David Garrard’s back. Now a few questions would involve whether his back and his knee are back along with him.
The newly signed veteran Jets QB chatted with beat reporters in a conference call this afternoon, and one of the first questions involved those two parts of his anatomy, which in part led to his not playing the previous two seasons.
Brian Costello of the New York Post came in with Question No. 2 regarding Garrard’s training room scene on last year’s Hard Knocks.
“Yeah, that was a tough situation for me,” the personable Garrard said. “I feel like I had come back great from my back. My back is no issue. I was really battling down there, having a lot of fun, being on the field, doing what I do. Then my knee starts creeping up a little bit swelling up. I needed [arthroscopic] surgery.
“But my knee is great now. I’m really excited to get back in the league, playing ball. I’m very thankful the Jets have given me this opportunity.”
Needless to say, the opportunity can head in several different directions. One topic on Jets fans’ minds regarding the signing is the state of his body. Is he starting to break down, as virtually all athletes great and small do at some point? Indeed, in that key Hard Knocks episode, Garrard reported to the Dolphins trainer that turned to watch one of his children swimming in the pool and “felt something crunch in that knee.”
“Didn’t bang it on anything, didn’t fall on it or anything,” Garrard said then. “Maybe it’s father time.”
Today he had no reservations about his health. Perhaps it’s March machismo, but Garrard, who is a good-sized (6’1″, 239) QB, says despite the “nicks and knacks” of the past two years and the celebration of his 35th birthday last month, he’s still got what it takes to maneuver the ball down the field.
If I have to get a first down, I can, I can tell you that much,” he said. “As a quarterback, as you continue to get older, you have to be smarter with your body, smarter getting the ball out. Really the No. 1 thing for me as I continue to grow in this league, I’m realizing if I can get the ball to my back or dump it to the tight end, they can probably get as many yards and maybe more and I take less of a beating. That’s just the way the game is. As a quarterback, they don’t want you to be all broken up, sore, can’t move around in the pocket. I’m definitely smarter with the ball.
“But if I have to get a first down to keep chains moving or get the ball in the end zone, I’m going to do what I have to do.”
Yet the most healthy thing of all, on first listening to Garrard’s first public remarks as a Jet, is his outlook on the Jets’ starting job. He’s clearly for winning it, but first and foremost he’s clearly for his new team’s success.
“I just expect to go out and compete and really try to help this team out in any way possible,” he said. “If the way I play on the field allows that to happen, then I think great. If it doesn’t, I’m going to still be the best teammate I can be and help out this team as much as I can. It’s a team spot. not just me and the other QBs. It’s everybody pulling together, helping this ballclub out as much as possible.”
“All I know is I can compete and I’m going to have fun and make the team better.”
Tags: David Garrard, Jacksonville Jaguars, Mark Sanchez, Miami Dolphins
Posted in Randy Lange | 47 Comments »
Updated, 1:35 p.m. ET
The view is not sunny this morning, and I don’t just mean just from my North Jersey bunker as the wind whips the trees and the rain falls in rippling sheets.
The Jets are 3-5 at the 2012 halfway point, which also this year happens to be the break for their bye week. That record is significant for a few reasons.
It is good for sole possession of fourth and last place in the AFC East. Buffalo, on its bye, is a half-game ahead in third. Miami, which the Jets planned to send to 3-4, instead are 4-3 and a game and a half ahead in second. The Patriots are 5-3, two games ahead in the top spot.
Sole possession of last is not something the Jets have experienced much lately. Since ’09 under head coach Rex Ryan, they had never before been alone in the cellar. In fact, the last time was seven years ago, when they held fourth place in the division for the last 12 weeks of the 2005 season..
But the true significance of 3-5 is what it has done for their postseason plans. Three-and-five is not a good spot from which to launch a playoff assault.
Here are the facts:
■ Since 2002, when the current playoff format began, 59 NFL teams have begun 3-5.
■ Three of them, 5.1%, made the playoffs. The Jets were one of them, needing a 6-2 finish plus help to win the AFC East in ’02. San Diego in ’08 and Denver in ’11 both finished 8-8 and won the AFC West in those seasons.
■ Only five of those 59 started 3-5 and finished 6-2. No team finished 8-0 or 7-1.
■ The average record of all 59 of those teams: roughly 6-9-1.
■ How about teams that went 3-5 and got their bye in Week 9? Only seven got that scenario, and only the ’08 Chargers went from 3-5 to the playoffs. Average record for those seven is slightly better than 6-10.
Ryan knows the window is bad small. On his conference call with Jets reporters this morning, he was asked what he wants his players to do this bye week.
“First off, take care of yourself and your family and ride the hurricane thing out for a couple of days. Then get away from it,” he said. “I want them to get away and then come back, and we need to be all in. The only chance we have is if we’re 100 percent all in. We have no wiggle room. We have to start playing a ton better. Obviously our players know that.
“That’s the only thing we can hang our hat on. If we don’t play better, we can forget about anything.”
One more thing that will give these Jets the best chance they have in their final eight is to get a lot of their health back. Several players who have played important roles this year and in the past have been either out or hobbled or both for a while.
NT Sione Po‘uha agreed with that theory after returning to action vs. the Dolphins.
“Obviously, you would like to go into the bye week with a win, feeling positive about things,” Big Bo said. “But it’ll give me, I can only speak for myself, more time, almost like a long reset to evaluate and make new commitments and make new resolve for the upcoming second half of the season. I think this bye week will serve as a resolve/reset-type break for us before we come back and face Seattle and the remainder of the games.”
Eric Smith (knee), a stabilizing force in the secondary and a leader on special teams, has missed the last three games. Bilal Powell (shoulder), a key depth component at RB, has missed two games. Joe McKnight has been playing on a left ankle sprain for two weeks that he aggravated against Miami. LB Bart Scott’s battled turf toe for five weeks and finally ended his ironman streaks by sitting vs. the Dolphins. NT Kenrick Ellis (knee) has sat three games.
“These two weeks give us a chance to get healthy,” Ryan said. “I’m hoping they’ll all be available for Seattle. I’m not 100 percent sure, especially on Kenrick, but I feel great that Smith, Powell and Bart will be back. I think we’ll get the majority of our guys back healthy. I think that’s what this team needs.”
That and six victories could do wonders.
That Miami Mystique
The Jets outgained the Dolphins by 127 yards Sunday. A major component of that was Miami’s 20-0 halftime lead, of course, but the yardage inequality follows a trend.
The Jets’ plus-127 is tied for the 13th-largest yardage margin in a loss in franchise history. No. 2 on that list is the 30-25 home loss to the Dolphins in 2009, when they had a plus-274-yard margin. And tied for 10th is the 10-6 home loss in 2010, when the Jets were plus-149.
Tags: Bart Scott, Bilal Powell, Eric Smith, joe McKnight, Miami Dolphins, Rex Ryan, Sione Pouha
Posted in Randy Lange | 144 Comments »
Here are today’s pregame tweets for Jets-Dolphins at MetLife Stadium, 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 Gray afternoon for Jets-Dolphins 1 pm ET start at MetLife Stadium. Cloudy, chance of rain, temps in high 50s, wind gusts to 20 mph.
#RL Jets lead Dolphins in all-time series 49-44-1. Jets lead in all-time series at home 27-19, have won 1 of last 4 but 10 of last 14.
#RL Mark Sanchez career vs. MIA: 7 games, 120-for-233 passing (51.5%), 1623 yds, 10 TDs, 6 INTs, 13 sacks, 77.6 rating, 3-4 record.
#RL TE Dustin Keller career vs MIA: 8 games, 28 recs, 328 yds, 11.7 avg, 17 first downs, 4 TDs.
#RL Shonn Greene career vs MIA: 7 games, 82 carries, 247 yds, 3.0 avg, 0 TDs, 6 recs, 41 yds, 0 TDs.
#RL K Nick Folk is 41-for-43 career (95.3%) in 4th-quarter FG tries (incl playoffs), 2nd-best pct among all NFL kickers since 1991.
#RL Ryan Tannehill career vs NYJ: 1 game, 16-for-36 (44.4%), 196 yds, 0 TDs, 1 INT, 0 sacks, 50.2 rating, 0-1 record.
#RL Reggie Bush career vs NYJ: 3 games, 26 carries 169 yds (6.5 avg), 0 TDs, 6 recs, 15 yds, 0 TDs.
#RL CB Antonio Cromartie leads Jets with 3 INTs. Cro has 10 INTs as a Jets since ’10, with 1 coming @ MIA in Game 16 last season.
#RL K Dan Carpenter career vs NYJ: 15-for-17 in all FG tries, with both misses coming in Game 3 @ MIA last month, from 47, 48 yds.
#RL Jets inactives: QB Greg McElroy, RB Bilal Powell, S Eric Smith, LB Bart Scott, DT Damon Harrison, TE Jeff Cumberland, DT Kenrick Ellis.
#RL Bart Scott had appeared in 119 consecutive RS games, 5th-longest streak among active LBs, 8th-longest streak among active def players in NFL.
#RL Third-round rookie LB Demario Davis making his pro starting debut for Bart Scott at ILB alongside LB David Harris.
#RL TE Hayden Smith, signed from Jets practice squad on SAT, is active for this game and could make his pro debut.
#RL Active for Jets: NT Sione Pouha (back), who’s missed past 3 games, WR Clyde Gates (shoulder), who missed past 2 games.
#RL MIA inactives: QB Pat Devlin, CB Richard Marshall, LB Josh Kaddu, T Will Yeatman, TE Michael Egnew, WRs Rishard Matthews & Anthony Armstrong.
#RL Walt Anderson is the referee. Anderson has been ref at 9 previous Jets games since ’03, incl ’09 “Win And We’re In” Game 16 vs CIN.
#RL Jets in green jerseys, white pants today. Jets u/ Rex Ryan since ’09 are 11-9 in green/white, 9-7 at home in green/white.
Tags: Dan Carpenter, Mark Sanchez, MetLife Stadium, Miami Dolphins, Nick Folk, Reggie Bush, Rex Ryan, Ryan Tannehill, Shonn Greene
Posted in Randy Lange | 69 Comments »
Here are today’s first-half tweets for Jets-Dolphins at MetLife Stadium, 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 Dan Carpenter FG from 33 yds gives MIA early 3-0 lead. Carpenter now 16-for-18 in career FG tries vs the Jets.
#RL Dan Carpenter FG from 33 yds gives MIA early 3-0 lead. Carpenter now 16-for-18 in career FG tries vs the Jets.
#RL Former Jet Jason Trusnik recovers Dan Carpenter onside kick. First opponents’ onside KO recovery since Matt Prater @ DEN in ’10.
#RL Robert Malone rocks 59-yd punt, marking 8th straight game he’s had at least one 50-yd punt in a game.
#RL QB Ryan Tannehill has left quad injury, his return to this game is questionable. Matt Moore is in at QB for MIA.
#RL Jimmy Wilson blocks Robert Malone’s punt, Olivier Vernon catches it in mid-hop in the end zone for TD and 10-0 MIA lead…
#RL Daniel Thomas 3-yd TD run, PAT makes it 17-0 MIA, 14:08 left 1st half. Largest MIA lead over NYJ since 21-3 in 2nd qtr in 2003.
#RL Joe McKnight has an ankle injury. His return to this game is questionable.
#RL Correction on opponents’ blocked-punt-return TD: Last by Jets opponent was Albert Lewis of KC in 1986 playoff game.
#RL Dolphins lead 20-0. Jets have overcome 20-pt 2Q deficits only twice in their history: 1978 at DEN, 2000 vs MIA (Monday Night Miracle),
#RL Nick Folk from 35 yds out, kick is blocked. Last FG block by opponent: Yeremiah Bell as a Dolphin on Folk at MIA in 2010.
#RL Folk’s 11-for-11 FG streak is over. Still ties franchise record for most consec FGs from start of a season that Folk set last season.
Tags: Calvin Pace, Dan Carpenter, Mark Sanchez, Miami Dolphins, Nick Folk, Olivier Vernon
Posted in Randy Lange | 40 Comments »
There have been plenty of highs and lows so far through the first seven weeks of the Jets’ season.
But possibly the least-talked-about positive has been the perfect start from kicker Nick Folk.
“He has been phenomenal,” head coach Rex Ryan said this week. “There are a lot of areas that we can improve in. Kicking is not one of them. The guy has been absolutely phenomenal.”
Just like a season ago, Folk has once again started 11-of-11 on his field goal attempts.
“I’ve had some pretty good starts,” Folk said Friday. “I just have to try and keep it rolling. I feel like I’m hitting the ball really solidly and trying to keep improving every day on the little things.”
The sixth-year pro is coming off a 4-of-4 performance Sunday during the Jets’ 29-26 overtime loss at New England. In that game, he connected on a 54-yarder, which trimmed the Patriots’ lead to 16-10 at the intermission, and later in a 29-second span hit a pair of 43-yarders, one to tie the game at 23-all and the next to give the Jets a three-point lead with 1:37 left in regulation.
“I mean, it felt good, but at the same time you know, we didn’t get the win,” the kicker said. “Like when we beat Indy and I just kicked a bunch of extra points, I’d take that. I just want to win. I think we’ll keep getting better and keep improving every week and we’ll do well this Sunday.”
The Jets will host the Miami Dolphins at MetLife Stadium. The teams already met this season back on Sept. 23. Jets All Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis went down with a season-ending ACL injury during the third quarter, yet the Green & White still were able to overcome adversity and exit Sun Life Stadium with a 23-20 overtime victory. With 6:04 remaining in the extra session, Folk converted the game-winning 33-yard FG.
“We pulled together when Reve got hurt,” he said. “The team kind of battened down the hatches and played well at the end there. I think we played our best football at the end of that game, so it was a good way to end the game. It kind of stunk we had some guys get hurt, but that’s football and I think guys are rallying around each other right now and doing a good job.”
Folk kept his job as the Jets kicker this season, but it wasn’t easy as he beat out former Rams kicker Josh Brown in a tight competition during training camp. At the time, special teams coordinator Mike Westhoff called the competition between the kickers the best he’d witnessed in his coaching career. Ryan also was amazed.
“I thought those guys really pushed each other,” the fourth-year head coach said, “but when you look at the end result, there is nobody kicking better than Nick because he’s made every kick.”
Over the course of Folk’s career, he is an astonishing 41-of-43 (95.3%) on fourth-quarter field goal attempts, including the playoffs. That percentage is second-best among all NFL kickers in the fourth quarter since 1991 with at least six tries.
“I think most kickers should live for it. I do,” Folk said of kicking in the clutch. “I embrace the pressure. I don’t try to shun it away. I just try to have fun with it and just kind of keep it rolling.”
And while his fourth-quarter numbers surely speak for themselves, Folk said he doesn’t pay attention to the stats.
“I’m just trying to do my job and when it comes down to that time, that’s when they’re most important,” he said. “So I just try to be my best at the end, and you kind of want to be your best at all times, but that’s when it really matters, and I’m trying to keep an even keel at the end of the game, when everything is on the line. Just trying to do well, hit the ball solidly and have a good end.”
No. 2 for the Green & White stated that he’s been pleased with his kicking production not just during games this season but also through practices. He said the primary thing the team is focused on is trying to reach 3-1 in the AFC East and 4-4 overall, heading into their bye week.
It’s obviously uncertain whether Folk will continue his impressive streak as the season progresses, but if he can stay healthy there’s always a chance.
“I think that’s a big thing,” Folk said. “Don’t get tired, make sure you’re watching the amount of kicks you’re doing in practice, keep your leg strong, but don’t get too tired to where you’re overkicking, and mentally stay into it. I think those are the two biggest things. Just stay strong and stay healthy and stay mentally focused for every kick.”
*Special Teams Saturday
Tags: Josh Brown, Miami Dolphins, Mike Westhoff, New England Patriots, Nick Folk, Rex Ryan
Posted in John Holt | 18 Comments »
Right tackle Austin Howard has a name for the situation. “When it’s third-and-short,” he said, “it’s go time.”
And the Jets have green-lighted themselves to the head of the NFL when it comes to converting those plays. For instance, of all the runners who have picked up every third-and-1 they’ve attempted this season, Shonn Greene is first among equals, going 7-for-7 in his carries.
If we extend the definition to third-and-1-or-2 and fourth-and-1-or-2, when the Jets run the ball in those situations, they’re the only perfect team left in the NFL at 13-for-13, and they have also led the league for 2011-12 (27-for-33, 81.8%), 2010-12 (49-for-61, 80.3%), and 2009-12 (76-for-98, 77.6%).
“We definitely want to be the aggressor, be physical on those plays,” said Howard.
“We don’t do any gimmicks, we don’t do anything tricky like that,” LG Matt Slauson added. “Anthony Lynn has a great plan every week. But when you have a line like ours and a big bruiser-type running back like Shonn, we want that responsibility on us. We feel like we’re big and strong and we’re able to get that yard.”
Lynn, the Jets’ RBs coach since ’09, explained the philosophy behind the Green & White’s third-and-short success.
“We want to have more completions and rushing attempts than anybody we play. If you do that, you’re going to win a lot of football games,” Lynn said. “But in order to do that, you have to be able to extend drives. And if you’re committed to running the football, you’re going to find yourself in third-and-short a lot. So we spend a lot of time in the offseason studying that situation and what fits our personnel the best. We really take time and we game-plan it.
“Shonn is built for that situation. He’s a power guy, and a lot of times he gets you more than 1 yard. And when there’s nothing there, you have to have a guy who can win, and he’s done a good job of that. But our double teams up front on the line, those have been outstanding also. Vertical push is something we emphasize a lot in our offense.”
It’s not just about short yardage for Greene and the Jets’ blockers but also about goal line, with many of the same concepts applied to both. But when it comes to GL, it’s been a mixed back for the Jets. Greene’s had two 1-yard touchdown runs this season, vs. Buffalo in the opener and at New England to successfully conclude the opening drive Sunday.
But goal line, considered by the Jets to be plays inside the opponents’ 5-yard line, hasn’t been nearly as successful as the garden-variety short-yardage plays.
“Toward the end of this season, I hope we get back into the top five in the league,” said Lynn. “Right now we’re on the outside looking in. We had a terrible series the last time we played Miami. Those guys do a heck of a job in both situations, short yardage and goal line.”
Indeed, a first-and-goal at the 3 led to a Mark Sanchez end zone interception and a first-and-goal at the 1 yielded only a Nick Folk field goal in the Jets’ overtime win. Meanwhile, the Dolphins scored on a pair of 1-yarders in Game 3, by RB Daniel Thomas and FB Jorvorskie Lane.
This game could also come down to who can do a better job at moving the ball that final 36 inches at key times in the game. And as Slauson said, when the Jets offense is in that situation and a run is called, “We just expect we are going to get it.”
What Goes On in the Pile …
It was one of those small but delightful and ultimately fairly significant plays that happens during the course of many NFL games. Recall late in the first quarter of the Jets-Patriots game when Shonn Greene caught a pass, was hit by LB Jerod Mayo and lost the ball. After Greene was surrounded by no fewer than five Patriots and a few of his teammates joined in, who should come out of the pile with the ball but No. 87 in green and white.
Where did Konrad Reuland come from?
“I was on the other side of the field,” Reuland recalled. “I saw the ball get knocked loose and I saw Shonn kind of straddling the ball, almost, reaching for it down by his legs. I knew he was going to be fighting for it with three or four guys.
“And I just said, you know what? I’m going to dive in there and see if I can find this thing and get a hand on it.”
Nineteen seconds of real time passed from when Reuland muscled Devin McCourty out of the way and burrowed into the mass of bodies to when he popped back out holding his prize aloft and saying, audible on the game video: “I got it! I got it!”
The CBS broadcast team of Jim Nantz and Phil Simms captured this unlikely turn of events as they analyzed the replay.
“Yeah, it’s definitely a fumble,” said Simms. “And what a job by Reuland getting under this pile and getting that football.”
Nantz: “Look, he’s nowhere even in the frame here … he’s still not in the frame.”
“He’s still not in the frame,” Simms echoed.
Nantz: “I tell you what, then he comes in at the last minute. Great play by Reuland.”
RBs coach Anthony Lynn was also in agreement. “That was an outstanding play by Konrad. You talk about hustling to the football.”
Needless to say, the Jets ultimately lost the game in overtime, but it’s not too hard to see Reuland helping to keep this game close with his recovery. The Pats, who had just opened a 14-7 lead, would’ve had the ball back at the Jets 49. Another quick six for Tom Brady and friends and things could’ve snowballed. Instead, the Jets punted, the Patriots took over at their 20 and also punted. Close game on.
Reuland wasn’t necessarily known as a fumble mole before, but he said he did the same thing for San Francisco in a preseason game this summer.
“The way I look at it,” he said, “until they’ve ruled it the other team’s ball, I’m fighting for it because you never know.”
One perhaps final note: The Patriots statistical crew didn’t award the recovery to Reuland. They said Greene recovered his own fumble. Perhaps the play will be reviewed and the record set right. But as No. 87 said, “I’m willing to give it Shonn. Let him get credit for it. Either way, the fact that our team got it is what counts.”
Friday Injury Reports
LB Bart Scott (toe) is listed as doubtful for Sunday’s game with the Dolphins after sitting out all three practice this week for the first time since injuring his big toe early against the ‘Fins in Miami in Week 3. Scott is joined by RB Bilal Powell (shoulder) and NT Kenrick Ellis (knee) as doubtfuls.
But the rest of the squad seems to be ready to suit up for the rivalry game, and that includes NT Sione Po‘uha (back), S Eric Smith (knee), C Nick Mangold (ankle), TE Jeff Cumberland (wrist) and RB-KR Joe McKnight (ankle), all listed as questionable. All were limited at today’s practice except for McKnight, who was a DNP for the third time this week.
“For Sione, it’s not just about being able to protect yourself but being effective,” Ryan said. “I feel good about that. I think Sione will play.”
The rest of the Jets were full practicers and are probable for the game.
The Dolphins added two players to Friday’s report in DE Cameron Wake (neck, limited), and S Reshad Jones (heel, full). But they seem in fine health for the game with Wake, Jones, RB Daniel Thomas (concussion), LB Koa Misi (hamstring) and S Jimmy Wilson (ankle) listed as probable, while starting CB Richard Marshall (back) didn’t practice today and is listed as out.
Tags: Anthony Lynn, Austin Howard, Jim Nantz, Konrad Reuland, Matt Slauson, Miami Dolphins, Phil Simms, Rex Ryan, Shonn Greene, Sione Pouha, third-and-1
Posted in Randy Lange | 36 Comments »
The season began with a story of Bart Scott’s rebirth — lost weight, increased speed and strength — but it has developed into a tale of toe woe for the 11th-year linebacker.
“It’s tough. It’s like losing a thumb on your hand. Everything you do comes off your big toe,” said Scott, who said he injured the painful digit on the second defensive play of Game 3 at Miami and isn’t sure of his availability for Sunday’s home rematch against the Dolphins.
Scott, who spoke to reporters after today’s practice at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center, said the toe has been “beat up” since his college days at Southern Illinois. He described this latest episode as basically “turf toe, ligament damage, capsule strains and things like that. You’re talking about running on a toe that’s not all the way in the socket and it’s loose and swollen and you’re wearing an extra large shoe.
“I’ve always prided myself on being able to have a high pain tolerance and to be able to play through things. I just want to show my teammates that I’m willing to bite down and continue to play and do what I can to help us win,” he said in the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center locker room following today’s practice. “If we have to shut it down, we shut it down. If not, then we’ll be ready to go.”
Shutting it down for a game is not something Scott has done in a long time. Since 2004 with the Ravens, he has played in 119 consecutive regular-season games, the fifth-longest streak among active NFL linebackers and the eighth-longest among all active defensive players. Throw in 10 playoff games and the streak reaches 129 consecutive games. For the Jets, those streaks are 55 straight regular-season games played and 61 straight including playoffs.
Then as far as starts go, he’s started 111 of the last 113 regular-season games, and 121 of the last 123 including playoffs, and with the Jets it’s 53 starts in 55 games, 59 in 61 including playoffs.
The only start he didn’t make last season was Game 5 at New England, when the Jets opened with seven defensive backs on the field against Tom Brady and company. Then on Sunday he missed another start at Foxboro and played in what was likely an eight-season low of nine plays on defense and 16 total.
“Whatever is best for the team. I don’t care about a streak,” Scott said about the possibility of missing this start. “I care about helping my team win and trying to win a championship. That’s always been my primary goal, and that’s why I came here. If helping the team best is for me to be on the sideline and help these young linebackers see what’s going on and help slow the game down for them, then I’ll do that. If it’s biting down so we can get to the bye at 3-1 in our division, then that’s what I’ll do.”
The one young linebacker most impacted by Scott’s injury is third-round rookie Demario Davis, who was in for the most plays of his young career and the most among the Jets on Sunday, 98 total and 69 plays on defense.
Despite the difficulties, Scott did make one contribution vs. the Patriots, tackling RB Stevan Ridley for a yard loss on the Pats’ third-quarter touchdown drive. He’s tied for the Jets lead at 4.0 tackles for loss this season, and he leads the Jets in TFLs from 2009 to present with 25.5.
Scott’s being benched, as some reports had it today, doesn’t quite capture the situation, as head coach Rex Ryan explained at his news conference today.
“New England did a lot of stuff where they put him in space with a lot of empty sets, four and five receivers,” Ryan said. “Normally I like to keep Bart out there. But if he can’t change directions in space as well as he normally can, we’ve got to do what’s best for our football team. Is he going to be 100 percent this week? No. Hopefully when that bye comes, we’ll rest him that whole time and he’ll have two weeks to get ready for Seattle. Hopefully that will really help him.”
The Rest of the Injury Picture
Aside from Scott, the Jets’ health continued to slowly improve. DT Kenrick Ellis (knee), S LaRon Landry (heel) and RBs Joe McKnight (ankle) and Bilal Powell (shoulder) didn’t practice. But TE Jeff Cumberland (wrist), C Nick Mangold (ankle) and S Eric Smith (knee) all got some limited work in team drills and DT Sione Po‘uha continued as a limited participant. “Sione moved around and looked pretty good,” Ryan said of Big Bo’s Wednesday practice. “His strength numbers are up. I’ve been encouraged by that.”
Among the Jets’ full-go guys, WR Clyde Gates (shoulder),who’s missed two games, “looks like he’s coming around,” according to the coach.
Miami’s report remained short and static. DT Randy Starks, who was excused from Wednesday’s workout for non-football reasons, returned today and was taken off the list.
Tags: Bart Scott, Clyde Gates, Demario Davis, Miami Dolphins, Rex Ryan, Sione Pouha
Posted in Randy Lange | 61 Comments »
Updated, 7:10 p.m. ET
After catching all seven passes thrown to him for 93 yards and scoring a fourth quarter touchdown during Sunday’s overtime loss to the New England Patriots, Dustin Keller appears to be in a familiar spot.
“I’m finally getting into the swing of things and starting to get a real good feel for the passing game and all that stuff, because when you’re gone for a while, you don’t see those looks for a little while and it’s kind of a little weird when you first get out there,” the tight end said this afternoon after practice at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. “But I feel back in the swing of things and pretty much back to where I was.”
Keller had missed four games earlier this season due to a hamstring injury, but returned to the Jets lineup against Indianapolis on Oct. 14. In that game, he had one catch for 6 yards on the only pass thrown his way by Mark Sanchez. However, in Foxboro, the QB/TE duo were able to regain their strong connection.
“I think there’s a major comfort level,” Keller said of his relationship with Sanchez, “and also at the same time, if there’s anything that feels a little cloudy in our minds, we both are comfortable enough to come up to each other and be like, ‘What were you thinking on that play?’ Just so we’re thinking alike. We both know exactly what each other is thinking. I try to do that anytime there’s a little bit of a question in my mind on any play.”
No. 81’s touchdown against New England came on the final play of the 92-yard drive that cut the Patriots’ lead to 23-20 with just under six minutes remaining in regulation. Sanchez threw the pass in a tight window and Keller was able to haul in the 7-yard reception in the middle of the end zone.
“The whole play worked because Mark put it in the only spot they couldn’t get it,” the fifth-year TE said.
As the Green & White gear up to take on the Miami Dolphins for the second time this season, Keller has been encouraged with how the Jets receivers have progressed since Santonio Holmes, their No. 1 WR, went down with a season-ending foot injury on Sept. 30.
“I think all the guys have done a great job of picking up the slack since Santonio’s been out,” Keller said. “Everybody has been picking up a little bit. Obviously there’s not one guy that’s going to pick up all the production and do all the things that Santonio was doing for us. But the guys that are here have been doing a great job.”
The Dolphins didn’t have an answer for Holmes when the teams first met last month. Tone finished that day with nine receptions for 147 yards and the Jets picked up their lone road victory of the season, leaving Sun Life Stadium with the 23-20 overtime victory. Keller was sidelined for the matchup but still analyzed the team’s performance.
“I think we did some good things the first game,” he said. “We were lucky enough to pull away the game. I don’t think we played our best football, but we did enough in each area, special teams, defense and offense, to win the game.”
Heading into their second meeting, Keller believes the Jets have an advantage against the Miami pass defense, which is allowing 284.8 yards per game, 28th in the NFL. But regardless of what the stats indicate about Miami, Keller knows how important Sunday’s contest is. And when you consider that the Jets enter their bye week after the game, it makes things even more critical.
“I feel like all AFC East games are rivalry games,” Keller said. “Anytime you’re going to get a team twice in a season, that’s a rivalry to me. But it’s always a tough game. All the AFC East games are tough, but for some reason, Miami, it seems like it’s been a big one for us.”
Rex and Reggie
The week before the Jets faced the Dolphins last month, Jets head coach Rex Ryan made comments describing how his team planned to contain running back Reggie Bush that drew some heat after the fact.
At the time, Ryan said, “Obviously, we have to do a great job of getting a lot of guys to him and getting him on the ground. Put some hot sauce on him, if you will.”
The Jets defeated Bush and the Dolphins, 23-20, in overtime. Bush produced 61 yards on 10 carries before leaving the game with a knee injury late in the second quarter. Late in the third quarter, Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis went down with a season-ending torn left ACL.
Days after the game, Bush said: “It’s like the old saying, what goes around comes around. They talked all week about putting hot sauce and this and that, and they ended up losing their best player for the rest of the season. So it’s sad that it happened because of that, but I’m going to be back.”
As the AFC East foes prepare to meet again Sunday, Ryan was asked about the topic during his news conference this afternoon and explained the theory behind his statement.
“I never was saying that we were going to try to injury Reggie Bush,” Ryan said. “That’s not even close. He’s going to get our attention. I’m sorry, but he’s the type of player that’s going to warrant our attention and we’re going to give it to him, there is no question. That was what I meant by my comments. If it was taken differently, out of context or whatever, I apologized for that. Trust me, we know when he’s in the game. He is still going to get our attention.”
Ryan added that he never wants to see a player get hurt. He said as bad as he wants to beats Tom Brady, he would never want to see the Patriots QB out due to injury.
“Shoot, I’m a football fan as well as a coach,” he said. “This game is great because of the players and the talent that plays in this league.”
Bush enters Round 2 with the Green & White having started all six of Miami’s games with 98 rushes for 434 yards and three touchdowns.
Wednesday Injury Reports
The swelled-up Jets’ injury list continues to come back to earth slowly. The list now has 16 players, equal to its shortest Wednesday of the season. New to the list are TE Jeff Cumberland (wrist, did not participate) and G Vlad Ducasse (knee, full), but off the list completely are Keller, WR Stephen Hill and LB Bryan Thomas.
Eight players were DNPs for today’s practice. Besides Keller, they were NT Kenrick Ellis (knee), C Nick Mangold (ankle), RB-KR Joe McKnight (ankle), LB Calvin Pace (who was kicked in the shin vs. the Patriots), RB Bilal Powell (shoulder), LB Bart Scott (toe) and S Eric Smith (knee).
McKnight is being brought along carefully after injuring the ankle against the Colts. As he said today, “If Coach Westhoff can play with a rod in his leg, I can play with a sore ankle.”
Also, NT Sione Pouha (back) was limited, as he was last Thursday and Friday. “I’m encouraged he’s out there giving it a shot this week,” said Ryan. “Big Bo” has missed the last three games and four of the seven this season.
The Dolphins’ list, on the other hand, is short by almost any standard. Only five players are listed by coach Joe Philbin: DNP — CB Richard Marshall (back) and DT Randy Starks (non-football); Limited — S Jimmy Wilson (ankle); Full — LB Koa Misi (hamstring) and RB Daniel Thomas (concussion).
Tags: Bilal Powell, Dustin Keller, joe McKnight, Mark Sanchez, Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots, Sione Pouha
Posted in John Holt | 33 Comments »
By the by, it’s time again to talk about the bye.
No, not the Jets’ bye week, which comes the week after Sunday’s game against Miami at MetLife Stadium. Maybe the banged-up Jets could use a vacation, even some good fraction of a week, but as Herm Edwards said back in 2004: “You don’t have to worry the week before about what happens in the bye week. It’s like going to school at the end of the year. School ends Friday, Wednesday you’re worried about what you’re going to do Friday, then you screw the test up Thursday and you gotta go to summer school.”
A potential danger for the Jets, though, is that the Dolphins are coming off their bye. Does that fact in itself suggest that the ‘Fins are more dangerous than usual to the Jets’ psyche and their desire to sweep their friends from the South?
The current data suggests the bye week does help teams, although not a lot. From 2002 through this past week’s games, teams coming off their byes (not counting when two teams coming off byes meet each other) have done fairly well at 162-128, a .559 winning percentage. That’s pretty much what homefield advantage used to be in the NFL.
So for the sake of argument, teams playing the week after their bye, regardless of where they play, see their chances improve to the chances of winning a home game.
That wouldn’t be good for the Jets.
On the other hand, if this year’s new, improved homefield rising tide — home teams are 64-40 this season, a brisk .615 winning clip — lifts all boats, then the Jets could be buoyed by their home crowd and the Dolphins’ bye-week edge could be neutralized.
How about teams playing games before their bye weeks? Does that help any?
Don’t laugh. I asked Edwards about that about a decade ago and he agreed that teams heading into byes — as long as they weren’t worrying about summer vacation — could get a boost. Something about being energized by wanting to go into the bye and come out of it with some momentum for a big second-half push.
Do the numbers support this theory? Yes and no.
If you go by the 2010 and ’11 seasons, games before byes were a good thing. Teams produced a 31-19 record in those games, a .620 winning percentage.
But this advantage seems to come and go every few years (or doesn’t really exist). In 2006, NFL teams in before-bye games were 12-20, in ’09 they were 12-18, and so far this year they’re a paltry 4-12. The bottom line: From 2002 through Week 7, before-bye teams were 148-148. That’s a coin flip.
How about the Jets and Dolphins alone? The Dolphins are 4-6 since ’02 in post-bye games. This includes last year’s 24-6 Monday night loss to the Jets. The Jets are 4-6 in pre-bye games since ’02, but have won three of their last four — thumping Arizona in ’08, squeezing by the then-Tebowing Broncos in Denver in ’10 and rerouting Philip Rivers and San Diego last season.
In fact, the Chargers came to MetLife off their bye last year, which anecdotally suggests that maybe pre-bye teams have an edge over post-bye teams. Eh, not so much. Since ’09, pre-byes and post-byes have met 16 times. The record: 8-8.
I honestly wanted to bring you some telling trend on bye-week team performances in advance of the Jets-Dolphins, but apparently I feel strongly both ways.
But Chad Pennington left no doubt about his feelings when asked before the Jets’ pre-bye game at Cleveland back in ’06.
“We know it’s important to win every game,” Pennington said. “in this league you can’t say, ‘Well, we can drop a game here and we can let off in this area,’ because you never know what game is going to be a deciding factor on whether or not you’re able to make it into the playoffs. So every game is important for us.”
Interestingly, Pennington’s Jets lost that road game at Cleveland, 20-13, to settle at 4-4 at the bye, then won six of their last eight to finish 10-6 and reach the playoffs.
Here’s a strange note about Nick Folk. Whenever his NFL team gives up an early kickoff-return touchdown, he kicks a late long-range field goal.
In 2007, Terrence McGee had a kickoff return for Buffalo, but Folk nailed a 53-yard FG with no time on the clock at Ralph Wilson Stadium to complete the Cowboys’ memorable 25-24 Monday night comeback win over the Bills. The next year J.J. Arrington took one to the house for Arizona, but Folk’s 52-yarder, again at 0:00, sent that game to overtime, where the Cardinals won, 30-24.
Then on Sunday, Devin McCourty cut loose for his 104-yard first-quarter return. Folk responded with one of his best games as a Jet, going 4-for-4 with makes from 54, 43 and 43 yards. The final 43 gave the Jets their short-lived 26-23 lead with 1:37 to play.
That may be strange coincidence, but this about Folk is money in the bank: He has moved to second-best among all NFL kickers (since 1991, including playoffs, at least six tries) in fourth-quarter FG percentage. Folk is 41-for-43 (95.3%) in fourth-quarter kicks. First is Denver’s Matt Prater (28-for-29, 96.6%). Third is New England’s Stephen Gostkowski (48-for-51, 94.1%), who kicked the game-tying FG as time ran out in regulation and the gamewinner in OT.
Tags: bye week, Chad Pennington, Herm Edwards, Miami Dolphins, Nick Folk, Stephen Gostkowski
Posted in Randy Lange | 59 Comments »
By a few old reliable measures, Robert Malone is off to a strong start as the Jets’ punter.
Malone’s 46.4-yard gross average and his 40.0 net in his first three games is better than the first three games of his immediate predecessors in the job — T.J. Conley (41.4, 37.0 last year), Steve Weatherford (40.7, 37.7 in 2009) and Reggie Hodges (41.3, 35.4 in ’08). The last punter to have comparable numbers was Ben Graham in 2005, who opened with a 46.0 gross and 42.6 net. So all things considered, with a small data set, Malone’s been muscular out of the gate.
But punting can also be about more than yardage figures. And in this regard Malone is impressive also because he’s, well, muscular, especially below the waist.
“Robert’s got an explosive lower body,” ST coordinator Mike Westhoff said. “He was talking about doing weightlifting, and a lift called the hang clean. He’s one of the best on our team, maybe even the best, with the most weight.”
Malone pleads guilty. Fresno State isn’t the biggest football program around but it has a fine reputation for its strength program and facilities, and that’s what got him moving up the weightroom’s recordboards.
“For me, I like to compete with the position players,” he told me this week. “It was fun to beat your own number, things like that. I set the school record for the hang clean, probably 420, 430 pounds. It’s the heaviest on our team. That’s what Bill [Hughan], our strength coach said.
“I also have, I think, the third-highest weight in the power clean at Fresno. And I was even five pounds short of a record in the bench press, but that we broke it down to the best weight in school history for kickers, punters, snappers and quarterbacks.”
It’s pretty easy to see how having a strong lower body might lead an athlete to excel in a specialty that requires a strong leg. As Malone describes the cleans: “It’s a quick motion. The fast-twitch muscle fibers, they’re really firing. The lifts help the hips and being able to get that extension. That’s all, really, that punting is, one quick, explosive move.”
The cut of his jib has impressed Westhoff, who has worked his way through 11 punters in his first 11 seasons as the Jets’ teams coordinator before they brought in No. 12, Malone, to replace Conley days before this year’s opener.
“His lower body, his thighs and his glutes, remind me a bit of Reggie Roby,” Coach Westy said of the big-leg Iowan whom he coached for seven seasons with the Dolphins. “He’s not quite that size because nobody was bigger than Reggie’s lower body, but this guy’s close.”
Besides strength, Malone recalled that he was third-fastest for all positions at Fresno State in both the three-cone drill (which is called the L-test at the school) and the shuttle. Basically, he’s a talented athlete, someone who loves to lift and compete with even his linemates on the Jets while providing the punting to help the Jets win games, such as on Sunday against Roby’s and Westhoff’s former team, the Dolphins.
“Now we just have to keep working with him,” said the coach, who’s been this way before, “get his timing and technique and all those little things down. But he can bomb the ball in the air. He’s done a real good job. He’s off to a good start. Of course, we’ve got a long way to go, but there’s some real good things there.
Interestingly enough, Malone will be going up, indirectly, on Sunday against 14th-year man David Akers, the 49ers placekicker who has some similar traits.
“David is extremely explosive in his lower body as well. You look at how explosive he is and it’s why he’s just been an incredible kicker,” Westhoff said. “Of course, he’s also a 50th-degree black belt or something in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. He’s the one guy on the field you don’t want to fight.”
Then again, maybe the Jets have the one guy on the field who might be able to win an Olympic decathlon.
*Special Teams Saturday
Tags: Ben Graham, David Akers, Miami Dolphins, Mike Westhoff, Reggie Hodges, Reggie Roby, Robert Malone, Steve Weatherford, T.J. Conley
Posted in Randy Lange | 7 Comments »