As promised, two weeks after we broke out a blog on the first quarter of the Jets’ 2013 regular-season schedule, it’s time to post up some tweet-sized bullet points for each game on the slate in the second quarter of the season, Games 5-8.
Game 5 — @ Atlanta, Georgia Dome, Monday, Oct. 7, 8:40 p.m.
■ Jets trail series 6-4. Last win vs Falcons: 28-3 in Meadowlands in 1998. Last road win: 28-14 at Atlanta-Fulton Co. Stadium in ’86.
■ In teams’ last game in ATL, in ’05, Jets QB was Vinny Testaverde, Falcons QB Michael Vick, who ran for pair of TDs in 27-14 MON night win.
■ In teams’ last meeting in ’09, Falcons prevailed 10-7 on 6-yd TD pass from Matt Ryan to TE Tony Gonzalez with 1:38 to play.
■ This is scheduled to be Jets’ only MON night game, last primetime game of season. Last time they played fewer than 3 in primetime: 2008.
Game 6 — vs. PITTSBURGH, MetLife Stadium, Sunday, Oct. 13, 1 p.m.
■ Jets trail series 16-4 but have won 2 of last 4 and last 2 at home: ’03 Curtis Martin snow game by 6-0, ’07 game after bye 19-16 in OT.
■ ’07 win set up by Leon Washington’s 33-yd OT punt return, Mike Nugent’s 38-yard FG. Jets should see Leon, Mike in 2 following weeks.
■ Ben Roethlisberger career vs Jets: 98-for-168 (58.3%) for 1192 yds, 5 TDs, 7 INTS, 18 sacks for 72.8 passer rating, 4-2 record.
■ WR Santonio Holmes, PIT’s 1st-round pick in ’06, vs his former team in 3 games w/ Jets (incl POs): 11 catches, 129 yds (11.7 avg), 2 TDs.
Game 7 — vs. NEW ENGLAND, MetLife Stadium, Sunday, Oct. 20, 1 p.m.
■ Jets lead series at home 27-25, despite losing last 2, both in primetime (37-16, SUN night, 2011; 49-19, Thanksgiving night last yr).
■ This will be the first time Jets have played NE twice in season’s first 7 weeks since 2000, when they were 2-0 vs. Pats after Game 6.
■ Tom Brady in Meadowlands vs Jets since 2001: 223-for-356 (62.6%) for 2702 yds, 20 TDs, 6 INTs, 97.6 passer rating, 9-2 record.
■ Leon Washington w/ Jets (’06-09) vs. w/ SEA (’10-12): rush avg. 4.7 to 4.2; receiving avg. 7.9-6.9, PR avg. 9.4-10.3, KR avg. 25.5-26.2.
Game 8 — @ Cincinnati, Paul Brown Stadium, Sunday, Oct. 27, 4:05 p.m.
■ Jets lead series 15-7 after winning last 3 at home (last: 26-10, Thanksgiving night ’10) and most recent game at PBS (24-14, ’09 AFC WC Game).
■ Rex Ryan, DL coach under DC Marvin Lewis on Ravens from 1999-2001, is 3-0 vs Lewis as HC, and Jets are 5-1 overall vs Lewis’ CIN teams.
■ Among Bengals they’re expected to face: K Mike Nugent. His first 4 NFL seasons w/ Jets he was 75-for-92 (81.5%) on FGs. Last 3 yrs w/ CIN he’s 67-for-80 (83.8%).
■ Second 4 games of 2013 schedule is the Jets’ toughest quarter. In ’12 ATL, PIT, NE & CIN combined for 43-21 record (.672) and 3 PO berths.
Tags: Atlanta Falcons, Ben Roethlisberger, Cincinnati Bengals, Leon Washington, Marvin Lewis, Matt Ryan, Michael Vick, Mike Nugent, New England Patriots, PIttsburgh Steelers, Rex Ryan, Tom Brady, Tony Gonzalez, Vinny Testaverde
Posted in Randy Lange | 22 Comments »
It’s not surprising that the Jets’ 49-19 loss to the Patriots that concluded shortly after 11:30 p.m. on Thanksgiving would look pretty much the same about 11 hours later when head coach Rex Ryan spoke with reporters on a conference call late this morning.
“To have that stretch, it’s just amazing,” Ryan said of the withering second quarter of five touchdowns in an 11:46 span, the first four scoring after Jets giveaways. “I don’t know how else to put it. I think I said ‘nightmare’ last night and I’ll stick with that because it’s just hard to imagine, but that happened.”
Probably the two most nightmarish things about the loss (not about the three Patriots TDs that were scored in 52 seconds, the quickest a Jets opponent has scored three TDs since 1970) were what it signified about the rivalry and about the rest of the 2012 season.
Ryan said he won’t concede that the gap between the Jets and Pats is too great to win the AFC East in the foreseeable future.
“To say that this team is that much better than us, I don’t believe that,” he said. “They’re a good football team, there’s no question, they’re an excellent football team. But to say we’ll never catch them, that’s ridiculous. There’s no chance, absolutely no percent of a chance that I believe that in my heart, no way. I’ll never concede that.”
As for the final five games, Ryan also remained positive. What, he was asked, gives him that confidence?
“I saw us making strides up until this game,” he said. “Even in this game, I think our offense is improving, I really believe that. I think we’re running the ball more efficiently than we have. I think our protections are better. Obviously, it’s not going to look like it when we got blown out. That’s what gives me confidence. I think we’re getting better on that side of the ball. On defense, I’m confident that we’ll get back to playing much better.”
The offense did keep on swinging Thursday night. We won’t try to argue that the Jets’ second 400-yard game of offense against New England in the last five games or Mark Sanchez’s eighth 300-yard passing game of his career or 25 first downs indicates a lot other than moving the ball against a Patriots defense that isn’t known for stopping opposing offenses and was relaxed after the visitors took their 35-0 lead.
But this was a game that was set up for the offense to roll into a ball. It didn’t and kept working drive by drive to get something done. If nothing else, everyone got work that could prove beneficial as the Jets swing into December.
Yet where was the strong short-yardage/goal-line running game from earlier this year? Where was the renewed pass rush (no sacks of Brady, although Mo Wilkerson did force intentional grounding on the game’s opening offensive play)? Where was the improvement in the turnover margin, which has really only been seen against Buffalo, Indianapolis and St. Louis this season? Whatever happens from here, these issues and others need to be addressed again.
“I do see improvements in some areas of this team. It might be hard to see from the outside, but I see it here. That’s why I’m confident we’ll finish strong these last five games,” Ryan said. “I’m responsible for everything. I’m responsible for the 4-7 record. I’m responsible for how we play. I will say this: I’ll also be responsible for how we finish. I’m confident we’ll finish.
Ryan clarified the situation involving backup QB Tim Tebow’s rib injury, saying that even though the injury happened sometime Nov. 11 in the Seattle game, Ryan didn’t find out until this past Wednesday after a CAT scan showed that the injury was not a bruise but rather two rib fractures. He said the reason Tebow suited up was because he was cleared to play by the Jets medical and training team and the player wanted to be there. But Ryan repeated his reasoning about not playing Tebow but also not activating QB Greg McElroy.
“I don’t know what you want me to say,” Ryan said. “I’m not going to get into the what-ifs or all that stuff. Obviously, if he was not cleared to play or they thought he could be in serious jeopardy to himself, then he never would’ve been activated, he never would’ve been cleared to play. Tim was cleared to play, he wanted to play, and that’s just the way it is.”
The team this afternoon offered a Tebow timeline:
■ Tebow finished the Seattle game, then told trainers after the game that his ribs were hurting. X-rays at the stadium were negative.
■ He played against St. Louis, and continued to experience soreness.
■ On Tuesday morning the soreness intensified.
■ Tebow was full for Tuesday practice.
■ MRI and CAT scan Tuesday evening showed the fracture and the head coach was informed.
■ Tebow was active for the New England game after speaking with Ryan and a undergoing pregame evaluation.
■ Tebow did not want any injections for the New England game.
Ryan also said about McElroy being activated for Arizona on Dec. 2, “We’ll see how the week progresses.” … Ryan said WR Clyde Gates suffered a concussion in the game. … The coach said he spoke “briefly” with owner Woody Johnson after the game. …
Five TDs in a quarter? It’s the first time a Jets opponent has done it, and the Jets have never done it. In the NFL at large, it’s been done in the NFL a few times recently. Here are the last four occasions, dating to the 1970 AFL-NFL merger:
2009, Game 6 — New England, vs. Tennessee, 2nd quarter, 59-0
1987, Super Bowl — Washington, vs. Denver, 2nd quarter, 42-10
1983, Game 5 — Green Bay, vs. Tampa Bay, 2nd quarter, 55-14
1980, Game 3 — L.A. Rams, vs. Green Bay, 2nd quarter, 51-21
Six TDs in a quarter has happened just twice:
1950, Game 7 — L.A. Rams, vs. Detroit, 3rd quarter, 65-24
1945, Game 2 — Green Bay, vs. Detroit, 2nd quarter, 57-21
Last time an NFL team scored five TDs in a quarter happened on the road? Thursday night may have been the first time.
Tags: Greg McElroy, Mark Sanchez, MetLife Stadium, New Engalnd Patriots, Rex Ryan, Tim Tebow, Tom Brady
Posted in Randy Lange | 146 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
Posted in Randy Lange | 60 Comments »
What’s the Jets-Pats rivalry coming to?
Antonio Cromartie, for instance, today had words of praise for Tom Brady.
“The guy’s won Super Bowls. I have respect for him from that standpoint,” said Cro. “He’s a competitor. He’s going to compete. He reminds me a lot of Philip Rivers in that he’s going to trash-talk back at you.”
And then there’s Rex Ryan and Bill Belichick. When the Jets head coach called the Patriots’ head coach the best coach in football, etc., before previous matchups, some suspected Ryan of being insincere. Not true. Rex really does respect Belichick.
And today he went so far as to defend Belichick against media and fans in the Boston area who were critical of Belichick playing Rob Gronkowski on the last extra-point play of the Patriots’ 59-24 rout of the Colts on Sunday — the play on which Gronkowski suffered a forearm fracture that will keep him out of Thursday’s Jets-Pats tilt.
“Yeah, absolutely ridiculous,” Ryan, on a conference call with Patriots reporters, said of the flak Belichick had been drawing. “It was on an extra point. He’s done that probably 100 times this year for the simple fact of how many points they score. You never see that. Every single team in the league … we have D’Brickashaw Ferguson in there.
“You don’t play the game that way. It’s just an unfortunate thing. That’s just a freak deal that that would happen. But unfortunately that’s part of the game. Injuries do happen. We lose [Santonio] Holmes and [Darrelle] Revis to non-contact injuries and it’s just one of those things and it’s just unfortunate, obviously.”
Belichick seemed touched when told of Ryan’s defense at his own news conference with those same reporters.
“I didn’t hear it, so I’m just taking your word for it,” he said. “I feel like I have a good relationship with Rex. Obviously we want to beat each other. We’re in the same division and that’s just competitiveness. I see Rex from time to time during the year. Like I said, we had his brother on the staff here for four years. I’ve known his father for 30 years, whatever it is, it’s been a long time. I think that there’s a lot of…he’s a son of a coach, he’s a football guy, he’s been around it his whole life. I have, too. There are a lot of things we have in common.
“But this week,” summed up Belichick, back in character, “it’s about two teams trying to compete against each other. That’s all it is.”
The Life of a Hard Hitter
Jets S LaRon Landry was asked about the flap surrounding Ravens S Ed Reed’s helmet-to-helmet hit on Steelers WR Emmanuel Sanders on Sunday night, which initially drew him a one-game suspension and was reduced today after appeal to a $50,000 fine.
“Yeah, I heard he got his [penalty] reduced. That’s good. That’s great,” said Landry as one fellow hard hitter to another. “Being a physical football player, things like that happen. He was just trying to make a play. He’s good at what he does.
“I know Ed personally. I know that was not intentional. It’s football, man. But within this game we have rules that are going to be enforced.”
It’s not just professional courtesy. Landry and Reed are both Louisianans. In fact, they played against each other for rival high schools in the Metairie area.
The Jets made two roster moves today. They announced this morning that rookie free agent LB Marcus Dowtin had been waived. Then this afternoon, GM Mike Tannenbaum disclosed on our own “Jets Talk Live” with my partner Eric Allen that veteran WR Jason Hill had been released.
That gives the Jets three openings, since they were at 52 players on the active roster for the Rams. Expect a few signings to be announced before the Patriots game.
A perhaps interesting injury note is connected to J.Hill’s departure. He was listed on Monday’s injury report as not practicing due to a low-back injury. With that listing, the Jets had 19 players on the list. Today’s list is down to 18 after Hill’s release. The Patriots have also listed 19 injured players both days this week, and their two reports were also identical.
So for the first time this season, 32 separate injury reports in all, the Jets have listed fewer injured players than their opponents.
Tags: Antonio Cromartie, Bill Belichick, Ed Reed, Jason Hill, LaRon Landry, New England Patriots, Rex Ryan, thanksgiving, Tom Brady
Posted in Randy Lange | 16 Comments »
Rex Ryan and the Jets did in fact enjoy their two-hour plane ride back from St. Louis to Newark on Sunday night, as he suggested they should. And the head coach was still smiling over the Jets’ not-perfect-but-strong-nonetheless 27-13 win over the Rams the day before.
But Ryan and his players had no time to banter or trashtalk too much about their Thanksgiving night home matchup with Bill Belichick, Tom Brady and the Patriots.
“Right now we’re just swinging,” Rex said, going into heavy boxing/UFC metaphor. “We’re going to focus on our opponent specifically, but we’re behind where we have to be. We can only focus on ourselves. Like I say, just find a way to punch and swing. We earned where we are and we have to find a way to punch our way out. I’m not even worried about tweaking New England. It’s to a point where we have to focus on just us.”
The Jets did that with an altered schedule, returning to the Atlantic Health Training Center this morning and working out and meeting all day before starting the “first practice of the week” late this afternoon into early evening, which necessitated the lights ringing the complex’s outdoor turf field to be turned on for the session’s conclusion.
If any of the players lose focus now, it might not just be about losing that one-game-at-a-time mentality but also realizing how achy and breaky one’s body is after playing in St. Louis and before taking the field against the Pats’ band of offensive wizards and defensive opportunists three nights later.
“You have to see today like it’s a Wednesday practice,” TE Dustin Keller said from the . “You have to forget about the game yesterday. If you think about the game yesterday, you’re going to make yourself that much sorer.”
“It was a good win for us,” QB Mark Sanchez said. “We’re past that now, on to the next one. We have to try to get as many as we can.”
But only one at a time, CB Kyle Wilson said.
“We’re just really looking to improve this week, get better every day,” said Wilson. “We’re just focusing on New England. That’s all that’s there.”
One player who may not be there at MetLife Stadium, at least not in uniform, is New England’s Rob Gronkowski. Belichick told Patriots reporters on a conference call today, “I really don’t have anything” on the condition of the monster TE’s left forearm. And the Patriots’ official injury report released this evening only lists him as Did Not Participate in today’s practice, with a “forearm/hip” injury.
Unofficially it was being reported that Gronk fractured the arm while blocking on the final extra point of the Pats’ 59-24 win over the Colts and would be undergoing surgery sometime today.
“They have like five tight ends on their roster, so I don’t know if they will put another guy in that role,” Ryan said. “I’m not sure how they’ll do it. New England’s so multiple, they’ll give you four wides, five wides, a bunch of tight ends, so we’ll see as the game goes on how it affects them.
“Obviously, Gronkowski’s a huge target, especially in the red zone. I never like to see anybody get hurt. I’m not sad that he’s missing our game, but I hope he gets back soon.”
Sanchez has experienced the lows and highs of life as a quarterback the last two games, specifically when it comes to third-down accuracy.
At Seattle, Sanchez was 1-for-7 on third down, a 14.3% accuracy that was the lowest on that down of any game in his career.
Then at St. Louis, he rebounded with 8-for-9 accuracy at crunch time vs. the Rams. The 88.9% figure is the highest on that down in any game in his career.
On the other sideline, QB Sam Bradford and OC Brian Schottenheimer experienced those highs and lows in the same game. After one quarter, which was Bradford and Coach Schotty’s impressive 13-play opening touchdown drive, the Rams passer had a rating of 135.4 on 6-of-8 for 60 yards and the TD to Brandon Gibson.
The rest of the game, Bradford had to wonder where the magic went. He was 17-for-36 for 110 yards, one more TD to Gibby but one interception to Eric Smith, which all toted up to a 51.9 rating.
Love Those Short Fields
A few more note on the Jets-Rams drive chart. With the Rams help, the Jets finished 10 of their 13 drives in St. Louis territory. And two of those three series they didn’t cross the 50 were the Sanchez end-of-half kneeldowns.
Further, thanks to their three takeaways, the onside kick that Dustin Keller rescued, and a loss on downs after that, the Jets started five drives in St. Louis territory. That all added up to an average start on all drives of the Jets 45.9-yard line.
That is the best average drive start in a road game since we started tracking that number in 1990. There are only three home games that exceeded that number: 2001, Game 13, vs. Cincinnati (46.8), 2003, Game 5, vs. Buffalo (49.8), and 2008, Game 4, vs. Arizona (49.8). That last is the last time the Jets and Cardinals met before they’re set to do it again a week from Sunday. But first, of course, the Jets must figure out ways to maximize their field position and hidden yardage on Thursday night vs. the Patriots.
The Early Injury Picture
This is the week for the special Wednesday Injury Report, Monday Edition. The Jets and Patriots both filed reports after their practices today.
For the Jets, 19 players are on the report but it has the feel of last week’s report, which is to say fairly healthy for November. Only one player didn’t participate today and that’s WR Jason Hill (low back), who hasn’t played in the last two games after being re-signed.
Six players are limited, including WR Jeremy Kerley (heel/hamstring), who participated in only 19 offensive plays and none on specials vs. the Rams as he played through his issues. Also, NT Kenrick Ellis, who left the game after aggravating the knee injury that kept him out the four previous games, said he feels OK and did some work. The other limiteds: RB-KR Joe McKnight (ankle), DT Sione Po‘uha (low back), LB Bart Scott (toe) and CB Aaron Berry (quadriceps).
Also for the first time since before the Week 6 game vs. the Colts, C Nick Mangold is no longer being listed with an ankle injury, only with a thumb deal. He’s one of 12 Jets who were full-go today.
For the Patriots, G Logan Mankins (ankle/calf) and rookie DE Chandler Jones (ankle) joined Gronkowski as DNPs. Thirteen players were limited: DT Ron Brace (elbow), S Patrick Chung (shoulder/hamstring), G Dan Connolly (back), S Steve Gregory (hip), TE Aaron Hernandez (ankle), LB Dont’a Hightower (hamstring), WR Brandon Lloyd (knee), OL Nick McDonald (shoulder), DE Trevor Scott (hamstring), LB Brandon Spikes (knee), T Sebastian Vollmer (back/knee), WR Wes Welker (ankle) and LB Tracy White (foot).
LB Bart Scott is known for his Thanksgiving charity work in the city of Baltimore, where he started his pro career in 2002. Since ’03, he’s fed 250 men in the Helping Us Mission homeless shelter there, and this the fourth Turkey Day that Bart has conducted the dinner from a distance. The Ravens RB Ray Rice hosts in Bart’s absence, but the Madbacker talks with the attendees through Skype. This year’s event is Tuesday night.
Now rookie D-lineman Quinton Coples joins in the holiday cheer. Coples, who has a special affinity for his hometown of Kinston, N.C., gave away 250 turkeys in that town today. “Q” also is here in New Jersey, so his representatives, Millennium Sports Management, and volunteers distributed the birds on his behalf.
Tags: Bart Scott, Bill Belichick, Dustin Keller, Kyle Wilson, Mark Sanchez, New England Patriots, Quinton Coples, Rex Ryan, Rob Gronkowski, St. Louis Rams, thanksgiving, Tom Brady
Posted in Randy Lange | 34 Comments »
Rex Ryan’s message to his team, reporters and fans today, less than a day after the bitter disappointment of 29-26 in overtime at New England was that the best of 2012 is yet to come.
“We’re a better team right now, playing much better, than we were three weeks ago as a football team,” the Jets head coach said after experiencing a fourth-quarter comeback and blown lead all in the same game against their division uber-rivals. “I’ve seen this team improve on the practice field and with the games we’ve been playing.
“We’re just not there yet. We’ve just got to keep going, getting a little better. We’ve got to win these type of games. That’s what’s got to drive our team to prepare and get better. Obviously, that’s our mission. We’ve got to do something this week, which is something we haven’t done since I’ve been here, and that’s sweep Miami.”
Last year the Jets finally figured out how to beat the ‘Fins at home with their 24-6 Monday night win at MetLife Stadium. But they went from playing with house money with a hard-fought victory at Gillette Stadium to playing yet another one of those virtual must-win games. If the Jets are intent on showing the improvement Rex talks about, they’ll need to take a win and a 4-4 record into their bye week, then come out angling for a 5-3 or 6-2 regular-season finish to at least be in the postseason conversation.
A strong finish is obviously not out of the question. Yes, there’s the Thanksgiving night return match with the Patriots, and three of the four improved NFC West opponents, and a three-out-of-four-on-the-road finish, crowned by the Bills lying in wait for some opening-day revenge at the Ralph.
Yet none of the Jets’ remaining eight foes has a record better than 4-3, and the combined schedule strength is a very manageable .463 winning percentage (25-29). Very manageable, that is, if the Jets are intent on proving their coach right and overcoming the injuries and reversals of fortune they’ve suffered so far.
“We’re making strides, and not by luck or anything else. It’s by design,” Ryan asserted. “Guys have approached that in the classroom and on the practice field. We’re not where we need to be yet. We need to keep working hard and start winning games like this.”
The pessimist would say what makes the Jets think they’re ready to beat New England if they couldn’t do it Sunday, when they were 1:37 away from such a big triumph. The optimist would say that instead of house money, let’s shift sporting metaphors from poker to tennis. Let’s not worry about the Pats for five weeks but when it’s time, let’s hold serve.
One reason for the optimism is that while the Jets couldn’t keep Tom Brady in check when it counted, yielding a pair of 54-yard drives to Stephen Gostkowski field goals to pull the game out, they showed for the first time that, as imperfect as the offense sometimes was, it finally outgained the Patriots. The final tally was 403 yards to 381. Not a wide margin, yet perhaps significant since the Patriots had outgained the Jets in 17 of the previous 18 games in the series, by an average of 89 yards a game.
Additionally, the Jets cleared 400 yards of offense for the first time under coordinator Tony Sparano, in fact for the first time in 20 games since they last visited that figure at Oakland in last year’s Game 3. And we’re not sure what this says about reaching 400 in this day of NFL football, but the last time the Jets gained 400 against the Patriots was in the bad old year of 1996, when they put up 422 yards.
If Mark Sanchez can avoid the big pick on the throw into the red zone, if Stephen Hill can hold on to a crunch-time pass, if Jeremy Kerley is emerging as a dynamic pass-catcher, if Dustin Keller is really back to form, if the protection can hold up and get better still …
If, if, if. Yet with all the ifs, the Jets still matched the Pats in drive yardage (including penalties) at 387 apiece, still mounted six scoring drives, still rang up 26 first downs — tied for second-most first downs of the Ryan era (behind 28 in OT at Cleveland in 2010) — and have put together 10 regulation quarters in which they’ve outscored opponents, 71-41, since their San Francisco earthquake.
“We can’t go back in the past,” RB Shonn Greene said this afternoon about any inspiration he might draw from the progress he feels has been made since the 49ers game. “This loss right here hurts being that we fought so hard.
“But if we win this game [over the ‘Fins], we can be right back where we were this past game. That’s how messed up this division is.”
The NFL at large has been scrambled a bit this season as well. But the teams that fix their problems quickest will be the ones standing in January. “We’ve got to learn from the mistakes we made in this game,” said Ryan, “and move forward.”
The Plays Are the Thing
Who had the most reps at New England? If you said rookie LB Demario Davis, go to the head of the class. Davis was in for a career-high 69 snaps on defense, in part package-related and in part Bart Scott big-toe-related. And DD was also in for a team-high 29 special-teams plays, giving him 98 plays in the game, second only to the Patriots’ Devin McCourty, who was in for 102 plays.
“We had Bart playing out there with a toe that most guys would’ve taken the last three weeks off with,” Ryan said. “Bart would’ve jumped out there, but from a physical standpoint, there was no way he could’ve played that spot and been as effective as Demario, who I thought for the most part played well. There were a couple of plays I’m sure he wishes he had back, but for the most part he played pretty well.”
Davis finished unofficially with six tackles on defense plus one more in kick coverage. Scott logged nine defensive plays and had one solo tackle, taking down Stevan Ridley for a 1-yard loss in the third quarter.
TE Jeff Cumberland anticipates returning to action after the bye week from a hand injury that has required a cast. … Joe McKnight and his sore ankle seemed to come out of the game fine. He had 23 yards of offense, 116 yards on kickoff returns and is sixth in the league with his 29.6-yard return average. … Nick Folk has equaled the franchise record he set last year by hitting all 11 of his field goal tries from the start of a season. … If you need a yard, call Greene. He converted on both of his third-and-1 carries Sunday and is 7-for-7 for the season. No one else in the NFL is better than 5-for-5 on third-and-1. And he has two 1-yard scoring runs this season, including the one to cap the Jets’ opening drive yesterday.
“Inside the Jets”
G Matt Slauson, RB Lex Hilliard and RB Jonathan Grimes are the three Jets guests on tonight’s “Inside the Jets” radio show from Grasshopper Off The Green in Morristown, N.J. The show will be hosted by voice of the Jets Bob Wischusen and will air live on ESPN 98.7 FM from 7-8 p.m. ET.
Tags: Demario Davis, Jeff Cumberland, Jeremy Kerley, Mark Sanchez, New England Patriots, Rex Ryan, Tom Brady
Posted in Randy Lange | 92 Comments »
Here are today’s pregame tweets for Jets-Patriots at Gillette 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 Sunny now at Gillette Stadium. Weather for Jets @ NE from 4:25 pm ET KO expected to be mostly clear, temps in high 50s, some wind.
#RL Patriots lead Jets all-time including playoffs 53-52-1, lead at home in series 29-25-1, lead at Gillette Stadium over Jets 8-4.
#RL Since 2001 Jets have won @ NE 5 times (’01, ’02, ’06, ’08, ’10 POs). No other Pats opponent has won more than twice @ NE in that span.
#RL New England has been 3-3 or better after 6 games for 12 consecutive seasons, longest current streak in NFL.
#RL Jets, Patriots, Bills, Dolphins begin today all tied for AFC East lead at 3-3. Last time all 4 teams were tied for division lead: 1987.
#RL Mark Sanchez career vs. Patriots: 112-for-196 passing (57.1%), 1,349 yds, 11 TDs, 9 INTs, 78.0 rating, 3-4 record.
#RL Shonn Greene, coming off career rushing game vs. IND, in last 3 games at Gillette has 51 carries, 4.4-yd avg, 2 TDs, 14 1st downs.
#RL TE Dustin Keller career vs. NE: 9 games, 31 catches, 367 yds (11.8 avg), 2 TDs, 21 first downs.
#RL Tom Brady career vs. Jets: 453-for-711 passing (63.7%), 5,101 yds, 30 TDs, 11 INTs, 92.7 rating, 16-5 record.
#RL WR Wes Welker for NE vs. Jets: 10 games, 69 receptions, 808 yds (11.7 avg), 3 TDs, 3 100-yd games, all @ Gillette, in ’08, ’09, ’11.
#RL TE Rob Gronkowski vs. Jets: 5 games, 18 receptions, 235 yds (13.1 avg), 2 TDs, 14 first downs.
#RL RB Danny Woodhead vs. Jets: 3 games, 23 rushes, 95 yds (4.1 avg.), 0 TDs, 5 receptions, 110 yds (22.0 avg), 0 TDs.
#RL First-round rookies lead both teams in sacks. Quinton Coples tied for Jets lead with 2.0 sacks, Chandler Jones tops Pats with 5.0.
#RL Patriots have not lost a fumble vs. the Jets in the last 4 games in the series and the last 3 games at Gillette Stadium.
#RL Jeff Triplette is referee. He has reffed 10 Jets games since ’99, incl 3 games vs. Patriots (@ NE ’05, @ Meadowlands ’07, @ NE ’09).
#RL Jets wearing white jerseys, white pants. They’re 15-10 in white/white overall, 12-8 on the road under HC Rex Ryan.
#RL NE wearing throwback uniforms–red jerseys, white pants, white “Pat Patriot” helmet. NE last wore throwbacks in win over Jets last yr.
#RL Patriots K Stephen Gostkowski has made 26 of 29 career FG tries vs. Jets (6 of 7 from 40+) and 14 of 15 at Gillette vs. Jets.
#RL Nick Folk as Jets K vs. Patriots has made 3 of 6 FG tries. Folk this season is 7-for-7 on FG tries.
#RL Jim Nantz, Phil Simms handling broadcast for CBS. This is Nantz/Simms team’s 2nd straight Jets game, 3rd this season
#RL NYJ inactives: QB Greg McElroy, WR Clyde Gates, RB Bilal Powell, S Eric Smith, G Caleb Schaulderaff, NT Sione Po‘uha, NT Kenrick Ellis.
#RL RB-KR Joe McKnight (ankle) is active and has been running and stretching along with the other early Jets warming up on the Gillette turf.
#RL NE inactives: S Patrick Chung, S Steve Gregory, RB Brandon Bolden, LB Tracy White, G Logan Mankins, DE Jake Bequette, DL Ron Brace.
Tags: Danny Woodhead, Dustin Keller, Gillette Stadium, joe McKnight, Logan Mankins, Mark Sanchez, New England Patriots, Patrick Chung, Rob Gronkowski, Shonn Greene, Steve Gregory, Tom Brady, Wes Welker
Posted in Randy Lange | 1 Comment »
Quinton Coples assured reporters today that he’s not in a first-round D-line competition with the Patriots’ Chandler Jones.
“We’re cool. I’m cool with all the defensive linemen who came out in my class,” said Coples. “I’m definitely good friends with him. It’s not about keeping track of stats or anything like that. Before the game we’re going to shake hands and then at the end of the game we’re going to shake hands again. It’s not a comparison thing.”
That being said, it helps if Coples can push two full stacks of chips instead of 1½ stacks into the middle of the table next to Jones’ five stacks for the Patriots.
Did I say stacks? I meant sacks, of course. A scoring change by the Elias Sports Bureau credited Coples with a full sack of Andrew Luck late in Sunday’s game, taking away the half sack originally credited to LB Aaron Maybin on the play. For the game and for his pro career, the Jets’ first-round DT has two full sacks.
On some other team, this could occasion some frazzled feelings, or at the very least a little trash talk. But that’s not the way Coples rolls.
“That’s not important to me. At the end of the day, we got him on the ground. That’s all that matters,” he said. “Whether I get 1½ or two for the game, it was a win.”
And Maybin, who’s been searching for his first sack of the season after racking up six sacks in his third NFL season last year, was also upbeat despite having lost that half sack that he had for about three days.
“Quinton had a hell of a game. He deserved it,” Maybin said. “But hey, that was the kind of game that, while I can’t necessarily be satisfied with it, if you asked me if I was pleased who how the defense played and my involvement in the grand scheme of things, I was.”
Maybin in fact was flying around like he did last season. Before almost sneaking in for that late half-sack, he had back-to-back QB hits on Luck at the top of the fourth quarter. Both resulted in incompletions from the Jets 29. And as Bob Wischusen, the radio voice of the Jets, and I were discussing in the locker room, Coples doesn’t get a sack for his heavy pressure of Luck that resulted in the third-quarter intentional grounding, but perhaps he should.
All of this talk is a roundabout way of saying that maybe the Jets’ pass rush is finally coming to life. Coples, Maybin and DE Muhammad Wilkerson, who also had a very fine game, kept Luck on the move all game, and rookie safety Antonio Allen showed that he could get to the QB as well with his first pro sack in his first pro game — and start — as part of a nickel package.
“Quinton, he’s head over heels better than he was at the start of the season. He’s moving faster, progressing faster,” Maybin said. “I’m excited to see him, a young guy, starting to flash. That opens up things for the rest of us. It’s exciting for all of us.”
And that brings us back to the Patriots. It’s never more exciting than to take No. 12 to the turf, be it at Gillette or MetLife. And Tom Brady’s been sacked 13 times in six games already. But then again, he’s been hurrying up, taking those short drops and flicking the ball to Wes Welker, Brandon Lloyd and Rob Gronkowski with amazing frequency.
“I’m just studying Brady, his moves, his offensive tendencies. It’s just a matter of us getting as many details as possible,” Coples said. “This is a rivalry game and we want to make sure we come out on top.”
“At this point,” added Maybin, “I’m trying not to internalize the game so much to where it’s just about him. The game starts and ends with Tom, but there’s so much more that you have to keep track of with their offense. You can’t zone in on Brady alone.”
But at the end of the day, Coples and Maybin wouldn’t mind if the Jets can go into Foxboro and come out with an AFC East victory and if, in the process, they and their defensive mates can rack up some hurries, hits and sacks on Tom Terrific.
Getting in His Face(mask)?
Coples was asked about grasping Luck’s facemask rather blatantly in the third quarter. Some speculated that Luck had a few choice words for Coples at the end of the play, but Coples said the former Stanford QB was quite gracious.
“He just said to me, ‘I know you didn’t mean it,’ ” Q recalled. “We were both in ‘game mode’ at the time, but we talked about it after the game. He wasn’t sweating it at all. We got to know each other before the draft. I definitely think my draft class was very open. The bonds of friendship were there. Regardless of where we went, when we see each other we definitely recognize each other and make sure we speak to each other.”
More civility on the field of battle? What’s the NFL coming to?
Another Roster Move
Rex Ryan announced at his news conference that FB John Conner, the Jets’ fifth-round pick in 2010 who answered to the nickname of “The Terminator,” was terminated, although perhaps only temporarily. Conner, who’s had knee and hamstring injuries that have limited him to 50 offensive snaps over three games, was waived/injured.
Taking his roster spot, the Jets signed free-agent rookie LB Marcus Dowtin from the practice squad. Ryan said re-signing Conner “down the road could be a possibility.” If he’s still available at that time, needless to say.
The Jets take two steps forward, then one step back in their team health. In the step-back area, RBs Joe McKnight (ankle) and Bilal Powell (shoulder), injured on the same third-quarter series Sunday, both did not participate at today’s practice. Ryan wasn’t tipping his hand on either player: “We’ll see about their availability as the week goes on.”
Five other Jets DNPs were DT Kenrick Ellis (knee), WR Clyde Gates (shoulder), C Nick Mangold (ankle), DT Sione Po‘uha (back) and S Eric Smith (knee). And there were four limited players: WR Stephen Hill (hamstring), TE Dustin Keller (hamstring), LB Bart Scott (toe) and LB Bryan Thomas (hamstring).
The steps forward were the departure of six Jets from the injury list altogether: LBs Nick Bellore and David Harris, CBs Antonio Cromartie and Aaron Berry, TE Jeff Cumberland and T Austin Howard.
The Jets’ 17–player injury list, the shortest it’s been in five weeks, is now available here on newyorkjets.com.
For the Patriots, two players were DNPs up in Foxboro, Mass., today: RB Brandon Bolden (knee) and LB Tracy White (foot).
And 11 Pats were limited: S Patrick Chung (shoulder), WR Julian Edelman (hand), S Steve Gregory (hip), TEs Rob Gronkowski (hip) and Aaron Hernandez (ankle), LB Dont’a Hightower (hamstring), G Logan Mankins (calf/hip), C Nick McDonald (shoulder), CB Sterling Moore (knee), T Sebastian Vollmer (back/knee) and WR West Welker (ankle).
Tags: Aaron Maybin, Andrew Luck, Bilal Powell, Indianapolis Colts, joe McKnight, Muhammad Wilkerson, New England Patriots, Quinton Coples, Tom Brady
Posted in Randy Lange | 60 Comments »
Updated, 4 p.m. ET
At 5-3, the Jets are halfway through the 2011 campaign. The final eight games will determine the outcome of their season, and it starts with Sunday’s highly anticipated primetime matchup with the New England Patriots.
The halfway point also seems to be a good time to catch up with this year’s first-round draft pick, DL Muhammad Wilkerson. He has started every game in his rookie year, totaling 23 tackles, one sack that produced the safety vs. Jacksonville, and one pass defense. The transition from college to the NFL can be a galactic leap for some, but Wilkerson is becoming increasingly more comfortable in his role.
“For me, I’m trying to stay positive,” said Wilkerson. “I’ve been having ups and downs. I’m trying to stay focused on mentally preparing for what I need to do with my alignment and technique so I can finish this year strong.”
The numbers don’t jump off the page, but his impact cannot always be understood through statistics. While the Green & White rush defense struggled earlier in the season to contain the outside runs, a rallying cry of “Set the Edge” rang through the locker room. Wilkerson takes pride in that role.
“I have to make sure everything bounces inside to the great linebackers we have, or just letting Sione [Pouha] and [Mike] DeVito clean it up,” he said.
His job description is akin to that of a point guard, setting up his teammates to make the impact play. After a rough 60-minute stretch against the Pats in Week 5, Wilkerson and his linemates were challenged by head coach Rex Ryan this week.
“Looking back on the first time we played them, there were a lot of ups and downs in that game,” he said. “More downs than ups. We were watching a lot of that film this week, and you really don’t want to watch it, but we have to face the facts. We have to put that aside and show what we’re capable of doing.”
Speaking of capability, Wilkerson feels he still has plenty to prove over the final eight games:
“In every game, there are things that I do good, and some things that, not that I do bad, but that I can do better. I’m just trying to do everything to the best of my ability.”
The transition will continue, but he knows what lies ahead.
“Nothing is easy,” Wilkerson said. “I just take the coaching, and I’m learning. I’ll go from there.”
Wilson Making Strides
As a rookie, CB Kyle Wilson made the same transition that Wilkerson is making right now. Wilson’s struggles were well-documented, leading him to lose confidence and playing time. This year he’s a new player with a fresh outlook.
“Personally, I feel a lot better,” said Wilson. “Having last year to use as experience, I‘ve just been putting in a lot of work. I learn from the guys in the room that I’m working with, like Cro [Antonio Cromartie] and Darrelle [Revis] and continue to accept the coaching.”
“We liked Kyle when we took him,” said Ryan. “We thought he might have been the top corner in the draft when he came out. I’m not surprised at the kind of year he’s having. He’s having as good a year as any nickel in the league.”
It’s high praise for Wilson, who is arguably the most improved player on the Jets’ roster. After logging five tackles in increased action against the Buffalo Bills last week, it’s safe to say he will be on the field early and often against the pass-happy Pats.
With New England having dropped their last two games, QB Tom Brady has found himself under the microscope.
“I love hearing that Tom Brady is struggling,” Ryan said sarcastically. “Based on what? Last year was a once-in-a-lifetime season — four picks, a zillion touchdowns. That’s going to be hard to match. He’s as good as it gets right now.”
As usual, the focus for the Jets defense will be on pressuring Brady, and taking him out of his comfort zone.
“If you can’t get pressure on Brady, you’re going to get destroyed,” Ryan said. “We’ve got to find ways of getting in there. Whether it’s a four-man rush or something creative, I don’t know. We have to get pressure on him.”
TE Shawn Nelson (illness) and S Brodney Pool (knee) did not practice this afternoon and have been listed as questionable for Sunday’s game.
All the other injured Jets practiced full and are listed as probable for the game, including WR Plaxico Burress (back), DT Mike DeVito (knee), RB-KR Joe McKnight (toe) and CB Isaiah Trufant (hamstring). The Jets’ full injury report can be found here.
The Patriots have declared LBs Brandon Spikes and Dane Fletcher out of the game. WR Wes Welker (rib) practiced full after two limited practices and is probable for the Jets. All 10 other injured Patriots were limited in today’s team drills and are questionable for the game: CB Kyle Arrington, S Patrick Chung, DE Shaun Ellis, RBs Kevin Faulk and BenJarvus Green-Ellis, LB Gary Guyton and Jerod Mayo, WR Taylor Price, T Sebastian Vollmer and OL Ryan Wendell.
Tags: Kyle Wilson, Mike DeVito, Muhammad Wilkerson, Plaxico Burress, Rex Ryan, Tom Brady
Posted in Andrew LeRay | 19 Comments »
The Jets, Bills and Pats are tied atop the AFC East with 5-3 records. After trampling the Bills in Buffalo, the Jets get another shot at the hated Patriots Sunday night at MetLife Stadium. So who’s the team to beat in the AFC East?
“We are,” said Jets CB Darrelle Revis on the latest installment of “Four Quarters” which was filmed in front of a live audience and will air Thursday on newyorkjets.com. “We believe that — even in the three-game losing streak. We have a lot of confidence no matter what’s going on.”
Revis, who has four interceptions and has been the NFL’s best defender at the season’s midway point, believes the Green & White have “great character” and it shone through when the chips were down.
“It’s very tough at work. The coaches are mad and you’re mad because we’re losing,” he said. “Through that time we just worked together and we took it one week at a time.”
The Jets’ last loss came exactly a month ago, Oct. 9, when they dropped the 30-21 decision to the Patriots in Gillette Stadium. Revis, a defensive captain, has been instrumental in their climb back to the top. His 100-yard interception return against the Dolphins in Week 6 broke up a lethargic start on Monday night and he added another pick for good measure in the 24-6 drubbing.
Then New York’s AFC representative again held serve at home in Week 7 as Revis completely flipped the script against the Chargers, intercepting Philip Rivers in the fourth quarter when the ‘Bolts were driving and had a 21-17 lead. His 64-yard return put the Jets in the red zone and led to the game-winning score. Rex Ryan’s club improved to 4-0 at home with the 27-21 “W” over the Chargers and Revis made absolutely gigantic plays in three of the triumphs. His Week 1 fourth-quarter pick of Cowboys QB Tony Romo set up Nick Folk’s winner from 50 yards out.
“We’ve been doing great at home. You want to be undefeated at home,” he said. “You get to perform in front of some unbelievable fans we have and show them a great job. That’s what we’ve been doing this year at home games.”
Under Ryan, the Jets own a 2-0 home mark against the Pats and they knocked the Men of Belichick out of the playoffs at their house last January. Wes Welker, on pace for a 1,900-yard season, had five receptions for 124 yards back in October and he’ll figure to see a lot of No. 24 this weekend.
“He’s having an unbelievable season. I respect him a lot as a player,” Revis said. “We had our battles in the past and I love covering him. He’s very competitive. I call him the ‘Energizer Bunny’ because he never stops. You can slam him and throw him around. I’ve tried every trick in the book and he just keeps on chucking and keeps on coming after you.”
The Jets hope to maintain pressure on Tom Brady all Sunday evening. They sacked Brady four times in defeat last month and racked up five sacks of him in the divisional playoff win.
“To get Tom Brady out of his game, you have to pressure him. You have to get guys in his face all the time and get him a little bit jittery in the pocket,” said Revis. “If you don’t, he can sit back there and pick you all day, throw the ball all day.”
Prolific as usual, the Pats rank No. 1 in the NFL in pass offense and average 325.6 yards per game. But Revis leads the Jets’ No. 7-ranked pass defense, a unit that absolutely smothered the Bills in the pasting last weekend.
“We’re playing tighter coverage. Kyle Wilson has stepped up a lot this year. He’s had an unbelievable season and he’s only going to get better,” said Revis. “The safeties are playing tighter coverage. I think everybody is doing his job very well.”
After eight games, the Jets have already eclipsed their interception total from a year ago with 13 compared to 12. Conversely, Brady, who threw only four interceptions in 2010, has been victimized by 10 picks.
“We just tried to improve on turnovers. That’s the biggest thing on defense,” said Revis. “We’ve been doing it and we’re going to continue to do it. If we can just carry on with that year after year, that’s what we want to do as a defense. We want to be aggressive and we want to make turnovers. We struggled last year a lot, but I think guys, being in this system a couple of years now, we kind of understand the defense.”
Everyone knows the Green & White have the personnel to thrive in man coverage and that starts with Revis. But Ryan and defensive coordinator Mike Pettine don’t just do an excellent job with their overload blitzes — their disguises in the back end have paid healthy dividends as well.
“We do play a lot of man, but we do play a lot of zone as well. When we play zone, we disguise it very well. The safeties do a great job — Brodney Pool and Jim Leonhard and those guys. They might show one side and then run over to the other side when they hike the ball,” said Revis. “Everybody is just focused on their job and doing what they need to do to help the team win.”
Tags: "Four Quarters", Darrelle Revis, Kyle Wilson, New England Patriots, Tom Brady, Wes Welker
Posted in Eric Allen | 53 Comments »