Parting is such sweet sorrow, not just in Shakespeare but in football. But today’s going-away celebration was necessary for JoJo Wooden to take the next step in his desired career path.
“I was not looking forward to it at all,” Wooden, the Jets’ assistant director of player personnel, said of the small party thrown by the team’s football and business sides at the Atlantic Health Training Center as congratulations for JoJo moving 3,000 miles away to become the Chargers’ director of player personnel.
“Leaving is really, really hard, you know?” he said, still feeling the emotion of the moment. “It’s about the people.”
Wooden knew a lot of folks and wore lots of hats during his 16 seasons in the Jets’ front office. He began on the pro personnel side as an assistant, a pro scout, a senior pro scout for the AFC, assistant director of pro scouting and then director of pro scouting before getting his most recent title and adding college duties to his résumé in 2006.
“I’ve had the chance to be involved in both, and maybe the last three years or so it’s been a lot more college than pro, but I still had my hand in both,” he said this afternoon in his now in-transition office. “This is an opportunity to become the director of player personnel, overseeing both the college and pro departments, so that’s going to be exciting.
“It’s a great step. My ultimate goal, I want to be a general manager, and I think this was the next logical move for me.”
San Diego and new GM Tom Telesco were in need of a new director after Jimmy Raye, son of the well-traveled former Jets assistant coach, departed the job to saddle up with the Colts.
The Chargers offered Wooden a great opportunity, and it had to be great for him and his wife, Sarah, and two daughters to undo their ties with the Northeast. He was born and raised in Connecticut and was a two-year starter at OLB for Syracuse University.
“I’m excited, the family’s excited. They’re on board, which is big,” JoJo said. “It’s a new chapter in our life and we’re looking forward to it.”
But in keeping with his status as a Jets employee for one more day, he used the first person plural to talk about the state of the Green & White. Asked about his highlights during his Jets tenure, he offered a nod toward the Jets’ AFC Championship Game appearances in 2009 and ’10.
“Those are the biggest things, just the wins. Pittsburgh and Indianapolis … it’s hard just to get yourself in that position as an organization, and to be fortunate enough to do it two years in a row was good.”
And the team he’s leaving behind?
“I love the direction the team’s heading in now with John [Idzik] and Coach Ryan,” he said. “I feel very good about the draft, the guys we acquired. You like the direction this place is heading … and so now you’re sad that you’re jumping off ship.”
But there are plenty of tall ships in San Diego, plus the start of a new program under first-year head coach Mike McCoy. It’s tough to see Wooden head west, but it’s great to see this young man and great guy get to take that next career step. Here’s a proverbial NFL toast, JoJo: Best of luck in all you do against 30 of the NFL’s 31 other teams.
No. 1, Part II
We asked several questions Tuesday, after uniform No. 1 became free with the waiving of WR Thomas Mayo, about that non-crooked number in Jets uni history. Here are the answers:
■ Who was the last Jets player to wear No. 1 during training camp? Last year WR Raymond Webber was “the one.” The year before, P Chris Bryan wore it. Neither made it to the regular season wearing the number.
■ Who was the last Jet to wear No. 1 in a regular-season game? That was K Mike Nugent’s number from the time he was drafted in 2005 through his free agency departure following the ’08 season.
■ Who was the last non-kicker to wear No. 1 in a RS game? The only non-kicker to wear the Big Green One was RB Mike Adamle, who played for the Jets in 1973-74.
As for who if anyone will inherit the one this season, we don’t have any rookie uniform number information yet. But we will post the winning numbers as soon as we are cleared to do so this week.
Tags: Chris Bryan, director of player personnel, John Idzik, JoJo Wooden, Mike Adamle, Mike Nugent, Raymond Webber, Rex Ryan, San Diego Chargers, Thomas Mayo
Posted in Randy Lange | 39 Comments »
Having the better field position on the Sun Life Stadium pitch on Sunday will be a valued piece to the puzzle if the Jets eke out a win over the Dolphins and squeak into the AFC playoff grid. And there are a few areas to watch to see if the Green & White are giving themselves the best chance for the road win.
On the punt return front, it’s better late than never. Jeremy Kerley is getting up a head of steam.
“I’m starting to feel more comfortable and more confident back there,” Kerley said of his role early in the season and now late on the calendar as the team’s main punt returner. “That’s what you need to play with. That’s what you’ve got to have as a punt returner and a kick returner. You’ve got to be confident in yourself. When something goes wrong, you’ve got to shake it off and put it in the back of your head, because you can make a mistake thinking about what just happened.”
No mistakes Saturday — Kerley was as good as he’s been all season against the Giants. His first return was a 22-yarder to near midfield to start the Jets on their opening TD drive. Then he reeled off returns of 28, 14 and 10 yards. That’s four returns for 74 yards. He had 80 yards in Game 3 at Oakland, and those two games are among the four top PR-yardage games for the Jets in the last eight seasons.
The list includes Santana Moss’ 83-yard, one-TD game in the ’04 playoff game at Pittsburgh and Leon Washington’s 77-yard outing vs. Cincinnati in ’08.
Someday Kerley is going to go the distance and that would be most welcome for coaches Mike Westhoff and Ben Kotwica and Jets fandom because that return will likely be the one that ends the Jets’ drought of 118 games without a punt-return TD, tied for the longest in the NFL. But JK’s already got some of that professional perseverance working for him. He’s not going to force the issue at Miami.
“It’ll come, it’ll come. You’ve just got to be patient,” he said. “I’m approaching this game how I approach all of the games, because when you try to do too much, that’s when something will happen.”
On the kickoff front, the Jets in theory could have the edge in any KO exchanges. With Joe McKnight and Antonio Cromartie splitting the return duties recently because of McKnight’s elbow/shoulder issues, the Jets are off of their blistering season-opening pace yet still handily lead the NFL in average drive start after returns (26.4) while Miami’s coverage is 17th in opponents’ average drive start.
McKnight has been getting full-time treatment this week as he tries to finish his first regular season by nailing down several distinctions. He currently leads the NFL with a 31.9-yard average and could become the first Jet since Justin Miller in 2006 to lead the league in that department. And he could also break Bobby Humphery’s franchise record of 30.7 yards per return, with which he led the NFL in his rookie season in 1984.
While the Jets’ kickoff returns remain among the best in the game, their kickoff coverage unit has risen to prominence and could also play a field position role Sunday. Nick Folk’s kickoffs are resulting in an opponents’ drive start of their 21.3-yard line, seventh in the league, while the Dolphins’ returners, led by rookie Clyde Gates and his 25.0 return average, are again middle of the pick, 16th in the league with an average return to their 21.8.
It’s not just the coverage of the Jets’ big four special tacklers — Nick Bellore, Josh Mauga, Jamaal Westerman and Garrett McIntyre. Folk’s hangtime has had a lot to do with the Jets’ averages and their 25 inside-the-20 stops, third in the NFL.
“I’ve always had that. My natural kick is to get it up in the air pretty good,” Folk said this week. “I’m going to work on trying to get a little more drive on it this offseason. Early in the year I had that down, then as they year went on, well, I’ve got to make sure that stays more consistent throughout the year.
“But when you’re leading the league and they’re starting right at their 20 almost every time, you can’t really get mad at that. Our guys, they want to go down there and make tackles, try to get a turnover and whatnot. They’re excited about the touchbacks, but they’re also excited to make a big play inside the 20.”
It surprised me when I went back to check on the Jets’ kickoff hangtimes that I’ve kept over the last decade. From Doug Brien through Mike Nugent and Jay Feely, none of them ever had a season in which they averaged 4.00 seconds per kickoff. The closest was Feely’s 2009 season at 3.92. Folk came in last year and averaged 4.12 seconds, and this season he’s up to 4.24, a figure that was anchored by his current streak of 41 of his last 42 kickoffs hanging for at least 4.00 seconds.
Every tenth of a second helps, especially with a season on the line in the warm Miami air Sunday.
*Special Teams Saturday
Tags: Doug Brien, Jay Feely, Jeremy Kerley, Leon Washington, Miami Dolphins, Mike Nugent, Nick Bellore, Nick Folk, Santana Moss
Posted in Randy Lange | 34 Comments »
Two more ex-Jets are outta here. Both arrived in 2005, one for the first time, one for the second. Each took a different route to unrestricted free agency. Neither was expected to return in ’09.
Warrior WR Laveranues Coles signed a four-year contract with the Cincinnati Bengals this afternoon. Earlier in the day, diligent K Mike Nugent agreed on a one-year deal with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Coles, who reached a compromise with the Jets to restructure his contract that unguaranteed guaranteed money and enabled him to seek out a team with which he could play out the rest of his career and retire. He obviously found it in the Bengals.
LC is a tough one to say "see ya" to. The 2008 season was certainly not his best — I had him unofficially for a career-high eight dropped passes — and there were games where he seemed to be a non-factor — one catch in the opener at Miami, one vs. St. Louis, two for 2 yards vs. Denver, one for 5 the next week at San Fran.
But Coles’ 70 catches for 850 yards were not chump change. He continued to inspire with his toughness and with some long early yards-after-catch plays. His seven touchdown grabs equaled his career high from 2001, in his first Green & White go-round. He had the game-winning 15-yard grab from Brett Favre with one minute to play to beat the Chiefs in Game 7, and his three touchdown grabs against Super Bowl team-to-be Arizona tied a franchise record for most TDs scored in a quarter (home team in CAPS):
|1968||RB Billy Joe||JETS 48, Boston 14||3 rush||4th|
|1985||TE Mickey Shuler||JETS 62, Tampa Bay 28||3 rec.||2nd|
|2008||WR Laveranues Coles||JETS 56, Arizona 35||3 rec.||2nd|
No question Coles could be prickly, but when he returned from his two-year stay in Washington, he was also less defensive and more of a big-picture guy for reporters than he ever used to be. And he opened up to me in May 2007 about his perhaps future career as a movie reviewer, revealing that he had over 2,000 movie DVDs at home. His favorite flick of all time?
"I’d have to choose ‘Gladiator’," he said. "That movie’s something I always compare my life to and everything I’m going through. There’s a guy who went from a general leading the Roman army to becoming a slave, and still from that position he pretty much became just as powerful as a king. That basically says you don’t have to have the title of ‘the man’ for you to be ‘the man.’ "
Coles a fan of Gladiator? It figures.
Nugent’s Biggest Hits
Nugent was in a different boat. Hurting his knee when he slipped on a kickoff on the skin infield at Dolphin Stadium in the opener, he spent the next 15 games on the inactive list as Jay Feely took over the kicking chores. Feely is also a UFA as of this moment.
"Nuge" had been the Jets’ placekicker from the time he was drafted in the second round of the 2005 draft until that injury. He was a decent fellow and a diligent worker and I’ll miss him as well.
I know many fans were not krazy about his kicks. I think he kicked better than he was given credit for, especially because he worked hard at his craft and got better each season, but if you’ve got a different opinion, that’s cool, too. He was good but he wasn’t perfect.
For instance, one thing that drove Jets faithful crazy were his season openers. His first FG try as a pro was a low kick off of a slip of his plant leg at Arrowhead Stadium that Eric Hicks rejected for the Chiefs. The next year he missed two field goals and a PAT at the Titans’ LP Field. He had no tries in ’07 vs. the Patriots, then came this past season when he missed from 32 yards at Miami.
His field goal mark on opening day: 1-for-5. And his FG numbers from 50-plus: 3-for-9.
But Nugent did hit some big kicks. His 54-yarder against the Texans in 2006 was 1 yard shy of the Jets’ record long kicks of 55 yards, first by Pat Leahy, also at the Meadowlands in 1985, and John Hall, on his first kick as a pro at Seattle’s Kingdome in the 1997 opener.
Nuge also hit three game-winning field goals and was 6-for-7 on tries to tie the score or put the Jets ahead in the final two minutes of regulation and in overtime. And he’s tied for the unofficial franchise record for most consecutive field goals made in regular- and postseason games combined. In fact, he and Pat Leahy dominate the top of the list::
One off-season interlude with Nugent sticks out for me, and that’s his session with a film crew that, coincidentally also in May 2007, taped his every trick shot for one of the striking series of commercials for "NFL.com Fantasy File." You can see the YouTube clip here.
“I don’t do too many trick shots at all,” Nuge deadpanned in between takes. “The basic thing is just practicing what you are going to do on the field, doing the same things in practice as you would do in a game.”
From the comments that appear after Nugent’s video plus others by Neil Rackers, Mason Crosby, Jason Campbell, Laurence Maroney, et al., there are a lot of people who think the impossible was being done routinely for these fantasy commercials. But for those people I have three words and a crooked punctuation mark:
Aren’t. Computers. Great?
I wish Coles and Nugent the best in the next phase of their careers. Green & White followers could get to see how both are doing, since the Jets will play both the Bengals and the Bucs in 2009.
Tags: Brett Favre, Cincinnati Bengals, Laveranues Coles, Mike Nugent, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Posted in Randy Lange | 48 Comments »
If you ever wondered where Jay Feely’s coming from, it helps to know where he’s going to this weekend.
"I’m not a numbers guy. You’ll have to look it up. I don’t remember missing and kicks there," the kicker said when asked how he’s fared in that venerable ballpark by the bay, where the Jets will play the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday. "But I know my first game of my career was at Candlestick."
True enough. When Atlanta visited the Niners on opening day in 2001, Feely was the Falcons’ rookie kicker. He took me on a trip down memory lane to that game, which explains a lot about his frame of mind as he has put together an 11-game streak as the Jets’ kicker despite the presence of Mike Nugent on the active roster.
||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||| SPECIAL TEAMS SATURDAY |||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||||
"I know I made a couple of kicks, we went into overtime and I didn’t get a field goal in overtime," he recalled. "You think back to those beginning days and there was so much hope and yet uncertainty at the same time.
"Then you move forward a number of years and now you have a lot of confidence, and that confidence is rooted in the fact that you’ve been there before. You’ve failed and not allowed that failure to break you, and that fuels more confidence.
"I think when you go through really tough times and you’re able to bounce back, that gives you a lot of confidence — and a lot of fearlessness."
I suggested to Feely that more than a few Jets fans must think he’s felt some of that old insecurity ever since coming to the Jets after Nugent injured his right thigh in the opener at Miami. He didn’t see it that way.
"It didn’t apply to me, though," he said. "There was uncertainty in my circumstances, but there was never uncertainty for me in my ability to perform.
"I was talking to Reggie the other day about that," he said of Reggie Hodges, the Jets’ punter and holder. "That’s one of the advantages of being a veteran. When all the world says ‘Ohhh, he missed a kick,’ you’re like ‘Ahhh, I’ve been through a lot worse situations than this.’ "
His Jets launch was "definitely different." After getting cut by two teams this summer — the Chiefs signed him, then released him the next day — he said he had to reverse the usual process, building relationships with new teammates (not to mention a new fan base) only after he performed, not after a long off-season and preseason of work.
Feely missed four of his first 14 field goal tries as a Jet, but head coach Eric Mangini and special teams coaches Mike Westhoff and Kevin O’Dea stayed with him. Lately he’s caught fire, hitting his last 11 kicks. That includes his franchise-record-tying long of 55 yards vs. St Louis and the 34-yard gamewinner at New England.
I cant tell you Feely will be kicking in the sometimes windy, sometimes slick conditions on Candlestick Point. In fact, he has never missed a placement here, having hit three FGs and seven PATs in three games.
But Nugent was not listed on the week’s injury report for the first time since he got hurt, and Mangini declines to declare a kicker until 90 minutes before each game, by when he must declare his inactive players.
Yet it will be no surprise if it’s Feely. As he said about the ‘Stick but could just as well have remarked about his situation this season:
"It’s easier said than done, but you can’t allow the factors to change your technique. You have to account for them and make adjustments but not change your technique. That’s the key."
Tags: Eric Mangini, Jay Feely, Mike Nugent, San Francisco 49ers
Posted in Randy Lange | 13 Comments »
The Jets are on the Gillette Stadium field doing their stretching, and the NFL Network has zeroed in on its favorite player for the moment. Ty Law has attracted three cameramen who are getting down onto the FieldTurf with him as he stretches his quads and hams. We expect to see much footage of Law’s 34-year-old muscles throughout the NFL Network broadcast, regardless of how well and how much the five-time Pro Bowl corner plays tonight.
One thing is certain: Law is active for the game. The Jets’ inactive list has a familiar ring: K Mike Nugent, WR David Clowney, RB Marcus Mason, CB Drew Coleman, S Eric Smith, LB David Harris and TE Bubba Franks, and Brett Ratliff as the third quarterback. Other than Coleman taking the spot that Justin Miller had been filling until his release this week, it’s the same IA list for the third straight week.
The Patriots’ inactive list also includes those two big defensive names that had come down with recent injuries: LB Adalius Thomas and DE Ty Warren. Also RB LaMont Jordan, the former Jet, won’t be able to help the Patriots’ ground game tonight as he has been deactivated. Also inactive for the Pats: CBs Terrence Wheatley and Lewis Sanders, LB Eric Alexander and T Wesley Britt, with Matt Gutierrez as the third QB.
It has been raining lightly off and on all day in the Providence-Foxboro-Boston alley, but at the moment, a half-hour before tonight’s 8:15 kickoff, it seems to be dry. But even the threat of rain conjures up the weather that has accompanied the Jets-Patriots games up here recently.
In 2004, the Patriots prevailed, 13-7, under cloudy, windy, drizzly mid-40-degree skies. In 2005, the Pats won again, 16-3, in light snow.
The Jets’ 17-14 upset in 2006 was played in rain and mud — the last time New England worried about its grass field. The Pats’ next home game and every home game since has been on turf.
Then last year’s wet snow and freezing rain in the morning and rain during the game set the stage for a tough but very interesting 20-10 Jets loss. Until the Giants beat the Patriots in the Super Bowl, their lowest yardage, first down, point and offensive touchdown totals came in that soggy, cold game against the Green & White.
Speaking of green and white, the Jets will be wearing their white jerseys and green pants tonight. That combination has been worn for three wins and five losses since Eric Mangini took over as head coach in 2006, but the three wins are noteworthy: that was the scheme for the 2006 win at Gillette, the win later in ’06 at Green Bay, and the "complete" 26-17 triumph at Buffalo less than two full weeks ago.
Gene Steratore is the referee for this fairly important Week 10 Thursday night game. It’s Steratore’s fourth game as the head official for a Jets game. His first game was Mangini’s first game as Jets coach in the 2006 season opener at Tennessee.
It’s almost time for the big game, and a game that many are viewing as a referendum on the Jets’ off-season of building and spending. I’m not as extreme on that subject, probably because in my many years of observing the NFL, I’ve seen big wins lead to nothing and devastating defeats that didn’t deter teams from great heights.
But no question this is an important game in the chilly Massachusetts countryside, in front of the hostile Patriots fans, in front of the nation of football fans who have NFL Network or are watching the game on Channel 11 in New York. And the Jets will be attempting to wrest control of the AFC East from the Pats beginning in a few short minutes. Enjoy.
Tags: Mike Nugent, New England Patriots, Ty Law
Posted in Randy Lange | 5 Comments »
Robert Turner, who on Sunday showed us a versatile skill set, can add modeling to the list after Monday night’s Saks Fifth Avenue Suit Up event at the Short Hills Mall in Short Hills, N.J.
Turner and 15 other Jets were on hand, strutting their stuff for a packed house and a good cause, with proceeds going to the New York Jets Foundation.
While players mostly had their outfits chosen for them, Turner made a gametime revision to his suit.
“I changed my tie,” he said. “I had a new starter in the lineup.”
It wasn’t the type of fashion show you might picture if you’ve never been to one. There were no flashing lights or loud music and there wasn’t a raised catwalk. Instead, players mingled with the crowd before and after they took their turns on the makeshift, roped-off runway.
Players stood out — especially those of the 6’4", 300-pounds-plus kind — as they gracefully chatted with the many people surrounding them while signing autographs. I asked Nick Mangold if he felt at all claustrophobic.
“Well, I’m a cuddly person,” he said, “so it never really bothers me too much. But it’s nice being able to mingle around and enjoy the evening.”
It was nice to see Mike Nugent participating. After all, the kicker must be getting healthier if he’s walking the runway, right?
“I think it was a great time,” said Nugent. “Everyone does a really good job and it’s always great to get a good crowd here, because it’s always for a good cause for the Jets Foundation. I think that’s the best part about it.”
Seasoned veteran Tony Richardson was probably the most experienced model of the group. He took his time as he walked down the aisle, pausing to remove his jacket, showing off his vest, before flinging it over his shoulder for the walk back.
“I thought it was a good night. The guys looked good,” said Richardson.
Rookie quarterback Eric Ainge sported a five o’clock shadow in addition to his Italian-made suit on the runway. For the first modeling appearance of his NFL career, Ainge drew inspiration from an unlikely source.
“I reverted back to all my experience watching ‘Zoolander,’ ” he said. “I had to hit them with a ‘Blue Steel’ on the way back.”
“A certified 20,” said Ainge’s female companion when asked to rate his performance on a scale from 1-10. “Definitely.”
The list of Jets attendees for the event also included Drew Coleman, Abram Elam, Mike DeVito, D’Brickashaw Ferguson, James Ihedigbo, Brett Ratliff, Brad Smith, Chansi Stuckey, Jason Trusnik and Wallace Wright.
Tags: Mike Nugent, Nick Mangold, Robert Turner, Tony Richardson
Posted in Uncategorized | 10 Comments »
A familiar topic was revisited during head coach Eric Mangini’s news conference today.
Laveranues Coles was listed on Wednesday’s injury report as "limited" at practice with a "head" injury. Mangini was asked about if that meant Coles has a concussion.
"Yes, it’s a concussion," Mangini said. "I just listed it that way because I list all the body parts. Yes, that’s a concussion."
Safety Eric Smith, who had a concussion three weeks ago from the last minute of the Arizona game, is also listed with a "head," and that, too, is a concussion, the coach confirmed.
Coles returned to Sunday’s game at Oakland after leaving the field in the fourth quarter, while Smith did not after he left the game. Mangini said that those in-game decisions all begin with the Jets’ medical and training staffs and the system that’s in place to deal with one of football’s hazards.
"There’s in-game protocol and there’s prior-to-the-game protocol," he said. "That’s why we have the doctors and trainers on the sidelines. They make those decisions. Those aren’t coaching decisions. We won’t put anybody back in the game until they’re cleared medically to go back in the game."
Mangini was asked about his personal concerns for players such as Coles who have had prior concussions.
"I have a personal concern for all of our guys," he said. "That’s important to me and they’re important to me. Their safety is important to me. That’s going to be first and foremost. We’re going rely on the doctors to guide those decisions and not pressure anybody to do something that’s medically unsound. It’s not what I believe in; it’s not what we believe in. What we want is safety for our players and the best possible practices in place to ensure that."
Eric Allen caught up with Coles in the Jets’ locker room following the news conference and will have a story later this afternoon on LC.
Today was also a touchy-Feely day, as in kicker Jay Feely. Following up on Allen’s insightful Monday blog on Feely and his game-tying 52-yard field goal to send the Oakland game into overtime, Mangini was asked about the job his kicker has done in the five games since he took over for the injured Mike Nugent in Game 2 vs. New England.
"I think he’s done a good job replacing Mike," the coach said. "You don’t know how a guy’s going to do until you’re put in one those pressure situations. To hit the field goal he hit late in the game, that’s tough sledding. That was a pressure kick and it’s always good to see those.
"I think his kickoffs have all been pretty solid. His onside kicking ability, that’s pretty good. And he’s a pretty aggressive tackler — not that we want him to tackle, but that was, believe it or not, one of his strengths in college."
And following up on questions last week about safety Kerry Rhodes, who still doesn’t have an interception or a sack, the coach reminded that Rhodes is quarterbacking a secondary that includes a second-year man and a rookie (Darrelle Revis and Dwight Lowery) on the corners and several different safety partners.
"Interceptions are like grapes — they come in bunches," he said. "I know we talked about the concept of a slump in the past. Those numbers are irrelevant. They’re not going to change his contract status and what he does. What’s important is that we play good, sound defense. Whatever plays he makes, he makes.
"What you don’t ever want a player to do is search to make plays at the cost of the integrity of the defense. Kerry understands that when they come, they come."
The coach also had a great take on Thomas Jones’ contributions to the cause. I’ll have a story later on TJ, who also spoke with reporters in the locker room.
And More to Come
Our tributes to the Jets’ 1968 season and their Super Bowl III triumph continue. Later this afternoon, I’ll post one of the most memorable game blogs from that superb season, the Heidi game against the Raiders.
Allen and I had a great time reminiscing on this week’s "Jets Two-Minute Drive" radio show with John Dockery, the former defensive back and special-teamer in the Jets run to the Super Bowl and now an excellent analyst for Westwood One’s NFL radio broadcasts. That show should be available from the newyorkjets.com home page also this afternoon.
And EA’s feature on Joe Namath then and now will go live on our site at midnight tonight.
All this in addition to our coverage of the current Jets as they conclude their practice week Friday en route to their "next big game" Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs.
The Big 4-0
I don’t know how Bruce Speight, the Jets’ senior director of media relations, worked this one out, but in this season honoring the 40th anniversary of those Super Jets, Speight celebrated his 40th birthday today. As someone who passed the big 5-0 a half-decade ago, I can tell you, Bruce, that it’s all downhill after today.
Tags: Eric Mangini, Jay Feely, Kerry Rhodes, Mike Nugent
Posted in Randy Lange | 24 Comments »
If you see Leon Washington talking to no in particular during today’s Jets-Bengals game, don’t worry that he took a shot to the helmet or is delirious from the flu. Neon Leon has been miked for today’s game by NFL Films.
"Yeah, it’s the first time I’ve been miked," Washington told me Friday. "And it’s pretty cool, man. When you think about NFL players being miked, the name that comes to mind to me is Ray Lewis. I can still hear him on NFL Network — the passion he has for the game, the intimidation he seems to bring. And his leadership is the most important thing when he’s talking to his teammates before the game."
Washington’s a tad smaller than the Ravens’ formidable middle linebacker, but as he said, "I’ve got little man’s syndrome" and that could lead to some frothy comments that the NFL Films microphone will pick up during the game.
"I’m trying not to think about it. I told them just to put it on before the game," he said, adding, I’m usually a somewhat talkative guy. I’m sure I’ll have a few good sound bites. If I make a play, I’ll try to say something. I normally give a little speech to the returners before we go out on the field."
And if Washington takes a return to the house today, you can bet he’ll have something worth repeating on NFL Network and other outlets in the week ahead.
There is brilliant sunshine in the Meadowlands right now and it should be a great day for the 2-2 Jets to take on the 0-5 Bengals. The temperature is expected to reach into the low 70s with breezes from 5-10 mph. The flags and wind strips are barely stirring as Jay Feely, kicking for the fourth game for Mike Nugent, is hitting his warmup tries effortlessly from 33, 38, 43 and 48 yards.
Yes, the Jets are in their Titans garb again today, navy helmets, navy jerseys and gold pants. It is the last time they will wear their throwbacks this season, and for those who aren’t big fans of the look, take consolation and expectation in the fact that in their last two games of wearing the Titans units, the Jets have are 2-0 and are averaging 48 points a game.
The Jets inactives today are K Mike Nugent, QB Erik Ainge, WR David Clowney, CB Justin Miller, OL Will Montgomery, LB Marques Murrell and DL Kareem Brown, with Brett Ratliff again the third quarterback.
The Bengals have two big names on their inactive list, both due to injury developments during the week.
K Shayne Graham, who first appeared on Cincinnati’s injury report on Thursday as not participating in practice with a right groin injury, has been deactivated, with fourth-year man Dave Rayner signed and set to do the visitors’ placekicking today.
Rayner, formerly the Packers’ kicker, has played against the Jets only once, in 2006 in Green Bay, hitting a 34-yard FG but missing from 40 in the Jets’ 38-10 road rout that day.
Also on today’s list is normal starter Carson Palmer, sidelined by his recurring right elbow injury, as the third QB. Coach Marvin Lewis announced after Friday’s practice that Ryan Fitzpatrick would start in place of Palmer, who would be available only if absolutely needed.
Cincinnati’s other IAs: S Dexter Jackson, LB Corey Mays, WRs Andre Caldwell and Jerome Simpson, and DTs John Thornton and Jason Shirley.
The referee today is Gene Steratore, who has worked two other Jets games, both in 2006 — the season-opening win at Tennessee and the home shutout loss to the Bears.
Tags: Carson Palmer, Cincinnati Bengals, Jay Feely, Leon Washington, Mike Nugent, NFL Films, Ray Lewis, Ryan Fitzpatrick, titans
Posted in Randy Lange | 4 Comments »
It’s a hot one today at the Meadowlands for the Jets’ long-awaited home opener against the Tom Brady-less New England Patriots. Matt Cassel instead will quarterback the visitors after Brady suffered his season-ending knee injury in last week’s opener vs. Kansas City, while Brett Favre will again pilot the Jets offense.
Weather.com says the East Rutherford temperature is 90 degrees with a heat index reading of 96, right in the ballpark with last week’s 100-degree on-field temps at Miami (although it’s expected to cool slightly from here into the evening).
A few pleasantries have already been exchanged by these often heated rivals. with OT Damien Woody and NT Kris Jenkins chatting up Patriots DE Richard Seymour at midfield an hour and 45 minutes before the 4:15 p.m. EDT kickoff.
Contingents from both teams have already come out to do some running with their strength coaches. Now the kickers are holding forth, and for the Jets that means No. 3, Jay Feely, is limbering up for his first appearance as the Jets’ kicker.
Feely, whose signing was announced Wednesday, replaces Mike Nugent, who has been deactivated as expected due to the thigh injury he suffered in the season-opening 20-14 win over the Dolphins. Feely is hitting them easily and nicely in the heat, first alone from his tee, then from the snap of James Dearth and the hold of Ben Graham.
Feely had a great quote Wednesday based on his two seasons as the Giants’ kicker: "You have to learn which flags to trust and which not to trust" from the assorted strips and banners around the Meadowlands. The flags today are flitting lazily in a warm breeze while Feely hits from 43, 48 and then 55 yards toward the east end zone.
The Jets are wearing their green jerseys and white pants. It is true the team flirted with the idea of wearing their Titans throwback uniforms for today’s game against the Patriots, who have beaten them here seven straight seasons, but after the trade for Favre and some strong input from Jets fans, the team exercised its option and switched back to its green and white, in which they’ve gone 2-3 in home openers since 2000 (wins vs. NE in ’00 and Miami in ’05).
The Jets’ inactives for today, besides Nugent: QB Brett Ratliff (third QB), K Mike Nugent (as expected with his thigh injury), QB Erik Ainge, WRs Marcus Henry and David Clowney, CB-KR Justin Miller, OL Robert Turner and DL Kareem Brown.
The Patriots’ biggest name on the inactive list is starting TE Benjamin Watson, who was on the Pats’ injury report this week with a knee injury. Likely TE starter is David Thomas, with Stephen Spach backing Thomas up.
Also IA for the Patriots: Matt Gutierrez (third QB), CB Terrence Wheatley, LBs Eric Alexander and Shawn Crable, C Dan Connolly, OL Wesley Britt, and WR Sam Aiken.
We’re about an hour away from today’s battle of AFC East rivals, and maybe, hopefully from an indication that there can be a change in the division’s balance of power this season.
Tags: Benjamin Watson, Brett Favre, Jay Feely, Matt Cassel, Mike Nugent, Tom Brady
Posted in Randy Lange | 10 Comments »
In his housekeeping remarks at the top of his news conference today, head coach Eric Mangini announced what has been reported elsewhere, that the Jets have signed former Falcons, Giants and Dolphins kicker Jay Feely to their active roster.
"I think Jay’s been very efficient," Mangini said of Feely’s NFL career, now entering its eighth season. "He was very efficient last year [with Miami] in terms of field goals and does a nice job with kickoffs. He has a lot of experience. All those things came into play."
Not the least of which was Feely’s experience as the Giants’ kicker in 2005-06.
"That was definitely a positive," Mangini said of Feely’s Meadowlands exposure, "having that understanding of the uniqueness of the stadium, the wind shifts, the weather conditions … yeah, that’s definitely a plus."
Feely hit a 53-yard field goal in last season’s game vs. the Jets at Miami, the longest by an opposing kicker in five years. He never missed a kick against the Jets, going 4-for-4 in FGs and 3-for-3 in PATs in two games. For his career he’s an 80.4 percent FG kicker over (185-for-230) with a decent 44.4 percent accuracy from 50-plus (8-for-18).
And in the Meadowlands, mostly kicking for the Giants in 2005-06, Feely is about the same, 33-for-41 (80.5 percent) on FGs and 2-for-4 from 50-plus.
Mangini confirmed Feely will be the kicker for the sore-thighed Mike Nugent on Sunday vs. New England. Asked how long Feely will be the kicker, the coach replied: "Until Mike gets back … I’m not sure."
To make room for Feely on the roster, the Jets waived rookie LB Kenwin Cummings. The team also made four practice squad transactions: Signed were TE Brad Listorti, a spring minicamp invitee who was released by Atlanta, and OL Stefan Rodgers, a final cut by Philadelphia. Released were OL Stanley Daniels and WR Larry Brackins.
Mangini also talked about the Patriots and the challenges involved in facing Matt Cassel at quarterback instead of Tom Brady. Eric Allen will have a news story on the QB picture for Sunday’s home opener this afternoon.
Tags: Eric Mangini, Jay Feely, Kenwin Cummings, Mike Nugent
Posted in Randy Lange | 48 Comments »