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Lankster Picking Up Where Trufant Left Off

Posted by Randy Lange on November 16, 2012 – 3:33 pm

Updated, 4:15 p.m. ET

Ellis Lankster said he would be watching NFL highlights or ESPN’s Top Ten and see blitzing cornerbacks from other teams coming free all the time, swooping in on unsuspecting quarterbacks and separating them from the football.

“And I would say, ‘Why? Why do I never come free like that?’ ” he wondered.

At Seattle, it happened. Lankster, playing nickel after Isaiah Trufant suffered his season-ending first-quarter knee injury, came off his left edge in a five-man rush. No Seahawk stepped up to block him, and suddenly there was rookie QB Russell Wilson, as big as day and looking the other way.

“My whole time running, I was saying in my head, ‘Don’t throw it, don’t throw it, don’t throw it,’ ” Lankster recalled. “He didn’t throw it. I was so happy.”

Lankster hit Wilson and the ball came loose. In one instant, the third-year man who’s been waiting his turn for his career to get rolling had just picked up his first sack and first forced fumble of his career.

As luck would have it, the Seahawks recovered the loose ball at their 7. It was still a big third-down play, forcing a 3-and-out, but it was one of several plays that could have signaled a Jets upsurge in that game but went the other way. If only Dustin Keller didn’t false-start, if only Mark Sanchez saw Stephen Hill in the back of the end zone, if only the Jets had recovered that ball and Jeremy Kerley hadn’t muffed the punt …

That’s what happens to teams on losing streaks. But teams that pull out of those streaks do so by relying on positive trends that develop during those negative teams. We have more on that in our Sunday morning preview of the Jets-Rams game, but suffice it to say that Lankster, to help him should he have a clear shot at Rams QB Sam Bradford, has been going to the Jets’ video library.

“I never played with Drew Coleman. My first year here, he was gone,” he said of the former Jets corner and strip-sack artist who played last year with Jacksonville last season. “Coaches will be like, ‘Go back and watch how Drew Coleman did it, or how Donald Strickland did it.’ “

In fact, Lankster did a great imitation. He became the first Jets DB to execute a strip-sack in 28 games, or since DC had three in a three-game span (two against Ben Roethlisberger) late in the 2010 season.

There’s no guarantee Lankster will be running forward unblocked again Sunday and on Thanksgiving night back home against the Patriots. But an improved Jets rush will help him as he tries to fill Trufant’s role in coverage against those teams’ top wideouts, Danny Amendola for the Rams and Wes Welker for the Patriots. In fact, as Ryan said a few times this week, Amendola “kind of looks like Wes Welker, and his game looks a lot like it, too.”

The shame of that is that Trufant likely would have been a key player in the Jets’ nickel. He’d been flashing on blitzes himself and got praise for helping to hold Welker down four weeks ago at New England. Unfortunately, Trufant’s left knee got jarred by LB Garrett McIntyre as both went for the tackle of ex-Jet Leon Washington on his first punt return on Sunday. That injury landed Trufant on IR on Tuesday.

But ‘Zaiah may yet make his presence felt under the Edward Jones Dome on Sunday.

“Ever since he got hurt, he’s been telling me to ‘hold it down,’ ” Lankster said. “He’s been sending me texts, saying, ‘Don’t feel sorry for me. It’s your time.’ “

Perhaps it will be.

Here is the list of strip-sacks by Jets DBs from the Bill Parcells era forward:

2010 — CB Drew Coleman 3

2009 — S Jim Leonhard 2, S James Ihedigbo 1, S Kerry Rhodes 1

2008 — S Abram Elam 2, CB Hank Poteat 1, CB Darrelle Revis 1

2006 — Rhodes 3

2001 — CB Ray Mickens 1

1999 — Mickens 2

1998 — S Victor Green 1

Friday Injury Reports

Mostly good news on the Jets’ injury front. The good: For the first time this season, the Jets list no players as either doubtful or out for the upcoming game. “I expect us to have a healthy roster,” Ryan said today, “and we’ll see how that goes.”

Included in those expectations are the five players listed as questionable for the Rams: RB Bilal Powell (concussion), RB-KR Joe McKnight (ankle), NT Sione Po‘uha (back/ankle), LB Bart Scott (toe) and — the only semi-negative injury news — WR-PR Jeremy Kerley, who didn’t practice for the first time this week with his heel injury plus a hamstring complication.

WR Stephen Hill practiced full after sitting out two days with an illness and said he’s feeling a lot better. He’s probable, as are LB Calvin Pace (DNP today due to personal reasons) and the 12 other players on the list.

All four injured Rams players are listed as questionable for the game: LB Mario Haggan (thigh), WR Austin Pettis (toe), DE Eugene Sims (knee), S Darian Stewart (knee). None is a starter.

Penalty: Gannon

Last week at this time we noted that Marv Albert was about to call his 100th Jets game on network TV. He and Rich Gannon (doing his seventh Jets game since ’08 as a network analyst and his fifth teamed with Marv) in the CBS booth generally had a good game. Gannon in particular was tough but insightful on Mark Sanchez’s play and the Jets’ use of Tim Tebow.

But Gannon committed a late-game gaffe that we’d like to correct for the record. When Yeremiah Bell rocked RB Richard Turbin as a Russell Wilson pass sailed over their heads, and YB was flagged for what ref Ed Hochuli announced was “unnecessary roughness, helmet contact to a defenseless player,” Gannon offered this:

“Yeremiah Bell’s been tagged a couple times this season for these type of hits.”

False. Until that penalty, Bell hadn’t been flagged for any plays of that kind this season. The only penalty he’d been called for previously was for holding TE Heath Miller in Game 2 at Pittsburgh.

If Gannon had said the Jets safeties as a tandem had been tagged a couple of times, he would have been in the ballpark. LaRon Landry was flagged for two late hits, on Buffalo’s C.J. Spiller in the opener (offset) and on Pittsburgh’s Emmanuel Sanders the next week, plus a horsecollar tackle on Antonio Brown in that game. He’d gone unpenalized for six games, or until he was called for pass interference on Seattle TE Evan Moore in the back of the end zone.

That Landry penalty vs. the Seahawks, by the way, was a rarity, since it officially was for zero yards yet still gave the Seahawks a first down. The ball was already inside the Jets 1 and the penalty moved the ball half the distance to the goal line, which was a foot away. That’s still statistically considered the 1-yard line.

Special Thanks to A-1 First Class

The New York Jets want to extend a special thank-you to A-1 First Class Moving, the proud moving partner of the Jets, for helping deliver items from the organization’s Sandy Relief Drive to New Jersey Cares.


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Jets-Seahawks: Pregame Tweets

Posted by Randy Lange on November 11, 2012 – 3:08 pm

Here are today’s pregame tweets for Jets-Seahawks at CenturyLink Field, 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 for Jets @ Seattle won’t be snow as it was in ’08, but almost as bad: rain expected all afternoon, temps in mid-40s, light wind.

#RL Jets are 8-9 all-time vs Seahawks, 3-4 @ SEA, 0-1 @ CenturyLink, but they’ve won 8 of the last 10 meetings, 3 of last 5 @ SEA.

#RL Jets have scored first in eight of the last nine games in this series (7-2), have scored first in last five games at Seattle.

#RL Jets QB Mark Sanchez last 2 games: 95 atts, 56 comps, 611 yds. Atts, comps most in back-to-back games in his career, yds 2nd most.

#RL SEA rookie QB Russell Wilson in 4 home games this yr: 92 atts, 57 comps, 747 yds, 9 TDs, 0 INTs, 1 lost FUM, 120.2 rating, 4-0 record.

#RL Jets RB Shonn Greene: 139 carries, 509 yds (3.7 avg), 5 TDs. In his last 3 games Greene is averaging 97.3 yds/game, 4.6 per carry.

#RL SEA RB Marshawn Lynch w/BUF vs Jets 2007-10: 7 games, 103 carries, 431 yds (4.2 per carry, 61.6 per game), 2 TDs.

#RL Today’s referee: Ed Hochuli. It’s Ed’s 17th Jets game as ref since ’93, incl ’04 PO win @ SD, ’09 season opener @ HOU, ’10 win vs NE

#RL NYJ inactives: QB Greg McElroy RB Joe McKnight LB Aaron Maybin G Caleb Schlauderaff G Hayworth Hicks TE Hayden Smith NT Kenrick Ellis

#RL S Eric Smith (knee) active first time in 4 games, LB Bart Scott (toe) active after sitting vs MIA, ending 119-game RS appearance streak.

#RL With Jets LB Aaron Maybin deactivated, LB Ricky Sapp is active and could make his NFL debut today.

#RL Jets in white jerseys, white pants, green trim. 23rd time u/ Rex Ryan Jets are in white/white. Record is 12-10 but 1-7 in last 8 games in w/w.

#RL Marv Albert, Rich Gannon in the CBS booth for Jets-Seahawks. It’s the 100th career Jets game that Marv has called for network TV.


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Seattle Will Mark Marv Albert’s 100th Jets Game

Posted by Randy Lange on November 8, 2012 – 5:51 pm

Updated, 7:30 p.m. ET

Sunday in Seattle, Marv Albert will turn 100.

How’s that again?

No, Albert, the legendary announcer of NBA, NHL and NFL games in New York and around the country, is not celebrating his 100th birthday. But he will be calling his 100th Jets game on network television when the Green & White take on the Seahawks.

“Great. Now it becomes an emotional game for me,” Albert told me by phone from Portland with his trademark sardonic wit.

In reality, Albert didn’t know that he’d done 99 Jets games over the years, but it’s true. The man who many in the New York area of a certain age remember as the Knicks and Rangers play-by-play man as they were growing up and has become known as “The Voice of Basketball” for his extensive NBA work, also has a long career as one of the NFL’s stable of game announcers. My TV records before ’65 are spotty but Marv may be only the third announcer to call 100 Jets games, joining Curt Gowdy and Charlie Jones in that exclusive club.

“I go back as a kid listening to the Titans. I remember listening to Bob Murphy and Merle Harmon during the Harry Wismer era, which was rather unorthodox,” Marv reminisced about the first owner of the AFL franchise that grew into the Jets.

“Over the years, the memories that stand out to me are the success of the Sack Exchange and that particular era. What a great team that was to cover for me. Those teams reminded me of the Knicks of the Seventies and the Islanders of the Eighties. Not only were they a good team but they were terrific to talk to, just a great group.”

Some memorable Jets games he worked were the 1994 Dan Marino “fake spike” game against Miami and the ’92 game vs. Kansas City in which Dennis Byrd suffered his paralyzing injury. He also called three Jets playoff games, including the winning home effort over the Chiefs in ’86.

But before Albert got to Klecko, Gastineau, Lyons, Salaam, Kenny O’Brien, Wesley Walker, Byrd and the rest, he began calling Jets games in the somber late Seventies. He started out on NBC in 1977 and his first Jets game was in fact the ’77 season opener against the Oilers in the Astrodome, “a terrible place to do TV.” His partner that day — and in fact the partner with whom he called the most Jets games over the years, 28 in all — was Paul Maguire.

He also worked the Jets with other NFL names such as Len Dawson, John Brodie, Bob Griese, Cris Collinsworth, Bob Trumpy, Randy Cross, Sam Wyche and former Jets kicker Jim Turner.

“The networks finally got wise to keeping the same people together,” Marv recalled. “Early on, they would switch people around, switch producers, which was not good if you wanted to get accustomed to your partner.

Albert was paired with Joe Namath — “a real kick for me,” Marv said — for nine Jets games in 1987-88. His Parcells period — “Bill was a lot of fun” — was for five games in 1991-92. His last Jets game for NBC was Game 2 in 1997 with Cross. The AFC franchise was picked up by CBS in ’98 and although he worked the occasional Jets Monday night game on Westwood One Radio from 2002-09, he didn’t work the NFL on CBS until last season, when he was teamed up with Rich Gannon. Marv and Rich will be doing their fifth Jets game together on Sunday at CenturyLink Field.

“I love working with Rich. In terms of breaking down an offense, he’s worked with so many quarterbacks and even spent some time with Mark Sanchez a couple of years ago,” Albert said. “He has such a great feel and his remarks, which we’ll get into Sunday about Sanchez and Tim Tebow and what’s going on there are right on target.

“But what’s great is he’s so passionate in terms of he just loves sitting down with the coaches and the offense. Before each game we usually sit down with the head coach, the offensive and defensive coordinators, the quarterback and maybe one other player. And they’re asking Rich questions. That used to happen with Bill Parcells a lot. And I find that happens with Rich. He’s so respected around the league.”

As for what Marv sees for him, Gannon, the Jets and their fans on Sunday, he said, “The strange thing is they can still make the playoffs. But I think it’s a tough game Sunday with that crowd, and it’s a game the Jets have to win. It’s so hard if they don’t win here.”

And, Albert admitted, “From a TV point of view, we wouldn’t mind seeing Tebow.”

Injury Watch

Some good news on the Jets’ injury front was second-year DT Kenrick Ellis doing limited work during team drills. It’s the first practice Ellis has been able to work even on a limited basis since hurting his knee against Houston on Oct. 8.  Injury report update: TE Jeff Cumberland (wrist) was full-go for the first time in two weeks. DT Damon Harrison (thumb) was added to the list as fully practicing. S LaRon Landry (heel) as usual was listed as limited after being full-go Wednesday and likely full on Friday.

The Seahawks had some good and bad to report. The good: WR Braylon Edwards (knee) was limited today after not practicing Wednesday. The bad: CB Richard Sherman (illness) and DE Greg Scruggs (oblique) were added today as DNPs. RB Marshawn Lynch (back/wrist) also was another of the ‘Hawks’ now eight DNPs, sitting out his second practice this week.


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Lots to Like About Mark’s Metrics in the Opener

Posted by Randy Lange on September 10, 2012 – 2:32 pm

One of the main storylines to Sunday’s season-opening success against the Bills was the accuracy of the quarterback’s throws. And the secret to Mark Sanchez’s day was really no secret.

“Fundamentally, Mark had great confidence in his protection,” head coach Rex Ryan said this midday at his day-after-the-game news conference. “When guys did come open, he was ale to step up and make throws. He was very accurate with the football. There were probably a couple of throws he wishes he had back, but overall I thought he did a tremendous job.

“I just saw that confidence. I saw it in the pregame. I’m not so sure I’ve ever seen that before. I’ve seen him have some great games, but he was bouncing around, zipping it. I sensed he was really feeling it.”

Sanchez said as much following the 48-28 verdict.

“Just having the time to throw is the most important thing,” he said after his efficient 19-for-27, 266-yard, three-TD, one-INT game. “We’re putting a lot of pressure on those guys up front to give me more time and they did a great job doing that. Then the wideouts made great plays. They’re not all perfect. The balls aren’t all perfect, but our guys found a way to catch them and get some yards after the catch, which is nice.”

Yes, we can caution that Sanchez beat up on a young secondary, going over the top of second-year man Aaron Williams and first-round pick Stephon Gilmore on the corners and that he’ll need to ace tougher tests ahead, beginning with the Steelers at Pittsburgh on Sunday.

But while many of the criticisms Mark’s heard in his first three seasons are valid, some of his shortcomings came against imperfect defenses like the Bills. Today Sanchez deserves his kudos for trusting his line as it kept the Buffalo D-line herd out of his pasture and getting Sunday’s job done.

■ Sanchez’s 70.4% completion rate was just what fans and reporters have been clamoring for. It was the fifth-best of his career, behind the 76.5% (13-for-17) vs. Carolina and 80% (12-for-15) at Cincinnati in the playoffs in ’09, and 70.8% (17-for-24) vs. Jacksonville  and 71.4% at Buffalo last year.

■ No one was beating him up more than he was for that too-hard, too-inaccurate shovel for Jeff Cumberland that turned into his only giveaway of the game. But while it’s not statistically honest to lop off that first drive from his passing numbers for the day, it may be revealing to at least note that after the interception, Sanchez was 17-for-23 for 248 yards and his three scoring strikes. The 148.2 rating for that line would have been the highest of his career if it had been his line for the entire game.

■ One of the Jets’ aims for this game was to control third down, and at least offensively they got that done. Their 71.4% third-down conversion rate was their best in a game since late 2004, when they converted 11 of 14 (78.6%) against Seattle. They converted their first six third downs, all on Sanchez completions, the best from the start of a game since they hit their first seven in the “Win And We’re In” game vs. the Bengals in ’09. And Sanchez’s passing line (8-for-10, 92 yards, one TD, 138.3 rating) was one of the best of his career.

“I think he’s got a great grasp of this system even though it’s a new system,” Ryan said today. “He knows the opponents, he now knows what it takes to play in this league. He said when he came in as a rookie that one of these days he was going to be a strength of our team. You look at it now, he certainly is.”

And Rex, Mark, Tony Sparano, the line and the entire offense know that in six days it’ll be “What have you done for us lately?” Let’s see if Sanchez and company can string two together.

Revis’ Head

Ryan confirmed that CB Darrelle Revis suffered a “slight concussion” in the fourth quarter, when he extended to trip up RB C.J. Spiller and got a Bart Scott foot to the back of his helmet.

“I know the NFL protocol. I’ll always lean on our trainers and doctors,” Rex said about the early prognosis for Revis to play the Steelers back in his hometown. “Anything with any injury at all but especially a head injury of any kind, I’m going to err on the side of caution, so we’ll see how he progresses during the week.”

The coach had no updates on the hamstrings of LB Bryan Thomas and WR Patrick Turner, injured during the game, and TE Dustin Keller, who had one catch for 7 yards in his limited action due to his sore hamstring from the Carolina preseason game.

Corrections Ahead

Not all was perfection vs. the Bills. Ryan mentioned that “we have some things to correct, and we look forward to getting on the practice field to getting that done.”

One was the defense’s run tackling. Credit surely goes to C.J. Spiller for making a number of Jets miss as he rolled to 169 yards on 14 carries, including his 56-yard TD run and his 49-yard run to the 2-yard line to set up another score.

“The tackling was poor, to say the least,” Ryan said. “Sometimes when you get up like that, you can’t have any kind of lapse, and I kind of felt we did. I’m not taking anything away from Buffalo. They certainly did a good job on offense.”

So good that their 7.5 yards per carry was the 11th-highest average by an opponent in Jets history and the second-highest in the last 10 years. The only opponent better in that span was the Bengals with their 7.8 in the Jets’ ’09 playoff win.

Also mentioned by the coach: RB Shonn Greene’s “uncharacteristic” two fumbles, both recovered by the Jets, one by Greene at the Bills 43 in the second quarter, the other by D’Brickashaw Ferguson in the end zone inside the final two minutes, with the ball going back to the Buffalo 1. And Rex said “I never want to see Yeremiah [Bell] pitch that ball, either,” on the Bell recovery of the LaRon Landry force against Spiller.

“Inside the Jets” Returns

“Inside the Jets,” hosted by Bob Wischusen, is back on the air tonight from 7-8 p.m. at the Grasshopper in Morristown. ESPN New York 98.7 will broadcast the show, whose guests are expected to be WR Stephen Hill and T Austin Howard.

Yessss!

Marv Albert and Rich Gannon were in the CBS booth for the game. It was the 98th Jets game Marv has called in his illustrious career, and it was the 11th Jets opener he worked — but the first since 1995 at Miami for NBC.


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