Updated, 4:42 p.m. ET
For a couple of periods in Sunday’s afternoon practice, Kenrick Ellis looked like the beast that ate Cortland, as the player the Jets envisioned him being when they took a chance on him in the third round in the 2011 draft. No. 93 was knifing past the first-string O-line, making tackles in the backfield and blowing up running plays like an unstoppable defensive tackle should.
“Yesterday Kenrick Ellis decides to totally dominate the 9-on-7 period,” head coach Rex Ryan confirmed at this afternoon’s news conference. “Today we made sure we blocked him, I don’t think there was any doubt about that, whether we were doubling him or whatever it was.”
Ellis noticed that as well. I asked him after this morning’s second padded practice at SUNY Cortland if he could recall a personal highlight from camp so far. He instead chose a lowlight from today’s session.
“You know what? The highlight of my practice was when I got double-teamed and got my butt kicked by 66, Willie [Colon], and 77, Austin [Howard]. And that just showed me I have so much more to work on, man. That’s what stood out to me, not being able to dominate those guys.”
I gently reminded Kenrick that it was in fact a double-team block, their 648 pounds against his 346. Maybe he was being a little hard on himself?
“If you take your craft seriously, double-team or not, you’re still supposed to be able to impose your will,” he said. “They got the best of me.”
That may sound like the Ellis who was fighting to keep his head above water his first two NFL seasons, but I detected just a little smile at the corner of his mouth, a sense that while he’s still talking a nose-to-the-grindstone approach, he knows he’s starting to make those big strides that many want to see.
He gave a little hint of that when he was asked about the Sunday practice.
“It’s a competition,” he said. “We have a bunch of guys on the D-line, so what you do every day is just try to stand out from the rest. You have to come in here with a mentality like ‘I want the job.’ Damon Harrison wants the job. Antonio Garay wants the job. Everybody wants the job. We’re just going to have a healthy competition, compete every day and battle and see who gets it.”
It’s still too early to call the starting D-line, but Ellis, who got that Colon-Howard butt-whooping in line drills, came back in team drills to put a roaring pressure up the middle on Geno Smith, forcing either a hurried incompletion or a sack, depending on who’s scoring.
But one thing is clear no matter who the scorer is. Kenrick is coming on.
First-round draft pick Dee Milliner, after agreeing to contract terms Sunday night, spent a good portion of today getting from Alabama to Cortland, N.Y. He is expected to talk with Jets reporters this evening around 7:30 p.m. ET. When he holds that news conference, newyorkjets.com will carry it live.
QB update: Both Mark Sanchez and Geno Smith hit Jeremy Kerley with touchdown passes in 7-on-7 drills today. Sanchez threw a short-zone interception to LB Josh Mauga, who’s had a couple of strong days with the second defense. Smith continues without an interception in 7-on-7 and team drills but also suffered a couple of big pressures that would have been sacks in live action. “Geno’s not throwing picks,” Ryan said, “but we don’t want to be taking sacks. That’s one area he can improve his game, but I’m certainly impressed he hasn’t thrown a pick.”
The kickers were smoking today for the second straight day. Nick Folk was dead-on from 40, 44 and 49 yards, while Billy Cundiff nailed a 53-yarder to end the last two-minute drill of the day, then converted from 42 and 46 in the FG drill to end practice.
Today’s attendance was 970. Tuesday is an off day for the players. Thursday should be a crowd-pleaser as Ryan said he thinks the first live goal-line drills of camp will be held that morning, and goal line will also be a part of Saturday night’s Green & White scrimmage. … Pat Kirwan and Tim Ryan were here this morning taping interviews for their SiriusXM NFL Radio show that airs daily from 3-7 p.m. ET.
Tags: Austin Howard, Billy Cundiff, Geno Smith, Jeremy Kerley, Kenrick Ellis, Mark Sanchez, Nick Folk, Rex Ryan, Willie Colon
Posted in Randy Lange | 43 Comments »
John Idzik’s mantra, “Competition through and through,” applies to everyone on the roster, the GM has said, and so of course the kickers won’t be left out. Nick Folk and Robert Malone, meet your competition.
The Jets following a special teams workout have signed free-agent placekicker Derek Dimke and free-agent punter Ryan Quigley.
Both are first-year men who had foot-tastic college careers, then got their feet wet with NFC North teams last offseason and preseason.
Dimke didn’t miss a placement with Detroit last preseason, hitting a pair of field goals, from 40 and 31 yards, and three extra points. Of his six kickoffs, two were into the end zone, and the average return was only to the opponents’ 18.8-yard line. Jason Hanson held onto his Lions job, no surprise, for the 21st year. Hanson just announced his retirement this week.
Dimke came out of the University of Illinois, where he was the Illini’s all-time leader in accuracy for both field goals (39-for-46, 84.8%) and extra points (89-for-89).
Quigley got in a lot of action during the Bears’ preseason, hitting 16 punts for a 41.4-yard gross average and a 37.0 net with six inside-the-20 kicks and no touchbacks. He had one punt blocked. Then-sixth-year pro Adam Podlesh held onto his job with the Bears for the second year, although Quigley did make it onto Chicago’s opening-day roster, was deactivated for the opener, then released.
That 6-to-0 I20-to-TB rate is no surprise for Quigley, who no doubt goes occasionally by the same nickname as Quinton Coples. As a Boston College senior, he was fourth in the FBS with 28 punts downed inside the opponents’ 20.
Tags: Derek Dimke, Nick Folk, Robert Malone, Ryan Quigley
Posted in Randy Lange | 77 Comments »
Updated, 7:20 p.m. ET
The Jets have made one “snap decision” and one other “big little” transaction today with the re-signing of long-snapper Tanner Purdum and the signing of unrestricted free agent linebacker Antwan Barnes.
Barnes first. The 6’1″, 251-pound outside ‘backer from the Chargers has been reunited with his old D-coordinator, Rex Ryan, and DBs coach, Dennis Thurman, of course. He played the first two of his first three NFL seasons on Rex’s Baltimore defenses in ’07 and ’08. After ’09, he was traded to Philadelphia, released, then signed by San Diego, which used him at OLB behind Shaun Phillips from ’10 through most of last season.
Barnes has a nice 23.5-sack total for only 78 games and five starts, and that was pumped up by his big 11 sacks in ’11, nine of which he hung up in the Chargers’ last 10 games after they game to North Jersey and lost to the Jets in October.
Barnes tweeted on his verified Twitter account several hours ago, “Green and white it is…just want to thank coach rex coach DT and mr idzik for the opportunity…and to the fans I won’t let down.” A short while later, though, he corrected himself: “Wait a minute…not official yet…in talks now…”
But just a minute ago AB returned to fait accompli mode: “Now its official#jetnation.”
Regarding Purdum, we say small in the paradoxical sense. The deal is not small to Tanner and his family, nor to recently re-signed K Nick Folk and incumbent punter/holder Robert Malone, nor by extension to the point production and field position desires of Ben Kotwica’s special teams, Marty Mornhinweg’s offense, Dennis Thurman’s defense, and HC Rex Ryan’s team.
That’s because Purdum for the past three seasons has been pur-fect, at least as far as looking upside down through his legs and putting the ball fast and true through a small window snap after snap.
He’s played in 55 games as a Jet, including three playoff games in 2010, and has made 488 snaps, 275 on punts and 213 on placements. We won’t say there hasn’t been a snap slightly high, low or wide, but not one of the 488 has skipped to his holder or sailed over his punter’s head.
Even though the NFL’s snapping quality seems about as high as its placekicking quality, snaps do go awry and thus get charged as fumbles to the snapper and rushes for no yards to the player who ends up with the peripatetic pigskin. Purdum’s been charged with no fumbles in his three seasons, and the only times a punter or holder took off with the ball, it was on purpose instead of out of self-preservation.
The last mishandled Jets mis-snap, whether due to snapper or holder, that we can recall was when James Dearth fired a field goal snap to holder Steve Weatherford back in Week 6 of the 2009 season against the Bills.
All of this in no way should imply that Purdum is the lone exception to GM John Idzik’s dictum of “Competition through and through.” At the moment his competition on the roster for the long-snapper’s job is Travis Tripucka, signed as a reserve/future free agent in January.
Tripucka played his high school ball in Mountain Lakes, N.J., 15 minutes up the road from the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center, then was the long-time long-snapper for UMass and a top defenseman for the Minutemen’s lacrosse team. He was signed by the St. Louis Rams to long-snap last year and made it to a late-August cut.
Two things about Tripucka: He’s from the athletic Tripucka family — dad Kelly played hoops for Notre Dame, the Pistons, Jazz and Hornets and was a Knicks color analyst for four seasons. And grandfather Frank was an original AFL quarterback who threw eight touchdown passes in six games for the Broncos against the New York Titans from 1960-62.
The other: Tripucka, like Purdum three years earlier, comes to the Jets after a summer look from one of the NFL’s Missouri teams. Purdum was a cut of the Chiefs back in ’09.
Tags: Antwan Barnes, Baltimore Ravens, Frank Tripucka, James Dearth, Kelly Tripucka, Nick Folk, Rex Ryan, Robert Malone, San Diego Chargers, Steve Weatherford, Tanner Purdum, Travis Tripucka
Posted in Randy Lange | 79 Comments »
Late Tuesday the NFL finally released its official list of available free agents in four different categories for the signing period that began at 4 p.m. While most of you already are aware of this information and a lot more, for those who haven’t heard and in the interest of bookkeeping, here is a summation of what the release reads regarding the Jets:
Restricted Free Agents who received Qualifying Offers from their Prior Clubs and are subject to the First Refusal/Compensation system of the NFL CBA
T Austin Howard, Round 2
TE Jeff Cumberland, right of first refusal
The Round 2 designation for Howard is the pick a new club, if it were to sign Howard to an offer sheet, must send to the Jets, its own choice or a better choice in the round for the April draft. In Cumberland’s case, there is no compensation for a new club that would like to sign him to an offer sheet but the Jets still retain the right to match the offer and retain Cumberland. Offer sheets may be submitted up until Friday, April 19, one second before midnight.
Unrestricted Free Agents with four or more accrued seasons
S Yeremiah Bell
DT Mike DeVito
WR Braylon Edwards
K Nick Folk
RB Shonn Greene
RB Lex Hilliard
TE Dustin Keller
S LaRon Landry
G Brandon Moore
WR Chaz Schilens
G Matt Slauson
LB Bryan Thomas
Players with fewer than four accrued seasons who received no Qualifying Offer or minimum tender from their Prior Clubs
TE Dedrick Epps
LS Tanner Purdum
The fourth category is players who have been designated Franchise Players, but the Jets did not so designate anyone.
Tags: Austin Howard, Brandon Moore, Dustin Keller, Jeff Cumberland, LaRon Landry, Nick Folk, restricted free agents, Shonn Greene, unrestricted free agents, Yeremiah Bell
Posted in Randy Lange | 88 Comments »
Here are today’s first-half tweets for the Jets-Bills game at Ralph Wilson 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 Jets gameday captains: G Brandon Moore, DT Mike DeVito, T D’Brickashaw Ferguson, WR Jordan White, CB Darrin Walls
#RL Shonn Greene has 17 yards on 3 carries, has reached 1,000 rushing yards for the second straight season.
#RL Nick Folk 47-yd FG is good. Folk now 19-for-24 on season, 11-for-13 career vs BUF. Jets lead 3-0…
#RL Jets have 2 TDs, 2 FGs on 16 opening drives this season.
#EA Entering Week 17, teams averaged 5.1 a carry on the Bills D. Jets ran 9 times on that 1st drive for 42 yards — a 4.7 average.
#RL Jets lead the NFL with 27 inside-the-20 kickoffs but ex-Jet Brad Smith doesn’t cooperate, going 27 yds on KO return to BUF 31.
#RL With BUF punt, Jets opponents have gone their last 6 opening drives w/o scoring a point. (4 TDs, 2 FGs on 16 opening drives overall.)
#RL LB Bryan Scott nabs Mark Sanchez pass, goes 20 yds for BUF TD. 2nd INT-return TD vs. Sanchez this season, 7th in his career.
#RL Lex Hilliard’s first catch in 6 games goes for 7 yds on 3rd-and-7 for 1st down at BUF 44 as 1st qtr comes to an end.
#EA Giveaways have been a problem the entire season. The Jets now have 36 and that was the 19th INT.
#RL Nick Folk 2-for-2 on FGs today, although his 23-yarder just got over the crossbar after tip by Alex Carrington. Folk on year: 20-for-25.
#EA Powell almost equaled a career-long with that 18-yard run. He had a 19-yarder vs. the Cards on Dec. 2.
#EA With 51 yards on the ground, Greene is up to 1,040. He needs only 15 yards to set a career-high (1,054 in 2011).
#RL Bilal Powell 33-yard reception wiped out by Austin Howard hold. So Jeremy Kerley goes 40 yds on third-and-16…
#RL Jets’ longest 3rd-down conversion on a pass play since Mark Sanchez-to-Braylon Edwards for 34 yds on 3rd-and-21 @ MIA in 2009.
#RL Nick Folk 28-yd FG gives Jets 9-7 lead. Folk’s first 3-FG first half since 2010 Game 5 vs. MIN.
#RL CJ Spiller 66-yd TD catch/run longest reception by opposing RB in road game since Fred Taylor 72 yds w/ Mark Brunell pass @ JAX ’02.
#RL Jets CB Donnie Fletcher has hamstring injury, his return to this game is questionable.
#RL Jets hold edges in yards (204-132), 1st downs (13-4), possession (23:04-6:46) but Bills have 14-9 halftime lead.
#RL Jets’ 23:14 first-half possession time is their most in 1st half since 2009 “Win and We’re In” Game 16 vs CIN (24:50).
Tags: Austin Howard, Bilal Powell, Brandon Moore, Braylon Edwards, Buffalo Bills, C.J. Spiller, Mark Sanchez, Nick Folk, Ralph Wilson Stadium, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Shonn Greene
Posted in Randy Lange | 152 Comments »
Here are today’s pregame tweets for the Jets-Bills game at Ralph Wilson 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 Weather for Jets-Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium today: ptly cloudy, temps in high 20s (wind chill around 9°), winds gusting to 20 mph.
#RL Jets 50-54 all-time vs BUF, 23-28 in western NY. But Jets have won last 6 in rivalry, 8 of last 9, and last 4 on the road.
#RL Mark Sanchez last 6 starts vs BUF: 6-0 record, 77-for-129 passing (59.7%), 941 yds, 11 TDs, 3 INTs, 3 sacks, 101.0 rating.
#RL Ryan Fitzpatrick last 5 starts vs Jets: 0-5 record, 80-for-152 passing (52.6%), 876 yds, 9 TDs, 6 INTs, 9 sacks, 73.2 rating.
#RL Jets’ Shonn Greene needs 11 rush yds to reach 1,000 yds for 2nd straight season, 2 TDs to become 11th Jet w/ 10 rush TDs in season.
#RL BUF’s CJ Spiller in ’12 opener vs NYJ: 14 atts, 169 yds, TD. First Jets opp w/ two 40+ runs in 1 game since Barry Sanders (@ DET ’97).
#RL Jets DE Muhammad Wilkerson last 10 games: 5 sacks, 3 forced FUMs, 1 FUM-return TD, 4 PDs, 3 penalties forced, 1 blkd FG.
#RL Rookie DE Quinton Coples (5.5) and Wilkerson (5.0)–former Hargrave MA teammates–are 1-2 for Jets sack leadership.
#RL Jets K Nick Folk: 18-for-23 on FGs this season. Career vs BUF: 10-for-12. @ Ralph Wilson: 7-for-9.
#RL Bills K Rian Lindell: 21-for-22 on FGs this season. Career vs NYJ: 25-for-27 on all FGs, 17-for-17 on FGs from 42 yds/closer.
#RL Jets HC Rex Ryan is 5-0 since ’10 vs BUF HC Chan Gailey. Gailey is 0-6 all-time vs Jets (0-1
#RL NYJ inactives: QB Greg McElroy CB Ellis Lankster LB Bryan Thomas C Caleb Schlauderaff TE Dustin Keller WR Chaz Schilens (6 inactives).
#RL Jets roster at 52 players, including RB John Griffin, signed from practice squad during the week. Griffin is active, will wear No. 21.
#RL BUF inactives: QB Tarvaris Jackson WR Kevin Elliott S Da’Norris Searcy G Keith Williams DT Jay Ross T Chris Scott DE Mark Anderson
#RL CB Donnie Fletcher, LB Ricky Sapp, DT Damon Harrison also active for Jets.
#RL Today’s referee is Terry McAulay. It’s his 11th Jets game as ref since ’01. Jets have won 4 of last 5 he’s officiated in.
#RL Jets wearing white jerseys, white pants for today’s game. Jets in white/white: 2-3 this season (wins vs BUF, STL), 16-12 u/ Rex Ryan.
#RL Jets D has held opponents to 6 conversions on their last 58 3rd downs. (0-for-2 vs NE, 0-15 vs ARZ, 2-16 @ jax, 2-13 @ TEN, vs SD 2-12)
Tags: Buffalo Bills, Mark Sanchez, Muhammad Wilkerson, Nick Folk, Ralph Wilson Stadium, Rex Ryan, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Shonn Greene
Posted in Randy Lange | No Comments »
The shame of Monday night is that the defense continued to play at a high level in keeping the Jets in these games down the stretch. Here are several measures:
■ The Titans went 0-for-their-last-10 on third-down plays. That extends the defense’s streaks of third-down dominance to 4-for-46 for opponents since late vs. New England, and 1-for-23 in the second half since Thanksgiving night.
■ Because of that third-down dominance, opponents in the last three games have punted 28 times and have gone 3-and-out 21 times. Both are the best three-game totals for the Jets since the advent of 16-game schedules in 1978.
■ With the four-sack pressure combined with the back end coverage that held WR Kenny Britt to one catch for 7 yards, Jake Locker and the Tennessee passing offense managed 127 net yards, a total that lowered the Jets’ pass defense rating to second in the NFL behind top-ranked Pittsburgh. The last time the Jets were No. 2 was after Week 4 in 2011.
■ Perhaps most impressive, the Jets have turned the ball over 11 times in these last three games, and opponents have managed six points total, two thin field goals, after those giveaways. The last time the Green & White had a similar streak was six points allowed after 11 giveaways over the final 11 games in 1999. The last time they a better stretch: 1977, when they yielded just one field goal after 12 consecutive giveaways over a six-game span.
“That’ll tell you about the kind of pride and how resilient our defense has been playing,” head coach Rex Ryan told reporters on today’s late-afternoon conference call. “I think they’ve been doing an outstanding job. A lot of that credit goes to Mike Pettine and his staff as well as the players. I’m happy with that.”
Flags Still Favoring Jets
At least the Jets’ second-half penalty surplus continued. They were called for only four penalties for 23 yards on the night. The Titans, on the other hand, were hit with 14 penalties for 111 yards. The 14 flags is the most against an opponent since Oakland got 14 in 2008. The last time an opponent had more penalties was the Jaguars’ 15 at Jacksonville in 1996. The 111 yards is the 10th-most marked off against an opponent since 1978.
The Jets’ five turnovers and minus-5 TO margin had much to do with Ryan’s decision to shift from Mark Sanchez to Greg McElroy as his starting QB on Sunday against San Diego.
“Has Mark had better days than that? Absolutely,” Ryan said of Sanchez. “He had, obviously, a poor day, but you know, he wasn’t alone with that. But obviously, we can’t turn the ball over five times and expect to win.”
Absolutely true, that. It was the Jets’ 10th minus-5 game in franchise history and their record is 0-10 (and it’s 0-14 with a margin of minus-5 or larger). In the NFL, the record for minus-5 teams since 2002 is 3-65. The three winners: Dallas (with then-rookie K Nick Folk) by 25-24 at Buffalo in ’07, Jacksonville by 24-20 over Cleveland in ’10, and Atlanta by 23-19 over Arizona four weeks ago.
The average score of those 68 teams that go minus-5 in TO margin: a 33-11 loss. That the Jets had a chance to pull Monday’s game out with 47 seconds to go speaks to how well some parts of their operation (third-down defense, rush defense except for one small 94-yard Chris Johnson run, penalties, punt rush) played in Nashville less than 24 hours ago. But that’s cold comfort for all of us tonight.
Tags: Chris Johnson, Jake Locker, Nick Folk, Rex Ryan, Tennessee Titans, turnover margin
Posted in Randy Lange | 128 Comments »
Here are today’s pregame tweets for the Jets-Titans game at LP Field in Nashville, in case you missed them on Twitter. Follow Bob Wischusen, Eric Allen and me for our tweets during each Jets game on https://twitter.com/nyjets.
#RL Weather at kickoff for Jets-Titans is expected to be partly cloudy, possible showers, temps around 50, southerly winds.
#RL Jets 17-22-1 all-time vs Titans/Oilers but have won 5 of the last 6 since the team moved from HOU to TEN, and 3 of last 4 at LP Field.
#RL In first 23 games of rivalry, Jets were 8-14-1 with minus-22 turnover margin. In last 17 games Jets are 9-8 with +13 TO margin.
#RL Mark Sanchez is 1-0 vs Titans. In ’09 Game 3, Sanchez completed 17 of 30 (56.7%) for 171 yds, 2 TDs, 1 INT, 81.4 rating in 24-17 win.
#RL Jets RB Shonn Greene in last 8 games: 154 atts, 666 yards, 4.3 avg., 5 TDs. He needs 117 yds to reach 1,000 for 2nd straight yr.
#RL Jets DE Mo Wilkerson in last 8 games: 4 sacks, 3 forced FUMs, 1 FUM-return TD (@ SEA), 2 PDs, 1 intl grounding forced
#RL TEN QB Jake Locker playing Jets for first time. Locker in 8 starts this yr is 2-6 with 10 TD drives, 9 TD passes, 9 INTs, 4 lost FUMs.
#RL TEN RB Chris Johnson has 1,037 rush yds, 4.7 avg. this season. Johnson in 2 games vs Jets: 32 atts, 143 yds, 4.5 avg, 0 TDs, 0-2 record.
#RL Titans are minus-12 in TO margin in 6 homes games, tied for lowest home margin/game in NFL with Chiefs at minus-2.0.
#RL Jets K Nick Folk playing TEN for 1st time in career. He’s 16-for-21 FGs this yr, 5-for-last-10, 5-for-6 in 4th qtr/OT, 3-for-4 from 50+.
#RL Jets wearing white jerseys, green pants for 2nd straight game. Jets in white/green u/Rex Ryan: 3-4 since ’09, 1-0 this season.
#RL Today’s referee is Walt Coleman. It’s Walt’s 18th Jets game as ref since 1995. Jets have lost last 8 games Coleman has refereed.
#RL NYJ inactives: QB Greg McElroy CB Aaron Berry LB Bryan Thomas DL Damon Harrison G Caleb Schlauderaff TE Dustin Keller WR Stephen Hill
#RL TEN inactives: QB Rusty Smith WR Damian Williams LB Colin McCarthy LB Xavier Adibi G Mitch Petrus T Daniel Baldridge DE Scott Solomon
#RL TEN K Rob Bironas career vs Jets: 4-4 on FGs, 4-4 on PATs.
#RL TEN is only NFL team that has scored no 1st-qtr offensive TDs at home. Titans’ only 1st-qtr TD at LP Field came on PR in Game 3.
Tags: Chris Johnson, Jake Locker, LP Field, Mark Sanchez, Monday Night Football, Muhammad Wilkerson, Nick Folk, Shonn Greene, Tennessee Titans
Posted in Randy Lange | No Comments »
For whatever reasons, ever since returning from their bye week, the Jets’ special teams haven’t been as sharp and efficient as usual.
Trouble began in Seattle on Nov. 11 when punt returner Jeremy Kerley muffed a second-quarter punt, which the Seahawks recovered and soon thereafter turned into seven points.
That was followed up at St. Louis the next week when one of Nick Folk’s field goals was blocked and a Tim Tebow fake-punt shovel pass to Lex Hilliard was stopped.
And most recently, against the Patriots on Thanksgiving, Joe McKnight fumbled a kickoff return, resulting in a TD for the opposition.
Special teams coordinator Mike Westhoff didn’t have a clear explanation for the recent struggles.
“We do things in practice,” Westhoff said, “but there’s only so many things you can do. I mean, we can’t run a live kickoff coverage in practice this time of the year. We’ve already had a million. You have to be able to hang onto it. So those instances, even though they’re separate entities — very, very frustrating.”
Yet Westhoff was pleased with his kickoff covereage unit against the Pats.
“They couldn’t get to the 20,” Westhoff said. “They couldn’t have gotten to the 20 with an all-star team running that against what we were doing. We had it. I look at it technically. I know what I’m talking about. So we have them covered.”
Westhoff was shocked the McKnight miscue occurred, particularly because it looked like he had a chance to take the return all the way.
“Here I’m seeing this develop,” the ST coordinator said. “I’m thinking, ‘We’ve got them. We’re going to hit this.’ All of a sudden it ends up becoming a gigantic play for them and they get the big Thanksgiving celebration and we get a weekend in Palookaville.”
Jets seventh-year safety Eric Smith said the mistakes and errors on special teams haven’t only been discouraging for Westhoff but for the entire unit.
“We’ve just given up a lot of plays that we don’t need to,” Smith said. “We’ve got them schemed up well, we’ve just got some guys out of position, missed some tackles or missed some blocks.”
The Arizona Cardinals, Sunday’s opponents, feature one of the NFL’s premier punt returners in Patrick Peterson. Last season as a rookie, Peterson tied the NFL single-season punt-return touchdown record, finishing with four, with all four of his scores at least 80-yard returns. Those impressive numbers certainly haven’t gone unnoticed by Westhoff.
“I’ll tell you what he’s incredible at aside from being a prolific punt returner,” Westhoff said. “He rushes field goals as good as maybe anybody I’ve ever seen. He can run under a chair. He explodes and he’s low. He’s strong. At 220 pounds, he runs through a lot of things aside from being so explosive. He’s a real factor.
“Sometimes his numbers maybe aren’t quite what he would want them to be. He takes chances. I mean, he ran a 99-yard punt return. That meant he fielded it on the 1. A lot of guys wouldn’t do that. He does that kind of stuff. So he’s very daring.”
When Peterson entered the NFL out of LSU in 2011, Westhoff listed him as his top draft prospect.
“He’s extremely, extremely talented,” Westhoff said. “I have tremendous respect for him.”
The unit is also hoping personal protector Tim Tebow will be ready to go after he didn’t see action in last week’s game due to his broken ribs.
“I think I know Tim Tebow pretty well,” Westhoff said. “The guy’s pretty tough. Anytime you have one of those things, there’s always a safety or precaution because you don’t know what it could become.”
If the Jets envision being successful Sunday, one area they should attempt to capitalize on McKnight’s specialty, kickoff returns. Arizona ranks 30th in the NFL in both their 27.9-yard average return allowed and opponents’ averaged 24.3-yard-line drive start. But as Westhoff cautioned, it all circles back to fundamentals.
“Every play is measured by the proper execution of that play,” he said. “Sometimes a really good punt return is a fair catch. That can be a heck of a play, things like that. Whatever the situation requires, I want to try to win at that situation. And I want everyone to win at it, every single guy. That’s my goal.”
*Special Teams Saturday
Tags: Arizona Cardinals, Eric Smith, Jeremy Kerley, joe McKnight, Mike Westhoff, New England Patriots, Nick Folk, Patrick Peterson
Posted in John Holt | 19 Comments »
Here are today’s pregame tweets for the Jets-Patriots game 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 Weather for Jets-Patriots at MetLife Stadium tonight expected to be clear/cold, temps falling through low 40s during game, little wind.
#RL Jets tonight are playing in the 8th Thanksgiving game in their history. Their record: 4-3 overall, 3-0 @ home (wins in ’60, ’61, ’10).
#RL NYJ inactives: QB Greg McElroy, RB Kahlil Bell, CB Aaron Berry, NT Damon Harrison, G Caleb Schlauderaff,G Hayworth Hicks,TE Hayden Smith
#RL WR Jordan White (#17), CB Donnie Fletcher (#34), CB Darrin Walls (#27), signed from practice squad, all active for Jets tonight.
#RL NE inactives:CB Marquice Cole OL MarkusZusevics G Logan Mankins T Sebastian Vollmer TE Rob Gronkowski DEs Jake Bequette & Chandler Jones
#RL Jets gained 403 yds of offense @ NE last month, their first 400-yd game vs Patriots since 1996.
#RL Mark Sanchez career passing numbers vs NE: 140-for-237 (59.1%), 1677 yds, 12 TDs, 10 INTs, 19 sacks, 80.1 rating, 3-5 record.
#RL TE Dustin Keller has 8 catches in a game 4 times in career. First time: Thursday night 11/13/08 as a rookie in Jets’ 34-31 OT win @ NE.
#RL DE Mo Wilkerson has 2 forced fumbles, 1 FR-TD in last 2 games. Last Jet w/ 4 fumble plays in back-to-back games: LB Calvin Pace, 2008.
#RL Nick Folk has eight 50+ FGs in his Jets career, 3 this season–pair of 51-yders @ STL on Sunday, 54-yder @ NE last month.
#RL Tom Brady career numbers vs Jets: 479-for-753 (63.6%), 5360 yds, 32 TDs, 11 INTs, 42 sacks, 92.7 rating, 17-5 record.
#RL NE’s Wes Welker vs Jets: 11 games, 75 receptions, 874 yds (11.7 avg), 3 TDs, 3 100-yd games.
#RL Tonight’s referee is Mike Carey. It’s Carey’s 18th Jets game as ref since ’95. He also officiated 2010 Jets-Bengals Thanksgiving game.
#RL Jets have scored on 2 of their 10 opening drives this season — 2 TDs (@ PIT, @ NE),
#RL Jets opponents have scored on 6 of their 10 opening drives—4 TDs (@ MIA, HOU, @ SEA, @ STL), 2 FGs (@ PIT, MIA).
#RL Jets wearing green jerseys, green pants tonight, for 6th time under Rex Ryan. Record in g/g: 4-1 u/ Rex, 11-8 since ’02.
#RL We’ve cleared 500,000 followers. Amazing! And to think 3 years ago we had 500 followers. Thanks, Jets Nation.
Tags: Dustin Keller, Mark Sanchez, MetLife Stadium, Muhammad Wilkerson, New England Patriots, Nick Folk, Tom Brady, Wes Welker
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