We chatted up Terry Bradway on Thursday afternoon back in his office following his sitdown with Eric Allen on Jets Talk Live. And aside from the NFL Combine topics he hit on with EA in the interview, I wanted to get a few insights into Terry’s new boss, John Idzik.
Bradway’s a go-to guy on this subject. He’s been the Jets’ senior personnel executive since ’06 but from ’01-05 he was the Jets GM.
Needless to say, he wasn’t going to compare Idzik with Mike Tannenbaum, with whom he had a close relationship in the Jets’ front office for the previous dozen years. But John has brought his own past, procedures and personality with him from Seattle and Bradway has been impressed with the way the I-Era of Jets football has begun.
“Throughout his career he’s always been able to go out to a certain degree and cover players,” Bradway said, “and he’s been very involved in both free agency and the draft any place he’s been. He’s really is a good football guy.”
Idzik is also a people person, which obviously has come out early, from the team’s February personnel meetings through the combine. He’s formed opinions on many of the players who participated in the Indianapolis workouts, but he wasn’t going to dominate the discussions with the Jets scouts.
“John was very respectful of the scouts in terms of their presentations,” Bradway said. “He’s a great listener and I think he’s going to be able to generate great discussions and opinions as we come up with what we feel will be the final grades and evaluations on these players as we go into the draft.”
A small enhancement to the evaluations was an expansion of Bradway’s personal “+/N/–” combine grading system he’s used over the years. He puts a quick grade on each participant in each drill he watches each year — either a plus, “looked good,” an N, “looked average,” or a minus, “didn’t look good.”
This year he was joined in his grading by Idzik and new director of college scouting Jeff Bauer.
“This was the first time we’ve done it as a group,” he said. “It’s subjective, but it’s the eyeball test. It’s not the numbers — ‘Oh, he vertical-jumped 39′ — but it’s here’s how the guy moved, here’s how he did his position drills.”
If you haven’t seen EA’s interview with Bradway yet, the first half of the session was archived on NewYorkJets.com last night, and the second half should be available on the site this afternoon.
Tags: Jeff Bauer, John Idzik, Lucas Oil Stadium, Mike Tannenbaum, NFL Combine, Terry Bradway
Posted in Randy Lange | 206 Comments »
Updated 6:19 p.m. ET
In theory the NFL Combine is a place to talk with, talk about, time, measure and analyze the draft-eligible college players heading into the draft two months down the road.
In reality, John Idzik and Rex Ryan held an impromptu Darrelle Revis news conference when they spoke with reporters at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis this afternoon.
The new general manager and the fifth-year head coach had the same bumper sticker for the media, fans and the NFL: WE ♥ REVIS ISLAND.
“Darrelle Revis is obviously a great football player, a great New York Jet and a tremendous asset to our team,” said Idzik at the podium shortly after 4 p.m. ET. “I don’t know that anything has really changed. We’ve always wanted Darrelle as part of our team. That has not changed.”
Idzik declined several times to respond to questions about Revis rumors, contract matters or trade terms. But, he stressed, “In respect to Darrelle, our focus is to aid him any way we can in his rehabilitation so he can return to the player we all know he is.”
Ryan followed Idzik to the microphone — each talked for about 16 minutes — and recounted a phone conversation he had with Revis, who’s rehabbing the knee injury that ended his season in Game 3 at Miami, about trade rumors that surfaced the day before Idzik held his introductory news conference at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center.
“I told him it’s not accurate,” Ryan said. “If he’s going to be involved in a trade, I think he and his agents would know about it, as would the GM and myself. There’s no validity to it. I don’t know where that gets drummed up. … I provided him the answer that I know to be true, which is that was not accurate.”
It was certainly likely that the game of Twit-for-Tat between Revis and Seahawks CB Richard Sherman the past day or so would be posed in the form of a question to Ryan. Rex declined to get into the middle of that Twitter war while still strongly supporting his former All-Pro corner.
“I will say this: Obviously the guy [Sherman]‘s a heck of a football player. I don’t know him well enough to compare him to Darrelle Revis,” Ryan said. “But if you’re putting yourself in that company, that’s the company you want to be in, that’s for sure.”
The two-fer news conferences were about more than Revis. Both Jets officials were asked about their quarterbacks, specifically Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow.
Idzik had a new turn of phrase to describe the way the teamwide 2013 depth chart will shake out.
“I don’t think you isolate it to any one or a few positions. We’re going to have a general mantra here with the New York Jets and it’s going to be ‘Competition Through and Through,’ ” he said. “That’s going to be true this year as we enter free agency, it’s going to be true as we go into the draft, it’s going to be true as we come out of the draft, it’s going to be true as we go into training camp and into the regular season. And if we have success and we win a championship, it’ll be true after we win a championship.
“I think everyone, Mark included, recognizes that he, our offense — shoot, our team as a whole — has to perform better than we did in 2012. And we’re going to do that. We’re going to do everything to increase the competition so that he plays better. We’ve got a new offensive coordinator, we have a new quarterback coach, we have staff changes that I think will be healthy for Mark and so that we can again get the juices flowing and turn the page into 2013, not look back to 2012, start anew and get rolling.”
“We’re bringing in competition at every position, not just the quarterback position,” Ryan said. “That’s what we want to do here. To say Mark Sanchez, this quarterback, that quarterback — clearly there’s going to be competition at that position.”
Tebow’s situation arose only late during Ryan’s time at the mike.
“Tim’s under contract to be a New York Jet,” the head coach said, “and we’ll see how things go in the offseason.”
We’re expediting the processing of transcripts of both Idzik’s and Ryan’s remarks today and they’ll be up on newyorkjets.com shortly.
Draft Order Update
The NFL has released its tentative round-by-round order for the 2013 draft. The order is tentative because it doesn’t include compensatory picks, which will be awarded at the bottom of Rounds 3-7 and announced next month. So the Jets’ first three picks are fixed and the positions of Rounds 4-7 will change depend on how many compensatories are inserted at the end of each prior round. Here are the Jets’ picks at the moment:
Round 1 — 9th in the round, 9th overall
Round 2 — 8th in the round, 39th overall
Round 3 — 10th in the round, 72nd overall
Round 4 — 9th in the round (103rd-plus overall)
Round 5 — 8th in the round (134th-plus overall)
Round 6 — 10th in the round (168th-plus overall)
Round 7 — 9th in the round (199th-plus overall)
Tags: Darrelle Revis, John Idzik, Lucas Oil Stadium, Mark Sanchez, NFL Combine, Rex Ryan, Tim Tebow
Posted in Randy Lange | 204 Comments »
The Jets are in the market for a quarterback, albeit most likely for one they hope doesn’t take too many snaps. There will be a backup vacancy when the league year commences on March 13 as Mark Brunell is an unrestricted free agent, but the NFL’s game of QB dominoes could have an impact on the Jets’ 2012 draft.
As we sit here in Indianapolis with the draft still a couple of months away, most pundits believe the Colts will use their No. 1 overall selection on Stanford’s Andrew Luck.
“I think Luck has more credentials, fewer questions about him, than any quarterback since John Elway,” Brian Billick, the NFL Network analyst and former Ravens head coach, said this morning. “Now it has to come together, but I think this guy is the real deal. … His arm strength is plenty. He is going to mature — he is going to grow still in that arm strength.“
Luck, who soon may call Lucas Oil Stadium his home, wants to continue to improve as he makes his transition to the next level.
“I think for me, it’s sort of quickening everything up in terms of release,” Billick said of Luck. “Those extra milliseconds count, especially in the NFL — guys are so much faster, stronger and bigger. Then making sure my drops are rhythmic, quick every time, and being consistent in that area.”
The Rams are scheduled to pick after the Colts, but most people believe St. Louis is going to attempt to trade out of its No. 2 slot. Brian Schottenheimer, the new Rams offensive coordinator and former Jets OC, already has a talented young signalcaller in place with Sam Bradford, and the Rams have lots of needs.
Many quarterback-hungry teams will are taking a long look at Robert Griffin III. Griffin measured in at 6’2⅜”, so height is not an issue. The Heisman Trophy winner was eager to start interviews with teams and ease any fears that his success at Baylor was based largely on Art Briles’ system.
“It’s not the traditional spread where it’s shotgun all the time, although we are in shotgun a lot. So were Tom Brady and Eli Manning in the Super Bowl, but that’s not the point,” RG III said. “It’s not a simple offense. I’m not going to try to make it seem difficult, but I will explain it to them whether its progressions, protections and what I’m doing out there. It’s not as simple as everybody makes it seem.”
“This is the best throwing athlete I’ve seen come out in a while,” said Billick of Griffin. “Far better than Michael Vick, in my opinion, far better than Cam Newton. I’m very intrigued. This guy has a pure throwing action for an athletic quarterback and he clearly has the intelligence to transition.”
Perhaps no person to play the position has ever been more cerebral than Peyton Manning, but there are no clear answers on his situation. Manning is still a Colt as of this weekend, but he will be highly coveted on the free agent market if he’s released and he checks out medically.
The Jets, who own the No. 16 overall selection, could be helped by the rise of a third quarterback and that player might be Texas A&M’s Ryan Tannehill. While Luck and Griffin III seem like sure bets for top-five selections, QB-needy teams could make a play to jump up and get Tannehill before the Green & White select or could place calls to GM Mike Tannenbaum to get to the Jets’ 16th spot.
Tannehill is a fascinating story himself, considering he led the Aggies in receptions his first two seasons as a receiver before switching back to quarterback and passing for 5,450 yards and 42 touchdowns.
“I’ve always thought of myself as a quarterback, so I was frustrated by it yet blessed to have the opportunity to be able to play another position,” Tannehill said Friday. “Not a lot of people get to contribute in another way to help their team and it was exciting for me to be able to do that. I learned a lot about the game, got a lot of experience. Even if it wasn’t at the quarterback position, I did get experience playing football and seeing the game out there. I learned a lot from it and fortunately I was able to get back to where I wanted to be, under center.”
The quarterback landscape will become more clear after free agency comes and goes. QB Matt Flynn stands to get a lot of money from someone and his offensive coordinator in Green Bay, Joe Philbin, is the new Dolphins head coach. The Jets aren’t really in the passing derby at the moment, but the game of QB dominoes will have some kind of impact on every team in the league.
Live Chat: Discuss Free Agency/Draft on Tuesday
Once we conclude the weekend here in Indy, we’ll make our return trip to Florham Park. With so much going on in the football world, newyorkjets.com editor-in-chief Randy Lange and I are going to host a live video chat on Tuesday. You can start getting your questions and comments in now.
Tags: Andrew Luck, Brian Billick, Indianapolis, Joe Philbin, Lucas Oil Stadium, Matt Ryan, NFL Combine, Peyton Manning, Robert Griffin III, Ryan Tannehill
Posted in Eric Allen | 34 Comments »
This February afternoon is almost over in the middle of America and the Jets — along with each of the 31 other NFL clubs — are engrossed in their draft preparations at the NFL Combine workouts.
“It’s just the next step in the process,” GM Mike Tannenbaum told me inside Lucas Oil Stadium. “Our area scouts and [senior personnel executive] Terry Bradway and [VP of college scouting] Joey Clinkscales do a great job in the fall, and we’re just kind of adding to that now. We saw them down in Mobile at the Senior Bowl, we get to see them work out here, and the interviews are really important. It’s just the next step in the process.”
While many of the Jets coaches and scouts are here at Lucas Oil during daylight hours, the team personnel move down the street to an Indianapolis hotel and interview selected prospects at night. Each team is permitted to interview 60 players over the course of the combine and each session has a 15-minute time limit.
What are the Jets looking for from the prospects?
“A lot of their football acumen — some of them really separate themselves quite a bit,” Mr. T. said. “You know which guys have a better feel for their responsibilities than others and our coaches do a great job. We’re looking forward to that getting started in a couple of hours here.”
Tannenbaum and the Jets don’t rehearse their interview approach. They listen first and then see where the interview goes from there.
“It just develops as a guy comes in there, but we have the position coach leading the discussion,” he said. “We’re sitting there observing them and seeing how they answer the questions.”
A loyal boss, Tannenbaum has a scouting staff that he both trusts and respects. Area scouts have mined the country since the final selection of the 2011 draft symbolized both a conclusion and a beginning.
“They’re tireless workers, the Matt Bazirgans of the world, the Jeff Bauers, the Jay Mandolesis. They’re great, they care, they work hard,” Mr. T. said. “Joe Bommarito, Jim Cochran, Mike Davis — they all do great jobs. We’re lucky they’re here and they have such passion. Sometimes they have to watch our games listening to the radio or on the Internet, but the wins and losses mean as much to them as anyone.”
Inside a stadium suite today, the stopwatches were out and pens and papers scribbled in notebooks. There wasn’t much conversation as the Jets observed drills that will be weighted, but the gametape never lies.
“Those are interesting and they’re great for comparison purposes, but at the end of the day it’s how do they play football,” Tannenbaum said of drills such as the 40-yard dash, benchpress and shuttle run. “Rex is a natural evaluator. His input has been great. He really works at it — he watches a lot of tape. Again this is important, but it’s just another step in the process.”
During Thursday’s meeting with the media, Tannenbaum reiterated his belief that Mark Sanchez and Santonio Holmes will be able to thrive as teammates once again. Barring something unforeseen, the Jets starting QB and No. 1 wideout will remain unchanged on the depth chart.
“The fact that they’ve played well as Jets together under this coaching staff gives me every reason to believe that an issue that came up last year is very solvable,” he said.
Tannenbaum’s core belief is he’ll look under every rock every day to get better. The Jets are in need of safety help with both Jim Leonhard and Brodney Pool set to become unrestricted free agents on March 13, but there are multiple ways of addressing voids.
“I look at any position as a big continuum,” the GM said. “We’ll look at potential trades, potential signings in free agency, the draft, claiming guys on Labor Day.”
Tannenbaum chose not to make public if he would consider a franchise tag for NT Sione Pouha, but he would like the veteran lineman to remain with the Green & White in 2012.
“Within reason we’re going to do everything we can to keep him,” he said.
This spring’s labor harmony means a return to free agency preceding the draft. The Jets currently own choices in every round and should be in position to obtain one or more compensatory selections, but trading up is always an option for Tannenbaum.
“I do believe in quality over quantity,” he said. “That’s just based on a lot of research and what’s a replaceable part and what the odds are of success in every round.”
The search to get better is a never-ending for Tannenbaum and his crew.
Tags: Indianapolis, Jay Mandolesi, Jeff Bauer, Jim Cochran, Joe Bommarito, Lucas Oil Stadium, Mark Sanchez, Matt Bazirgan, Mike Davis, Mike Tannenbaum, NFL Combine, Santonio Holmes, Sione Pouha
Posted in Eric Allen | 50 Comments »
For this year’s opening remarks at the NFL Combine, Jets head coach Rex Ryan offered a mea culpa.
“I know what everybody’s thinking — the infamous Super Bowl guarantee was here,” Ryan said of his remarks to the assembled media at the start of last year’s combine at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. “in all seriousness, looking back, it was a huge mistake to make that guarantee.
“At the time, we were coming off two [AFC] championship games and I really thought it would be a thing that would actually motivate our team, to talk about the Super Bowl, to focus on the Super Bowl. But in hindsight, I think it put undue pressure on our team … and we really lost focus on what we do best. So, you know, it was obviously a big mistake.
“I go back and look at it. It obviously contributed to the season we had. Realistically, it was something I’ve been thinking about a great deal. Obviously we had a terrible season. And I’ll take full responsibility for it. And I think part of it, that guarantee really contributed to that.”
That being said, Ryan still has confidence in the Jets that in a few months will return to start work collectively on the 2012 season, and confidence in general manager Mike Tannenbaum’s team and his staff to bring in new Jets who will also contribute to a strong Green & White rebound.
“First off, no promises. There’s not going to be any promises. But I will say we’re going to have a team that I think’s going to have the potential to do great things,” he said. ‘I look at our team and we’ve got a great owner, a great staff, a great organization. More importantly, we’ve got a great group of players and I think we can accomplish anything we set out to do.”
One of the foremost topics on many fans’ minds is how QB Mark Sanchez and WR Santonio Holmes are getting along and how he’s so sure they can fix any differences that may have existed late in last year’s stumble to the 8-8 finish.
“Those two guys, they have a lot in common,” Ryan said. “They’re both competitive guys. They’ve had success in this league. Santonio had the catch, of all time maybe in the Super Bowl. Maybe Sanchez hasn’t quite had the success Santonio’s had obviously, being a Super Bowl champion, but he’s had some success.
“Their first year together, they did a lot of great things. In fact, I think they contributed to winning four games in the closing minutes. It’s not like they haven’t been successful before with each other. … I really think there’s enough in common right there that they’ll fix it.”
Ryan was asked about another phase of the offense’s comeback plans with new coordinator Tony Sparano and a set of new offensive coaches that have come in with him. He said he always admired Sparano, the Dolphins head coach from 2009 until late this past season, but wasn’t sure why.
“Then as I thought about it, you know what? That guy thinks he’s as tough as I am,” Ryan laughed. “That’s something I really admire about him. I schedule at least an hour a day with him. We’ll sit and talk football. He’s putting in our offense and things like that. And I figure if he can teach it to me, he can teach it to any of these guys. … It’s been a great experience so far.”
Ryan was also asked about the comments that rookie QB Greg McElroy made to an Alabama radio station critical of the Jets’ locker room makeup and said he was a little angry about them.
“But the thing that maybe makes us different than other teams is that we are truly a transparent organization, so you’re going to know a lot about the New York Jets in the great times but you’re also going to learn a lot about us in the not-so-good times,” the coach said.
“I don’t think it was the way maybe it’s portrayed out there that we had a huge problem. No question we had some problems with some individuals. But we’re going to fix it. And I know I’m the guy for the job and we’ve got the right players and we will get it fixed.”
Tags: Indianapolis, Lucas Oil Stadium, Mark Sanchez, NFL Combine, Rex Ryan, Santonio Holmes
Posted in Randy Lange | 42 Comments »
All offseasons are important, so it would be hyperbole to say that this offseason, which really gets off and flying today through Sunday at the NFL Combine in and around Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, is the most crucial for the Jets in a long time.
Yet the combine workouts help each team identify players it will be most interested in selecting in the draft two months down the road, and it’s not exaggerating to say that the Green & White have just a little more at stake at this combine simply because they have more draft picks than they’ve had in a while.
The Jets at the moment have one selection in each of the draft’s seven rounds. In the first three rounds they are slotted to select 16th overall, then 47th, then 78th, based on their rotation among the seven teams that finished 8-8 this past season.
From there the overall positions are not set because the NFL has yet to allot this year’s compensatory draft picks. But the Jets do have their own picks in Rounds 4-6, and a pair of trades have enabled them to retain a Round 7 pick (Jacksonville’s in the Dwight Lowery trade) as well.
If the Jets use all seven picks to select players in the draft, it will be their most selections since they spent 10 picks in the 2006 draft.
They could also get one or more compensatory selections this year, but that won’t be revealed for another month. The league traditionally has announced its distribution of compensatories in the last week of March. Last year it awarded 32 compensatory picks to 23 teams, with those picks falling at the end of each round from Rounds 3 to 7.
Compensatories aside, the Jets’ personnel team, headed by general manager Mike Tannenbaum, and head coach Rex Ryan’s coaching staff have all left North Jersey on Tuesday and today for Indy, where they will observe the more than 300 top prospects who’ve been invited to get poked and prodded, measured, tested and interviewed at this year’s combine.
Tannenbaum and Ryan are scheduled to speak with the assembled reporters from the NFL’s media workroom podiums around 3 p.m. ET on Thursday.
The information gleaned this week will be folded in with the college scouts’ game reports and all the other data on hand to formulate the team’s big board, which will inform the selection of those seven, maybe more, maybe fewer, players who will become the Jets’ 2012 draft class.
My partner, Eric Allen, and cameraman Chris Ubbens will also be on hand for the combine festivities, interviewing all the Jets staffers in Lucas Oil, plus a healthy number of those top prospects and more than a few of the reporters who have also made their annual pilgrimage to Indianapolis.
EA’s and Ubbs’ work will be processed by Rich Gentile’s broadcasting & multimedia staff here at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center to provide you with great video content this week and then in the weeks from the end of the combine through the draft, set this year for April 26-28.
You can also follow the combine proceedings on NFL Network, Sirius XM NFL Radio and NFL.com. To help you keep tabs on the players who might be featured on those platforms, here is the schedule for the different position groups that will be available for interviews each day:
Thursday — Offensive linemen, kickers, punters, long-snappers, tight ends
Friday — Quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers
Saturday — Defensive linemen, linebackers
Sunday — Defensive backs
Tags: Chris Ubbens, Eric Allen, Indianapolis, Lucas Oil Stadium, Mike Tannenbaum, NFL Combine, Rex Ryan
Posted in Randy Lange | 125 Comments »
Howdy. We’ve been lying low for the last few weeks because, quite frankly, there hasn’t been a lot to report on around the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. But we’re coming up on draft season, which means the chat will begin to increase on newyorkjets.com about the NFL Combine and such matters beginning today.
My partner, Eric Allen, and Chris Ubbens of our multimedia crew arrived at Lucas Oil Stadium this morning and hit the ground running for the kickoff of the combine interviews in front of the assembled media, which EA tells me has shown up in force today.
Among the interviews for the assembled are “select NFL head coaches and general managers.” And two who have been selected for that duty are Jets head coach Rex Ryan and GM Mike Tannenbaum. Fresh off their star turn taping a CSI: New York episode on the West Coast, they’re now in Middle America and scheduled to step up to the podium for probably 15 minutes each beginning around 3:30 p.m. ET today.
At the moment I have no information regarding Rex and Mike T being streamed live or archived anywhere. We are not able to do that as we normally do for Ryan’s in-season news conferences. It’s possible NFL Network or NFL.com will carry parts of those media sessions but I haven’t received that information yet.
But Nick Gallo and I will be monitoring the Ryan and Tannenbaum pressers to bring you a full report on what they got into with the media group, which is usually a good mix of New York area football reporters and columnists and the national media types we’re so familiar with.
EA will be making the rounds for the next three days out in I-town, checking in with some of those national reporters, plus Rex, Mike and Joey Clinkscales, the Jets’ vice president of college scouting, plus some of the big-name draft prospects that you want to hear from. Job One for Allen is to get everyone on camera for newyorkjets.com and Facebook, but he may check in with us from time to time on the Radar.
Speaking of the top draft names, we’ve posted a question on the newyorkjets.com home page about which buzz-worthy draft candidate you want to hear most about from Indianapolis. We’ve only got room for four names so we may have left out your favorite top-of-the-draft pick.
But we will pop up a Jets-centric question early next week, and for that, let me ask for your help. Send me your comments on which player you’d like to see the Jets select on the opening night of the draft in a little over two months. I know some of the names, but maybe there’s a hot prospect you think is Green & White material in Round 1.
I’ll tally up the suggestions I get here on the Radar, and the top four names will go up in that question next week for all of the visitors to our site to vote on. Some 5,000 or more votes on those top four names will give us all a real good idea who the fans want to see in a Jets uniform this summer and fall.
For a preview of the combine, read Real Football’s advance to newyorkjets.com, which we posted a short while ago. Here is the interview schedule for players the rest of this week at the combine, just so you can be prepared for the reporting on your position of interest, whether it be here or on your favorite draft site:
Today — Offensive linemen, tight ends, kickers, punters, long-snappers
Friday — Quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers
Saturday — Defensive linemen, linebackers
Sunday — Defensive backs
Tags: Eric Allen, Indianapolis, Lucas Oil Stadium, Mike Tannenbaum, NFL Combine, Nick Gallo, Rex Ryan
Posted in Randy Lange | 7 Comments »
Before we move totally away from Indianapolis and on to New England, here’s one more thing of beauty from the wild-card win over the Colts on Saturday night. It has to do with that drive that bridged the third and fourth quarters, that glided from one end of Lucas Oil to the other, that kept the Jets in position to advance to the divisional round against the Patriots.
It was the most impressive drive in franchise playoff history. So say the numbers.
Seventeen plays? The most for any drive in the Jets’ 24 playoff games, one more than the 16-play TD drive before the half in the 2002 divisional game at Oakland.
Eighty-seven yards? The most yardage for any of the Green & White’s 294 playoff possessions, beating out the 85-yard touchdown march that put them ahead to stay in the second-quarter of the first game of the 1982 “Super Bowl Tournament” at Cincinnati.
Nine minutes, 54 seconds? The longest drive, the biggest chunk of possession time out of the 400 minutes, 40 seconds the Jets have possessed the postseason rock, topping the 9:17 of the last touchdown drive of the 41-0 romp over the Colts in the ’02 wild-card game.
“The biggest thing to me was the execution on the drive,” said wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery after today’s first practice of the week at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. “The guys just locked in and were moving the chains. We said if we continue to do that, we’ll go down, get in the red zone and score. Everybody was locked in. We were a little off in the first half but we got those things taken care of.”
The only drawback to the drive is that it didn’t win the game for the Jets, it only gave them a 14-10 lead with 9:49 to play. Had it finished with 0:00 to play, it would henceforth be known as “The Drive.”
So perhaps italics will have to serve: The drive broke down thus: LaDainian Tomlinson carried five times for 16 yards, Shonn Greene five for 10, Brad Smith one for 8 out of the Seminole. And Sanchez, who no question was off the mark in the first half, found his groove especially on this possession, completing all five passes for 47 yards and four first downs, two to Dustin Keller, one to Braylon Edwards, one to Tomlinson, even one to TE Ben Hartsock. Sanchez even kept for 6 yards to the Indy 15 on third-and-1.
LT applied the crowning touch with his 1-yard standing-up touchdown run.
“I don’t know if it was special or it showed our identity,” said tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson, “but it just was a reflection of good football being played. It lets you know, it lets us know, it lets everybody know that we do that, we can do that against a quality team.”
It surely was a required piece in the Jets’ latest road conquest, setting up the endgame so that if Peyton Manning and the Colts were held to field goals — which they were — then the Jets could win it with a field goal of their own — which they did. And it also was the centerpiece of a long closing kick that frustrated the Colts in their home corral. Before that was the merely superb 10-play, 63-yard touchdown drive to open the second half, and before that was the 13-play, 60-yard drive that ended with Mark Sanchez’s interception.
In the game’s final 34:25, the Jets held the ball for 22:40 and let Manning & Co. work with it for 11:45. Talk about keeping the ball out of the Hall of Fame quarterbacks. This was a chapter in the textbook.
And the point of all this fond reminiscence is that maybe the Jets can do it again, will need to do it again, will in fact do it again against another HOF QB on Sunday in Foxboro.
It’s another weapon of ours,” said Greene. “We think we can do that with our running style with me and LT going back and forth and our offensive line pounding them and Mark getting completions here and there. It should be a tough task for us but I think we can get it done.”
That’s in fact what’s been missing in the Jets’ two most recent visits to the town with two spellings (Foxboro and Foxborough). In 2009 Sanchez and his offense mounted an 11-play, 80-yard touchdown drive but that was the best of a turnover-laden lot as the Jets had the ball for only 20:06. Six weeks ago in the 45-3 loss, they opened each half with a drive of double-digit plays but only two marches reached even field goal range.
Sanchez surely knows he can’t turn the ball over as he has in those two visits. But he and his offensive mates also know that they won’t have to worry about TB if they hit their stride on the road once again in five days.
“One of the things Schottty [Brian Schottenheimer, of course] kept saying is that we’re not playing Peyton Manning or Tom Brady. We’re playing the defenses of the teams they play for. If we focus on things the way we need to, the game’ll play out the way it’ll play out.”
“If we can get that going again,” said Greene, “I think we have a good chance of winning this game.”
Head coach Rex Ryan took a break from his media schedule and did not talk with reporters today. He, Sanchez and the rest of the Jets will return to their normal Wednesday schedule on Wednesday, of all days. Even with some decent snowfall expected for North Jersey, we’re expecting to stream Ryan live on newyorkjets.com as usual around 2-2:15 p.m.
The shame of the precipitation headed the Jets’ way is that Blake Hoerr and his grounds crew did a phenomenal job of scraping the turf field clear of last Friday’s snow, just in time for today’s practice and tonight’s new snow. Will the Jets work outside tomorrow, Thursday or Friday in preparation for the elements of Foxboro? No doubt they will, but which days remains up in the air.
The area around Gillette Stadium is expected to get a heaping helping from this snow event, but the weather on Sunday is forecast to be cloudy, breezy and in the mid 30s, with no snow expected.
Tags: D'Brickashaw Ferguson, Indianapolis Colts, Jerricho Cotchery, Lucas Oil Stadium, New England Patriots, Peyton Manning, Shonn Greene, Tom Brady
Posted in Randy Lange | 17 Comments »
The Jets are the NFL’s new 60-Minute Men.
After Adam Vinatieri gave the Colts a 16-14 lead with just 53 seconds on the clock in their AFC Wild Card matchup, most of America probably wrote the Green & White off. There wouldn’t be enough time for Rex Ryan’s club to move downfield quickly, especially on a night when second-year passer Mark Sanchez was far from accurate inside Lucas Oil Stadium.
But Pat McAfee kicked off and Antonio Cromartie, handling kick return duties with Brad Smith slowed by injury, raced 47 yards out to the Jets’ 46. With two timeouts still at their disposal, the visitors had plenty of time to get in Nick Folk field goal range.
“I never lost confidence,” said Rex Ryan of his thoughts after Vinatieri’s strike. “I thought, ‘We have enough time,’ and then we had the big return from Cromartie.”
Sanchez quickly went to Braylon Edwards for 9 yards and the Jets called timeout. Edwards (four catches, 62 yards) bobbled the ball on the way down, but it was ruled on the field and after a booth review that the rangy wideout had made a reception before falling on his own fumble. Then Sanchez went to Santonio Holmes for 11 and the speedy target (4-46) got out of bounds at the Colts’ 34.
“He has a lot of resolve,” said WLB Bart Scott of Sanchez. “I think he plays better in pressure situations when a lot of the thinking is gone and it’s just reacting. He’s moving, he gets in a groove. The tempo gets him in a groove. I think he sees the field a lot better sometimes and he gets in a rhythm.”
After the clocked was stopped, the Jets decided to run LaDainian Tomlinson up the middle for 2 yards. Then the Colts inexplicably called for a timeout and allowed offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer to devise a play.
Turns out Schotty handed the keys to Sanchez. It was up to No. 6 to select a call off the two-minute play sheet (which consisted of about a dozen plays) that he liked.
“He had a few different plays ready,” said the 24-year-old QB, “and he knew what I liked and I think he had a pretty good idea of what I was going to call. It was a good learning experience for me and it’s great to know that he has that trust in me.”
After making the play selection, Sanchez threw a great back-shoulder toss to Edwards for an 18-yard gain to the Colts’ 14. Corner Jacob Lacey was in coverage, but he could only helplessly watch Edwards elevate, grab the rock at the top of his jump and then come down with two feet in bounds.
“You have to have those in your toolbox and you go to it in your time of need,” said Sanchez, who became the first Jets QB to win three playoff games. “We needed it. I knew I could have made that throw last year — I don’t know if I could have made that call last year.”
Sanchez, who finished 18-of-31 for 189 yards with one interception, missed on a long pass to Edwards on the Jets’ next-to-last possession that would have cemented the game. But he didn’t miss this time around and it set up Folk for his first playoff game-winner and third career GW from 32 yards out.
“Go make it look like an extra point and that’s what I tried to do,” said Folk. “It went right down the middle.”
“We put him in a good spot and that’s what he does,” added Sanchez. “He’s done a great job for us down the stretch and he kicked one when we needed it. I don’t like to look at him. I just hung out with Coach Cav [QBs coach Matt Cavanaugh] for a second, just looked over his shoulder, not watching the game, watching the crowd to see what they would do. And they weren’t very happy, so I knew it went in.”
Jets Nation celebrated throughout the land. And because the Green & White saw this one through till the end, the 60-Minute Men will take their fight on to New England next Sunday.
Tags: Antonio Cromartie, Braylon Edwards, Indianapolis Colts, Lucas Oil Stadium, Mark Sanchez, Nick Folk, Rex Ryan, Santonio Holmes
Posted in Eric Allen | 70 Comments »
Jets fans are much in evidence in the Circle City these days. They dominated a restaurant or two in downtown Indianapolis and belted out more than a few “J-E-T-S” chants, much to the consternation of the locals.
And they’re expected to be in evidence in the just now filling up Lucas Oil Stadium, along with more than a few Jets and Jets-related celebrities. Expected in the stadium: ex-Jets QB Boomer Esiason, working the game for Westwood One Radio; former Jets Jason Fabini, a Hoosier himself, and Marvin Jones; Marty Schottenheimer, father of the Jets offensive coordinator; Jets fans and funny men Ray Romano and Kevin James, and Fireman Ed Anzalone, who should be visible about six rows up behind the Jets bench during the game.
Will the Jets be treating all their followers to a Saturday night delight in Indianapolis? That’s the idea.
But of course, the Colts stand in the way. And they stood tall in this venue a little less than a year ago when Peyton Manning and the Indy offense roared from 17-6 down to 30-17 ahead and on to the Colts’ Super Bowl date with the Saints.
And Lucas Oil can be a deafening place to play, even with Jets fans scattered throughout the building. But the Jets have shown their mettle on the road in their two seasons under head coach Rex Ryan. They have gone 6-2 away from New Meadowlands Stadium this season and 13-5 in 2009-10, including last season’s playoff run.
And while it’s not necessarily a green badge of courage, the Jets have become familiar with the trappings of being a road playoff team. Tonight is their eighth consecutive postseason match on the road, or ever since they defeated the Colts, 41-0, at home in the 2002 playoffs. In the previous seven games, their record is 3-4, with the wins coming after the 2004 regular season at San Diego and last season at Cincinnati and San Diego.
Also worth considering is that while the Jets appear to be in better health than in recent weeks, the Colts are suffering. They have put 17 players on IR this season, and of the 11 players listed on this week’s injury reports, reports are that RT Ryan Diem, LB Clint Session and DB Kelvin Hayden will not be available.
Still, the ‘Shoes have Manning and the Jets have Mark Sanchez, sore-shouldered but ready to reprise his role as a young NFL QB rising to the challenge on the NFL’s second-season stage. It should be an exciting evening for Jets fans.
The Jets’ inactive list for tonight’s game has a few surprises. DE Vernon Gholston has been deactivated, a CD (coach’s decision). RB Joe McKnight, who starred in the backfield last week vs. Buffalo, is also IA. So are CB Isaiah Trufant, OL Vlad Ducasse, DTs Jarron Gilbert and Marcus Dixon, and TE Jeff Cumberland. (Kellen Clemens is the third QB.)
With the two D-linemen down, the Jets have four DL activate for this game — starters Shaun Ellis, Sione Pouha and Mike DeVito, and DT Trevor Pryce, back and available. Ryan and DC Mike Pettine have gone heavy on the back end as they anticipate defensing Manning passes to his receivers.
Also for the Jets, Dwight Lowery will stay at safety in the starting lineup, although Eric Smith is back from his concussion and available for the first time in four games. And Damien Woody is back in the OL starting lineup at RT, after also sitting out three games following his knee scope, with Wayne Hunter returning to his role as the backup at both tackle spots.
Update, 7:47 p.m.: The Colts’ inactive list contains several more starters, further depleting their ninth consecutive playoff effort. DT Antonio Johnson is inactive, as are Session, Hayden and Diem, as mentioned above, plus S Al Afalava, Gs Jamey Richard and Jaimie Thomas, and T Joe Reitz. Indy does not designate a third QB.
The Jets are wearing their white jerseys and white pants for this game. As you know if you’ve followed the numbers in these pregame blogs, the Green & White fare very well in white & white. They’re 7-3 in that combo this season (although 1-2 in their last three) and 13-5 in all white in the Ryan regime. The Jets wore their road whites in both games at Lucas Oil Stadium last season, the 29-15 Week 16 triumph and the AFC Championship Game loss.
Ryan tabbed six players as his gameday captains: DE Shaun Ellis, CB Darrelle Revis, G Brandon Moore, TE Ben Hartsock, P Steve Weatherford, TE Dustin Keller.
Gene Steratore is this wild-card games referee. This is Steratore’s sixth Jets game as the man in the white hat. His first was the 2006 season opener at Tennessee, Eric Mangini’s first game as Jets head coach. His last two were the 2008 primetime triumph at New England and last season’s 38-0 rout at Oakland.
The Jets-Colts game has drawn NBC’s A-team, Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth, in the booth. This is only the fourth Jets game on the network since it passed the AFC franchise on to CBS. They are 3-0 in those most recent NBC games, last year’s regular-season finale and then AFC Wild Card win, both against Cincinnati and this year’s Game 3 at Miami.
Tags: AFC Wild Card Game, Damien Woody, Dwight Lowery, Indianapolis Colts, joe McKnight, Lucas Oil Stadium, Peyton Manning, Rex Ryan, Vernon Gholston
Posted in Randy Lange | 27 Comments »