Updated, Dec. 21, 11:58 a.m. ET
Mike DeVito is about to wrap up his sixth season in the NFL.
He’s played in 80 career games and all 80 have been with the New York Jets.
He’s producing a career year in 2012 with a career-bests 60 tackles and a career-best 8.0 tackles for loss/no gain. He was also drew a holding call against Tennessee on Monday, the third time he was held this season, another career high. But it’s also the final year of his contract.
“It’s definitely strange,” DeVito said in the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center locker room after practice this afternoon. “I’m looking at it like nothing’s guaranteed. I mean, I have two games left and then I don’t know what’s going to happen next year. So I’m going to enjoy every minute I get a chance to be on this field, be with these guys and play in these last two games because you just don’t know.”
DeVito sure played like he was enjoying himself Monday night against Tennessee. In that game, he finished with a team-best eight tackles and two of his eight takedowns proved to be tackles for loss when Titans RB Chris Johnson was carrying the ball.
After one of those takedowns of Johnson, ESPN broadcast analyst Jon Gruden said of DeVito: “He’s an excellent football player. He can stuff the run.”
The performance also was the first time in a game in the past two seasons that DeVito led the Jets defense in tackles.
“I kind of took this mindset Monday I’m just going to go out there and have fun and enjoy it and enjoy this time,” No. 70 said. “I definitely was happy with that. Obviously [there are] plays I can get better at though, and I’m going to continue to try and get better each week.”
The tackle total at Tennessee wasn’t a season high for DeVito, but the number certainly caught head coach Rex Ryan’s eye.
“Mike DeVito. he had eight tackles — that’s impressive,” Ryan said at his news conference this morning. “When you watch that game, that might have been his top game since I’ve been here. He was absolutely tremendous.”
Twice this season DeVito recorded nine tackles, against the Dolphins in Week 3 and vs. Houston in Week 5.
“I feel confident out there,” he said. “I feel good and I feel like I can continue to get better. I feel like I haven’t peaked at my talent. I’m not satisfied.”
Except for the second quarter 94-yard TD run — on which DeVito may have been the only Jet to get a hand on Johnson — he and his Jets defensive teammates contained the Titans’ star RB.
“That was so frustrating,” DeVito said of Johnson’s touchdown, “because when you look at the stats, I think it was 20 carries for 28 yards and then they had that one long run. But we can’t let that happen. That’s something we had talked about all week, going into the week, was you can have 20 carries for 28 yards but Chris Johnson can break that one. It’s frustrating, but we learned from it. We saw the mistakes and are moving forward.”
As the Green & White continue preparing for this week’s game against San Diego, DeVito said the Chargers’ offensive line might be the most physical bunch the Jets defense has faced all year.
“I really like their offensive line,” he said. “They’re tough up front. Every time we play against these guys it’s always a battle up front.”
Possibly a good sign for the Jets is that San Diego won’t have primary RB Ryan Mathews, who was placed on injured reserve Tuesday. However, DeVito doesn’t see Mathews’ absence necessarily working as an advantage for the Green & White.
“It will be a good challenge for us up front,” he said, “because when you have an offensive line like that, it doesn’t matter who’s back there.”
It will be the final home game of the season for the Jets at MetLife Stadium and DeVito states his family will be in attendance. But will he be playing in his final home game with the franchise? Only time can determine that answer.
“I’m a New York guy,” he said. “My family is over here and has been here for six years. Obviously I love this organization, and I love the people here, so we’ll see how it plays out.”
Thursday Injury Reports
TE Dustin Keller (ankle), S LaRon Landry (heel) and CB Aaron Berry (hamstring) were the three players who did not participate in team drills at today’s practice. G Brandon Moore (foot/hip) was a DNP Wednesday but was full-go today. Five Jets were limited: WR Braylon Edwards (hamstring), DT Sione Po‘uha (low back), LB Ricky Sapp (ankle), LB Bryan Thomas (chest), and WR Chaz Schilens (calf/knee), who didn’t practice a day ago. Fourteen players were full, including new listees K Nick Folk (back) and WR Mardy Gilyard (illness).
For the Chargers, LB Takeo Spikes (hamstring) and DT Aubrayo Franklin (knee) remained not practicing and LB Demorrio Williams (ankle) remained limited. Two players limited Wednesday, RB Ronnie Brown (hamstring) and LB Donald Butler (groin), were full today.
Tags: Chris Johnson, Jon Gruden, Mike DeVito, Rex Ryan, Ryan Mathews, San Diego Chargers, Tennessee Titans
Posted in John Holt | 68 Comments »
Not surprisingly, Jets head coach Rex Ryan liked the combination of rushing offense and mostly stifling defense that got the Jets past the Jaguars on Sunday. In particular, he enjoyed the play of a few of his young guns on the front line of that defense.
“Muhammad Wilkerson, I promise you he’s getting the Pro Bowl vote from Jacksonville,” Ryan said at his midday news conference today. “It was a dominant performance from Mo. For an interior lineman, he’s just doing an incredible job. Statistically, he had the one sack, but he beat his guy over and over. Backs were having to pick him up — that’s rare when you have interior linemen getting attention from the backs. Usually that’s for the outside edge rushers. It just shows you what teams are thinking of this guy.”
And top draft pick Quinton Coples came on in the second half with one of his most impressive showings as a Jet.
“Obviously, Quinton’s athleticism jumps out at you. We always say he’s country-strong, and he is,” Ryan said. “What we’re starting to do now with him is mixing him up as an inside player, then an outside player. He missed a sack when he went over the top of [Chad] Henne, but he got one sack and he affected three more throws, including that last one at the end of the game. It looked like he was eating that tackle up pretty good over there.”
“I think the pass rush has been incredible,” said DT Mike DeVito of the Jets’ Sunday pressure that produced an unofficial total of 10 QB hits, the most this season. “It’s something we’ve been working on since day one, and to see Mo and Q doing that for us, that’s great. You can do so many more things when you can rush the quarterback.”
The only black mark on Wilkerson’s game actually was incorrectly graded. Referee Al Riveron called No. 96 for a 15-yard facemask penalty on a Henne third-down scramble on the Jags’ TD drive, but replays showed it was No. 98, Coples, who got his finger hooked in Henne’s mask on the play.
Still, that was the Jets’ only penalty of the game, another aspect of the win that pleased Ryan. The Jets are now third in the NFL in fewest penalties and fourth in yards, and they lead the league in both penalty categories since the bye week.
With the push up front and the creative backside play led by Antonio Cromartie and a cast that yesterday included Ellis Lankster, Darrin Walls and Antonio Allen, the Jets rankings continue to rise. If their eighth overall defensive-yardage ranking and their No. 3 against the pass hold through tonight’s Houston-New England game, it will be their highest weekly rankings of the season.
The third quarter’s been the charm for the Jets D the past two games. The Cardinals gained 6 yards in their third quarter and the Jaguars had the same on Sunday. These totals were the best third-quarter showing by the Green & White defense since they allowed the Dolphins 5 yards in their 2007 win at Miami. And they’re the lowest yardage total in any quarter since the ‘Fins had 3 yards in the fourth quarter of their Meadowlands win over the Jets in 2010.
WR Stephen Hill has an LCL knee sprain and LB Bryan Thomas has a pectoral muscle strain. The Jets are listing both as day-to-day. As for TE Dustin Keller (ankle), who stayed home from the Jags game, Ryan said, “I thought he was getting better as the week went on, but not to the point where he could play. Adding another day this week [for the Monday night game] , hopefully that’ll get him back on the field.”
This week’s first injury reports from the Jets and Titans won’t be issued until Thursday.
Bucking the Trend
The Jets on Sunday at Jacksonville did something they had never accomplished in franchise history and that no NFL team had achieved in the 19 previous seasons. They went scoreless in the first halves of back-to-back victories.
This is one of those glass-half-full-glass-half empty deals, akin to winning six fourth-quarter comebacks in a season. It’s definitely a good thing that the Jets beat both the Cardinals and the Jaguars despite zero first-half points, but it’s not something they want to make a habit of, such as trying for three in a row next Monday night at Tennessee.
On 10 previous occasions, the Jets went scoreless in back-to-back games. Only once did they win even one of the two games, in 1971 when they won at Miami, 14-10, before losing at New England, 20-0. (The Jets actually went scoreless for the first three quarters in both those games.) The other nine times they were 0-2.
But the Jets aren’t alone in struggling through two games of not being able to put point one on the board in the first 30 minutes. The last NFL team to do it was New Orleans in 1992. From 1993 through 2011, there were 79 occasions when teams went scoreless in the first half of consecutive games. None of them won both. Less than a third won one of the two games.
Another interesting note is that after 19 years of none of these occasions, the NFL has two teams who have qualified for the distinction this season, and in fact did it the last two weeks. The Jets have been joined by the Rams, who beat the 49ers in overtime, 16-13, last week and took out the Bills, 15-12, on Sunday.
“Inside the Jets”
Radio play-by-play voice of the Jets Bob Wischusen hosts tonight’s “Inside the Jets” show at the Grasshopper in Morristown, N.J. The show begins at 7 p.m. tonight and will be aired live on ESPN New York 98.7 FM. Bob’s guests are WR Chaz Schilens, QB Greg McElroy and assistant GM Scott Cohen.
Tags: Bryan Thomas, Dustin Keller, Jacksonville Jaguars, Mike DeVito, Muhammad Wilkerson, Quinton Coples, Rex Ryan, Stephen Hill
Posted in Randy Lange | 141 Comments »
Earlier in the season, at Pittsburgh, Miami, New England and against Indianapolis, penalties were a big issue for the Jets.
Lately the yellow flags have become an issue again, but in a good way. As head coach Rex Ryan said on Wednesday, “There are some things that we’re really doing a great job at right now. A thing we’ve emphasized since the break was penalties.”
It shows. Since Nov. 1, the Jets are No. 2 in the NFL in fewest penalties, 4.3 infractions marked off per game, behind Atlanta’s 4.0, and the Green & White are No. 1 in the league with 27.5 yards per game.
“It’s about paying attention to details,” said NT Sione Po‘uha. “When you’re playing an opponent, you don’t want to be an opponent to yourself.”
“There’s a lot of different facets to a game,” added Mike DeVito, his next-door neighbor on the DL. “Sometimes you overlook some of them or forget about some of them.”
But since the bye week, the turnaround has been dramatic after the Jets, through the first eight weeks of the season, were tied for 21st in the NFL in penalties and 25th in yards.
First Ryan put the teeth back into the flags being thrown by Joe Yacovino and his crew of practice officials, telling them to tighten up all their calls. Then he returned to a practice practice that he and the Jets instituted in 2010.
“Every time there’s a penalty at practice, everybody does 10 pushups,” said Mike Westhoff, who’s coordinated the Jets practice officials since he arrived on Herm Edwards’ staff in 2001. “All the players, all the coaches. Everybody except the guy who committed the penalty.”
Said LB David Harris: “We’ve gotten our triceps a lot stronger the last month or so.”
Some Jets have always had a knack for playing clean. Harris has gone 29 games since his last penalty, a facemask on BenJarvus Green-Ellis in the 2010 AFC Divisional triumph at New England. DeVito, who arrived in 2007, has never had a major penalty called on him in his career, just four 5-yarders. LT D’Brickashaw Ferguson has gone 38 games, since mid-2010, without a holding call.
And imagine this: Po‘uha’s played in 108 games, including playoffs, in his Jets career and he’s been flagged exactly once for a penalty.
“Knock on wood,” said Big Bo. “I remember the encroachment but I don’t remember who it was against.”
As luck would have it, Po‘uha’s penalty came against Jacksonville in 2009. Perhaps Jaguars center Brad Meester had something to do with influencing the nose tackle to encroach. If so, it looks as if Sione could get some payback on Sunday at Jacksonville, now that Meester’s foot injury seems to be coming around.
“Penalties can hurt you,” said LB Bryan Thomas, who’s been whistled for a mere five penalties in his 11-year career and has had no majors in his last 60 games. “They can come on the last play of the game and give the other team one more play. They can keep drives going.”
“You definitely do not want to take steps backward,” Po‘uha agreed about the hidden yardage of penalties that the Jets have recently turned back in their favor. “They say it’s a game of inches. Don’t hurt yourself by setting yourself back yards.”
One More Thing on Penalties
Except for the occasional downtrend such as in the first half of this year, the Jets have been the state of the art when it comes to not committing penalties. Since 2001, 12 seasons combined, their 1,026 penalties and 8,346 penalty yards both continue to lead the league.
Thursday Injury Reports
Three Jets players were DNPs today — WR Clyde Gates (concussion), who Rex Ryan said is a week away from returning to action, TE Dustin Keller (ankle), and S LaRon Landry (heel) with his usual Thursday reduced load.
WR Stephen Hill (knee) was limited, as was QB Tim Tebow again (ribs). NT Damon Harrison became the 23rd Jet to be listed this week. He’s also limited, with an ankle.
For the Jaguars, their two top offensive threats, RB Maurice Jones-Drew (foot) and WR Cecil Shorts (concussion), again did not practice. A report out of Jacksonville said the Jags are likely to go with their “last back standing,” Montell Owens, at tailback vs. the Jets, although RB Greg Jones (thigh) was limited today after being a DNP on Wednesday.
Also not practicing were C Michael Brewster (hand), RB Rashad Jennings (concussion), CB Aaron Ross (calf) and DE George Selvie (concussion). Meester (foot) and CB Derek Cox (hamstring) were both full-go today.
Tags: Brad Meester, Bryan Thomas, D'Brickashaw Ferguson, David Harris, Jacksonville Jaguars, Mike DeVito, Rex Ryan, Sione Pouha
Posted in Randy Lange | 36 Comments »
Rex Ryan said nothing much good comes out of a loss except possibly the learning. And what the Jets may have learned is that their run defense can be all that it thought it was before C.J. Spiller creased them a few times on opening day.
“We’ve got to put the loss behind us,” DE Muhammad Wilkerson said of the Sunday slipup in Pittsburgh, “but we were challenging ourselves all last week about being physical up front. We just wanted to come out and attack the challenge.”
“We need to bounce back still from that first game,” said DT Mike DeVito. “We kind of took the pedal off the gas there and let the Bills run for some yards. We want to be the top run defense in the league. We’re capable of doing that. So now it’s just digging ourselves out of that hole that we started off in.”
By a few measures, the run defense was outstanding in Pittsburgh. The Steelers needed Ben Roethlisberger to carry them on his broad shoulders because their backs were finding no room in gaining 66 yards on 28 carries.
A big component of those figures were seven Jets tackles behind the line of scrimmage (six on running plays, one on a pass) for minus-22 yards. Led by Wilkerson (2.5 TFLs) and LB Garrett McIntyre (2.0 TFLs, two sacks), those two team figures were both the most in a game in four seasons under Ryan. The last time they had seven TFLs was in the 2007 home win over the Steelers. The last time they racked up more than 20 yards in losses was when they went 7-for-27 at Buffalo in 2004.
On their own, TFLs in a game aren’t great predictors of victory. But they can be an important part of a defensive game plan that can shut down a potent ground game and turn an offense one-dimensional, especially if led by a rookie QB.
Kind of like what the Jets’ run defense would like to do Sunday at Miami. Job One: Prune Reggie Bush.
“They’ve got a great back with Reggie,” Wilkerson said. “He’s a fast guy, so again we’ve got to be physical up front and don’t let him get outside to the edge, because if we do that, it’ll be a problem.”
Bush has been a feast-or-famine type runner over the years. Among the 56 NFL backs with 500 carries since 2006, he’s sixth in percentage of 10-yard-plus runs but he’s also fourth in percentage of “stuffs,” or being tackled for loss. So far this season he’s been feasting — his 241 rushing and 312 yards from scrimmage are both second in the league (behind Spiller, coincidentally).
“With a guy like that, this takes all 11 guys to stop him,” McIntyre said. “We’ve got to create lots of penetration. We’ve got to set edges. That’s huge this week.”
Especially because as poised as Ryan Tannehill has sometimes looked, he’s a rookie who’s been sacked four times, thrown three INTs to one TD and passed to a rating of 62.6.
Tannehill’s comfort in the pocket will be dependent on Bush’s comfort in running the ball and moving the chains.
“It’s going to be a great challenge for us,” DeVito said. “That’s they key to the game, who we play as a defensive front.”
Revis and the Walking Wounded
The Jets’ injury list keeps growing each week. Today’s first report of the week is up to a season-high 19 players. But the good news is that 11 of them were full-go in practice today. And the news is cautiously optimistic on the key-player front as well.
CB Darrelle Revis? “He has not been cleared for contact. He has been cleared for practice,” said Ryan. “We’ll see how that goes.” Revis was in fact limited today.
TE Dustin Keller? Did not participate in practice but sounded confident again that he’ll be ready to play at Miami.
QB Mark Sanchez, who appeared on the list as full participation with a low-back twinge? “I just found out about it today,” Ryan said. “I don’t think it’s that serious.”
Also DNPs were LB Bryan Thomas (hamstring), S Eric Smith (hip/knee) and FB John Conner (knee). Said McIntyre about getting a second start for BT at OLB: “I’ve got to prepare like I’m going to be the guy and whatever happens, happens. I’ll do whatever role they want me to do, whatever it means, as long as we get wins. The more depth we have, the better we are.”
The Dolphins have listed nine players on their Wednesday list. Backup DT Tony McDaniel (knee) didn’t participate Starting CB Richard Marshall (back) and backup WRs Anthony Marshall (hamstring) and Marlon Moore (hamstring) were all limited. Five ‘Fins were full practice.
McKnight Prognosis: Two-Plus Plays
Ryan was pressed about two play-related situations by reporters. One predictably involved the Tim Tebow Wildcat, which went from eight plays vs. Buffalo to three at Pitt. How much will we see the ‘Cat vs. the ‘Fins?
“That’s the beauty of it because we control it,” the head coach said. “The media’s not going to drive it and the opponents, they’re not going to have any idea what we’re going to do with him,” the head coach said. “I think I know the answer but I’m not going to give it to you. I think it’s in our best interests that our opponents don’t know exactly. Will the Wildcat really be featured this week or is it more back-burnered? I think that plays into our advantage.”
As for kickoff man McKnight, Ryan said his one play on offense, on which he ran for 12 yards with a handoff from Tebow, was a function of him being “a little nicked. We’ll see. I think he’ll have a bigger role this week.” How big? “I would think he’d play a bigger role than one snap.”
Tags: Darrelle Revis, Dustin Keller, Garrett McIntyre, joe McKnight, Mark Sanchez, Miami Dolphins, Mike DeVito, Muhammad Wilkerson, Reggie Bush, run defense, Ryan Tannehill, Tim Tebow, Wildcat
Posted in Randy Lange | 30 Comments »
Austin Howard described what his pregame routine might sound before he takes those first reps under the Jets’ right tackle spotlight against Mario Williams and the Buffalo Bills on Sunday afternoon.
“You get the music going and you start focusing on specific plays, different scenarios that may happen throughout the game,” said Howard, the 6’7″, 333-pound third-year man who’s been a Jets starter for all of three preseason games. “You just really get focused and zoned in on what you’ve got to do.”
What music might be on the Howard iPod? “I like hip-hop, sometimes I like slow music,” he said. “I like a wide variety. I couldn’t tell you that I have a favorite artist. I even like the old school artists, like Sam Cooke.”
Now Sam Cooke is someone from my generation. But what does that tell us about how Howard will fare under the blare of the opening-day playlist against the Bills’ vaunted rebuilt D-line? By about 4:15 Sunday afternoon, will it be a “Wonderful World” (No. 2 on the U.S. R&B charts in 1960) for him or will he have found himself on a “Lonely Island” (No. 10, 1958)?
We’ve seen any number of Jets offensive linemen come and go over the years. Some hold up quite well and settle in for long careers in green and white; others impersonate the turnstiles at the MetLife Stadium gates.
We’ll know soon enough how things will go for Howard, but from this week’s practice and his time before the reporters in the locker room, he seems to be warming to the task at hand, not just on Sunday but for a longer haul. His patter is generally on the safe side, but his jaw his set, his stare is steady, and he even has allowed a smile to flash across his serious demeanor the past three days.
He’s very much in the O-line group mindset, deflecting questions of Super Mario into how the Jets’ line will show up against Williams and Mark Anderson at the ends and Kyle Williams and Marcell Dareus at the tackles.
“As a unit, we’ve been preparing our butts off. Our coaches have made sure we’re prepared in the classroom, on the field, run-blocking schemes, pass-blocking schemes. They’ve made sure to prepare us in every aspect of the game, so we’re really excited and really looking forward to this weekend.”
But how about when it’s M.Williams at left end vs. Howard at right tackle, no TE help, no backs chipping out of the backfield, mano a mano?
One means of comparison for Howard and for Jets fans is how he did against Dallas’ DeMarcus Ware in his only prior regular-season start, at left tackle in the final game of the 2010 season for the Eagles, who had locked up the NFC East title and were locked in at the No. 3 seed. How does he rate Ware vs. Williams?
“They both have good motors, a lot of different moves, a lot of things you have to prepare for,” he said. “You have to study them very intently, take every opportunity you can to learn their different moves.”
And how did he fare vs. Ware?
“I gave up a couple of sacks to DeMarcus,” he said, unflinchingly. “That was a game I learned from and I’ll always remember.”
Whether he’ll have good memories or bad from Sunday’s first RS start as a Jet remains to be seen. Howard is tipping his hand only a little as to what he thinks is ahead.
“Honestly, I have no expectations. I know I have to go out there and be prepared for anything and everything,” he said. “People are going to watch who they’re going to watch. My thing is I expect more out of myself than anybody else expects out of me.”
And if it all works out for the O-line, the offense and the Jets in general, Howard and friends will be “Having a Party” (No. 4, 1962) come Sunday night.
The Jets’ injury list has 16 players on it, with only two listed as out for the Bills: S Eric Smith (hip/knee) and T Dennis Landolt (knee).
Ryan adds Sione Po‘uha to his “Out” list, saying the NT “won’t play,” although Big Bo is listed as questionable on today’s report.
Rex said “everyone else should be up, ready to go.” That includes TE Dustin Keller (hamstring) and DT Mike DeVito (calf), both of whom were limited in today’s team drills and are listed as questionable. But Keller was upbeat Thursday about his availability, and DeVito today said several times, “The calf’s 100 percent.”
G Brandon Moore (hip) and LB Bryan Thomas (ankle) were limited today but are probable, and nine players were full-go at practice and are probable, including S LaRon Landry (heel, DNP on Thursday) and WRs Santonio Holmes (ribs), Chaz Schilens (ankle) and Stephen Hill (calf).
Buffalo’s short list had two interesting groin developments today: Brad Smith was a full participant in team drills and is probable, while No. 1 WR Stevie Johnson was limited and is questionable.
Tags: Austin Howard, Buffalo Bills, DeMarcus Ware, Dustin Keller, Mario Williams, Mike DeVito, Sione Pouha
Posted in Randy Lange | 116 Comments »
The Jets this evening have issued their first depth chart of the season.
With the distribution of the first game release of the summer to reporters, for Friday night’s Jets-Bengals game, we have posted the depth chart in that release on our site. You can find it here.
Bearing in mind that head coach Rex Ryan hasn’t announced any of his starters or any rotations for the game yet, here are a couple of spots worth mentioning:
Stephen Hill is listed at the WR starter opposite Santonio Holmes. If Hill starts vs. the Stripes —possible since Holmes is doubtful with his rib injury — he could be the only rookie to get the start in the preseason opener.
That would also make Hill only the fifth offensive first-year player to start in the first preseason game since 2000. Jonathan Goodwin started at LG at Pittsburgh in 2002, D’Brickashaw Ferguson at LT and Nick Mangold at C at Tampa Bay in ’06, and Jehuu Caulcrick at FB vs. St. Louis in Rex Ryan’s first game as Jets head coach in ’09.
“It definitely would be a great thing, a big honor, if that happened,” Hill told me. “But I’m still trying to make the team along with a lot of other guys. I’m doing my part to make plays and don’t get chewed out by the coaches.”
On this first chart, Chaz Schilens is listed at No. 2 behind Hill, while the Holmes side lists Jeremy Kerley No. 2 and Patrick Turner No. 3.
John Conner is the only player listed at fullback, with FB/TE Josh Baker being located No. 3 at TE behind Dustin Keller and Jeff Cumberland.
No. 1 draft choice Quinton Coples is backing up his old Hargrave Military teammate, Muhammad Wilkerson, at DE, with Mike DeVito checking in alongside Sione Po‘uha as the Jets’ three No. 1 D-linemen at this time.
Bryan Thomas is back at his old No. 1 spot at OLB after he missed the final 12 games last year due to his Achilles injury at Baltimore in Game 4.
Aaron Maybin, shot from a cannon this summer, checks in behind Calvin Pace at the other OLB spot.
Third-round rookie LB Demario Davis, sidelined for the start of camp with a hamstring pull, is listed behind Bart Scott and Josh Mauga at the Will spot on the inside next to David Harris.
And the most interesting experiment may be at safety, where the Jets are listing Eric Smith, Yeremiah Bell and LaRon Landry all as starters.
“That’s what we’re going to do, and we’re excited about it,” said Smitty, who started 14 of 16 games at safety last year alongside either Brodney Pool or Jim Leonhard. “I think it’ll be good for us.” I’ll have more on Smith’s view of his evolving role with his two new safety mates in the next few days.
Of course, the depth chart is only a guide for how players might be lining up in practice and at games but the Jets’ starting lineup. And it’s only updated once a week, before the game ahead. We’ll update our depth chart page every week as soon as we are able.
Two New Sets of Hands
The Jets also announced tonight they have signed two new wide receivers, Stanley Arukwe (6’0″, 180) of Troy, who will wear No. 16, and Joseph Collins (6’3″, 195) of Weber State, who will wear No. 87, while waiving recent WR signee Chris Forcier. That brings their roster to one under the 90-player limit.
Tags: Cincinnati Bengals, Demario Davis, depth chart, Eric Smith, LaRon Landry, Mike DeVito, Quinton Coples, Stephen Hill, Yeremiah Bell
Posted in Randy Lange | 22 Comments »
It was quite a scene in the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center locker room early this afternoon, a media horde descending on the Green & White on an otherwise average day in May.
It was reporters’ first chance to chat with Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow after the quarterbacks have had some time to work together on and off the field. And while No. 6 and No. 15 were put through their paces with questions about starting and locker room chemistry and one offense or two, the QBs’ teammates watched with relative amusement. Only because at this time, in the middle of the offseason, there’s nothing not to like about the new working arrangement.
“Problems in the locker room? I don’t think so,” said TE Dustin Keller from half a room away. “If the two two didn’t get along so well, that could be the case. But they have a great working relationship. Tim’s a great guy. You see them joking around, laughing. You’re not going to do that if you’re enemies. They’re getting along in the quarterback room.”
“It kind of reminds me of when Brett Favre got here,” said DT Mike DeVito, reflecting on those halcyon days of 2008. “Back then people would ask me, ‘What’s Favre doing now?’ like I lived with the guy. This is about the same. But I’m grateful Tim’s here. He’s a great person, he’s a hard worker — he and Mark and Greg [McElroy] are in the weightroom an hour after the offense is done. He sets a great example on and off the field.”
RT Wayne Hunter is another Jet who welcomes Tebow to the mix.
“For me, I was really excited about him coming here, for his faith, for one, being a strong Christian,” Hunter said. “And number two, I was really excited about what he’s brought to this team. He brings a whole ‘nother level, a whole ‘nother dynamic.”
Darrelle Revis was asked about whether you can have two leaders at one position, or more specifically two leaders at the QB position, on one team, and he replied with an honestly noncommittal answer.
“That’s a tough question,” Revis said. “I don’t know. I can’t come up with an answer to that question, as much as I want to. I don’t know. We’re all experiencing the same thing.”
But Revis was far from downplaying the impact Tebow can have on that other side of the ball.
“These are my teammates. I’m here to support everybody on this team,” he said. “Who starts? It doesn’t matter. Everybody’s going to play on this team. Even if we need some practice-squad player to step up and play one week. We’re getting ready. This is a big year and we’re going to play some awesome football because last year was disappointing. 8-8 and we didn’t make the playoffs.”
The experiment in May is to start blending Tebow’s talents with Sanchez’s and all the other components on offense so that such an ending doesn’t happen again. And as these Phase II offseason practices morph into OTAs in a few weeks and then into the full-squad minicamp in mid-June, the Jets seem to like the different ambience in the locker room and the offensive players are eager to take coordinator Tony Sparano’s operation to the field.
“It’s been great coming in and learning a new offense,” Keller said. “There’s always going to be some ups and downs. Obviously we want to run the ball, and we’ll see as time goes on how much we pass the ball. But Coach Sparano is very vocal and he’s very honest. Those are things you can really appreciate about him. I think it’ll be good for us. It’s almost similar to college, in your face. He expects the most out of you, and obviously these guys expect the most out of themselves. It kind of pushes you to the next level.”
And as we know from the comments from head coach Rex Ryan, Sparano, Mike Tannenbaum and Woody Johnson, Sanchez will be the starter, and Tebow will be a catalyst.
“When you’ve got Tebow on the field,” Hunter said, “it’s going to be crazy. And that’s all I’m going to say about it now.”
Eric Allen will have a news feature with Sanchez talking about Tebow and Tebow about Sanchez, which will be live on the site shortly.
This is always the time of year to revisit with the veterans and see where they’re going with their strength and conditioning. It’s true that all teams went through similar situations last year during the lockout, but it’s also true that this year’s vets are working with new strength coach Bill Hughan and his team for the first time ever in an offseason program, since he started with the Jets last year.
Some of the changes are impressive, such as with Joe McKnight.
“I put on about 15 pounds. I was 197 at the end of last year,” said the more muscular third-year RB and the NFL’s defending kickoff-return leader. “I’m getting my strength right. I’m not a wide receiver, I’m a running back. I’m just continuing to work on my explosion.”
And, I asked, has the extra weight slowed him down at all? He smiled knowingly.
“From what the strength coach has told me, I’m just as fast as ever,” he said. “And I feel just as fast. But I feel stronger, too.”
That sounds like a dangerous combination. We’ll bring you more stories about some of the bodily transformations some of the Jets have made as we visit with the veterans once a week heading toward the minicamp next month.
Tags: Brett Favre, Dustin Keller, joe McKnight, Mark Sanchez, Mike DeVito, Rex Ryan, Tim Tebow, Tony Sparano, Wayne Hunter
Posted in Randy Lange | 70 Comments »
The Jets’ offseason started a whole lot sooner than any of us wanted. And this past week has been, to say the least, interesting.
We’ll continue to monitor the Green & White scene, writing about developments as we can, and of course posting as many of your comments on all Jets matters as we can.
In the meantime we’ll look forward to the 2012 season, which won’t start for the NFL until March but has started for the Jets now. We’ll bring you player features as those players become available here at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center, through videos, stories and blogs, slideshows, or all of the above. We’ll visit with the team’s alumni throughout the offseason and see what their thoughts are for their team going forward.
We’ll have a number of other features for the fans. One coming up will be a Select Al Pereira’s Best Jets Action Shot of 2011. We’ll present you with about 20 of the best shots from Pereira, our staff photographer, from all games this past season and ask you to vote for the top four and then, in a separate vote, pick the best of the best photo. We’ll be getting Al’s images up to speed a week from Monday. Keep an eye out for that.
In the short term, besides Jets news, we’ll be doing capsules on each of this season’s playoff games, complete with a section we call “Jet Fuel,” citing Green & White connections to the current teams in the postseason. Andrew LeRay wrote up Saturday’s two capsules — Bengals-Texans and Lions-Saints — that went live on newyorkjets.com this afternoon. Eric Allen and I will have the capsules for the Sunday games — Falcons-Giants and Steelers-Broncos — live tomorrow during the day.
And in the coming weeks and months, we’ll bring you exclusive features, from our staff and from the personnel people at Real Football Services, on the Senior Bowl, the NFL Combine workouts, the Jets position by position vis-a-vis the free agency signing period, the draft, and the Jets’ offseason training program, their OTAs and minicamp all to come.
The Jets have confirmed surgical procedures for four players following the rigors of ’11. Surgeries have already been performed on DT Mike DeVito (shoulder), S Eric Smith (knee) and G Matt Slauson (shoulder). And a surgery is scheduled for DL Marcus Dixon (shoulder).
And as you may have heard earlier today in a tweet from us or from your favorite Green & White news outlet, the Jets issued a statement through a team spokesman: “Bart Scott was fined $10,000 by the team for his obscene gesture to a member of the media. Bart’s actions were inappropriate and unacceptable.”
Why at Seattle?
When the NFL officially announced the 2012 opponents for all teams earlier this week, several of you asked the question: Why are the Jets at Seattle again after they just went to the Pacific Northwest four years ago?
The short answer is that, as we explained a year ago regarding yet another Jets trip to Oakland in ’11, the NFL has tweaked its scheduling rotation as it regards all teams in both conferences playing the AFC West and NFC West teams.
For the longer answer (if you’re of strong constitution), let’s reflect on 2008, when the Jets made four West Coast trips, to Oakland, San Diego, San Francisco and Seattle. How did that happen? For starters, it began with the way, since the divisional realignment in 2002, that teams in one division are scheduled to play teams in every other division.
It was and still mostly is alphabetical.
For instance, in ’05 when it was the AFC East’s year to play the AFC West, Buffalo and Miami played home against Denver and Kansas City and away at Oakland and San Diego, while the (New York) Jets and New England played home vs. OAK and SD and at DEN and KC. In ’08, the home and away sites for all teams were flipped.
With this rotation, every AFCE team would play one home game and one away game against every AFCW team every six years.
Similarly, in ’04 it was the AFC East vs. the NFC West, so BUF and MIA were home for ARZ and STL and at SF and SEA, while the NYJ and NE were at ARZ and STL (Saint Louis, spelled out) and home vs. SF and SEA.
The problem: Every 12 years, the AFC East would play the AFC West and NFC West in the same season at the same sites. And so every 12 years, the stars and divisions would align and the Jets and Patriots would either have home games against four West Coast teams. And then 12 years later they’d both have four West Coast games in the same season.
That sounds like not so big a deal, once every quarter of a century. But in different years the same West Coast problem also hit all the Eastern Time Zone teams in the two North and two South divisions as well.
The NFL, which clearly likes the eight divisions and the rotation concept, wanted to break up the scheduling imbalance that resulted every year that an Eastern team found itself on the road for four West Coast trips.
The solution was to reorder the Western divisions. That began in 2009, when in the AFC West, Denver was paired no longer with Kansas City but with Oakland and KC was newly coupled with San Diego, while in the NFC West, it was Arizona-San Francisco and St. Louis-Seattle.
All Eastern TZ teams are affected, so with this new wrinkle, no Eastern team will ever have more than two West Coast trips in a season.
In 2012, with the AFCE and NFCW once again scheduled to play, it’s the first year of the Jets going on the road to play St. Louis and Seattle while staying at home for Arizona and San Francisco.
So why at Seattle? It’s because of this new rotation formula. But it was going to be either at Seattle or at San Francisco in 2012. And Arizona, almost as long a road trip, will be at the Jets’ home for two consecutive cycles (’08, ’12) for the same reason.
One more good thing: Unofficially speaking, if the Jets play Oakland in ’13 because the teams finish in the same position in their respective divisions, the game will be at the Jets. And in ’14, when it’s AFC East vs. AFC West again, the Jets-Raiders game also is set for MetLife Stadium. Possibly two consecutive home games vs. the Raiders. Who’d've thunk it?
Told you it was a long answer.
Tags: AFC East, AFC West, Al Pereira, Eric Smith, Marcus Dixon, Matt Slauson, Mike DeVito, NFC West, surgeries
Posted in Randy Lange | 255 Comments »
Updated, 2:30 p.m. ET
You would have to trace back more than five years to find the last time WLB Bart Scott, head coach Rex Ryan and defensive coordinator Mike Pettine prepared to face a Michael Vick-led offense. It was Nov. 19, 2006, in Baltimore when the Ravens smothered Vick’s Falcons, 24-10, as the gifted quarterback was sacked five times and held to 82 net yards passing.
So, Madbacker, how do you slow Vick down?
“Just making sure you set edges on him and you’re able to take away the lanes because he’s an explosive athlete,” he told me. “You have to play team defense. You can’t go out and try to be Superman yourself and try to make a play and leave your teammates at risk, shooting up the field and giving him running lanes and throwing lanes.
“You have to play disciplined and play the defense the way it’s supposed to be played and try to keep him in the box,” he added. “If you allow him to get on the edges, he can make plays either running the ball or throwing the ball. When he’s out in space, he’s tough to get.”
The Jets are a well-coached group because Ryan’s message is hammered home to everyone. Scott is 31 and in his 10th pro season, but listen to 22-year-old rookie DL Muhammad Wilkerson break it down.
“You have to take good angles,” he said of Vick. “You have to have some kind of technique when you’re rushing the passer like Mike Vick. He’s definitely mobile, so you have to keep him in the pocket. You don’t want him to escape outside. You’d rather him rush to where he escapes inside to your other teammates.”
Scott had seven tackles in that ’06 meeting, but he was limited to special teams duty when the Ravens and Falcons squared off on Nov. 3, 2002. Vick and the Falcons captured a 20-17 decision in Atlanta, but his numbers were less than ordinary. He was sacked three times and intercepted once while being held to 115 net yards passing. The Falcons, who benefited from a defensive TD, got minus-5 yards rushing from their speedy QB on seven carries.
It’s hard to believe Vick, now in his third season in Philadelphia, is 31 years old. His struggles in 2011 have been a microcosm of the 5-8 Eagles. After completing 62.6 percent of his passes for 3,018 yards with 21 TDs and just six INTs in 2010, No. 7 is completing 59.4 percent of his throws for 2,401 yards with 12 TDs and 12 INTs.
“He probably has another 10 years to play,” Scott said. “What I’ve seen from him is the maturity of a person, as a man, which has translated to his maturity on the football field: the understanding and trusting of his teammates more, allowing his teammates to make plays instead of always trying to make plays with his feet, the understanding that a lot of the times he can use his ability to buy time to get larger chunks by throwing the football than running the football.”
Vick remains a threat on the ground as evidenced by his 8.1-yard average, but he doesn’t have a rush TD after totaling nine in 2010. The most dynamic offensive weapon for the Eagles has been RB LeSean “Shady” McCoy, an explosive performer who’s rushed for 1,172 yards and 14 touchdowns and added 310 yards and three TDs receiving.
“His ability to cut laterally, to stop on a dime … he’s tough mentally and physically. He’ll stick it up in there, but the running scheme doesn’t allow people to see that a lot,” Scott said. “But he’s not afraid, he’s not timid and he’s a guy at some point, watching him play and watching him carry himself, may have been doubted by his size. He kind of walks around with a bit of a chip on his shoulder.”
“He’s got good speed. He can hit the edge and take it to the house,” Wilkerson said. “He’s very elusive out in the open field, so he’s another one we plan on taking good angles with and making sure he runs back to the defense flowing to the ball. We’ll pretty much handle it from there.”
The Eagles might be ranked fourth in total offense, but points win games. The Birds are in the middle of the pack at 15th with just 22.8 per contest and the Jets don’t plan on sitting back and playing tentative.
“Just because Vick can run and they have all these good athletes doesn’t mean we’re going to be hesitant with our defensive schemes,” said Big Mo. “We’re definitely still going to bring pressure and do all the things we’ve been doing for the season.”
Rex Ryan reported at today’s final news conference of the week at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center that only one 11 players on this week’s injury report is not probable for the game at Philly. That player is CB-ST Marquice Cole (ankle), who is out and will not make the trip down the New Jersey Turnpike.
Among the 10 “probable” players is DT Mike DeVito, who has sat out four of the past seven games with two different knee injuries.
“It’s great to have him back,” Ryan said. “He was having a huge year for us, and now to have him back, the other guys can now back up, but they’ve had a lot of playing time and you’re getting better depth and getting better. Marcus Dixon’s done a tremendous job for us, especially recently. I love the way he’s playing and the way Mo [Muhammad Wilkerson] is playing. It’s a good group.”
The Eagles after today’s practice are listing DE Darryl Tapp as doubtful and four players as questionable — WR Jeremy Maclin (hamstring/shoulder), T Todd Herrremans (ankle), DT Cullen Jenkins and QB Vince Young (ankle). All four questionables practiced full. Remaining full-go and probable for Sunday are seven players, including QB Michael Vick (ribs) and CBs Nnamdi Asomugha (knee) and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (ankle).
Tags: Atlanta Falcons, Bart Scott, Michael Vick, Mike DeVito, Philadelphia Eagles, Rex Ryan
Posted in Eric Allen | 30 Comments »
It was another “Fast Friday” practice for the Jets at Atlantic Health Training Center today. Head coach Rex Ryan and his staff keep the mood light on Fridays with an abbreviated practice working mostly on red zone situations. Instead of beginning the day with special teams drills, the offense takes the field and each receiver, back, or tight end runs an individual route, receives a pass, and is then congratulated by a chorus of cheers and applause from his teammates.
Today, even offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer was involved, throwing a short screen pass to tight ends coach Mike Devlin, eliciting a chorus of cheers and applause. Fast Friday is one way to maintain a positive vibe throughout the team heading into that weekend’s game. Staying positive is crucial, especially in the midst of a crowded playoff race.
While the Jets have had no problems keeping morale high, Ryan hopes it’s spreading to their fan base.
“We’re fighting for our playoff lives,” said Ryan. “Have we made it easy being a Jets fan? Probably not like we wanted to. One thing about our team, we’re going to give it everything we have. I think our fans appreciate that.”
In hopes of jump-starting that wave of positivity, Ryan has made a special request to have his offense introduced individually before Sunday’s opening kickoff against the Chiefs, and he expects a rousing ovation from Jets Nation. After all, it’s the same Jets offense that has come from behind in the fourth quarter in consecutive weeks to keep the playoff dream alive.
“I want everybody to know that Mark Sanchez is a pretty good quarterback,” said Ryan. “I think it will be a shot in the arm when he comes out to applause because I think that will happen.”
In addition to Sanchez, RB Shonn Greene has been enjoying increased success lately. Due in large part to the elevated play of the offensive line, Greene has averaged 4.7 yards per carry in his last two games and had a career-high three-touchdown performance last week at Washington. Greene seemingly has won the battle with inconsistency that plagued him earlier in the season, and is now battling a rib injury sustained in Week 11 in Denver.
“He’s tough. This time of year everybody is beat up,” said Ryan. “The tough guys hang in there and keep going. When you look at our backfield, everybody is hurt.”
Ryan’s commitment to the ground game has been reaffirmed in the last two games, as the Jets have run the ball 53 times. Greene has taken 35 of those carries, and it appears the approach won’t change much on Sunday.
“We know as a football team we had to run the ball better,” said Ryan. “Washington had a good front, Kansas City is a good front, so it’s definitely going to be a challenge. We know we have to keep hanging in there. To me, rushing attempts are more important than rushing average. You keep running the football, eventually good things are going to happen.”
Ryan fell in love with the run game in his first season as head coach, when RB Thomas Jones posted career bests with 331 carries, 1,402 rushing yards and 14 TDs. Now Jones is in Kansas City and will make his return trip to East Rutherford, N.J., with the Chiefs.
“They have one of the best running games in the league,” said Ryan. “We have to stop the run so we can get them in third-and-longs. That will play to our advantage.”
The Chiefs are ranked ninth in the NFL in rushing, averaging 120.7 yards per game. Jones is part of a three-headed ground game along with RB Jackie Battle and RB Dexter McCluster. The three have helped keep the Chiefs alive in the AFC West race.
While the Kansas City passing attack may not be their strength, Ryan insisted that his secondary must stay alert for the big play. The Chiefs’ only touchdown in last week’s 10-3 victory over the Bears came on a Hail Mary completion to McCluster to end the first half.
“On the back end, we can’t fall asleep,” said Ryan. “This team is capable of throwing the football. They’ve got big-time wideouts on the outside. They’ll run the Wildcat, they’ll run bootlegs, and [QB Tyler Palko] is pretty decent on the move. There is certainly a challenge there.”
DT Mike DeVito (knee) did not participate in practice this week and is listed as doubtful for Sunday’s game. RB Joe McKnight practiced on a limited basis and wore a brace on his arm to protect his hyperextended elbow. He is also listed as questionable. In case he can’t go, Ryan said that rookie RB Bilal Powell will be active.
RG Brandon Moore missed the week of practice with soreness in his surgically repaired hip. Ryan listed Moore as questionable, but Moore had no doubts that he would play in his 125th Jets regular-season game and make his 118th consecutive start come Sunday.
“I’ll get out there before the game, get on the field, warm it up, come back and get ready for the game,” said Moore. “I don’t know if anybody is 100 percent, but I’ll be ready to go.”
Rounding out the Jets listed as questionable is DT Marcus Dixon, who is also nursing a sore hip.
The Chiefs are abnormally healthy this late in the season. Recent waiver-acquisition QB Kyle Orton is doubtful with a finger injury on his throwing hand. LBs Jovan Belcher (shoulder) and Demorrio Williams (groin) are both questionable.
Tags: Brandon Moore, Brian Schottenheimer, Kansas City Chiefs, Kyle Orton, Mark Sanchez, Mike DeVito, Rex Ryan, Thomas Jones, Tyler Palko
Posted in Andrew LeRay | 27 Comments »