Right tackle Austin Howard has a name for the situation. “When it’s third-and-short,” he said, “it’s go time.”
And the Jets have green-lighted themselves to the head of the NFL when it comes to converting those plays. For instance, of all the runners who have picked up every third-and-1 they’ve attempted this season, Shonn Greene is first among equals, going 7-for-7 in his carries.
If we extend the definition to third-and-1-or-2 and fourth-and-1-or-2, when the Jets run the ball in those situations, they’re the only perfect team left in the NFL at 13-for-13, and they have also led the league for 2011-12 (27-for-33, 81.8%), 2010-12 (49-for-61, 80.3%), and 2009-12 (76-for-98, 77.6%).
“We definitely want to be the aggressor, be physical on those plays,” said Howard.
“We don’t do any gimmicks, we don’t do anything tricky like that,” LG Matt Slauson added. “Anthony Lynn has a great plan every week. But when you have a line like ours and a big bruiser-type running back like Shonn, we want that responsibility on us. We feel like we’re big and strong and we’re able to get that yard.”
Lynn, the Jets’ RBs coach since ’09, explained the philosophy behind the Green & White’s third-and-short success.
“We want to have more completions and rushing attempts than anybody we play. If you do that, you’re going to win a lot of football games,” Lynn said. “But in order to do that, you have to be able to extend drives. And if you’re committed to running the football, you’re going to find yourself in third-and-short a lot. So we spend a lot of time in the offseason studying that situation and what fits our personnel the best. We really take time and we game-plan it.
“Shonn is built for that situation. He’s a power guy, and a lot of times he gets you more than 1 yard. And when there’s nothing there, you have to have a guy who can win, and he’s done a good job of that. But our double teams up front on the line, those have been outstanding also. Vertical push is something we emphasize a lot in our offense.”
It’s not just about short yardage for Greene and the Jets’ blockers but also about goal line, with many of the same concepts applied to both. But when it comes to GL, it’s been a mixed back for the Jets. Greene’s had two 1-yard touchdown runs this season, vs. Buffalo in the opener and at New England to successfully conclude the opening drive Sunday.
But goal line, considered by the Jets to be plays inside the opponents’ 5-yard line, hasn’t been nearly as successful as the garden-variety short-yardage plays.
“Toward the end of this season, I hope we get back into the top five in the league,” said Lynn. “Right now we’re on the outside looking in. We had a terrible series the last time we played Miami. Those guys do a heck of a job in both situations, short yardage and goal line.”
Indeed, a first-and-goal at the 3 led to a Mark Sanchez end zone interception and a first-and-goal at the 1 yielded only a Nick Folk field goal in the Jets’ overtime win. Meanwhile, the Dolphins scored on a pair of 1-yarders in Game 3, by RB Daniel Thomas and FB Jorvorskie Lane.
This game could also come down to who can do a better job at moving the ball that final 36 inches at key times in the game. And as Slauson said, when the Jets offense is in that situation and a run is called, “We just expect we are going to get it.”
What Goes On in the Pile …
It was one of those small but delightful and ultimately fairly significant plays that happens during the course of many NFL games. Recall late in the first quarter of the Jets-Patriots game when Shonn Greene caught a pass, was hit by LB Jerod Mayo and lost the ball. After Greene was surrounded by no fewer than five Patriots and a few of his teammates joined in, who should come out of the pile with the ball but No. 87 in green and white.
Where did Konrad Reuland come from?
“I was on the other side of the field,” Reuland recalled. “I saw the ball get knocked loose and I saw Shonn kind of straddling the ball, almost, reaching for it down by his legs. I knew he was going to be fighting for it with three or four guys.
“And I just said, you know what? I’m going to dive in there and see if I can find this thing and get a hand on it.”
Nineteen seconds of real time passed from when Reuland muscled Devin McCourty out of the way and burrowed into the mass of bodies to when he popped back out holding his prize aloft and saying, audible on the game video: “I got it! I got it!”
The CBS broadcast team of Jim Nantz and Phil Simms captured this unlikely turn of events as they analyzed the replay.
“Yeah, it’s definitely a fumble,” said Simms. “And what a job by Reuland getting under this pile and getting that football.”
Nantz: “Look, he’s nowhere even in the frame here … he’s still not in the frame.”
“He’s still not in the frame,” Simms echoed.
Nantz: “I tell you what, then he comes in at the last minute. Great play by Reuland.”
RBs coach Anthony Lynn was also in agreement. “That was an outstanding play by Konrad. You talk about hustling to the football.”
Needless to say, the Jets ultimately lost the game in overtime, but it’s not too hard to see Reuland helping to keep this game close with his recovery. The Pats, who had just opened a 14-7 lead, would’ve had the ball back at the Jets 49. Another quick six for Tom Brady and friends and things could’ve snowballed. Instead, the Jets punted, the Patriots took over at their 20 and also punted. Close game on.
Reuland wasn’t necessarily known as a fumble mole before, but he said he did the same thing for San Francisco in a preseason game this summer.
“The way I look at it,” he said, “until they’ve ruled it the other team’s ball, I’m fighting for it because you never know.”
One perhaps final note: The Patriots statistical crew didn’t award the recovery to Reuland. They said Greene recovered his own fumble. Perhaps the play will be reviewed and the record set right. But as No. 87 said, “I’m willing to give it Shonn. Let him get credit for it. Either way, the fact that our team got it is what counts.”
Friday Injury Reports
LB Bart Scott (toe) is listed as doubtful for Sunday’s game with the Dolphins after sitting out all three practice this week for the first time since injuring his big toe early against the ‘Fins in Miami in Week 3. Scott is joined by RB Bilal Powell (shoulder) and NT Kenrick Ellis (knee) as doubtfuls.
But the rest of the squad seems to be ready to suit up for the rivalry game, and that includes NT Sione Po‘uha (back), S Eric Smith (knee), C Nick Mangold (ankle), TE Jeff Cumberland (wrist) and RB-KR Joe McKnight (ankle), all listed as questionable. All were limited at today’s practice except for McKnight, who was a DNP for the third time this week.
“For Sione, it’s not just about being able to protect yourself but being effective,” Ryan said. “I feel good about that. I think Sione will play.”
The rest of the Jets were full practicers and are probable for the game.
The Dolphins added two players to Friday’s report in DE Cameron Wake (neck, limited), and S Reshad Jones (heel, full). But they seem in fine health for the game with Wake, Jones, RB Daniel Thomas (concussion), LB Koa Misi (hamstring) and S Jimmy Wilson (ankle) listed as probable, while starting CB Richard Marshall (back) didn’t practice today and is listed as out.
Tags: Anthony Lynn, Austin Howard, Jim Nantz, Konrad Reuland, Matt Slauson, Miami Dolphins, Phil Simms, Rex Ryan, Shonn Greene, Sione Pouha, third-and-1
Posted in Randy Lange | 36 Comments »
Matt Simms, brother of Chris and son of Phil, had a modest goal as one of the 26 tryout players invited to the rookie minicamp at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center this weekend.
“It’s just survival and see what happens,” said Matt after Saturday’s morning practice. “I just want to keep playing the game I’ve been playing since I was a kid, and wherever that is, I would love to do it.”
For now Matt will be playing the game with the Jets, who announced today that Simms signed a contract with the Green & White as an undrafted free agent.
Simms (6’3″, 210) has had his ups and downs along the quarterback road. He was quarterback of the vaunted Don Bosco Prep team in Ramsey, N.J., near his Franklin Lakes home — in fact, he still has the second-most career touchdown passes in New Jersey playoff history, 15 for the Ironmen from 2004-06.
Then he began his collegiate odyssey, going from Louisville to El Camino College to 10 starts for Tennessee but just two of them as a senior, which led to him not only not being drafted but not being signed until today.
“You’re going to go through a lot of different things and it’s going to be hard to adjust to different scenarios,” Simms said. “I’m fortunate that I did have my brother and my father. They have tremendous knowledge of the game and they’re a great support system. Their help has really guided me through this process, even thought it’s been difficult at times.”
The Jets of course have a veteran depth chart of Mark Sanchez, Tim Tebow and Greg McElroy at QB and then signed G.J. Kinne from Tulsa as an undrafted FA immediately after the draft. Now Simms makes five, in large part because head coach Rex Ryan and coordinator Tony Sparano were impressed with his throwing at the camp, which concluded with a morning practice today.
“They’ve got to show it to you,” Ryan said Saturday about all of the tryout players that will come to any team’s minicamp in a given year. “You’re out there, you’ve got 40-some guys out there. They need to pop off the tape.
“With Matt Simms, the thing you’re impressed with immediately is how he can throw the football. He has a great arm — he can really spin ‘em. The thing you don’t see is obviously him against the rush. But I followed him, I knew he was at Tennessee. He had his ups and downs when he was there, but he has the arm now, and he has the pedigree.”
We probably don’t have to tell you that Phil Simms had perhaps the greatest passing day in Super Bowl history for the Giants over the Broncos in SBXXI and has been the network analyst for more than 60 Jets games, including seven of their playoff games, beginning with NBC in 1997 and then from ’98 to present with CBS. Chris had 16 starts for three teams over five seasons and now is a New England assistant coach.
Besides Simms, the Jets also announced that they have signed sixth-round S Josh Bush out of Wake Forest, and OL Fred Koloto (6’3″, 297), another tryout who has started at LT and last season at LG for San Jose State. Previously the Jets announced they had signed tryout WR Royce Pollard (6’1″, 175), who had 71 catches for 1,011 yards and eight TDs as a senior at Hawaii.
They also announced today that they have waived C Kris O’Dowd out of Southern Cal, a street free agent they signed in March.
Tags: Chris Simms, Fred Koloto, Josh Bush, Matt Simms, Phil Simms, Rex Ryan, Royce Pollard, Tony Sparano
Posted in Randy Lange | 69 Comments »
Phil Simms, who will be at MetLife Stadium Sunday for Week 7 action between the Jets and the Chargers alongside Jim Nantz in the CBS broadcast booth, believes the Jets offense will continue to progress in the weeks ahead.
“Rex Ryan is the coach. There is a mentality and a culture that comes with that,” he told me on a “Four Quarters” installment that will air on the site throughout the weekend. “They’re not going to be the high-flying San Diego Chargers when Dan Fouts was the quarterback. There is going to be a toughness — that’s why they went to two straight AFC Championship Games. You don’t want to lose that.”
After a disastrous Week 4 setback in Baltimore, Simms thinks the “O” took steps forward in the Week 5 loss at New England and in Monday night’s 24-6 victory over the winless Dolphins.
“I’ve seen the Jets getting back to that a little the last couple of weeks. I think Jets fans should be somewhat excited about that,” he said. “Maybe it’s not the prettiest football in the world, but who cares? When it’s all said and done, it is about winning. They didn’t complain when they got to the championship game last year.“
While many pundits have questioned Mark Sanchez’s progress, Simms thinks the third-year passer has been solid the last two weeks. Sanchez completed 59 percent of his passes (30 of 51) with three TDs and zero turnovers in divisional play against the Pats and ‘Fins.
“Look at the last two games and look at the numbers,” Simms said. “I think he has three touchdowns and no interceptions, completion percentage OK and the yards are OK per attempt. Man, Rex Ryan must go into his office and go, ‘That’s what I want.’ ”
And while many in Jets Nation scream for long aerial strikes, Simms has an interesting take on Sanchez’s greatest strengths.
“He is a very good quick-rhythm thrower, the three-step game. Why? Because he has a great — not a good — drop. He has big hands and long arms. That makes him a good over-the-top short thrower,” he said. “He is one of the top-five ball fakers in the NFL, so that makes him a pretty good play-action quarterback. He throws good on the run and can move in the pocket behind the tackles well enough.”
The Jets defense will be tested by an excellent Chargers offense this weekend. Quarterback Philip Rivers loves to go down the field with his outside receivers and the Jets are confident on the outside with their talented corner tandem.
“The No. 1 thing I’m interested in watching this week is Vincent Jackson of the Chargers going against Darrelle Revis,” Simms said. “Darrelle is probably the best defensive player in the NFL and Vincent Jackson, people know about him but I don’t think they really respect how good he is. He is a fantastic receiver.”
Referring to the ‘Bolts as a “sneaky” running team, Simms says the Chargers’ approach in the pass game is unique.
“If you’re a Jets fan and you come out there to the game on Sunday, I don’t care where Philip Rivers throws it. He may throw it short, but you watch how many guys are running down the field every play,” he said. “It’s like worms — they’re wiggling in and out and it’s going to be great to see it against the Jets’ man-to-man defense.”
Simms, a quarterback for the crosstown team from 1979-93, does not minimize the importance of this game for New York’s AFC representative. Sitting 3-3, the Jets need a win headed into the bye or else it’s going to be a treacherous climb to return to the postseason.
“The room for error — that’s why it’s so critical for the Jets,” he said. “It will probably be one of the first things I say on the air that it is critical.”
Tags: Jim Nantz, Mark Sanchez, Phil Simms, Philip Rivers, Rex Ryan, San Diego Chargers
Posted in Eric Allen | 9 Comments »
As is the customary practice in the NFL, the television broadcast team that will call the weekend’s game stops by for production meetings at the home team’s headquarters on Friday. CBS had their No. 1 crew — Jim Nantz and Phil Simms — at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center today and we had the opportunity to catch up with Simms to discuss the Jets-Patriots clash.
“I hate to say it, but it’s big,” he said of the game’s magnitude for the Jets. (Click here to view the Jets TV interview with Phil.) “The NFL is so rough and it’s so hard. To go 0-2, your margin of error goes down and it just makes it harder. The way the league usually works, you’re going to lose one or two games during the year that you should have won, that you just dominate everything and somehow you lose. That happens, so to go 0-2, it’s a tough road.”
The Jets couldn’t get too much of anything going offensively against the Ravens, but Simms was more complimentary of the opponent’s defense than he was critical of the Jets’ offense.
“Alex Rodriguez doesn’t bat .400 against the best pitchers in baseball. I remember playing against the Philadelphia Eagles, who had a tremendous defense, and thinking, ‘Wow, if I can go 10-for-25, it would be great day.’ That’s kind of how I look at it,” he said during our on-camera interview. “The Jets hung in there. It didn’t quite work out, but it’s a long year and I think they have a lot of talent so it’s going to be fine.”
The Mark Sanchez skeptics were out in full force this week, but Simms remains high on the Green & White’s second-year passer.
“He’s still mobile, he still has a tremendous personality and he can make all the throws. Nothing’s changed and I say that right now,” Simms said. “I think the biggest thing for Mark Sanchez is getting more into the flow of the game and that’s the coaching. The coaches have to help him do that and I’m sure they will. The biggest point is he isn’t facing the Baltimore Ravens defense every week.”
In a defensive battle, Simms knew the Jets had held up their end of the bargain as well. But when he reviewed the game video, he determined that the Green & White had “physically dominated” on the defensive side. Last year in Week 2, New York’s AFC representative rattled Tom Brady and held the Patriots to just three field goals in an upset win.
“The New England Patriots had all offseason to look at all those blitzes and to think of a new way to attack the Jets defense,” he said. “Everybody has a lot of answers on the chalkboard, but do they work on the field? And that’s what we’ll find out. But I know we’ll see some different stuff from the Patriots than we did last year.”
Tags: Mark Sanchez, New England Patriots, Phil Simms
Posted in Eric Allen, Uncategorized | 42 Comments »
There’s a lot of history wrapped up with the current events of today’s Jets-Dolphins game at the Meadowlands.
Needless to say, the Jets would like to win this game for many reasons — to pay back the ‘Fins for the 31-27 Monday night loss at Miami three games ago, to improve to 5-3 overall and 2-2 in the AFC East heading into their bye week, to continue to show that they can win and win decisively in the wake of season-ending injuries to two of their Pro Bowl players, Kris Jenkins and Leon Washington, the previous two weeks.
And in the process, the Jets wouldn’t mind winning to add to their history, some of which will be much in evidence today. This game has been designated an AFL Legacy Game by the NFL as part of the league’s recognition of the 50th anniversary of the American Football League. For the Jets, one big part of this game — indeed, this weekend — is the honoring of much-decorated offensive tackle Winston Hill.
Hill is here today after he, his wife Carolyn and 15 teammates took in the walkthrough practice at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center Saturday morning and then a dinner in Winston’s honor last night.
Today we’ve already seen the "standup" panels that capture No. 75 in action and candidly on the sidelines during his 14-year stay in green and white, during which he was named to play in four AFL All-Star Games and four NFL Pro Bowls. They were up for a pregame runthrough and they’ll be brought out again when Hill is honored by his teammates, family and 78,000 friends in the stands at halftime ceremonies.
Also for this game, the Jets will be in their road Titans of New York uniforms — white jerseys, gold pants, navy blue trim. Some people like the Titans unis, some don’t, and most of us don’t believe in superstition. But it should be noted that in the last five games they’ve worn their predecessors’ garb (four in navy jerseys, last week at Oakland in the white road jerseys), the Jets are 5-0 and have outscored opponents by 184 points to 79, or an average of 37-16 each game.
That would be an acceptable score for today’s contest. But knowing the toughness of the Dolphins’ Wildcat offense and front seven defense, a 17-16 win would be OK, too.
It rained through the night and the morning began overcast, but right now the clouds have lifted and some blue sky is even poking through. The forecast is for clouds and temperatures in the upper 50s for this game. But while it is dry at the Meadowlands, it is also windy, with the flags atop the stadium whipping pretty nicely.
Of course, with the winds clocked at 18 mph from the north two weeks ago, Mark Sanchez struggled in throwing five interceptions to Buffalo. But Sanchez said of that day’s weather: "I don’t think it affected me at all. … There’s no way I can blame it on the weather." Today will be his first home test since the 16-13 overtime loss to the Bills to see if he’s come to grips with the Meadowlands gusts.
Jim Nantz and Phil Simms will be calling the game for CBS, the first Jets game by the Eye Network’s A-team since the 24-7 opening-day win at Houston in Rex Ryan’s first game as head coach.
And the referee is Don Carey, who is the head official at his first Jets game.
We’ll update the inactives for both teams right here as soon as we get them, which should be very soon.
Follow today’s game on newyorkjets.com through our CoveritLive in-game chat, moderated by Eric Allen and Kyle Richardson, and through my in-game tweets, which will appear in the chat and on the Jets’ Twitter page http://twitter.com/nyjets. Afterward, as usual, I’ll have our game story live shortly after the end of the game and a writethrough with quotes later this evening, while EA and Kyle will also file postgame locker room stories, which will take you into Bye Week Monday.
Inactives Update, 11:45 a.m.: The Jets inactives include WR Brad Smith, still not ready to return from his quadriceps pull suffered in the first Miami game, and CB Lito Sheppard, also bothered by a quad. Also on the Jets’ IA list: QB Kevin O’Connell, CBs Ahmad Carroll and Marquice Cole, G Matt Slauson and LB Marques Murrell. Erik Ainge is the third QB for the seventh time this season.
Dwight Lowery will again start for Sheppard at RCB.
Miami’s inactives are led by starting ILB Channing Crowder, who didn’t practice all week due to a shoulder injury and was decared out by the Dolphins on Saturday night. Also IA: RB Kory Sheets, tackles Andrew Gardner and Lydon Murtha, DE Lionel Dotson, WR Patrick Turner and LB Quentin Moses.
Reggie Torbor gets the start for Crowder and rookie WR Brian Hartline will get the starting nod over Ted Ginn Jr., who reeled in that 53-yard touchdown pass from Chad Henne on Oct. 12.
Tags: Jim Nantz, Mark Sanchez, Miami Dolphins, Phil Simms, Rex Ryan, Winston Hill
Posted in Randy Lange | 7 Comments »
Rex Ryan, almost done getting his Jets ready to tackle the Texans in Houston on Sunday, was invited to take a stroll down memory lane at today’s news conference.
The questioner was Dan Leberfeld of Sirius NFL Radio and Jets Confidential. The game in question was Jan. 2, 1994, 15½ years ago in Houston, which Leberfeld said was his first covering the Jets on the road. It was also the game that Buddy Ryan, Rex’s dad and the Houston Oilers’ defensive coordinator, punched Oilers OC Kevin Gilbride on the home team’s sideline in the Astrodome.
Rex was not at that game — he was an assistant coach at Morehead State in Kentucky — but he recalled the day as if he had been there.
"I remember the Oilers were having a great run, they won 10 or 11 in a row, and there was a lot of talk that my dad was going to get a head-coaching job again," Ryan recalled. "He’d already said I was going to go with him if he got a head-coaching job. We were all fired up about that."
But brash Buddy was not a big Gilbride fan, and things boiled over for him when, with 32 seconds left in the first half, QB Cody Carlson was sacked by Jets DE Marvin Washington and DT Bill Pickel recovered at the Oilers 18.
"Apparently, Dad had seen enough," Rex said. "Kevin’s gone on to do some great things in this league as a coordinator. Things like that occasionally happen on the sideline.
"I remember sitting there watching the game and saying, ‘Ohmigod! Dad, you gotta be kidding me!’ " he said. "I was at Morehead State and Phil Simms was not our quarterback. It was a good job for me at the time, but I just said my opportunity to be an NFL coach, ‘Awww, there it goes.’ "
Not quite, of course. Buddy did get the big job with the Cardinals for 1994-95 and brought Rex and Rob Ryan with him.
"That was huge," Rex said. "If I didn’t get those two years to coach under my dad, I wouldn’t be the coach I am now."
Nor standing where he stood today, at the podium in the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center media workroom, ready to launch his own NFL head-coaching career in two days.
Ryan started his newser off with sobering thoughts about the observance of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
"I’d like to remember all the people affected by 9/11," the coach said. "It’s obviously a tragic day in our country’s history, especially in this area. But I just wanted to remember all those affected by that day. … Here we are getting ready to play a football game, you think it’s really important — I do — and it’s just kind of a dose of reality. I realize how fortunate I am to be in this position."
Simms on Rookie QBs
It’s interesting that Ryan brought up Simms in his recollections of that incident involving his father, since Simms and Jim Nantz will be calling the Jets-Texans game for CBS on Sunday.
I’ve always been a fan of Simms the broadcaster, no doubt in part because I was a fan of Simms the quarterback.
I was there in New Orleans in 1979 for the first extended activity of Simms’ career as the Giants’ QB of the future, and I remember how the then-rookie out of the aforementioned Morehead State went to his locker in the Superdome’s visitors locker room after the game, welts covering his back from being knocked around by the Saints, to get dressed, then turning around and being slightly surprised by the welter of reporters waiting to talk with him.
Simms, one of the top NFL analysts in the game, doesn’t get surprised by much any more, especially questions about rookie QBs. I remember visiting with Phil about his thoughts on Ray Lucas, who took the Jets’ offensive controls midway through the 1999 season, and the next April about Chad Pennington, taken by the Jets in the first round of the 2000 draft.
I didn’t pin Phil down on Mark Sanchez yet — Eric Allen and I will get him for a "Jets Two-Minute Drive" radio show down the road — but Simms did speak with reporters on a CBS Kickoff Week conference call on some subjects of interest to fans of the Green & White and of Sanchez. Here’s some of the Q&A from that interview.
On the prospects for rookie first-rounders Sanchez and Matt Stafford: "They have validated everything people have thought about them in the draft. If it had been up to me, not that I have the knowledge or resources that NFL teams have, I thought they were the first and second players in the draft. And from what I have seen, this preseason backs up what I thought. Their talents are going to translate very well to the NFL. The most important thing is both teams have offensive coordinators that are going to build their offense around what they do best."
On Sanchez working with Jets OC Brian Schottenheimer: "I’m looking forward to seeing what they do with Mark this week. Brian Schottenheimer is the perfect match in every way. I like what he does as an offensive coordinator. He is young and wants to show off Mark’s talents and personality. The big thing for Sanchez, which I’ll talk about this weekend, is the difference between the pros and college football. In the pros there will be long stretches where you have no chance to make plays. How you deal with those long stretches really determines the outcome of many games. You just have to wait and show patience. You might have to wait three weeks. You just hang in there and try not to throw any gas on the fire. And then when it’s your turn, you do it."
On preseason talk about the Texans: "What is interesting about the game is that the Houston Texans have two 8-8 records back-to-back. They are somewhat of a trendy pick this year to make the playoffs and advance on their 8-8 records. My reaction? We will see. Going from 8-8 to 10-6 is like going from making $20,000 a year to making $100,000 a year. It’s a big, big jump. It usually takes stars, big-time impact players, to make that happen. For Houston, Mario Williams and Andre Johnson are stars. There is a group of other guys that are close, but will they become impact players?"
Simms has been working Jets games for CBS since 1997. Here is a list of the eight previous season openers he’s worked, which include the Jets debuts of head coaches Al Groh (2000) and Herm Edwards (2001) and QB Brett Favre (2008) (home team in CAPS):
|1998||Greg Gumbel||49ERS 36, Jets 30 (OT)|
|1999||Greg Gumbel||Patriots 30, JETS 28|
|2000||Greg Gumbel||Jets 20, PACKERS 16|
|2001||Greg Gumbel||Colts 45, JETS 24|
|2002||Greg Gumbel||Jets 37, BILLS 31 (OT)|
|2005||Jim Nantz||CHIEFS 27, Jets 7|
|2007||Jim Nantz||Patriots 38, JETS 14|
|2008||Jim Nantz||Jets 20, DOLPHINS 14|
Gumbel, Simms’ first CBS play-by-play partner, will work the Jets’ next two games this season, the home opener against New England on Sept. 20 and the home game vs. Tennessee on Sept. 27, along with Dan Dierdorf.
Injury List Addition
Ryan said the Jets are adding TE Dustin Keller to the Jets injury list as probable with a toe. "He looked good out there. He looked good dancing today," Ryan said about the indoor practice to get out of the daylong North Jersey rain. "I think he’s going to be fine but he did report having a little problem with the toe." Which toe? Rex didn’t know.
The coach also said DE Mike DeVito (hamstring) will be listed as questionable, "even though I think he will play."
Don’t Forget the Fan Tunnel
Ryan also reminded Jets fans who have an open Saturday morning to come out to the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center to create a special sendoff for the team. Fans will be instructed to form a tunnel that the players will walk through, offering up some high-fives and optimistic words along the way, before getting on the team buses and departing for the airport. Ryan and safety Kerry Rhodes are expected to make remarks to the crowd.
The time for this event hasn’t yet been pinned down, but if you arrive by 10 a.m. you’ll be ready for the activities ahead. "It’ll be good," Ryan said, "if you can help out with this."
One last note on this event: If it rains heavily, the event will be canceled. The forecast now calls for occasional rain and drizzle. Anyone planning to come to this event should check with newyorkjets.com or call the Jets Fan Line at 973-549-4844.
Tags: Buddy Ryan, Houston Oilers, Houston Texans, Mark Sanchez, Phil Simms, Rex Ryan
Posted in Randy Lange | 13 Comments »
It’s become an annual tradition.
When the calendar reaches late June, I shuffle off to Hofstra for the Outback Steakhouse Empire Challenge and I meet up with Boomer Esiason before kickoff. We always chat about the game and his foundation, and then we briefly talk about the state of the Jets and the AFC East.
Sanchez Has “It”
We covered a number of topics Tuesday, beginning with rookie QB Mark Sanchez.
“It is the presence to handle all the things that are going to come at him now,” Boom said. “When you’re the fifth overall pick in the draft and you sign a $50 million dollar contract, people expect results right away.
“He’s going to have to deal with whatever criticism comes his way. In my estimation, he has accepted it thus far. He’s had fun with the guys at camp when they were calling him ‘Money Man’ and posting the [GQ] pictures without the shirt on and me ripping the shirt off of him on stage at a charity event. He’s getting all that stuff and he’s cool with it. He gets it. I can sense the kid really understands what’s going on.”
Simms’ Scouting Report
Leading up to the draft, Esiason hosted a draft preview show on MSG and was joined by Phil Simms. Both men thought the Jets should move up to get Sanchez and Simms was high on the USC product after his workout.
“Phil said he went and watched the workout,” Boomer said. “He said Boomer, ‘The kid can make every throw, he is a pocket passer and he can throw on the run.’ He didn’t think he would be as spontaneous as Ben Roethlisberger or Joe Flacco. He thought he’d be more like a Tom Brady or a Peyton Manning, a Matt Ryan — a guy who’s going to stand in the pocket, read the defenses and knows how to get rid of the ball. He said his throwing motion is as flawless as he’s ever seen and I agreed with him.”
While many media pundits have already awarded the starting job to Sanchez, Esiason wouldn’t be all that surprised to see Clemens on the field come September 13 when the Jets meet the Texans down in Houston.
“I think Kellen will have a chance to start. The reality is this — they drafted a kid with the fifth overall pick and they don’t draft a kid with the fifth overall pick to jam him up in a quarterback deal,” Esiason said. “That’s your guy, that’s the guy who is going to sell the PSLs for you, he’s the guy who’s going to be on the field.
"But is he going to be ready that first season? That’s the question, so therefore Kellen will have an opportunity to go out there and play, and maybe they won’t rush Mark quickly along. And if Kellen plays well and the team wins, then Kellen keeps the job. But if Kellen falters in any way, shape or form, it’s going to be the rookie out there.”
A Coaching Star?
After a change of head coaches, the culture has certainly changed here in Florham Park. While Eric Mangini preferred a more tight-lipped approach, Rex Ryan has been anything but conservative in his dealings with the media.
“It’s a breath of fresh air and I think everybody realizes that. The people who work in that building know it more than anybody else. He is a bombastic type of loud guy who is not afraid to throw his personality out there, which is refreshing,” Boom said.
“If he wins, he could be the biggest star this city has ever seen. You know that, don’t you? From a coaching standpoint, he can be the biggest and best ever.”
Possibility of Theater in Buffalo
With Tom Brady back in the lineup, Esiason sees the Patriots as the “odds-on favorite” in the AFC East and the Jets, the Dolphins and the Bills grouped closely together. Like many other people, he is fascinated to see how the Terrell Owens experiment works.
“Part of me is conflicted — I want Trent [Edwards] to do well and I want them to do well, but I’d also like to see what would happen if they had a losing record and TO is in Buffalo come late November or December,” he said. “Forget about renting a house man — he’ll be renting a jet to get out of there. It’s going to be wild. That has the potential to be off the charts wild!
“They gave him the key to the city kind of like Mayor Bloomberg did here with Brett Favre — not a good thing to do. But they sold 55,000 season tickets which was their third best total ever, smart right? You bring in TO, a personality, and then look at what happens.”
Tags: Boomer Esiason, Kellen Clemens, Mark Sanchez, Phil Simms, Rex Ryan
Posted in Eric Allen | 19 Comments »
Here’s a quick early Radar entry to alert you to a "Jets Two-Minute Drive" show that Eric Allen and I are proud of.
Jim Nantz and Phil Simms, the CBS "A" team, will be working Sunday’s Jets-Bills game. We sat down with Nantz this week for our guest interview and Nantz was exceptional, talking about his relationship with Simms, his podnuh since 2004, and about his father, whom he wrote about in his moving book, "Always By My Side," which was published in May.
But of course, Nantz also talked about the Jets-Bills game at Ralph Wilson Stadium — the two have never called a game in this rivalry before. (They’ve called seven Jets-Patriots games.)
"I’m anxious to have this little AFC East rivalry unfold before me and it’s a crucial game," Nantz told us. "Every game right now inside that division, there’s just so much riding on it.
"The Jets, at 4-3, can you imagine for their sake what a win would do up at Buffalo, would suddenly do at the halfway point of their season? And if you look at the Buffalo side of it, same thing. They’re coming off a tough loss, but they have a chance to get to 6-2 and create a little separation from the Jets for the time being before they meet later in the season.
“It’s just a huge game here the first weekend of November.”
This will be the 17th Jets game the Nantz-Simms team has called since ’04. (For those who care, the Green & White record in those games is 6-10) and their first since they worked the first two games this season. I think this week’s show is a good listen. You can find it on the newyorkjets.com home page or on the Multimedia Home page.
Catch of Distinction
Laveranues Coles’ touchdown reception Sunday was significant for more than just beating the Chiefs. It was the first game-winning score in LC’s career in the last two minutes of a game or in OT.
In fact, it was the first GW touchdown for the Jets since Santana Moss and Chad Pennington hooked up for a 3-yard toss with 26 seconds left to beat Jacksonville, 13-10, back on Nov. 23, 2003.
Such passes are old hat for Brett Favre, of course, although they don’t happen as often as you’d think for a QB who now has 41 fourth-quarter comeback wins to his credit. A year ago his 82-yard pass play with Greg Jennings pulled out the Packers’ win at Denver 16 seconds into OT.
But the last time Favre threw a strike that turned a loss into a win in the last two minutes of a game was in 1999, when he hit Antonio Freeman for 21 yards with 1:05 left to lead Green Bay past Tampa Bay, 26-23.
On Monday, John from Staten Island asked a question about "more offensive penalties than I can remember." Well, if his memory only goes back eight years, he’s right. The Jets offense this season has had 22 penalties marked off against it for 131 yards.
That extrapolates to 50 penalties for 299 yards for the season. And that is a lot for the Jets. The last time the O drew more penalty yards was 2005 with 334 yards. And the last season that was comparable in both flags and yards was 1999, when the offense was hit for 50 penalties for 376 yards.
So yes, work needs to be done there. But the Jets still remain in the top 10 this season in penalties, and since head coach Eric Mangini took over in 2006, the Jets are still first in the NFL in fewest penalties and penalty yards:
Tags: Brett Favre, Buffalo Bills, Eric Mangini, Jim Nantz, Laveranues Coles, Phil Simms
Posted in Randy Lange | 38 Comments »
Chansi Stuckey needed a year to show that his good hands and airborne body control from the ’07 training camp weren’t mirages. But he showed that Sunday against the Dolphins with his 22-yard touchdown catch on Brett Favre’s fourth-down heave with 6:52 left in the first half, giving the Jets a lead they never lost.
That play also happened to be Stuckey’s first pro TD catch and first pro catch of any kind. He’s listed as a second-year pro because he made it to the regular season last year, but he didn’t play in the opener vs. the Patriots and went on IR shortly after that game.
"It’s great," Stuckey said of his emotions at finally getting into and contributing mightily in his first NFL game. "The ball was up there, but I knew it was my ball. I made up my mind that I needed to come down with it. I was going to get hit after the catch, but I was able to come down with it and sustain the hit."
It didn’t hurt that Dolphins safety Yeremiah Bell took several steps forward, as if to try to help finish off Favre, who was hit twice in the pocket, the second time as he launched his answered prayer of a pass. But Stuckey, who climbed air stairs to make a few catches at last year’s camp, still probably would’ve come down with it a foot inside the goal line to give the Jets a 13-7 lead.
After the game, Stuckey said, "I’ve got to find who has the ball." The souvenir’s safety was never in doubt as equipment director Gus Granneman’s crew snapped up the pigskin, even despite some confusion due to the two-point play that quickly followed, and put it away for safe keeping. And soon the equipment team will ship Stuckey’s ball out with several other "first" balls for other Jets, to be painted and made suitable for trophy case or mantel.
Stuckey said he may ask to have a little extra design work added to his ball. "I might get Brett to sign it," he said.
For historical buffs, since 1992 the 22-yard Favre-to-Stuckey pass was only the sixth fourth-down conversion of 11 yards or longer and the second-longest fourth-down TD connection. The previous long in that span: the 29-yard fourth-and-goal strike from Neil O’Donnell to then-rookie Keyshawn Johnson in the third game of the 1996 season.
Here are few more Miami morsels to savor before we head into Wednesday’s big media smorgasbord in advance of the home opener against the Patriots:
Red Zone Rebound?
The Jets’ 36.7 percent red zone touchdown rate last season was 31st in the NFL. One game does not a turnaround make, but their two shorter touchdown drives at Dolphin Stadium on Sunday were both RZ opportunities, giving them a 66.7 rate after one game.
Major Plus in Miami
The Jets and Dolphins each had one takeaway for a zero turnover differential Sunday. But that doesn’t hurt the Green & White’s takeaway talents in this series since they got the upper hand in 1998. In the 21 games since that season, the Jets are plus-25 in TO differential over Miami (24 giveaways, 49 takeaways).
Dolphins’ Tough Sledding
The Dolphins’ 11 second-half rushing yards (on four carries, all in the third quarter) were tied for the third-fewest rushing yards by a Jets opponent in any half in the last 10 seasons. The only better halves came within a six-game span in 2006 — 1 yard by the Houston Texans in Week 12, 7 yards by the Oakland Raiders in Week 17.
Bryan Thomas had a strong game vs. the Dolphins that may have been just a little stronger than first thought. The Miami pressbox crew credited DE Kenyon Coleman with a tackle and a forced fumble on the reception that Ricky Williams lost the handle near the two-minute warning in the first half.
Trouble was, Coleman wasn’t on the field on that play. BT and Eric Smith were, and one of those two should have received credit for stripping or punching the ball loose and out of bounds on the play. And if BT got the force (which remains an unofficial stat but still one you can find on some NFL Websites), it came the player after he threw Chad Pennington down for the first of his two sacks.
You may remember Ricky Williams galloping for 18 yards on a third-and-16 play at the Meadowlands in the Dolphins’ 21-10 win in 2003. That remains a significant milestone in the Jets-Miami series because it was the last time the Dolphins converted a third-and-more-than-10-yards situation. Including Sunday’s 0-for-5, the ‘Fins have gone 0-for-their-last-28 when looking at third-and-double-digits vs. the Jets.
When Favre couldn’t find a receiver, he tucked the ball and ran for a first down on his first third-down play as the Jets’ QB, prompting the CBS announcers to offer a nice exchange about the 38-year-old Favre making plays with his feet rather than his right arm:
Jim Nantz: Brett Favre … he still has it.
Phil Simms: Well, he still has it but he doesn’t want to use it.
And LB Calvin Pace was feeling the heat of the game even after he and his teammates were safely back in their Dolphin Stadium locker room. "Oh, man, the humidity in the fourth quarter got to me," Pace said with a smile. "I ain’t gonna lie. I’m glad we didn’t go to overtime."
Tags: Brett Favre, Bryan Thomas, Chansi Stuckey, Gus Granneman, Jim Nantz, Phil Simms, Ricky Williams
Posted in Randy Lange | 35 Comments »
Today’s season opener has many storylines, but of course one line rises above all others for many, and that’s the starting quarterbacks.
Chad Pennington is on the field now, an hour before the Jets and Dolphins kick off their 2008 seasons at Dolphin Stadium. The former Jets first-round pick (in 2000) and starting QB (from 2002-07) is stretching and walking in advance of limbering up with his fellow Miami signalcallers.
And Favre, acquired by the Jets in trade from Green Bay on Aug. 6, the day before Pennington was released, has come out again, 45 minutes before kickoff, to throw leisurely at the moment with backup Kellen Clemens.
Emotions will run high in this game. In fact, they already have. Jets assistant DL coach Bryan Cox, the former Jet and Dolphin, and Miami LB Joey Porter were seen jawing at each other at midfield during warmups.
Miami’s radio talking heads have sounded concerned about the Green & White element that is always in the Dolphin Stadium stands, and indeed a number of Jets fans have been spotted before the game, in the front rows and elsewhere in the stands, many wearing their new No. 4 jerseys.
Here’s an interesting comparison of Favre and Pennington in their last four season-opening starts, Brett for the Packers from 2004-07 and Chad for the Jets those same seasons. Both QBs are 2-2 in their starts, but for what it’s worth, Pennington’s passing numbers are quite a bit better:
But if the past can be any predictor of the present, Jets fans would gladly take Favre’s performance in the Packers’ 2004 opener at Carolina. In that game he was a modest 15-for-22 for 143 yards, one TD
Two stats that mean nothing: The Jets are in their green jerseys and white pants for this game, since the Dolphins are in their traditional home September white/white garb. They’re 0-2 since 2000 when opening in green/white, having lost at home to Indianapolis in 2001 and on the road at Washington to open the NFL’s 2003 regular season.
And Jim Nantz and Phil Simms are calling this game for CBS. As I mentioned on our "Jets Two-Minute Drive," in the previous 15 seasons Simms has called more Jets games than any other network broadcaster, play-by-play or analyst. That totals 41 games in all, and interestingly the Jets are 20-21 in those games.
Originally ticketed for about 13 percent of the country, this game is now going out to more than 50 percent of CBS’ affiliates.
The Jets inactives today are Brett Ratliff (as the third quarterback), QB Erik Ainge, WRs Marcus Henry and David Clowney, CB Justin Miller, LB Kenwin Cummings, OL Robert Turner and DL Kareem Brown.
The Dolphins’ IAs: John Beck (third QB), WR Ernest Wilford, CB Michael Lehan (Miami’s only listed player on the week’s injury reports), RB Jalen Parmele (no relation to Bernie Parmalee), G Shawn Murphy, DE Lionel Dotson, T Nate Garner (the Jets’ seventh-round draft pick claimed off waivers) and DE Rodrique Wright.
And the Dolphins’ pressbox crew has just passed out pregame notes, which include a Miami lineup change, with Greg Camarillo replacing Derek Hagan as the Dolphins’ starting WR opposite Ted Ginn Jr.
Both teams will introduce their teams at once, not individually.
Mike Carey is our referee today. Among the Jets games Carey has refereed are: the Bubby Brister shovel-pass game at Carolina in 1995; the Jets’ only win in 1996 at Arizona; the 2000 season-opening win over Favre and the Packers at Green Bay; Pennington’s first win as an NFL starter vs. Minnesota in ’02; the Chris Baker non-forceout game at Cleveland in ’06, and last year’s 40-13 rout here in South Florida. What does it all mean? I’m not sure.
And now, as Hank Williams Jr. used to sing before ABC Monday Night Football broadcasts and as my partner Eric Allen asked me at the top of our first radio show of the season, "Are you ready for some football?" Or to paraphrase for Jets fans, "Are you ready for some Favreball?" The opening kickoff isn’t far away.
Tags: Brett Favre, Chad Pennington, Jim Nantz, Kellen Clemens, Miami Dolphins, Phil Simms
Posted in Randy Lange | 10 Comments »