Powell just over the goal line in red zone drills and yelled, “Touchdown!” Other than that, the defense had a strong final period keeping the “O” out of the end zone. … LB David Harris continued his strong camp of pass coverage with a few more PDs.

Today’s attendance: 2,230. Many of the fans were there to help Tim Tebow celebrate his 25th birthday. … Wednesday’s 8 a.m. practice will be the final open practice in Cortland. The Jets will have a closed workout Thursday, have “rookie night” festivities later, then head south Friday morning for North Jersey. They’ll host the Giants at MetLife Stadium on Saturday night, then next week will wrap up the training camp phase of the preseason with open practices at MetLife on Tuesday night and at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Complex on Thursday and Friday mornings, Aug. 23-24.


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