One of Bill Parcells’ favorite phrases to reporters gushing about one player or another at his many NFL stops was “Let’s not send him to Canton on roller skates yet, fellas.”
Parcells didn’t exactly get to football’s shrine on an express train, but he got there as he should have nonetheless. He was voted for induction on Feb. 2, is being introduced tonight along with the Hall’s Class of ’13 by Jets great Joe Namath at the Gold Jacket Dinner, and will be enshrined in ceremonies at Canton’s Fawcett Stadium on Saturday night.
“The Big Tuna” did many great things at his head-coaching stops with the Giants, Patriots and Cowboys, but a significant part of his legacy and of Jets history was his three-season tenure as the Jets’ head coach from 1997-99.
“Bill Parcells infused new life into this franchise on many levels,” owner Woody Johnson said in a statement back in February. “From acquiring players like Curtis Martin to bringing back a winning culture, we will always be grateful to Bill for his contributions to the New York Jets. On behalf of the entire organization, I congratulate Bill on his selection to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.”
Below is my top 10 list of Bill Parcells coaching victories in those three seasons. It’s far from a scientific survey, just a list based on the importance of the game and the stage it was played on (primetime, playoffs). You may have some comments on other favorite BP games, so send them on to me, and you can also vote on your favorite regular-season Parcells win in the poll on our home page. (Games in chronological order, CAPS denote home teams.)
Aug. 31, 1997 — Jets 41, SEAHAWKS 3
It doesn’t start any better than this. In Parcells’ first regular-season game as head coach, the Jets pummeled the Seahawks in the Kingdome. Neil O’Donnell threw five touchdown passes, two to Wayne Chrebet and two to Jeff Graham, as the Green & White posted a 38-point win that to this day is the largest opening-day margin of victory in franchise history.
Oct. 19, 1997 — JETS 24, Patriots 19
New England came to the Meadowlands undefeated and opened a 12-3 lead on the first drive of the second half. On the Jets’ first drive of the half, Parcells made an unexpected switch at QB, replacing starter O’Donnell with backup Glenn Foley, who directed three straight touchdown drives to forge the 24-19 triumph for Parcells’ first win over the team he left to coach the Jets.
Dec. 14, 1997 — JETS 31, Buccaneers 0
The Jets were reeling after two losses dropped them to 8-6 while Tampa Bay came to town at 9-5. But the winds of the Meadowlands breathed new life into the Green & White for a win-and-we’re-in regular-season finale at Detroit the next week. Key Trent Dilfer tormenter this game: Otis Smith, who returned two interceptions for TDs in a 4:46 span of the second quarter.
Sept. 20, 1998 — JETS 44, Colts 6
Vinny Testaverde was getting his first start as the Jets QB since Parcells brought him in as a free agent in the offseason. His opposite signalcaller: first-pick-of-the-draft rookie Peyton Manning. This one was no contest as Testaverde threw four touchdown passes and Leon Johnson scored three TDs.
Oct. 19, 1998 — Jets 24, PATRIOTS 14
Parcells was so “disgusted” that he walked out on a midweek practice before this Monday night road test against 4-0 New England. The ploy had its effect as the Jets stayed close to the Patriots, then Testaverde struck for a touchdown toss to Kyle Brady and a 43-yard go-route TD to Dedric Ward in a 5:25 span of the fourth quarter to pull away for the inspiring triumph.
Oct. 25, 1998 — JETS 28, Falcons 3
This one turned out in retrospect to be the most frustrating win of the Parcells tenure, since the Jets disposed of Atlanta, which went on to finish 14-2 and represent the NFC in the Super Bowl. Victor Green (strip of QB Steve DeBerg) and Jerome Henderson (fumble-return TD) teamed up for one score and Testaverde threw two third-quarter TD passes.
Dec. 13, 1998 — Jets 21, DOLPHINS 16
Jumbo Elliott confirmed after this Sunday night game that Parcells had “promised” him back in the offseason that the Jets would be going to the playoffs this year. That’s in fact what they clinched with this triumph, as LB Chad Cascadden applied the crushing score on a strip-sack of Dan Marino and fumble-return TD with 1:51 to play.
Jan. 10, 1999 — JETS 34, Jaguars 24 (PO)
This was the centerpiece to the Parcells tenure in green — the Jets’ first home playoff game since ’86, which turned into their first playoff win in 12 years as Keyshawn Johnson scored on a reception and then an end-around, recovered a Jacksonville fumble and intercepted Mark Brunell’s Hail Mary pass to send them on to the AFC Championship Game at Denver.
Nov. 15, 1999 — Jets 24, PATRIOTS 17
It was a Monday night in Foxboro Stadium and not much of a contest was expected from the 2-6 Jets vs. the 6-2 Patriots. But Ray Lucas, back as the starter after sitting a game with injury, directed the Jets offense to three second-quarter touchdowns that held up to down Drew Bledsoe & Co.
Dec. 27, 1999 — Jets 38, DOLPHINS 31
The Jets won their last four games in ’99, all against playoff teams. This one was symbolic of that closing kick as Lucas defeated Marino for the second time in three weeks, this time in Miami on Monday night and coming from behind in the fourth quarter with a pair of 50-yard scoring strikes, to Wayne Chrebet and Dedric Ward.
Tags: Bill Parcells, Hall of Fame, Keyshawn Johnson, Vinny Testaverde, Wayne Chrebet
Posted in Randy Lange | 67 Comments »
Updated, 10:58 p.m. ET
The last week of July brings one of the great joys for all football fans: the start of training camp. For me, it also brings one of the year’s disappointments: seeing some of the hard work of the last month become immediately outdated.
I’m talking about the Jets’ roster, of course.
With the flurry of signing activity of the past two days, those lovingly crafted rosters that appear in the 2013 Jets Yearbook and in the Daily News training camp pullout are now, well, inaccurate. Darn.
But hey, that’s football. And with this new-fangled Internet thing, we can get you up to speed just as quickly as the Jets can change the names and numbers.
The one number situation we all knew was coming was with Braylon Edwards. Not only is he back for Round 3 in green and white, but he’s back as No. 17.
I don’t recall why Braylon gravitated toward that number. He was No. 1 at Michigan, we all recall, but he’s been 17 at every stop in the pros (Browns, Jets, 49ers, Seahawks). Perhaps it had something to do with his Wolverines-record 17 career 100-yard receiving games. Maybe it was reinforced by the only 17-yard season per-catch average — his 17.1 with the Jets in 2010.
Regardless, with Edwards’ return, Jordan White’s number is up. Number 17, that is. White has worn that as a Jet except when Braylon’s been around. Late last season, White, then a rookie, shifted to 89. And he’ll be wearing 16 in the first training camp practice, which will kick off Friday at 10 a.m.
Here are the other number assignments for the new arrivals:
8 — K Billy Cundiff
68 — LS Patrick Scales
78 — DL Leger Douzable
79 — T J.B. Shugarts
I’ll leave you with one final number before heading back on campus to await the arrival of the rest of the Jets caravan this afternoon at their SUNY Cortland dorm. That number is 80.
You’ll recall Edwards’ 80-yard touchdown catch-and-run on a Mark Sanchez pass in the 2009 AFC Championship Game at Indianapolis. That 80-yarder was and remains the longest reception by a Jets WR since … Wesley Walker. Wesley reeled in an 83-yarder from Ken O’Brien at Seattle late in the 1986 season. The only longer Jets pass play since then was the 82-yard screen supreme from Vinny Testaverde to Leon Johnson against the Colts in 1998.
Can Braylon duplicate his feats of yore in his third Jets incarnation? You know what they say about stocks: Past results are no guarantee of future performance. But maybe Edwards can play like he’s 17 again. That would be outstanding.
Tags: 17, Braylon Edwards, Jordan White, Leon Johnson, Mark Sanchez, Vinny Testaverde
Posted in Randy Lange | 25 Comments »
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 never too soon to start prepping for the arrival of the 2013 schedule. In a biweekly series on into July, I’ll post some blogs capturing some bullet points for each game on the slate, by quarters of the season. Today we review the First Quarter (a.k.a. Games 1-4):
Game 1 — vs. TAMPA BAY, MetLife Stadium, Sunday, Sept. 8, 1 p.m.
■ Jets will be going up vs. remade TB secondary featuring Darrelle Revis, their former Pro Bowl CB, S Dashon Goldson (from SF), and top draft pick CB Jonathan Banks.
■ Jets opened their season once before vs. Buccaneers — at home in the Meadowlands in ’91, 16-13 win secured with Pat Leahy 40-yd FG with 1:22 to play.
■ Jets are 9-1 overall and 6-0 at home all-time vs. TB. Six home wins are the most without a loss for the NYJ vs. any NFL opponent.
■ Green & White’s last home game vs. Bucs: 2005, when QB Vinny Testaverde “climbed off his couch” to start his first Jets game in two years, lead 14-12 win.
Game 2 — @ NEW ENGLAND, Gillette Stadium, Thursday, Sept. 12, 8:25 p.m.
■ Is this the best time to get the Patriots? NE is 8-5 in September since ’09, 1-3 in Game 2’s (and 0-2 vs. Jets) since ’09.
■ Patriots are 10-1 in home openers since ’02. But that one loss came last year, by 20-18 to Arizona — in Game 2.
■ Third time in franchise history Jets will play Game 2 on three days’ rest (1984, Thurs night loss to PIT; 1986, Thurs night loss to NE).
■ 10th time in last 15 seasons Jets will play NE in first two weeks of season, but first time in the first two weeks since 2010.
Game 3 — vs. BUFFALO, MetLife Stadium, Sunday, Sept. 22, 4:25 p.m.
■ Jets will want to welcome new BUF coach Doug Marrone, their OL coach from 2002-05, into the big leagues with a rousing home win over their longtime AFL rivals.
■ Jets lead this series at home, 27-25, after taking four of the last five, including last year’s season-opening 48-28 shootout at MetLife Stadium.
■ Which QB will Green & White face? They’ve never played vs. Kevin Kolb or first-round rookie EJ Manuel, faced Tarvaris Jackson in relief only once in ’06 win @ MIN.
■ C.J. Spiller had 56-yard TD run, 49-yd run in opener, 66-yd TD reception in finale vs. Jets. First Jets opponent with three 40-plus plays in a season since Chiefs WR Carlos Carson (2 games in ’88).
Game 4 — @ TENNESSEE, LP Field, Sunday, Sept. 29, 4:05 p.m.
■ RB Chris Johnson had unusual game vs. Jets last year: 10 yds in his first 7 carries, 18 yds in his last 13 carries, 94-yd TD burst on his 8th carry that helped TEN post 14-10 win.
■ Titans who’ll be familiar to Jets: RB Shonn Greene, four-year Jets back now backing up Johnson, plus DE Ropati Pitoitua, S Tracy Wilson, and ex-Bills QB Ryan Fitzpatrick.
■ Despite last year’s loss, Jets have fared well recently against AFC South, winning 9 of last 13 beginning with ’08 road win at TEN.
■ Jets have lost 16 of 22 on the road in this series, but have won 3 of last 5 on road since Titans moved to Tennessee, including ’98 at Vanderbilt, ’06 in season opener, ’08 when Titans were 10-0.
Tags: Buffalo Bills, Chris Johnson, Darrelle Revis, Doug Marrone, New England Patriots, Shonn Greene, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Tennessee Titans, Vinny Testaverde
Posted in Randy Lange | 16 Comments »
Updated, 5:35 p.m. ET
Champagne and congratulations are on the menu for ageless No. 16 in green and white.
Before Vinny Testaverde came to the Jets in 1998, he had already made NFL stops with Tampa Bay and with the Cleveland Browns, who turned into the Baltimore Ravens. But before the Buccaneers, Testaverde was a great college quarterback for the University of Miami.
And it was that superb four-season career with the Hurricanes that led to Vinny T’s honor today of being named one of 14 members of the National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame Class of 2013.
Testaverde was selected the College Football HOF on a national ballot of 77 candidates from a pool of hundreds of eligible nominees. The announcement was made from the NASDAQ OMX MarketSite in Times Square, which has hosted the event for the past five years, and televised on ESPN3 for the third consecutive year.
The 2013 College Football Hall of Fame Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) Class will be inducted at the 56th annual NFF awards dinner on Dec. 10 at the Waldorf=Astoria in New York City. They will be honored guests at the National Hall of Fame Salute at the Allstate Sugar Bowl in New Orleans on Jan. 2, 2014, and officially enshrined in the summer of 2014.
Needless to say, Testaverde’s accomplishments as a Jet — leading them to an 12-1 record as the regular-season starter and on to the AFC Championship Game at Denver, guiding another 10-win season and playoff visit in 2001, compiling a 35-26 record as a Jets starter from ’98-03 and ’05 — had nothing to do with his achievements in South Florida in the Eighties, but Jets Nation will be among the well-wishers for Testaverde, a Long Islander and New Yorker and one great football player and human being.
Here is the profile that the NFF has provided today on Testaverde’s exploits at “the U”:
One of the most celebrated players in a Hurricane program stocked with mythical talent, Miami’s Vinny Testaverde claimed virtually every major award during his senior season in 1986. He becomes the sixth Hurricane to be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.
As a senior, Testaverde earned unanimous First-Team All-American honors, and he won the Heisman Trophy, the Walter Camp Player of the Year, Maxwell, Davey O’Brien and UPI Player of the Year awards. He led the ‘Canes to three consecutive bowls, including the 1987 Fiesta Bowl National Championship game. He finished his collegiate career with more than 6,000 passing yards and 48 touchdown passes, and he still ranks in the top five in virtually every passing category in school history.
Testaverde, who was a redshirt on Miami’s 1983 national championship team, went 23-3 as a starter playing for legendary coaches Howard Schnellenberger and Hall of Famer Jimmy Johnson.
Tampa Bay selected Testaverde as the No. 1 overall selection in the 1987 NFL Draft, and his pro career spanned 21 seasons with seven different teams. The 1998 All-Pro and two-time Pro Bowl selection finished his NFL career seventh all-time in passing yards (46,233) and eighth in touchdowns (275).
The Elmont, N.Y., native currently resides in Florida, where he plays an active role with the Children’s Cancer Center of Tampa. Testaverde remains among only four Hurricanes to have their jerseys retired at Miami.
Who’s Number One?
Two late transactions were announced late this afternoon. The waivings of WRs Emmanuel Arceneaux and Thomas Mayo brought the Jets’ roster down to 90.
With a cut this early in the offseason, it’s not likely we’ll get to know these two in green and white. But here are a few trivia items to clutter up your mind two days before the Jets rookies report for this year’s three-day minicamp.
Arceneaux is considered a second-year NFL player. In fact, he has some NFL production to point to, but only a little. He was limited to one pro catch for the Vikings in ’11. But he had an outstanding two seasons with the CFL’s BC Lions, including 7 TD catches in ’09, 1,114 receiving yards in ’10 and 147 receptions in all north of the border.
For Mayo, one is also the loneliest number. That was his uniform number, assigned to him by equipment manager Gus Granneman and his crew shortly after Mayo was signed as a first-year man out of California (Pa.) in March.
And thus for today’s quick three-part trivia quiz: Who was the last player to wear uniform No. 1 for the Jets at any time. Who was the last to wear it in a regular-season game? And who was the last non-kicker to wear it in a game?
And one more for you Radar nightbirds: Who will be the next Jet to wear Numero Uno?
Tags: Class of 2013, College Football Hall of Fame, Vinny Testaverde
Posted in Randy Lange | 36 Comments »
Rex Ryan, emulating the late, great Orson Welles, will name no quarterback before its time. And today wasn’t the time for the Jets head coach to designate his starter for Jacksonville on Sunday.
“I’ll definitely need a little more time to make that decision,” Ryan said one day after Greg McElroy replaced Mark Sanchez, with Tim Tebow sidelined, and rescued the Jets’ 7-6 win over Arizona with a touchdown drive and a clock-draining final drive to the Cardinals’ 1-yard line. “I’m comfortable and confident with all three quarterbacks. I think all three guys now have proven they can win — Greg at the end of the game, Mark’s history here, and the way Tim has played.
“We have three guys I’m confident in and I’ll make that decision as the week goes on.”
So does that mean any of the three QBs on the Jets’ roster has a chance to start against the Jaguars? We’ll leave that odds box for sports editors with time on their hands to pitch to their beatwriters for tomorrow’s sports sections. But it may a measure of the decision ahead for Ryan that there are pros and cons for him to name any one of the three as his fire-starter for the Jags.
To help him in formulating his call this week, Ryan said he might turn to his confidantes in the coaching fraternity for some guidance, but more than likely it will be a decision formulated solely behind the walls of the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center.
“I want to make sure I talk to Tony [Sparano], Matt [Cavanaugh] and everybody, make sure I get a sense of what will be the right decision,” he said. “I think I’ll just lean on the guys in here. Again, the decision will be made based on our situation and our football team, on what ultimately I feel will give us the best opportunity to win.”
The opportunity to win means Jacksonville, of course, but also Tennessee, San Diego and Buffalo after the Jags, and conceivably there are considerations for even beyond this season.
“A lot of things go into every decision you make,” Ryan said. “There are three priorities — the team, the team and the team. If you follow that, the decision’s always easier. You’ve got to take away personal feelings outside of it because it’s bigger than just me or this person or that person.”
“Never Let ‘Em See You Sweat”
However it shakes out, McElroy made a statement in his first pro action. Not every Jets QB guides his offense to a touchdown in his first full drive in green and white. Vinny Testaverde did in Game 3 of the 1998 season against then-rookie Peyton Manning and the Colts. Chad Pennington did, too, if you count the last drive of the blowout Sunday night loss at Oakland in 2000. But Sanchez didn’t, nor did Ken O’Brien, nor did Richard Todd, nor did Joe Namath.
It’s not an achievement you put high up on the NFL résumé. On the other hand, it was a TD drive that the Jets needed quickly, and in more ways than one, and McElroy helped deliver.
Then the Jets’ final drive secured the victory as it melted the final 7:55 off the clock. That was the fourth-longest game-ending drive by time since 1990, trailing Kellen Clemens’ monster 11:09 final drive in the rout of St, Louis in 2008, O’Brien’s 9:13 march at Indianapolis in 1991, and Neil O’Donnell’s 8:47 closer in the wind-aided shutout of Tampa Bay in 1997. Fifth on the list was then-rookie Sanchez’s 7:20 deal-sealer in his and Ryan’s first game with the Jets at Houston in ’09. None of those games was as close as this one was.
McElroy explained his rising to the moment on a conference call with reporters this afternoon.
“That thing, confident bordering on cocky, I would like to think its leaning a little bit more towards confident,” he chuckled. “But yeah, basically one thing that I’ve always tried to learn, one thing I’ve always tried to approach this game with, is you just never let them see you sweat. And that includes the players in your huddle, the players in the opposite huddle, the players on the opposite sideline, on your sideline. Regardless of the situation, always stay with an even keel, always have a positive mindset, and good things will happen. And that’s been the case up to this point.”
Tebow also spoke with reporters on this “Victory Monday” and said he’s “not sure” how close he is to playing. “I feel like I’m healing up and getting there,” he said. He shrugged off all the questions about if he could have played Sunday, if he’ll start this weekend — in his hometown of Jacksonville, no less — and the unfairness and controversy of it all.
“Obviously, Jacksonville is where I grew up and it will always be a special place for me. It doesn’t matter how many family members or friends are going to be there. You just have to look at it as another game,” he said, adding of his opportunities this season: “I’m thankful for every one I am given. I think you just try and handle every situation the best you can and I’ve tried to handle every situation this year the best way I know how and make the most of every situation.”
Odds and Ends
The Jets defense against Arizona set, well, if not an NFL record at least a milestone for other big, bad defenses to try and pass as they ride roughshod over struggling offenses. The Elias Sports Bureau revealed that by blanking the Cardinals on 15 third-down conversion attempts, the Jets posted the first 0-for-15 in the NFL since the 1970 merger. The previous oh-fir mark was 0-for-14, set by Denver against San Diego in 1975 and equaled by the Jets at Tampa in 2009.
The Jets achieved a rarity by getting Sunday’s win despite a minus-3 turnover margin. The last time they won with a minus-3 was Game 7 in 2008, the 28-24 comeback win over Kansas City with Brett Favre at the controls. The Jets all-time are 5-56-3 when they have three more turnovers in a game, 5-105-4 when they have three or more TOs.
Sanchez’s interception on the Jets’ first play from scrimmage was not his first time. He also threw a pick on the opening play vs. Jacksonville in Game 9 of 2009. Interestingly, he’s at least in good company. Vinny Testaverde threw interceptions on the Jets’ first plays in back-to-back games in 1998, against Buffalo in Game 9 (win) and at Indy in Game 10 (loss).
Ryan said of the two injured offensive players that TE Dustin Keller’s ankle injury “doesn’t look like a high ankle sprain” but that he “has some swelling,” and that RB-KR Joe McKnight has a rib injury but that tests “were negative as far as broken ribs or anything.”
Tags: Arizona Cardinals, Greg McElroy, Jacksonville Jaguars, Ken O'Brien, Mark Sanchez, Matt Cavanaugh, Rex Ryan, Tim Tebow, Tony Sparano, Vinny Testaverde
Posted in Randy Lange | 175 Comments »
Stephen Hill showed a remarkable skill with some impressive namedropping during his first news conference as a Jet at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center.
“Yeah, definitely Calvin Johnson,” Hill, the Georgia Tech wideout, told reporters at midday today when asked if he agreed with VP of college scouting Joey Clinkscales’ likening of Hill to “Megatron.” the Madden NFL ’13 cover dude. “And if I can say a little old school, I’d say Jerry Rice.”
If you look at one set of Hill’s Yellow Jackets numbers, his receptions, you’d say, well, good luck with that. In Tech’s triple-option offense he totaled only 49 career receptions, an average of 16.3 per season, 1.3 per game.
But look at another set and you might say, why not? Hill had nine touchdown receptions in his college career, each of which went for an average of 55.2 yards per catch. As a junior last year, he had five TDs for a 64.0 average per catch. His 29 total catches averaged 29.3 yards per catch, leading all of college football.
That Georgia Tech offense was feast and famine for a wideout of Hill’s skills, but as he said about shifting gears from the triple option to whichever pro offense he was ticketed for, “I’ve been away from school for four months. I did a lot of transitioning, especially going down to the IMG campus, working hard six days a week. My only transition is just playing faster and playing against great guys.”
And to help him with that transition, well, Hill dropped a few more names, this time of some quarterbacks.
“I worked out with Ryan Tannehill, Russell Wilson and Kirk Cousins,” Hill said. “And Vinny Testaverde kind of threw it to me, too.”
Yes, that Vinny T, the Jets’ own former QB who helps out some young up-and-comers at the Bradenton, Fla., complex.
“Oh, yeah, definitely Vinny can still spin that thing,” Hill told Eric Allen for newyorkjets.com. “It’s amazing to see a guy who played so many years and still moves so great. He gave me a lot of tips, on how to get in and out of breaks. And he told me to just stay in my place, go out there and be a pro.”
Hill, who just celebrated his 21st birthday the day before the draft began, has a great head start on that goal. Every player is more than the sum of his numbers, but in Hill’s case some additional numbers pop out and tell a little something more about how the 6’4″, 215-pounder from Lithonia, Ga., may adapt to North Jersey and a New York state of mind:
4.36 — That was Hill’s announced 40 time at the February combine, although he was told one watch had him at 4.28. “I’ve had that speed since I was a kid. I just keep working, working, no days off. I’m in a no-days-off period. I knew I was fast when I started running track at the age of 6,” he told reporters. To EA he agreed, “It’s good to have this type of speed. It’s a blessing to have this type of speed.”
11’1″ — That’s Hill’s broad jump distance. Sound like a long way to leap? That’s tied for the seventh-longest broad jump at the combine at all positions since 2006. I won the states in my junior year and in my senior year I came in third behind Eric Berry and Brandon Boykin. Jumping against those guys was such a boost to my confidence.” As a senior Hill set the Georgia state long jump record at 25’8¾”.
39’5″ — His announced vertical leap at the combine. That’s just a merely impressive stat, tied for fifth-highest among all positions at this year’s workouts. But wait, there’s a catch. “I really thought I had a better jump, but they had me redo it.” He said his best vertical came in high school, a 42’0″ leap. That would have been in the top 10 for verticals in the last seven combines.
84 — That’s the uniform number Hill is expected to wear as a Jet. Why 84 after he wore 5 at Georgia Tech and 25 at Miller Grove High School? “I wore 84 in high school for an All-America bowl game after my senior season. My dad, Henry Hill, wore it when he was in high school, and I had a big game wearing it. Now I’m getting to wear it again.”
Hill’s dad, mom and family came up from Georgia with him for his introduction to the area today. And he’ll be back for next weekend’s rookie minicamp here at the Jets facility, where we’ll get to see No. 84 start working on some new numbers and achievements at the next level.
Tags: Calvin Johnson, Georgia Tech, Henry Hill, Jerry Rice, Stephen Hill, Vinny Testaverde
Posted in Randy Lange | 66 Comments »
Updated, 7:52 p.m. ET
Curtis Martin is not the only football player with Jets connections who could be entering a Hall of Fame this year.
The National Football Foundation mailed out this year’s College Football Hall of Fame ballot this week, and there are a handful of good men on the list who became members of the Green & White after they starred in college.
Vinny Testaverde, for instance, is up for the College Hall this year. The quarterback’s finest season as a Jet was his first, 1998, when he helped guide them to the AFC Championship Game in Denver. More than a decade earlier, of course, Vinny starred for the Miami Hurricanes in 1982 and ’84-85.
Also in the running this year is John “Jumbo” Elliott, who more than a decade before he caught his famous 3-yard touchdown pass from Testaverde in the 2000 “Monday Night Miracle” victory over the dolphins, excelled at tackle for the Michigan Wolverines from 1984-87.
Paul Crane, the Alabama center/linebacker from the early Sixties, played on the Jets’ Super Bowl III team plus a few others during his seasons in green from 1966-72.
Dennis Thurman is the Jets’ secondary coach but more than three decades ago he patrolled Southern Cal’s defensive backfield from 1974-77.
WR Art Monk, who played just one season of his Pro Football Hall of Fame career as a Jet in 1994, is now in consideration for entry into the College HOF after catching pass after pass for Syracuse in the late Seventies.
Those five are among the 76 players and eight coaches on this year’s Football Bowl Subdivision ballot. More than 12,000 NFF members and current Hall of Famers are eligible to cast votes. Those votes will be tabulated and submitted to the NFF’s Honors Court, which will then select the Class of 2012.
That class will be announced in New York during a noon ET news conference on May 15. The induction will take place at the foundation’s 55th annual awards dinner on Dec. 4 at the Waldorf-Astoria.
As the NFF likes to say, only 900 have been inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame — less than .0002 percent of the 4.86 million who have played since Rutgers and Princeton kicked off the college game in 1869. So the odds are long for Vinny, Jumbo, D.T. and Art.
But they’ve all got great chances to enter those hallowed halls, just as Marty Lyons did a year ago. The Jets’ “Sack Exchange” D-lineman and their current radio analyst — and, like Crane, a standout player at Alabama — was in inducted last Dec. 6 into the 16-member Class of ’11. Good luck, guys.
Tags: Art Monk, College Football Hall of Fame, Dennis Thurman, Jumbo Elliott, Marty Lyons, National Football Foundation, Vinny Testaverde
Posted in Randy Lange | 40 Comments »
The one-line transaction this morning read:
LB Mike Vrabel announced his retirement to become linebackers coach at Ohio State.
And Jets fans might be tempted to say “good riddance.”
All in jest, of course. But green-clad fanatics were none too jovial about the present they received on the 13th day of Christmas in 2005, when Vrabel, then a versatile starting linebacker for the Patriots, turned into an offensive red zone monster against the Jets in that Dec. 26 Monday night affair.
Lining up at tight end, Vrabel caught a pair of touchdown passes from Tom Brady. His first, 9:33 into the game, put New England ahead, 7-0. His second gave the Pats a 14-7 lead they never lost in their 31-21 win over the Jets.
Not surprisingly, no other primarily defensive player has ever scored two offensive touchdowns in his entire career against the Jets. And Vrabel turned in his two in a span of 14:22 in the first half, a nice set of bookends to go with his team-high six tackles and one sack of Jets starter Brooks Bollinger that night.
The game was oddly historic in Jets and NFL history for a few other reasons. As many will remember, it was the last Monday Night Football telecast by ABC before handing that franchise over to ESPN in 2006. Talk about your bookends — ABC debuted MNF when the Jets and Joe Namath took on and lost to the Browns, also by 31-21, back on Sept. 21, 1970.
Then there was Vinny Testaverde’s contribution to the evening. Vinny famously climbed off his Long Island couch for a classic return as the Jets starter after the season-ending injuries to Chad Pennington and Jay Fiedler and provided some early highlights, but soon he was showing his age, suffered a ding or two himself, and had settled back on the depth chart as Bollinger showed a little late promise.
Which caused some eyebrows to arch when coach Herm Edwards said Testaverde would see some action in the final two games of the Jets’ 4-12 campaign. “I think it’s important,” Coach Herm said at the time, “for a lot of reasons.”
One reason was for the record books. If Testaverde, who had thrown no TDs that season, found just one receiver for a score, he’d hold the mark for the most consecutive seasons with a touchdown pass in NFL history. He was tied at the time at 18 straight seasons with Fran Tarkenton (1961-78).
“Just Herm mentioning it says a lot,” Testaverde said during the week of the PT offer. “I’d love to get in there, don’t get me wrong. But if it doesn’t happen, I’m OK with that, too.”
It did happen. No. 16 came back on the field for the Green & White’s final series, and with 2:10 left, on his final play as a Jet, Testaverde hooked up with Laveranues Coles from 27 yards to set the record at 19 straight seasons. (Which he then extended to 21 seasons with one TD pass for the Patriots in ’06 and five for the Panthers in ’07.)
Back to Vrabel, who triggered this funky trip down memory lane. He played 17 games against the Jets as a Patriot from 2001-08 (just one with the Steelers in ’00 and none with the Chiefs in ’09-10). In those games, he had 81 tackles, 7.5 sacks, one interception and two forced fumbles, and the Pats went 13-4 against the Jets. Thus we impersonate Michael Kay and say to Vrabel, “See Ya!”
But if he can coach up a ‘backer or two at The Ohio State University that can help the Jets out in the coming years, well, all will be forgiven. Good luck, Mike.
Tags: Brooks Bollinger, Laveranues Coles, Mike Vrabel, Monday Night Football, Ohio State, Tom Brady, Vinny Testaverde
Posted in Randy Lange | 20 Comments »
Another career snapshot of Curtis Martin, who is in the running to be a first-ballot inductee into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Feb. 5 in Dallas:
On Dec. 3, 2000, the 8-4 Jets were in need of just a few more wins to make the playoffs. When the Indianapolis Colts (7-5), then their AFC East rivals, came to town, Curtis Martin knew that he and the Jets needed to make a statement.
On the Friday before the game, Martin and quarterback Vinny Testaverde gave the team a heartfelt speech after practice. The generally quiet Martin lit a fire and then sparked a 27-17 victory at the Meadowlands with a franchise-record rushing effort.
“I do more talking than what it appears,” Martin said after the game. “When it’s necessary, I’m not a guy who wastes words. I speak when I need to.”
Martin also rolled for a career-high and Jets-franchise record 203 rushing yards on 30 carries. During the first half alone he ran for 152 yards, including 93 second-quarter yards. Martin’s consistency and ability to move the chains helped the Jets muster 26 first downs for the game, 11 on the ground, and eat up a whopping 41:25 of the game clock against Peyton Manning and the Colts.
Not only did Martin bruise through the offensive line with power but he also did it with speed and style, as he ripped off runs of 55 yards and 36 yards in the first half, which helped boost his average to 6.8 yards per carry on the day.
No. 28’s most important work, however, came in the fourth quarter as the Green & White’s 20-0 lead had dwindled to 20-17. Taking advantage of an Indianapolis turnover, Martin ran over right tackle for a 2-yard touchdown with 3:17 to go that put the game out of reach.
“The thing that I am happy about is I feel I had a major part in this win,” Martin said. “We brought our lunchpails to work and we worked hard on the running game and it paid off.”
Visit the Curtis Martin for Hall of Fame page
Tags: Curtis Martin, Indianapolis Colts, Peyton Manning, Vinny Testaverde
Posted in Nick Gallo | 6 Comments »