Here are today’s pregame tweets for the Jets-Titans game at LP Field in Nashville, in case you missed them on Twitter. Follow Bob Wischusen, Eric Allen and me for our tweets during each Jets game on https://twitter.com/nyjets.
#RL Weather at kickoff for Jets-Titans is expected to be partly cloudy, possible showers, temps around 50, southerly winds.
#RL Jets 17-22-1 all-time vs Titans/Oilers but have won 5 of the last 6 since the team moved from HOU to TEN, and 3 of last 4 at LP Field.
#RL In first 23 games of rivalry, Jets were 8-14-1 with minus-22 turnover margin. In last 17 games Jets are 9-8 with +13 TO margin.
#RL Mark Sanchez is 1-0 vs Titans. In ’09 Game 3, Sanchez completed 17 of 30 (56.7%) for 171 yds, 2 TDs, 1 INT, 81.4 rating in 24-17 win.
#RL Jets RB Shonn Greene in last 8 games: 154 atts, 666 yards, 4.3 avg., 5 TDs. He needs 117 yds to reach 1,000 for 2nd straight yr.
#RL Jets DE Mo Wilkerson in last 8 games: 4 sacks, 3 forced FUMs, 1 FUM-return TD (@ SEA), 2 PDs, 1 intl grounding forced
#RL TEN QB Jake Locker playing Jets for first time. Locker in 8 starts this yr is 2-6 with 10 TD drives, 9 TD passes, 9 INTs, 4 lost FUMs.
#RL TEN RB Chris Johnson has 1,037 rush yds, 4.7 avg. this season. Johnson in 2 games vs Jets: 32 atts, 143 yds, 4.5 avg, 0 TDs, 0-2 record.
#RL Titans are minus-12 in TO margin in 6 homes games, tied for lowest home margin/game in NFL with Chiefs at minus-2.0.
#RL Jets K Nick Folk playing TEN for 1st time in career. He’s 16-for-21 FGs this yr, 5-for-last-10, 5-for-6 in 4th qtr/OT, 3-for-4 from 50+.
#RL Jets wearing white jerseys, green pants for 2nd straight game. Jets in white/green u/Rex Ryan: 3-4 since ’09, 1-0 this season.
#RL Today’s referee is Walt Coleman. It’s Walt’s 18th Jets game as ref since 1995. Jets have lost last 8 games Coleman has refereed.
#RL NYJ inactives: QB Greg McElroy CB Aaron Berry LB Bryan Thomas DL Damon Harrison G Caleb Schlauderaff TE Dustin Keller WR Stephen Hill
#RL TEN inactives: QB Rusty Smith WR Damian Williams LB Colin McCarthy LB Xavier Adibi G Mitch Petrus T Daniel Baldridge DE Scott Solomon
#RL TEN K Rob Bironas career vs Jets: 4-4 on FGs, 4-4 on PATs.
#RL TEN is only NFL team that has scored no 1st-qtr offensive TDs at home. Titans’ only 1st-qtr TD at LP Field came on PR in Game 3.
Tags: Chris Johnson, Jake Locker, LP Field, Mark Sanchez, Monday Night Football, Muhammad Wilkerson, Nick Folk, Shonn Greene, Tennessee Titans
Posted in Randy Lange | No Comments »
The LP Field visitors’ locker room is laid such that there are six lockers alongside each other on one wall. The Jets’ equipment people assigned those six lockers to offensive linemen, and five of them to the five OL starters, in order from left to right: D’Brickashaw Ferguson, Alan Faneca, Nick Mangold, Brandon Moore, Damien Woody.
And those five stood in front of those lockers after the Jets’ marvelous, satisfying 34-13 rout of the previously undefeated Titans at Tennessee, centurions to the last as they became one of the centers of attention for the postgame media horde.
This Jets victory was about the entire team, offense, defense and specialists, coaches and players, coming together to secure another eye-popping, jaw-dropping victory to improve to 8-3 and thrust their names into the ring of legitimate AFC playoff contenders.
But this story is about the O-line, rebuilt by Mike Tannenbaum and his staff, coached up by Eric Mangini and his staff, and inspired to new heights by themselves.
"Chemistry," explained RT Damien Woody.
"Enough’s not being said about the maturity level of this team," countered RG Brandon Moore.
Operating on several fronts, the line had its best day yet in helping these Jets make their latest bold step forward.
Led by center Nick Mangold’s masterful game going up against formidable DT Albert Haynesworth, they were a major reason for the avalanche of favorable numbers: 28 first downs, 192 rushing yards, 7-for-13 on third-down conversions, two sacks of Brett Favre (one of them a late zero-yarder), and an unconscionable 40:30 in possession time, all of which led to the offense hanging 34 points on what had been (but is no longer) the No. 1 scoring defense in the NFL.
And all of this achieved on the road in as hostile an environment as they come.
"As far as places I’ve played, and I’ve played here at times," pondered LG Alan Faneca, "you’d walk away saying this is the loudest place in the NFL. They have very smart fans here. They’re capable of making lots of noise. And I think us, by coming out and starting hot a little bit, maybe didn’t let them get ramped up."
That was the first specific contribution by the line, the first offensive drive of the game in which they pass-blocked flawlessly for Favre as he opened throwing, going 6-for-6, including the last completion, the 10-yard screen to Thomas Jones.
"That’s big, that’s big," said Woody of the Jets’ third consecutive first-drive TD and sixth straight first-drive score. "That’s something that we want to do — set the tone.
Another Oh!-line moment came late in the third, when the Jets were still clinging to a 10-point lead and desperately wanting to make it 17 on third-and-goal from the Titans 2. Head coach Eric Mangini loved the contributions of Favre and Laveranues Coles to that 2-yard pass into a small window.
"And the offensive line —they held up a long time on that play to give them the opportunity to make that play," said the coach.
About seven minutes of clock time after that, Leon Washington was off to the races with a 61-yard touchdown run, equaling the fourth-longest in franchise history.
"It was pretty hard early on. A lot of yards were hard to come by," Washington said. "But we kind of wore ‘em down in the third and fourth quarters. On that play, Damien and Brandon did a real good job of sealing the backside. I hit the hole one-on-one with the safety. That’s what I’m paid to do, make big plays like that. But I did the easy part. The hole was wide open."
Washington was right about the second-half holes. The Jets wound up with a rarity — a 100-yard rushing quarter — as they rolled up 105 yards in the fourth quarter, more than the previous three quarters combined. Here are the four 100-yard rushing quarters since 1998:
|1998||vs. IND||2nd||129||Jets, 44-6|
|1999||at OAK||3rd||117||Raiders, 24-23|
|2004||vs. MIA||3rd||103||Jets, 41-14|
|2008||at TEN||4th||105||Jets, 34-13|
That kind of domination, along with the two fourth-quarter interference calls by Chris Carr trying to cover Laveranues Coles, had the Titans in a helmet-throwing, combative mood and that aforementioned loud crowd in a foul mood.
"I think the situation at the end was a little bit unfortunate," fullback Tony Richardson said. "I have a lot of friends on the other sideline. There’s a lot of jawing and stuff like that. I think you really don’t want to get into all that. But obviously the fans were frustrated with some of the calls. Early on we were frustrated with some of the calls. One thing we wanted to try to do was keep our composure and just continue to keep playing ball."
"I don’t know why they were booing," said Faneca. "I was trying to figure that out. They were booing when they stopped us for a yard gain. Anytime you’re able to take the ball down the field and disrupt what the other team’s trying to do and they know what you’re trying to do, and the fans are doing what they’re doing, it’s a fun time."
And a fun time was had by all — all on the Jets O-line and all who were wearing green and white, that is.
Here are the 10 games in the last 25 seasons in which the Jets have had at least 40 minutes of possession time and more than double that of their opponents:
|Year||Opp.||Jets TOP||Opp. TOP||Final Score|
|1985||vs. TB||40:20||19:40||Jets, 62-28|
|1988||vs. MIA||40:16||19:44||Jets, 38-34|
|1989||vs. ATL||40:06||19:54||Jets, 27-7|
|1991||vs. BUF||40:35||19:25||Bills, 23-20|
|1992||vs. MIA||40:26||19:34||Jets, 26-14|
|1993||at WAS||41:00||19:00||Jets, 3-0|
|1997||at CIN||42:50||17:10||Jets, 31-14|
|2000||vs. IND||41:25||18:35||Jets, 27-17|
|2002||vs. IND (PO)||40:18||19:42||Jets, 41-0|
|2008||at TEN||40:30||19:30||Jets, 34-13|
Tags: Alan Faneca, Brandon Moore, Brett Favre, D'Brickashaw Ferguson, Damien Woody, Eric Mangini, LP Field, Nick Mangold, offensive line, Tennessee Titans, Tony Richardson
Posted in Randy Lange | 52 Comments »
The Jets get the kickoff and start another methodical march that is beautiful to watch — if you’re a Green & White wearer. The blue-clad Titans fans, on the other hand, are sitting on their hands a little bit, being unused to trailing at home. It’s happened only once before this season, when Indianapolis opened a 14-6 third-quarter lead here, only to lose 31-21.
It’s another Brett Favre drive and another Dustin Keller drive. Keller converts a third-and-2 and also moves the chains by drawing two penalties, an interference and an illegal contact. Favre can’t hook up with Laveranues Coles on a third-and-7 slant from the Tennessee 12, but Jay Feely comes on to convert from 30 yards and the Jets open their lead to 13-3.
Then on the Titans’ first play after the ensuing kickoff, rookie RB Chris Johnson gets past the first level for an 11-yard gain — only to have the ball pried from his grip by S Abram Elam, with Bryan Thomas falling on the loose ball. Just before the Jets get off their first snap on offense, coach Jeff Fisher throws his red replay challenge flag on the field.
Referee Carl Cheffers reviews and states, "The ball is clearly out before the runner’s knee touches." Another Jets victory, as Tennessee loses a timeout for the failed challenge.
The Green marches on, to second-and-2 and then third-and-inches. Thomas Jones doesn’t pick it up the first time, does the second with a nice in-cut and second effort. First-and-goal at the 7. Then Leon Washington to the 1, then TJ on a yard loss. A touchdown would be nice here but can the visitors punch it in against this tough, proud Titans front?
As Marv Albert would say, yes.
Favre fakes left, then drifts back looking for something, something … there it is. No. 87, Laveranues Coles, has a step on CB Chris Carr and two other Titans defenders in the back of the end zone. Favre slings, Coles catches the bullet, he’s knocked over the end line … and the call is touchdown.
With 3:02 left the Jets have upped their advantage to 20-3. It is the largest deficit the 10-0 Titans have faced all season. What’s equally amazing: The Jets’ time of possession margin is now 31:13-10:45.
The Titans get back on the board but the Jets make it difficult, with the defense applying some pressure on Kerry Collins. The former Giants and Panthers QB hadn’t been sacked until Calvin Pace comes around the corner while the Jets DBs are covering well and swats the ball out of KC’s hand.
But the Titans recover and the 7 yards lost does nothing to Rob Bironas, who comes on and calmly, accurately insteps a 49-yard field goal through. There’s 12:50 to play and the Jets’ lead is down to 20-6.
That’s only two TDs … check that, make it three TDs. Leon has done it again.
Washington gets the handoff at the Jets 39, approaches the line, then bursts off the right side behind a pull block by Alan Faneca and a kickout by Chris Baker, and he’s off to the races. Only Titans S Chris Hope has a shot at him at the 15, but Hope tackles high, Washington shrugs him off, and eases across the goal line for a mind-blowing 61-yard TD run. Feely’s PAT makes it 27-6, Jets, with 11:07 to play.
The Titans won’t quit. They hit a big pass play, a leaping 37-yarder to Justin Gage against Darrelle Revis, and move to first-and-goal, from where Collins hits fullback Ahmard Hall, Bryan Thomas in coverage, for the hosts’ first TD of the day. It’s back to two TDs, Jets, 27-13, with 9:43 to go.
The Jets now are trying to run down the clock. The Titans almost force a punt from the Jets 39 — except that Chris Carr is called for pass interference on Laveranues Coles on the incompletion. The fans are as worked up about that first-down call as anything today, but Carr definitely grabs Coles around the waist as LC makes his break.
Then Jones rips off a 19-yard run up the middle to give him a hard-earned 91 for the day. The fans continue to boo but it’s not going to stop the Jets’ great victory and the Titans’ first loss of the season. There’s four minutes left.
And Carr gets beat down the sideline by Coles, grabs him briefly by the pads and gets flagged again. The Titans fans are howling and chanting, although I’m not sure about what. Maybe the pain of no longer being unbeaten.
From first-and-goal at the 6, Jones gets two runs, then Washington takes it the final 4 yards to drive a huge nail in the Tennessee coffin. It’s 34-13 now with 2:09 to go.
The Jets are now 8-3, the Titans 10-1. There is a case to be made that the Jets are the cream of the conference, although Pittsburgh may have an argument there. But I know one thing once I get into the visitors’ LP Field locker room: The Jets will be splitting time talking about the Titans and their next opponent, the Broncos at home, and letting everyone else do the looking ahead.
Eric Allen will have his game story up shortly and I’ll file my postgame Radar entry after the team flight gets back home tonight.
Tags: Brett Favre, Dustin Keller, Jay Feely, LP Field, Tennessee Titans
Posted in Randy Lange | 82 Comments »
Tennesseean Chad Pennington isn’t the only one who will enjoy this weekend’s business trip to Nashville. Chris Baker also loves the city, in part because the Titans fans love their football and in part because Baker helped beat them when he gathered in Pennington’s 12-yard pass for the winning score with 2:10 to play in last season’s opener.
"I really enjoy playing on the road," Baker told me after today’s practice, the last of the week before this year’s meeting with the Titans. "That’s because it’s a you-against-the-world type of thing. To be behind or tied and to be able to win a game like that, that’s pretty cool."
Baker has always been one of my favorite Jets, just enough of a kid to think things like game-winning catches are still "cool," yet a man who keeps taking his game steadily to new heights each season and isn’t afraid once in a while to remind people he can be a force for their offense.
Take last Sunday’s game at New England. Baker’s game could have been phenomenal if not for the fumbled red zone reception, but let’s put that aside for a second. His eight receptions were a career high. And six of those went for first downs.
Doesn’t that sound like a lot for a Jets TE? Yes, actually, it is. Baker is the first Green & White tight to register six receiving first downs in a game since Johnny Mitchell in 1995.
"When something like that occurs, it’s always cool," C-Bake said. "Honestly, that’s what I think the tight end should be. A big part of the tight end’s job is to work the middle of the field and move the chains. That’s what I did in college."
Coordinator Brian Schottenheimer is well aware of Baker’s skills, since he’s asked about them almost every other week, most recently at today’s informal news conference.
"No matter who the quarterback is, the ball tends to continue to find its way to Chris’ hands," Schottenheimer said. "That’s because he’s getting open, he’s doing a lot of really good things. He’s always had excellent hands, but he’s really worked on his route-running skills, the ability to get open in tight space, his top-of-the-route skills."
Then Coach Schott mentioned the 13-yard completion fourth-quarter completion down the boundary, over LB Eric Alexander, when Baker looked up, saw the ball at the last split-second, and seemed to drop it into his hip pocket. It was an example, he said, of Baker’s "great hand-eye coordination."
Now back to the Adalius Thomas strip fumble in the middle of the third quarter. It likely cost the Jets three points, and Baker wasn’t happy that it happened. Maybe some coaches would agree with CBS analyst Phil Simms that his grip on the ball wasn’t classic.
On the other hand, Baker’s grip has been good enough for six seasons that he has fumbled only twice before, once on a reception in 2004 and once on a muffed kickoff in ’05.
"Even my dad’s telling me the same thing: ‘Oh, you gotta hold the ball tighter there,’ " Baker said. "I think I fumbled the ball three times in my career. I had the ball in right spot and the guy made a good play. It’s in the rain. You know what I’m saying?"
Yeah, I think I do. I think Baker likely won’t fumble for another year or more. And maybe he’s ready to stop the music at LP Field with a big catch or three against the Titans on Sunday.
Here are the five Jets non-WRs with six receiving first downs in a game in the last 15 seasons:
|1993||TE Johnny Mitchell||vs. Philadelphia||7-146-3-6|
|1995||TE Johnny Mitchell||at New England||9-108-1-6|
|2000||FB Richie Anderson||vs. New England||6-88-0-6|
|2000||FB Richie Anderson||vs. Miami||12-109-0-6|
|2007||TE Chris Baker||at New England||8-64-0-6|
Tags: Brian Schottenheimer, Chad Pennington, Chris Baker, LP Field, New England, tennessee
Posted in Randy Lange | 12 Comments »
Kenny Chesney’s “I Go Back” blared from the loudspeakers at the beginning of this afternoon’s practice. Chad Pennington, a Knoxville, Tenn., native, will head back to his home state this weekend and could even start against the Titans at Nashville’s LP Field.
“It’s always exciting to go and play in front of some familiar faces and play in your home state,” Pennington said at a news conference this morning. “I think that’s always a fun thing for a player to do.”
Pennington began his AP Comeback Player of the Year campaign two Septembers ago in Nashville, throwing for 319 yards and two touchdowns in a season-opening win over the Titans.
“It’s an extremely loud stadium, and that was on opening day,” he said. “I can only imagine how loud it’s going to be now considering they have a chance to make the playoffs.”
The message from Jets head coach Eric Mangini today was status quo regarding his QB starter for the Green & White’s road finale. Kellen Clemens, who has a rib injury, was out at practice throwing for a second day in a row.
“We’ll go through the week and see how it goes,” Mangini said.
Pennington could be in a line for his first start in close to two months. The 31-year-old has been a team player throughout a tough season, never causing any fuss about the depth chart change.
“Chad has been outstanding and he’s been extremely helpful to Kellen during this time,” Mangini said.
“I think Coach respects me as a player, he respects the things I bring to the table,” said Pennington. “We’ve had conversations about that and he’s been very adamant on how he respects how I play the game, make good decisions and understand the whole perspective of the game, not just the stats and things like that.”
Even though he has made a transition to backup, Pennington still views himself in a different light.
“I certainly feel I’m a starter, absolutely. No question in my mind,” he said. “I can always help someone win.”
On several occasions, Pennington was asked tough questions and most of them concerned his future.
“I understand the business of this game. Right now the most important thing is what we do in-between the white lines and what we do every practice to get better for this team,” he said. “When that time comes to think about all those different options, then I’ll do what I always do and be very diligent and take everything into account.”
If Pennington allows his mind to wander, the results could be disastrous.
“When you have your mind on other things and when you’re distracted, you can get hurt,” he said. “All it takes is a blink of an eye and you’re lying on your backside and it may be your fault.”
Pennington, a football coach’s son, respects the game too much to do that. He is human and has surely experienced a wide range of emotions this season, but he’s always handled everything with class.
“I have extremely enjoyed my time in New York and Jets fans have been extremely supportive,” he said. “They’re loyal, they’re passionate and they’re going to let you know how they feel and that’s part of being a fan.”
Don’t mistake that as a farewell. Important decisions will be made when the season is over but there is still football to be played. Pennington is going back to Tennessee and Clemens’ injury might put him back in the starting lineup.
“I do know that I enjoy playing, that I don’t enjoy watching,” he said. “I think that it’s just the competitive side of being a National Football League player. I enjoy being in the huddle and I enjoy taking on the challenge week in and week out.”
Tags: Chad Pennington, Eric Mangini, Kellen Clemens, LP Field, tennessee
Posted in Eric Allen | 57 Comments »