This is a tough day for us who work at the Atlantic Health Training Center. It’s another one of those days that comes around every so often before or after New Year’s Day on which the Jets begin to tear down and build back up again.
I’d been a part of these periods on the outside as a beatwriter in 1995 (Pete Carroll out), ’97 (Rich Kotite out), ’01 (Bill Parcells regime comes to an end) and ’06 — Herm Edwards to KC, Terry Bradway back to scouting, Mike Tannenbaum ascending to the GM’s office.
And today Mike T is cleaning out that office after owner Woody Johnson said he won’t be back for the ’13 season.
Here is Tannenbaum’s statement to the media, issued a short while ago this afternoon:
I want to thank Woody and his entire family for giving me the opportunity of a lifetime — serving as the General Manager of the New York Jets for seven years.
I am incredibly grateful to have been a part of rebuilding a winning tradition for Jets fans over the past 15 years. My days with Coach Parcells through my years as General Manager of the team that went to back-to-back AFC Championship games have been the fulfillment of a dream I have had since I was a little kid and I’ll always be grateful to Woody, the two head coaches, Rex and Eric, as well as all of the players, staff and the entire organization for this opportunity.
While of course it is disappointing to not achieve the ultimate goal of winning a championship, I am incredibly proud of our overall winning record and success. I feel very fortunate to have been the general manager who drafted cornerstone players during a period that yielded four playoff victories and 22 Pro Bowl appearances.
I appreciate that it is rare for someone to stay with one organization with such a wide range of responsibilities for so many years. My time with the Jets will always be special to me and my family and it has prepared me well for whatever comes next.
There are champions on this team that haven’t been crowned yet. I am confident that the base we’ve established will allow the New York Jets to continue a winning tradition for years to come and I wish everyone in the organization the best of luck.
As D’Brickashaw Ferguson said today in the locker room, “What happens now? I’ve only been here under one GM.” I could say the same: I’ve only been a Jets employee under one GM, who had a hand in welcoming me to the organization back in March 2007. But I know what I’ll do: More of what I’ve been doing the past six seasons, which is chronicling the people in the pads and the people upstairs who keep trying to rally all the champions on each team to bring home another championship trophy.
There were reasons for Johnson to make a forceful move concerning his GM’s office with an eye on the immediate future. In seeing certain developments over the past year or two, the owner’s in line with the many we’ve heard from over that span. Fans, beat reporters and columnists have all formed and expressed strong opinions about Tannenbaum’s seven-year tenure, and I won’t add to them now. But I do feel Mike should leave with a few positive words about his years on the hot seat.
For a while it looked like he might be the new model for NFL general managers of the new millennium. His creative salary cap management was often stunning, as were some of his draft-day trades. As assistant GM, he signed and brought in “the Four Aces” on time to 2000 training camp. His first two drafts as GM in ’06-07, the Jets picked Pro Bowlers Ferguson, Nick Mangold and Darrelle Revis and a PB-caliber LB in David Harris. At the start of the ’11 camp, he was able to keep Harris in the fold as the last of the re-signed “Core Four.”
There were some trades and signings and non-signings that I as a fan of the team wished Mike T didn’t make, but that’s been the great thing about working for T and Woody Johnson, where a diversity of opinions was welcomed, from inside and especially from outside.
On a personal note, that was the best part of coming to work for the Jets. Tannenbaum and Eric Mangini had to sign off on the decision by then-EVP Matt Higgins and then-SVP Bob Parente to recommend bringing me, a former beatwriter and critic of the team, on board in ’07. Maybe T swallowed hard once or twice, but he welcomed me to the team from the start and never once suggested we take a particular point of view on newyorkjets.com. He accepted the consequences of making the Jets one of the most open teams in pro sports.
Revis was asked in today’s “baggie day” locker room session about Tannenbaum’s dismissal. At first he sounded hardened to the situation, but he quickly segued to the humanity of a departing leader.
“Everybody gets evaluated. In this business we get evaluated every week. It’s just the business side of it,” Revis began. “He did great things here for the last couple of years. It is really sad. You do not want to see anyone get fired or any players getting released in this manner but it happened. He had a great speech that he wrote in the team meeting. Guys clapped for him afterwards and felt sorry for him.”
Mike also crafted the statement above, which included unconditional thanks to the man who decided to end his tenure. And around the time media members were reading that first graph, Tannenbaum went from his second-floor office to the first-floor media room not to do a formal interview with the beats — that would have to wait for another day — but to thank the reporters for their coverage of him and his team ever since he arrived as Parcells’ “cap guy” back in ’97.
Does all that make Mike Tannenbaum a great GM who was done wrong today? No. As Laveranues Coles, T’s third-round pick in that famed 2000 draft made popular around Jets locker rooms, “It is what it is.” Tannenbaum is what he is, a football administrator who made some great moves and some moves that didn’t work out. He was dismissed on “Black Monday” but he’ll move forward, find a new job and start a new legacy. And we wish him the best.
Tags: Bill Parcells, Eric Mangini, Laveranues Coles, Mike Tannenbaum, Woody Johnson
Posted in Randy Lange | 179 Comments »
Last week, in Tone’s Flags Drawn, Chapter 1, we examined the four penalties Santonio Holmes forced the Steelers into as they tried to cover him at Heinz Field, and how rare that accomplishment was in recent Jets history.
It’s so rare that in Miami, Holmes did it again. A pass interference against CB Nolan Carroll and an illegal contact and a PI against Richard Marshall were marked off for first downs. And a hold on Marshall was declined, because of course it came on Tone’s 38-yard hookup with Mark Sanchez that set up Nick Folk’s winning field goal.
Holmes thought about it when asked how to explain this case of yellow fever he’s been inducing in opposing DBs, and he came up with a few thoughts.
“It’s Coach Sanjay [Lal] telling me to play fast,” he said. “He studied a lot of film on me, from the moment he walked in, and that’s all we’ve been talking about: How can Number 10 play faster? I think just playing faster and being smarter, knowing I have an advantage with my stride length, my speed, my quickness, my ability to catch on these defensive backs. These guys are going to play to their advantage. I would rather take the penalty if I was a defensive back than to give up a big play by Number 10.”
Needless to say, Number 10 would prefer the catch over the flag.
“It’s really messing with my catches, I can honestly say that. It’s keeping them down by having the penalties drawn,” he said. “If we can keep stats on penalties per game per player, I think those yards would add up. We can add them to our receiving yards. They really do count.”
That’s why we’ve been counting the penalties drawn against the Jets as well as those caused by the Green & White since the mid-Nineties. These numbers are not official, since the Elias Sports Bureau only recently has been even unofficially charting penalties by individual players. But what Holmes has done in three games, in addition to his nine catches for 147 yards vs. the Dolphins, has been stunning.
He already has forced eight penalties this season (seven marked off). The only Jets wideouts who forced eight penalties in an entire season since ’95 are Keyshawn Johnson (13, 1999), Wayne Chrebet (14, 2000), Laveranues Coles (eight in 2005, 10 with one coming in the playoffs in 2006), Plaxico Burress (eight last season), and Holmes (10 for 120 yards last season).
So in his three Jets seasons, Holmes has coaxed 24 flags. And by maintaining his pace of the first three games, he should end up with, oh, 42 or 43 penalties drawn this year.
But then again, with the NFL referees replacing the replacement officials this week, perhaps Tone’s flags will taper off. But Santonio’s fine either way.
“It really doesn’t make a difference who’s out there calling it,” he said. “We could have guys off the streets just come in and call fouls on the football field. It’s according to what we do and how well we execute. For me as a receiver, my job is to continue getting open and drawing penalties, no matter what.”
So far, so good.
McKnight’s Still Wanted at RB
Head coach Rex Ryan let fans — and Joe McKnight — know today that McKnight’s days on offense are not over, despite the concentration this week on his new role in the secondary.
“I think Joe misunderstood,” Ryan said at his midday news conference at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. “He still has a role on offense. It’s not that he’s being forgotten as a running back. I want him to learn the coverages and things like that on defense because the way the league is now, you almost can’t have enough corners. They’re going four or five wide receivers.
“From a talent and physical standpoint he can definitely match up. He has some natural instincts. When we used to put him on the scout team, that’s what we saw. I’m putting him in defensive meetings right now because I think he needs that. He has enough grasp on the offense. We’re going to work him on defense and he still will have a role on offense.
Thursday Injury Reports
The Jets’ injury report grew by one to 20 today with the addition of G Matt Slauson (knee), but Slauson practiced full. LB Bart Scott was elevated from not participating Wednesday to limited participation today. So was S Eric Smith (hip/ankle), while S LaRon Landry did his usual Thursday deal, sitting out practice to help keep his heel at its so far optimum level.
The Jets could get one offensive weapon back for San Francisco on Sunday but lose one as well. TE Dustin Keller (hamstring) was limited for the second day this week. “Hopefully, Dustin will be out there this week,” said Ryan. “I assume he will be.”
But rookie WR Stephen Hill’s aching hamstring, which resurfaced late in Miami, has kept him sidelined this week and could keep him out of the 49ers game.
The Niners’ five-player I-report was identical to Wednesday’s report. Isaac Sopoaga (ankle/knee), their starting NT, remained a DNP while WR Ted Ginn (ankle) and RB Brandon Jacobs (knee) were limited.
Tags: Dustin Keller, joe McKnight, Keyshawn Johnson, Laveranues Coles, Matt Slauson, Rex Ryan, Santonio Holmes, Stephen Hill, Wayne Chrebet
Posted in Randy Lange | 27 Comments »
Garrett McIntyre knows his pelt in the twos-vs.-twos red zone period at this morning Jets training camp practice is not one to hang on his wall. But he still took a little satisfaction out of “sacking” Tim Tebow in the drill.
“I actually had a chance to sack Tim in the game last year — a real chance — and he made me look bad,” the second-year linebacker said, referring to last year’s 17-13 loss in Denver. “So I know his ability to make people miss. He’s strong. Anytime you can get your hands on him, you feel good, but it’s got to be a collective defensive thing, it’s not one guy, because he’ll make one guy miss.”
McIntyre didn’t miss this time. The second defensive front got good pressure and forced No. 15 to improvise, right into the arms of No. 50, who was coming off the defense’s right edge and pushing back LT Austin Howard.
“It’s just understanding the rush lanes,” Mac said, “knowing that Tebow’s going to scramble a lot and you can’t just run up the field on him. Our goal as a front, especially if we’re rushing four, is to contain him, which is not easy. I just came under. I don’t know who was on the other side but they did a good job of flushing back to me.”
Later in that same drive, McIntyre put a lick on Terrance Ganaway that knocked the rookie RB to the grass. The hit looked and no doubt felt good but drew a mild rebuke from head coach Rex Ryan, since this was not a full-tackling drill.
“You’ve got to treat each other well,” he said. “I was kind of off balance a little bit so I happened to fall on him. We like to be physical on this side of the ball, but we also like to take care of the other guys. We’re teammates, so that’s why I’m looking forward to Cincinnati.”
Some might think McIntyre’s a bubble ‘backer but he rightly feels a lot more comfortable this summer than he did last year, when he was a first-year NFL player who had been to three NFL camps and played for two years with the Arena League’s SabreCats and two years with the CFL’s Hamilton Tiger Cats.
“That probably would’ve been my last shot with the NFL. I would’ve gone back to Canada. I had a job waiting for me up there,” he said. “Now, I do, I believe I belong in this league. I just had to get in first. That’s the hardest part, especially the second time. The best chance you have is coming right out of college, then very rarely you get opportunities after that. So I’m blessed to just have gotten an opportunity and now I’m going to make the best out of it.”
Tempo and Soft Tissue
Santonio Holmes was the latest Jet — in fact their latest WR — who has had to sit out some reps. A little gimpy in previous days. Holmes was on the sideline for the first offense’s two-minute drill at the end of practice.
“Santonio was just one of those soft-tissue type of things,” said head coach Rex Ryan at today’s midday news conference. “That’s why it’s fortunate. They’re not major injuries. But those things keep adding up and we’re trying to figure out why.”
There have been more hamstring/calf-type pulls this year than in previous summers, so this morning’s return after Tuesday’s off-day began with a 20-minute stretching period before practice. Ryan and OC Tony Sparano have talked about the wideouts, who’ve been the hardest-tweaked, and one possible reason for the minor injuries is Sparano’s up-tempo approach, which often this camp has resulted in the Jets getting in twice as many plays in a particular period as they had originally scripted it for.
“I’m not saying anything against what we did in the past, but we were not even close to this kind of tempo,” Ryan said. “But this is who we are offensively, and that’s not going to change. We’re not slowing up. This isn’t just great for our offense but it’s great for our defense. A lot of no-huddle teams gain an advantage because the other teams aren’t working at that level. And I think we are.”
Vlad Ducasse was another injury concern, but the third-year man said he feels fine after playing LG, hitting the turf, then limping off. Ducasse also played a few reps at RG for the first time this camp, part of the Ryan/Tony Sparano/Dave DeGuglielmo push to get their O-linemen familiar with multiple positions.
In general Vlad says camp is going well, including GM Mike Tannenbaum’s description of him as “a young, ascending player.” “It always gives you confidence every time they talk positively about you. It makes you want to push yourself to get better every day,” he said. “This year I put a lot of pressure on myself to show something, so we’ll see.”
Could this be one of the key days in the kicking competition? For the in-practice FG period, Nick Folk hit from 35, 37, 44 and 46, Josh Brown from 39, 41, 47 and 49. Then Folk nailed a 51-yarder but Brown banged his 51-yarder high off the right upright. Then in the two-minute period, Mark Sanchez rescued his drive with a third-and-long completion to Dustin Keller to set up a Folk 51-yard “game-winner,” which he drove through. … Antonio Allen had his third INT in two practices on an off-line fade into the end zone from Tim Tebow for Dexter Jackson.
Veteran reporters and fans who followed the Jets more than a decade ago could be forgiven if they had a flashback this morning. On the sidelines and then walking off in close proximity to each other today were Aaron Glenn and Laveranues Coles. Glenn, the Jets’ Pro Bowl CB, is now a pro personnel assistant with the Jets. Coles, the 459-catch WR for the Green & White, is a pro personnel intern this summer. The two went up against each other during the ’00 and ’01 training camps back at Hofstra University.
S Tracy Wilson was waived this morning. The roster is now at 86 players. … Ryan said Saturday night’s Green & White scrimmage will be held for the first time in Cortland Stadium, on the school’s new turf field. “We’re going to put it in the stadium and the fans will get a better view,” Ryan said. “In the past we held these on the grass fields, but now the turf field’s so nice that we think we can do that. I think it’ll be a good experience for the fans and it’ll be a great experience for us.” … Today’s attendance: 2,361.
Tags: Aaron Glenn, Antonio Allen, Garrett McIntyre, Josh Brown, Laveranues Coles, Nick Folk, Rex Ryan, SUNY Cortland, Terrance Ganaway, Tim Tebow, training camp
Posted in Randy Lange | 44 Comments »
The one-line transaction this morning read:
LB Mike Vrabel announced his retirement to become linebackers coach at Ohio State.
And Jets fans might be tempted to say “good riddance.”
All in jest, of course. But green-clad fanatics were none too jovial about the present they received on the 13th day of Christmas in 2005, when Vrabel, then a versatile starting linebacker for the Patriots, turned into an offensive red zone monster against the Jets in that Dec. 26 Monday night affair.
Lining up at tight end, Vrabel caught a pair of touchdown passes from Tom Brady. His first, 9:33 into the game, put New England ahead, 7-0. His second gave the Pats a 14-7 lead they never lost in their 31-21 win over the Jets.
Not surprisingly, no other primarily defensive player has ever scored two offensive touchdowns in his entire career against the Jets. And Vrabel turned in his two in a span of 14:22 in the first half, a nice set of bookends to go with his team-high six tackles and one sack of Jets starter Brooks Bollinger that night.
The game was oddly historic in Jets and NFL history for a few other reasons. As many will remember, it was the last Monday Night Football telecast by ABC before handing that franchise over to ESPN in 2006. Talk about your bookends — ABC debuted MNF when the Jets and Joe Namath took on and lost to the Browns, also by 31-21, back on Sept. 21, 1970.
Then there was Vinny Testaverde’s contribution to the evening. Vinny famously climbed off his Long Island couch for a classic return as the Jets starter after the season-ending injuries to Chad Pennington and Jay Fiedler and provided some early highlights, but soon he was showing his age, suffered a ding or two himself, and had settled back on the depth chart as Bollinger showed a little late promise.
Which caused some eyebrows to arch when coach Herm Edwards said Testaverde would see some action in the final two games of the Jets’ 4-12 campaign. “I think it’s important,” Coach Herm said at the time, “for a lot of reasons.”
One reason was for the record books. If Testaverde, who had thrown no TDs that season, found just one receiver for a score, he’d hold the mark for the most consecutive seasons with a touchdown pass in NFL history. He was tied at the time at 18 straight seasons with Fran Tarkenton (1961-78).
“Just Herm mentioning it says a lot,” Testaverde said during the week of the PT offer. “I’d love to get in there, don’t get me wrong. But if it doesn’t happen, I’m OK with that, too.”
It did happen. No. 16 came back on the field for the Green & White’s final series, and with 2:10 left, on his final play as a Jet, Testaverde hooked up with Laveranues Coles from 27 yards to set the record at 19 straight seasons. (Which he then extended to 21 seasons with one TD pass for the Patriots in ’06 and five for the Panthers in ’07.)
Back to Vrabel, who triggered this funky trip down memory lane. He played 17 games against the Jets as a Patriot from 2001-08 (just one with the Steelers in ’00 and none with the Chiefs in ’09-10). In those games, he had 81 tackles, 7.5 sacks, one interception and two forced fumbles, and the Pats went 13-4 against the Jets. Thus we impersonate Michael Kay and say to Vrabel, “See Ya!”
But if he can coach up a ‘backer or two at The Ohio State University that can help the Jets out in the coming years, well, all will be forgiven. Good luck, Mike.
Tags: Brooks Bollinger, Laveranues Coles, Mike Vrabel, Monday Night Football, Ohio State, Tom Brady, Vinny Testaverde
Posted in Randy Lange | 20 Comments »
NFL schedule announcement week is always an interesting time. Now we all get to weigh in on why the Jets’ schedule will be or won’t be good for business in the fall.
Before getting into one area of concern, I’d like to tip my cap to the league’s schedulemakers. They do a great job of wrestling this 17-week monster to the ground every year. There are always macro, league-wide issues that need to be addressed, as well as the micro desires that each team submits for consideration each year. The scheduling team does a neat job and its handiwork is on display every April at this time.
But of course not everything is perfect.
What’s bothering me? Actually, not the Jets’ three-game road trip to Oakland, Baltimore and New England in Weeks 3-5. That’s not ideal and the NFL tries to avoid those three-weeks-of-travel stretches. Yet every season since 2000 there has been at least one team with a three-game road trip. The eight trips scheduled in ’00 are the most in that span.
As we mentioned Tuesday, the Jets haven’t had a scheduled regular-season three-game trip since the end of the 1982 season. But they’re not the only team being told to hit the road this year — six other teams also received three-game trips in the just released schedule.
No, that one I can live with. But the schedule wrinkle I’m not fond of occurs in Weeks 10 and 11 in November. That’s the Sunday night home game against the Patriots followed by the Thursday night NFL Network game at Denver.
My complaint is not with second-half-of-the-season Thursday night games in general. They are what they are, as Laveranues Coles might say. They’ve been part of the NFL’s primetime landscape since 2006 and they appear to be here to stay.
It’s just that reducing a team’s prep time from the usual six days down to three days is tough enough on the mind and the body. And now the league has told the Jets, “You’re not even going to get Sunday night off before this year’s Thursday game. You’re going to play your archrivals the Patriots on Sunday night, then you’re going to get Monday and Tuesday to heal and prepare for the Broncos, then you’re going to get on a five-hour plane ride to Denver on Wednesday.”
This is not something that I recall ever being done to an NFL team since before the league did away with four-game road trips in the mid-Seventies. Since 2006, only one team has been scheduled at home on Sunday night and then on the road on Thursday night. That was Denver in 2006, which lost to San Diego, then lost at Kansas City. And only one team has been scheduled to fly west two time zones for a second-half Thursday night game. That was Chicago in 2009, which lost to Arizona, then lost at San Francisco.
Never before has a team been scheduled to play on Sunday night, then fly west two time zones to play on Thursday night.
The thing the Jets have going in this history-making stretch is Rex Ryan. The head coach and his staff of coaches, trainers and doctors have devised a detailed approach to faraway games. And when the Rex Jets have played a game six days or fewer after another game, they are 6-2 (including 2-0 on Thursday nights, in Toronto vs. the Bills in ’09 and home vs. the Bengals last Thanksgiving night).
Plus Ryan has the quintessential positive coach’s spin about these short weeks. As he told reporters yesterday: “Like I always say about those Thursday games, they’re great as long as you win, because you can almost treat it like a little mini-bye after that.”
More Schedule Trivial Pursuit
The Jets open with a home game (vs. Dallas on Sept. 11) for the second consecutive season, the first time that’s happened since 1979-80. … With their three Sunday night games, that means the Jets will be shown on NBC three times. That’s the most times they’ve appeared on the Peacock Network in one season since it declined to renew its rights for the AFC games following the 1997 season. … The Jets are scheduled to play 10 primetime games in 2010 and ’11. That’s as many as in their previous six seasons combined. … The bunching of three of their four NFC East foes in December reminds us that this is the year the Jets must do something about their record against that division. Since the realignment in 2002, the Jets have gone 0-8 against the NFC East.
Pereira’s Winning Image
Here’s a big, exploding fist bump to New York Jets team photographer Al Pereira, who received honorable mention for one of his photos in the prestigious annual Pro Football Hall of Fame Photo Contest.
The contest winners were announced today and the only Jets photo of the 16 combined that were singled out in the “action” and “feature” categories was the shot snapped by Al P in the visitors’ locker room at Invesco Field at Mile High. The shot, titled “Pregame Prep,” shows James Ihedigbo alone in front of a bathroom mirror, wearing uniform, headphones and game face, and applying eyeblack.
The honored image will be a part of our Al-Cove photo slideshow that we’ll post on newyorkjets.com later this week.
Tags: 2011 schedule, Al Pereira, Laveranues Coles, Rex Ryan
Posted in Randy Lange | 14 Comments »
Laveranues Coles’ return to the Jets was short, James Ihedigbo might be out for a while and Nick Folk isn’t going anywhere. That was the news Rex Ryan delivered today to the media as the Jets began to move forward following their 45-3 loss to the Patriots Monday night in Foxboro, Mass.
Coles, who was released this summer after attempting a Green & White comeback, officially signed a contract on Saturday and traveled with the team to New England. He was inactive for the Jets’ divisional clash and Ihedigbo’s health status means it’s only a matter of time before he’ll be released.
“We lost a Jet [S Jim Leonhard] and I wanted to bring a Jet in at that time,” said Ryan of the weekend addition of the 32-year-old Coles. “I would have liked to have had LC here. But now we’re going to have to let him go because of the fact our safety situation is the way it is. The uncertainty of Dig being out, we’ll probably have to bring a safety in.”
After losing Leonhard in Friday’s practice to a season-ending fractured tibia, the Jets’ safety numbers continued to diminish in Week 13 because the hard-hitting Ihedigbo injured both his MCL and ankle on a long Patriots pass play midway through the third quarter.
”Obviously you don’t feel real good about it, but I don’t know the extent [of the injury] right now,” said Ryan as Ihedigbo was to get an MRI to determine his condition.
The 6’1”, 214-pound Ihedigbo has racked up three sacks this season and he is one of Mike Westhoff’s most valuable performers. His 22 special-teams stops rank second on the club and he paced the Jets with 26 ST tackles in 2009.
Folk, who badly mis-hit a 53-yard field goal in the opening quarter against the Pats, will remain the Jets’ kicker heading into Week 14. Folk has now converted on 72 percent of his field goal attempts (23 of 32) this season but has hit on just seven of his past 13 overall.
“You always get the spot where you feel comfortable that he can make the kick. He never missed a kick in warmups,” said Ryan, who also called Folk “our guy.” Folk actually nailed a 58-yarder into that same end in pregame.
“Was that a long field goal? Absolutely. We did think we had the wind at our back. You know, he just mis-hit it. We’re obviously not going to attempt a kick we don’t think we’re going a make.”
The 9-3 Jets have a short week to get the Patriots loss behind them as they’re still very much in the race for a division title and they’re also on the inside track for a playoff berth.
“Everything we talked about is still attainable. We have a quarter of our season left. So we’re far from pressing the panic button,” said Ryan. “Did we play terrible? Absolutely. Was it the worst performance I’ve ever been around? Yup, sure was. You have to give the opponents credit. They went out and earned it. They did everything right — everything.”
The 6-6 Dolphins will be in town Sunday as the Jets look to sweep their division rivals and move to 4-1 in the AFCE.
“They’re coming in here with slim playoff chances. They’ve got to beat us,” Ryan said. “It’s as simple as that. Right now we’re three games up on them with a win over them. You guys know better than I do — I’m not good in playoff scenarios. But I know one thing: We’re going to get their best shot.”
The Jets are now 1-3 against teams with over-.500 records and they’re 8-0 against clubs either at .500, such as Miami, or below.
“As long as I’ve been in the league, they always say you win the games you’re supposed to win and you split with the really good teams. That generally will get you — it’s a formula — to win 12 games. That’s always been a formula,” said Ryan.
The Jets still have a shot at 12 or even 13 wins, but they have to get to No. 10 first against the Dolphins.
Tags: James Ihedigbo, Laveranues Coles, New England Patriots, Nick Folk, Rex Ryan
Posted in Eric Allen | 53 Comments »
The hype is almost over. In a little less than an hour it’ll be time for the Jets and Patriots to play.
Gillette Stadium is starting to fill up. Plenty of ESPN people, beat reporters and columnists for the two teams and a number of national media got here early after traversing the traffic-choked Route 1 more slowly than usual. And now the gates have opened and the 68,756 fans (at least that’s been the announced number of tickets sold for each of the last seven Jets-Pats games up here) have begun arriving and preparing to give the Jets an earful.
That’s the kind of frenzy a pair of 9-2 teams in the same division can whip up around the NFL.
There could be a meteorological frenzy at Gillette tonight as well. The weather forecast from the kickoff of around 8:38 p.m. EST on could play havoc with quarterbacks, receivers, kickers and returners. Temps will be heading toward the mid-20s and the winds will rise to around 18 mph with gusts of 34 mph, according to Accuweather. The winds are already rippling the orange wind strips and shaking the yellow uprights on the goalposts at both end zones.
Who will that hurt more? The Jets’ connections of Mark Sanchez to Santonio Holmes and Braylon Edwards? Or accurate, pass-heavy Tom Brady throwing to Wes Welker, Danny Woodhead and rookie tight ends Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski. Will it do in Jets kickers Steve Weatherford and Nick Folk more, or Patriots footmen Zoltan Mesko and Shayne Graham?
It could be a night for some kick-blocking, especially when it comes to the Jets rushing Mesko, the Pats’ rookie punter. The Green & White almost rejected a Mesko kick in Game 2 at New Meadowlands Stadium, and their last two blocked-punt-return TDs have both come up here at Gillette: Brad Smith off of Eric Smith’s block of Chris Hanson last year, and David Bowens’ return of his own block, also of Hanson, in the sleet of ’07.
One Jets receiver who won’t be affected by the conditions is Laveranues Coles. Just signed Sunday to take the roster spot vacated with S Jim Leonhard’s move to IR, Coles will not start his third (or is it his fourth?) stint as a Jet. He has been deactivated for the game.
(Update, 8 p.m.: But Coles did make a contribution. Right before the Jets broke up into ranks and files for their pregame stretching, they gathered as a team as always in the end zone. And who should give them a pregame message but L.C. )
The rest of the Jets inactives: LB Jamaal Westerman, OL Vlad Ducasse, TEs Matt Mulligan and Jeff Cumberland, and D-linemen Marcus Dixon and Matt Kroul. Third QB again is Kellen Clemens.
The Jets also announced two starting lineup changes. One as expected is Eric Smith for Leonhard. The other is Holmes for Jerricho Cotchery, who’s active after sitting out two-plus games with the groin tear he suffered on that magnificent catch over the middle at Cleveland.
Also active for the first time in a few weeks are CB Dwight Lowery and CB-ST Marquice Cole.
Also at stake are a pair of streaks that both can’t coexist after tonight. The Jets have won their last eight regular-season road games – a franchise record – while the Patriots have won their last 25 RS home games with Tom Brady as their QB. The Pats’ last home loss with Brady at the controls came in that 17-14 verdict in Game 10 in 2006. That was played in the old muddy grass of Gillette. The next game the Patriots began their artificial-surface era at their home in the Massachusetts countryside.
Update, 7:46 p.m.: Here are the New England inactives: WR Taylor Price, RB Thomas Clayton, CB Jonathan Wilhite, OL Rich Ohrnberger, T Mark LeVoir, and D-linemen Myron Pryor, Eric Moore and Mike Wright. Clayton and Moore were just signed this week. The Pats have designated no third QB.
The Jets are wearing their white jerseys and white pants for tonight’s steel-cage match. They are 6-1 in double whites this year (only loss was the season opener to Baltimore) and, 12-3 in w/w under head coach Rex Ryan. But they’re 0-3 in their last three games here in white/white, losing last year, in ’07 and in ’03. Their last win here, in ’08, not only came against Matt Cassel at QB but also in white jerseys and green pants.
This will be Scott Green’s ninth Jets game as referee in the past eight years. The previous four years Green has had: the Jets’ 2006 home-opening loss to the Patriots; their biggest win of 2007, the 19-16 home victory over Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers; the Meadowlands rout of the Cardinals in ’08, and the Oh, Canada! verdict over the Bills in Toronto last year.
Tags: Braylon Edwards, Gillette Stadium, Laveranues Coles, Mark Sanchez, New England Patriots, Rex Ryan, Santonio Holmes, Tom Brady
Posted in Randy Lange | 28 Comments »
When the Jets signed Laveranues Coles, there were no guarantees. And on Sunday, just two days after their third preseason game, the Green & White released Coles and waived three others players: WRs Marcus Henry and Aundrae Allison and DE Rodrique Wright.
The 5’11”, 200-pound Coles caught four balls for 19 yards in summer action. Last week he told reporters he was hopeful of playing a lot in the preseason finale at Philadelphia on Thursday, but he said “the clock is ticking” on his playing career.
“It’s pretty much here. Unless somebody makes me an offer I can’t refuse, which I doubt will happen, this is it,” Coles said. “Once the buck stops here, I’m done. I started here and that’s what I’m thankful for. I’ll be here in some capacity in the future. It might not be playing ball here, but I will be around the building so that’s one of the positive things about it.”
Head coach Rex Ryan, on a conference call with reporters this afternoon, wasn’t ruling out a return by Coles in the weeks ahead once the season starts.
“That’s definitely a possibility,” Ryan said. “Laveranues did an outstanding job for us. He’s a leader. I know he knows the system, he’s tougher than nails, a great teammate. I think that’s a real possibility.”
A third-round pick of the Jets back in 2000, he ranks fourth in franchise annals in receptions (459), fifth in receiving yards (5,941) and tied for fifth in touchdown catches (37). Last season, LC played with the Cincinnati Bengals and finished with 43 receptions for 514 yards and five TDs.
Henry, a sixth-round pick of the Jets out of Kansas in 2008, didn’t catch a ball this preseason after spending time on the practice squad in ’09. Allison, who possesses very good speed, had three receptions vs. the Giants to open the preseason but didn’t post any stats the past two games. He played 26 games and had 18 receptions for the Vikings in 2007-08, and his 104-yard kickoff return vs. Detroit on Dec. 2, 2007, established the mark for longest play in team history.
After DE Ropati Pitoitua went down with an Achilles’ injury against Carolina, “Hard Knocks” cameras got footage of Ryan asking Wright if he wanted to make the team. Wright may not now have that chance. He signed with New York’s AFC representative in March after starting nine games for the Dolphins in 2007, recording 37 tackles, 1.5 sacks and one fumble recovery.
The Jets roster now stands at 75 players, complying with the NFL’s Tuesday roster deadline. In the two o’clock hour, Coach Ryan will address the media on a conference call. We’ll have more details on that call later this afternoon.
Tags: Aundrae Allison, Laveranues Coles, Marcus Henry, Rex Ryan, Rodrique Wright
Posted in Eric Allen | 27 Comments »
It’s been a this-is-your-life week in a victory-lap season for Laveranues Coles.
On Wednesday night there was the Jets’ practice return to Hofstra, a place that Coles called his professional home from 2000-02 and again from ’05 until the Jets moved to the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center on Sept. 1, 2008.
“I may shed a tear, hug a few people I haven’t seen in a while,” Coles said before the trip to Long Island. “I definitely don’t miss the locker room but it is what it is.”
Another touchstone for the now 11th-year wideout has been “Hard Knocks.” He’s the only Jet who’s been involved in the last two NFL Films/HBO summer series.
“Those cameras have been around for a while so you kind of forget they’re there,” LC said. “And being in New York, there’s cameras everywhere anyway. It’s different in Cincinnati, where the only camera you might find is one of your teammates’ camera phones.”
And capping off this short week is Friday night’s third preseason game and second Jets game ever at New Meadowlands Stadium against Coles’ team in 2003-04, the Washington Redskins.
“I’m very thankful to Daniel Snyder for building my home down in Jacksonville for me,” Coles said with easy laugh. The Redskins owner, he said, “gave me an opportunity when other people wouldn’t. I went in and gave him 110 percent of everything I had. I’ve always been that way everywhere I went. But that’s where it stops. It’s one of those things where I appreciate the opportunity. But that’s not home. This is where it all started for me. I’m back here. These are the people that gave me a chance again. I’m thankful for that.”
Who would’ve thought, having seen the young, brooding Laveranues Coles in that cramped Weeb Ewbank Hall locker room as the team’s third-round draft pick in 2000, that he’d turn into a nostalgic old pro a decade later? Even he makes fun of his stern visage back in the day: “That’s another Laveranues. Who would do such a thing? I don’t even like people like that.”
He’s evolved personally even as he’s evolved professionally. The young LC would have been upset with what he describes today as his potential “break glass in case of emergency” role. He’s worked with the second and third offenses, so much so that he says of Mark Sanchez, “I don’t even get a chance to get in the huddle with the guy. I couldn’t even tell you if he smelled like Ben-Gay.” He knows he may not get much visibility against the Redskins as the starters work on into the third quarter. He knows not what the future may hold on final-cut day or after Game 4, when Santonio Holmes returns.
And he’s OK with that.
“I feel good about what I’m doing. I’m in an offense that I’ve known. Now it’s just about me getting an opportunity to go out and play and show what I can do,” Coles said. “Whether it happens or not, I don’t know, but just the fact that they gave me a chance to come in and be a part of this team is something I’m thankful for. So I’m not complaining, I’m not upset, I’m not any of those things. If the opportunity arises, I’ll grab it and take off with it. But if it doesn’t, I know the circumstances I came in here under and I’ll deal with it.”
Coles — who admitted that before returning to the Jets in May he “clicked on Randy’s Radar whenever I got a chance” — has a few under-the-radar things he can pass on to Sanchez no matter how much he gets to play with the starting QB this season, one of them being pointers on dealing with the increasing talent at wideout.
“A little bit of advice on how to approach us without ruffling feathers, just going to the guys and letting us know what you want, ways of doing it without feeling like you’re badgering the guys,” he said. “Just giving him a little bit of knowledge before they usher me to the door on how to deal with the guys, take care of the guys.”
Coles says he feels great, both physically and mentally, especially after a few of his Jets teammates told him “You look like you’ve still got it.” He says there’s still “gas in the tank,” which he hints could become apparent in the preseason finale a week from tonight at Philadelphia, when the ones will rest most if not all of the game.
But then when the needle’s on E, “Whenever this bus stops, I’m excited because I got to be a part of this,” he said of the Jets’ promising prospects for the coming season. “That’s what’s great about it. They’ve got a great head coach, a great personality, front office and management, people who helped me out, molded me into the personality I am today. And that’s what I’m thankful for.”
Rex Ryan and his coaching staff will decide if, when and for how long the Laveranues Victory Tour Bus runs this season. But remembering the receiver and blocker, playmaker and warrior LC’s been over the years, it’s hard not to wish this homebody a fantastic finish to his playing career.
Tags: Daniel Snyder, Laveranues Coles, Mark Sanchez, Rex Ryan
Posted in Randy Lange | 31 Comments »
The Jets are warming up at Bank of America Stadium about an hour before the start of tonight’s preseason game against the Panthers. And it would be a welcome turn in franchise history if the Green & White starters (about one quarter) and the twos and threes (about the last three quarters) can put together a complete game in Charlotte, N.C.
They’ve been hard to come by the few times the Jets visited here previously.
Remember the 2005 regular-season game at this stadium? Brooks Bollinger, pressed into duty due to multiple starting QB injuries, threw four second-half interceptions as the Panthers pulled away for a 30-3 victory.
Four years earlier, these teams played a game that so ugly that it got a nickname: “The Shrek Game.” The reason it wasn’t as ugly for the Jets as for the Panthers is that the Jets won it, 13-12, on John Hall’s field goal with 4:53 to play (at the same venue as tonight, although the name then was Ericsson Stadium).
Reporters sniffed about how ugly the victory was, but then-coach Herm Edwards, not one to pass up a great cultural tie-in, employed Shrek, the green, animated ogre who made his movie debut a short while before, to let his players and fans know that every win is beautiful.
We won’t even venture too far back to 1995, when the teams met for the first time (at Clemson Memorial Stadium, just over the NC/SC border) and Bubby Brister committed “the Shovel Pass” that Sam Mills took 36 yards for the INT-return TD that helped the Panthers to the first win in franchise history, 26-15.
And since the teams have never played a preseason game at Carolina, this is certainly a chance for the Green & White to make a small break with the past and send out the message, to their fans and their “Hard Knocks” audience among many, that the entire team is settling into “Play Like a Jet” mode.
As mentioned, the starters, after playing the first half vs. the Giants, have been ticketed for roughly one quarter of work tonight.
“Yes, I think that’s it, no more,” said head coach Rex Ryan on Thursday, his last news conference at training camp on the SUNY Cortland campus. ‘That’s the deal, that’s how we’re going into this game, so it’s really flipped, how you would play the game.”
So Mark Sanchez may get to work on some of the checkdown passes that were the talk of the past week or so, and Matt Slauson and Vlad Ducasse will continue their LG battle. On defense, NT Kris Jenkins, back in the town he called home for his first seven NFL seasons, will take the next step on his road back from his season-ending knee injury of a year ago, and first-rounder Kyle Wilson is expected to get the CB start as Darrelle Revis’ holdout continues.
But the starters will leave early on and Rex and the Jets will then take a look at their backups, such as QB Mark Brunell perhaps throwing to old/new Jets WR Laveranues Coles, a large cast of ILBs (Kenwin Cummings, Lance Laury and newcomer Boris Lee should play, but no word yet on the health status of Josh Mauga and Brashton Satele), and a secondary that could be tested by the Panthers WR corps, which should include some routes being run by former Jet Wallace Wright.
The weather in Charlotte is expected to be in the low 80s under mostly cloudy skies for this game. Because the Panthers are in their white uniforms with blue trim, the Jets will be wearing their green jerseys and white pants.
Tonight’s referee is Clete Blakeman. If you’re not familiar with that name, that’s because Clete is a new referee this season and thus is working his first Jets game.
Kickoff is about an hour away now. Eric Allen and Nick Gallo will be manning the CoveritLive chat on newyorkjets.com for all who want to check it out, while I will be doing my ingame tweeting, along with Jets radio voice Bob Wischusen, with our tweets appearing on both twitter.com/nyjets and the live chat. I’ll have a game story available on our site as soon as possible after the end of the game.
Then EA, Nick and I will do followups through Sunday leading into next week’s final training camp practices — open sessions Monday and Tuesday at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center in Florham Park, N.J., and Wednesday evening at Hofstra Stadium in Hempstead, N.Y. The busy preseason continues.
Tags: Bank of America Stadium, Cliff Blakeman, Herm Edwards, Kris Jenkins, Kyle Wilson, Laveranues Coles, Mark Brunell, Mark Sanchez, Rex Ryan, Shrek Game, Wallace Wright
Posted in Randy Lange | 4 Comments »