It was the 1-on-1 passing drills early in today’s Jets training camp practice, and Isaiah Trufant was running stride for stride with Vidal Hazelton, a 5’8″ corner working to rise above a 6’2″ wideout.
What’s more, Trufant was trying to do the impossible so far this camp: pick off rookie QB Geno Smith.
On this play, 5’8″ stood tall.
“Was that Geno?” Trufant said, genuinely seeming not to know that Smith, who reportedly hadn’t been intercepted in the first four days of camp, had finally been picked. “He’s an exceptional athlete. He has great placement on the ball. As a DB, it’s always tough to try and go get those picks. Sometimes they can fall in there for you, sometimes you’ve got to go get them.”
It’s a great story that Trufant was able to go get this one and has looked good back in his role of nickel corner and back-end buzzsaw. He was having a decent season last year, topped by his showing vs. Wes Welker up at New England in Week 7, only to suffer a season-ending knee injury two weeks later at Seattle.
“I started to feel myself again a little bit in minicamp,” he said of his rehab process. “Then that break helped a lot. Really within that break it started to come around.”
Isaiah Trufant knows it’s never going to be easy. He’s only a third-year NFL player but you can make him a 10th-season player if you count in his seasons with the Spokane Shock, Kansas City Brigade and Arizona Rattlers in the Arena leagues and the UFL’s Las Vegas Locomotives. Now he’s in camp with Dee Milliner, the first-round pick who was in pads but limited at today’s practice and was conducting his own news update with reporters about 20 yards behind us.
“I don’t worry about those things,” Trufant said about such personnel issues as a first-round pick costing the former free agent a roster spot. “I just focus on me doing the best things I can do. Some things may be out of my hands, out of my control. I can’t dwell on those things.”
He’s therefore not dwelling much on the Jets’ Week 2 date with the Patriots in Foxboro, Mass., when he could, if things break well and the game plan calls for it, be covering Danny Amendola, not Welker, who’s now a Bronco.
“It could be,” Trufant said. “I’m just going to be ready for whatever position I’m put in. Whether it’s special teams or defense, I’ve got to be ready.”
Both Smith and Mark Sanchez had down days throwing the ball. Sanchez returned to run with the first offense. He threw a screen that was batted in the air and almost picked off by a roaring Muhammad Wilkerson, and suffered a pick by Antonio Cromartie. Sanchez also threw one TD pass but Stephen Hill couldn’t hold onto another. Yet Hill made a beautiful leaping snag of a Sanchez downfield throw.
Head coach Rex Ryan on Sanchez: “I think everybody gets enamored with anybody who can throw a 96-mile-per-hour fastball. Mark certainly has a good enough arm to play in this league, he’s done it.” … Ryan on Geno: “Holding the football concerns me a little bit. If I could point to a negative, we’re going to take some hits. But along those lines, he has confidence, he’s got poise, he’s hanging in there, and he’s very accurate with the football.”
Ryan said third-round rookie Brian Winters got some work at guard with the ones today because Stephen Peterman had “a little bit of a shoulder.” “But certainly we said there’s going to be competition at that guard spot.” … First-round DL Sheldon Richardson didn’t practice due to some dental issues. “One tooth needs to come out,” said Rex, “and he maybe needs a root canal in another.” … Today’s attendance: 1,333.
Tags: Antonio Cromartie, Danny Amendola, Geno Smith, Isaiah Trufant, Mark Sanchez, Muhammad Wilkerson, Rex Ryan, Vidal Hazelton, Wes Welker
Posted in Randy Lange | 26 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 »
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 »
If the Jets execute a fake punt every other game, does it no longer qualify as a fake?
As special teams coordinator Mike Westhoff said this week in response: “I’d rather execute than trick. That’s me as a coach. I don’t think we really tricked anybody.”
But to be sure, the Jets have out-executed three opponents in the past four weeks. That’s 3-for-3 on Tim Tebow-triggered plays. The only other time in the last 30 years that the Jets have reeled off three fake punts for first downs was in 2009, when they went 4-for-4. Add in fake field goals and the only time besides ’12 and ’09 that the Green & White went 3-for-3 was in 1987. (
“We have to execute. That’s what it comes down to,” said linebacker and “tight end” Nick Bellore. “But I think we’ve got a lot of confidence in what we’re doing right now.”
Bellore worked in tandem with Tebow to pull off the 23-yard jump-pass conversion on fourth-and-11 at the Colts 40 on Sunday. Who’d a’ thunk it that Nick, who’s picked off a few passes over his years in the game but doesn’t remember ever catching a pass, would have gotten wide-open, taken TT’s pass flawlessly, and then motored and leaped for 14 yards after the catch?
“YAC. That’s what they brought me here for,” Bellore said Friday.
Westhoff said there was never a doubt in his mind that No. 54 would get it done.
“Nick’s just athletic, and when we did it in practice, he caught it well,” Coach Westy said. “I think there was one time when we did it in practice that he didn’t report. Now our officials caught it and they were going to throw the flag, and then he was begging them — he knew I would kill him — he said, ‘Please don’t tell him, don’t tell him.’ So that did happen, but no, I have a lot of confidence in Nick.”
The confidence in the first two plays was of a different sort. Tebow kept for 5 yards on fourth-and-3 from the Jets 25 at Miami, then two weeks later he bulled ahead for 3 yards on fourth-and-1 from the Jets 24.
For both runs Tebow plowed off his left side with the short snap from Tanner Purdum, with the help of some strong blocking from Garrett McIntyre, Josh Mauga and Konrad Reuland. I’s all in a day’s work for Reuland, a tight end, but Mauga (since IR-ed) and Mac, they’re used to shedding blocks, not blocking sheds.
“It’s a little different,” McIntyre said, “but it’s pretty easy, just get off the ball as hard as you can and block the guy.”
Easy to say when it’s the Dolphins’ punt-block team, but the Texans smelled a rat and sent out their first defense to try to stop the potential primetime fake. The 255-pound McIntyre found himself going up against 284-pound starting DE Antonio Smith.
“It was crazy for a second, but there was a big bubble next to him and Tim found the bubble. He’s given me a little props for my blocks,” Mac said. “Running these fakes is great in the fact that we can help extend the drive. That’s an awesome feeling.”
Indeed, the Jets turned a three-and-out series into a 15-play field goal drive against the Dolphins, another three-and-out into a seven-play drive vs. Houston, and Bellore’s beautiful catch-and-run turned a six-play punt possession into an 11-play, 70-yard touchdown march vs. Indy.
Dare we say a drive-extending out-execution against the Patriots might be extremely helpful as the Jets compete up at Gillette Stadium with the Pats? OK, we dare not. And as Bellore reminded:
“Against New England, it’ll be tough. I’m not saying the other teams we ran our plays against weren’t tough, but we’re playing a lot of really, really good special teams units this season.”
But then as Westhoff reminded reporters on Thursday, “I’d run more of ‘em than that if we could. We have them up all the time. Many times on fakes you catch someone totally unprepared. That really has not happened too much with us, especially after we’ve run them, because people now know and they’re going to gear up for it.
“But we still think we can do it.”
Malone’s Monster Game
Kudos to Malone for his five-punt, 52.0-yard gross, 48.0 net game vs. the Colts. The net is actually a franchise mark of sorts, equaling the best net in a game, minimum of four punts, by a Jet since 1976. Brian Hansen previously held that distinction alone with his five punts in the Astrodome against the Houston Oilers on Dec. 24,1994.
“Last week, his first punt we were disappointed in — he tried to muscle it,” Westhoff said of a ball that Malone told me was blown out of his hand a bit by the early Meadowlands gusts and still hopped out of bounds for a 50-yard gross and net. “After that I thought he was outstanding. He’s got a very strong leg, a powerful leg. I think he’s got a lot of future ahead of him. Now he’s got a lot of things to do to work out his technique, his drops, to get all those things consistent, but he’s worked at it very well.”
Westhoff is certain the Patriots will have Wes Welker returning punts Sunday, so if Malone’s got a bunch more of those 5.13-second hangtimes in that powerful leg (that’s my unofficial average for his last four punts of the day), it will help Ellis Lankster and ‘Zaiah Trufant to keep WW thinking fair catch and help the Jets in the all-important field position battle.
*Special Teams Saturday
Tags: Garrett McIntyre, Indianapolis Colts, Josh Mauga, Konrad Reuland, Mike Westhoff, New England Patriots, Nick Bellore, Robert Malone, Tim Tebow, Wes Welker
Posted in Randy Lange | 19 Comments »
Our congratulations to Darrelle Revis, who checked in at No. 5 in the NFL according to a vote of the league’s players as compiled by NFL Network in its “The Top 100: Players of 2012″ series that concluded with the top 10 Wednesday night.
It wasn’t hard to figure out that Revis would be checking in high this year, after he placed eighth overall in last year’s tabulation. He was the top cornerback last year (Charles Woodson was 16th) and was tops again this year (Woodson was 36th).
More important to me than the specific ranking is that Revis has been recognized by his peers, some of home talked about him on the show behind some of his highlights from the 2011 season.
Bills WR Stevie Johnson: “This is the NFL. This is pretty much the elite guys in the world of football. And you have a guy like Revis who’s playing man-to-man against the top guys. I mean, he’s on Andre Johnson, he’s on Fitzgerald, Welker, Brandon Marshall. All those guys you name, he’s guarding man-to-man the entire game.”
Patriots WR Wes Welker: “He’s a lot stronger than what people think. He’ll put you on the ground pretty quick. He’s kind of like the schoolyard bully at times.”
Jets WR Santonio Holmes: “Every team has the right to go at him, but he’s proven why it’s called Revis Island.”
New Sunday Kickoff Time
The NFL has announced today that it is tweaking its Sunday kickoff times, specifically for the Sunday late afternoon doubleheader games on CBS and FOX.
Those doubleheader games have kicked off at roughly 4:15 p.m. ET since that wrinkle was started in 1998. Beginning this year, those late games will now kick off at 4:25 p.m. ET. The 4:05 kickoff times for games not on the doubleheader network will remain unchanged.
The league explains that the new kickoff time will reduce instances when fans miss the end of a 1 p.m. game telecast because they must receive the opening kickoff of their home team’s late-afternoon game. Additionally, fans not in the cities of the late doubleheader opponents will be less likely to miss the beginning of the late doubleheader game.
The NFL analyzed games from 2009-11 and discovered that 44 games required part of the audience to be switched to a mandatory doubleheader game kickoff. With a 4:25 kickoff, that number would have been reduced by 66 percent to only 15 games.
The Jets’ initial schedule for 2012 shows that they will be affected at least twice by the time change. Their Sept. 16 game at Pittsburgh was originally scheduled for 4:15, as was their Oct. 21 game at New England. Further, four of the Jets’ last five regular-season games are subject to NFL flex scheduling and so those games could also wind up getting the 4:25 nod.
The Jets’ Pittsburgh and New England road games are two of the about 40 games over the full season that will be impacted by the 10-minute kickoff time shift.
Tags: Darrelle Revis, NFL Network, Santonio Holmes, Stevie Johnson, The Top 100, Wes Welker
Posted in Randy Lange | 92 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 »
Updated, 2:40 p.m. ET
Nick Bellore bundled 472 tackles in his career as a Central Michigan linebacker, third-most in Chippewas history. It should be no surprise that he’s showing his tackling skills at the next level.
“I’m confident in my abilities,” the free agent rookie said this week about establishing himself on the Jets’ special teams. “I knew that no matter where I went after the lockout, I was going there to play. Obviously some things are out of your control, but the Jets have given me a great opportunity here and I’ve been able to make the best of it.”
Bellore has yet to display his LB skills in the regular season, but his tackling remains sharp. His 11 tackles on kick coverage, from the video breakdown by coaches Mike Westhoff and Ben Kotwica, lead the Jets heading into Monday’s very important return to MetLife Stadium to play the Dolphins.
He’s taken down other teams’ punt returners and kickoff returners, with the latter being in particular danger from a Bellore wrapup. His solo tackle in Game 2 started the Jaguars at their 15 after a Nick Folk kickoff, and an assist the next week at Oakland gave the Raiders the same starting spot. He’s been one of the main contributors to the kickoff coverage unit, which is second in the NFL in opponents’ return average (18.0) and third in opponents’ average drive start (19.5).
“Every week I learn something new, a few techniques, little stuff that you can’t necessarily get from reading the playbook, just by experience,” Bellore said. “I’ve got to be ready to play defense, but I’m going to be playing a lot of snaps on special teams, so just learning what the opponent does, what I have to do, how to best use my techniques. so it is a little different from college, but it’s something I’ve embraced and I really enjoy.”
Something he doesn’t enjoy as much is getting flagged, which is what happened when he shoved Wes Welker at the Patriots 41 on the boundary on a punt return at the top of the second quarter last Sunday. Unnecessary roughness, 15 yards.
The shame of it was that Bellore’s hit shouldn’t have been penalized. Welker was striding toward the Jets sideline but his left foot had not yet touched down when Bellore made contact. No. 83 was still inbounds.
Yet this was another one of those pro learning experiences for the young man from Whitefish Bay, Wis. There are no replay challenges on penalties. Welker is legendarily elusive but sure appeared to be heading out of bounds. Was the reward worth the risk?
“Things like that will happen when you’re trying to play fast and make a play,” Bellore said. “Obviously, I’ll learn as I get older. Some things you’ve just got to kind of let go and maybe don’t hit him there. It was a bang-bang play and you can’t be committing penalties like that, especially at that part of the field. … There’s really nothing gained in that, so I know now.”
Bellore’s postgraduate work continues. Next class: Monday night.
Saturday Injury Updates
With a Monday night game come Saturday injury reports. The Jets listed four players as out for the Dolphins: DT Ropati Pitoitua (knee), CB Isaiah Trufant (hamstring), CB Donald Strickland (concussion) and WR Logan Payne (wrist). Pitoitua and Trufant didn’t practice today, Strickland was limited. C Nick Mangold was also limited and is listed as questionable. The eight other Jets on the injury list were full participants in practice and are listed as probable.
For Miami, four players were limited at practice in South Florida and are questionable for the game: CB Nolan Carroll (hamstring), S Chris Clemons (hamstring), RB Daniel Thomas (hamstring) and TE Will Yeatman (shoulder). CB Vontae Davis (hamstring) practiced full and is probable.
*Special Teams Saturday
Tags: Ben Kotwica, Mike Westhoff, New England, Nick Bellore, Wes Welker
Posted in Randy Lange | 43 Comments »
So you say the Patriots are averaging 507.5 yards and 33.8 points per game? And Tom Brady is on pace to throw for 6,212 yards, WR Wes Welker is on target for 160 catches, 2,464 yards and 20 TDs and TE Rob Gronkowski for 72 receptions, 1,184 yards and 20 TDs? And they’re also running it well?
“I think we can completely shut them down. That’s what we’re going to go in there to do,” said Jets DE Mike DeVito. “If you’re not going in there thinking that, you’re thinking the wrong thing. We have the defense and we have the players, so we’re going in there trying to shut down this offense.”
DeVito is one of the most humble players you’ll ever meet and he’s not one to talk a lot of trash. His response came after he was asked if the Jets have to go into this one hoping to contain this prolific Pats offense with solid third-down and red-zone defense. His answer was honest, refreshing and exactly what you’d like to hear from a veteran who’s tasted a lot of success against the Patriots.
The Jets have won four of the last six in this rivalry, including a dominant performance in January in the AFC Divisional Round at Gillette Stadium. Brady passed for 299 yards and two TDs that afternoon, but he was sacked five times, hit on numerous other occasions and continually frustrated by the Jets’ coverage schemes as the Pats converted just five of 14 third downs in the Jets’ 28-21 win.
“That was last year and that’s behind us now,” DeVito said. “I think the confidence comes from what we’ve done this season thus far, what we put in during training camp, the work we put in and the guys we have on the field. That’s where our confidence comes from now and we’ll be ready to go.”
“I have a feeling that there were more than a few days in Foxboro spent — whether it was over the lockout or whether it was since the season started — preparing for our defense, knowing that we had success against them in the playoff game,” added defensive coordinator Mike Pettine. “Again it’s a challenge for us. We’ve got to make sure that we kind of forge ahead with some new things, but at the same time not get away from what’s been successful against them in the past.”
The Jets defense ranks No. 8 overall entering Week 5 and they played well in defeat last Sunday night in Baltimore. They held an improving Ravens offense to just 267 yards and 6-of-18 on third down while forcing three takeaways and scoring on a 35-yard David Harris interception return in the second quarter.
It was Harris’ first-quarter INT in January that set the tone against Brady and company. While the Pats will always have a strong pass attack with Brady slinging the rock, they’ve created some balance and currently rank No. 9 in rushing. In a Week 4 win over the Raiders, rookie Stevan Ridley (10-97) and BenJarvus Green-Ellis (16-75) combined for 26 attempts and 172 yards.
“It’s such a great offense. We’re going to have to go out there and be clicking on all cylinders,” DeVito said. “They’ve stepped up their run game. They still have Tom Brady and still have a lot of threats on offense. As a defense, man, we have to come out there and play Jets defense. We can’t have any lapses in this game because they’re too quick to take advantage of it.”
“They have a potential mismatch at virtually every position. Now add to it that they’re running the football,” Pettine said. “That’s a pretty good offensive line. Gronkowski has really stepped up and become one of the better tight ends in the league.”
If the Green & White elect to play small against the Pats by loading the field with DBs, the challenge will be to control the run game in sub packages. Brady won’t have to worry about longtime nemesis Shaun Ellis this time around as the Big Katt, who racked up two sacks of Brady in the winter playoff win, will be taking aim at Mark Sanchez.
“He is one of the big reasons I made the team,” an appreciative DeVito said of Ellis. “I could have come in here and he could have given me a hard time, but he didn’t. He took me under his wing and he helped me progress as a player. Coming in as a rookie, it’s intimidating and he helped me right off at the beginning. He is somebody I have a lot of love and respect for.”
Referring to Ellis as his “big brother,” DeVito will exchange pleasantries with him after this contest. The 6’3”, 305-pounder, an undrafted free agent out of Maine in his fifth season, attended Nauset Regional HS in North Eastham, Mass., and the matchup with the Pats holds a lot of weight in the standings and for his family.
“It’s huge. Everybody’s up there,” he said. “If we lose this game, it’s not just me who has to hear it — my dad has to hear it, my mom has to hear it. So it’s big for us as a family to go up there and win this game.”
Tags: Mike DeVito, New England Patriots, Rob Gronkowski, Shaun Ellis, Tom Brady, Wes Welker
Posted in Eric Allen | 29 Comments »
Leading up to both of the Jets-Patriots regular-season meetings, newyorkjets.com participated in an “Across Enemy Lines” content exchange with New England Sports Network. And as the tiebreaker nears for the division rivals, we visit with NESN’s Jeff Howe, the station’s Patriots reporter, a third and final time. Today we present Jeff’s answers to six of our questions. Friday Eric Allen will get last licks at a half dozen of Howe’s queries.
1. Do you get the sense that the Jets have already taken the Pats’ best shot while the Pats know they’re going to see a different club than they saw on Dec. 6?
It’s definitely tough to imagine the Patriots playing any better than they did in Week 13, and I don’t think there’s anyone in the football world who thinks the Patriots are 42 points better than the Jets. But that’s a big difference to make up, and the Patriots have been a very consistent team for the last two months. That game put little doubt in my mind that the Patriots’ post-Randy Moss transformation has been completed and they’re simply a better team than the Jets.
2. When was the last time Devin McCourty looked like a rookie cornerback? To what do he and his coaches attribute his rapid rise into a Pro Bowl defender?
Well, he had one bad drive against the Ravens in Week 6, but other than that, he’s never looked like a rookie. On the very first play of the year, Carson Palmer threw a deep ball down the left sideline to Terrell Owens and McCourty knocked it aside. He’s been a tremendous player from the jump, but his Pro Bowl ability came out around Week 7 in San Diego. That’s when he picked off his first of seven passes (the excellent tackler has also forced two fumbles) and went from being a reliable cornerback to a ballhawk.
At some point in every young player’s career, he talks about the game slowing down for him, but with McCourty, you could actually see it happening in the middle of the season, and his rise has been fun to watch.
3. The Packers obviously lost to the Patriots up there in Week 16, but they seemed to have them on their heels. Can the Jets take anything away from the way the Packers attacked that night?
Rookie inside linebacker Brandon Spikes was suspended for four games, and that was the only time when an opponent really dismantled the Patriots’ run defense from start to finish. Spikes is a great run stopper —- he is spelled on passing downs by Gary Guyton — and the Patriots were also missing a number of defensive linemen that night. So it was tough to tell if it was something the Packers did or if the Patriots were undermanned.
Whatever the case, there’s no way the Packers should have had that much success running the ball in New England, and that’s the only way the Jets can beat the Patriots, whose defense is most vulnerable against balanced offenses. Quarterback Matt Flynn, in his first career start, was efficient in the short passing game to complement the run, and that’s what Mark Sanchez, LaDainian Tomlinson and Shonn Greene have to emulate.
4. Will the Patriots load up on the run and play man and Cover-3 on the outside?
Building off the last question, the Patriots’ first priority will be stopping the run, but in pass defense, they’ll zero in on Dustin Keller again. Keller killed the Pats in Week 2, but he was a non-factor in Week 13. Once Sanchez showed he was too erratic throwing to the outside, the Patriots knew they could continue attacking from the inside out. That will be their most likely game plan again.
5. Tom Brady didn’t throw Darrelle Revis’ way back in December. Peyton Manning stayed away from Revis last Saturday night. If you’re the Jets, what would you do with Revis against this prolific offense?
I’d have him shadow Wes Welker and hope Antonio Cromartie plays better than he did in Week 13. There is much more to the Patriots’ passing game than Brady to Welker, but Welker is still the guy who can drive the offense. By removing Welker from the equation, the Jets will put pressure on Deion Branch and the young receivers and tight ends, and while the youth movement has been strong, there have been times when they’ve struggled with drops and poor routes.
However, if the Patriots’ supporting cast plays well like it has for much of the last two months, I’d start moving Revis around to at least force the Patriots to think a little more. I think everyone basically assumes Revis will cancel out Welker, and that’s why Cromartie is the most important corner for the Jets on Sunday.
6. What’s happening Sunday?
Patriots 31, Jets 13. The Patriots are simply the better team.
Tags: Across Enemy Lines, Antonio Cromartie, Brandon Spikes, Darrelle Revis, Devin McCourty, Dustin Keller, Jeff Howe, Mark Sanchez, Tom Brady, Wes Welker
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Randy Moss has departed the rivalry, so it’s natural to wonder how the Jets will use the NFL’s top corner tandem on Monday night when they battle the Pats in Foxboro.
“Honestly, me and [Darrelle] Revis, we don’t care whoever we get,” said Antonio Cromartie, who leads the Jets with three interceptions. “We might get a darned tight end at the end of the day. For us it really doesn’t matter. We just have to go out there, take care of our job and do what we’re supposed to do, be aggressive with it and play at the high level that we both have been playing at.”
Wes Welker, who caught six passes for 38 yards and a TD in the Jets’ 28-14 win back in Week 2, leads the Pats with 65 catches and is tied for the team lead with six scoring receptions. He remains a dangerous intermediate threat. And after the Pats traded Moss to the Vikings, they moved quickly to add another receiver by reobtaining Deion Branch from Seattle.
“He is a good receiver,” said Revis of Branch, who has averaged 13.1 yards a catch on his 33 receptions in seven games with New England. “They bringing him back — the guy was a Super Bowl MVP for their team. I think he’s familiar with their offense and you see he’s making plays in that offense and Brady is looking for him to make plays.”
The Pats targeted Moss a team-high 10 times in the teams’ first meeting and he finished with just two receptions. He made a ridiculous one-handed 34-yard scoring catch on a play that sent Revis to the sideline for a couple of games with a sore hamstring, but No. 84 was absolutely stranded on Al-Cro-Traz Island in the second half.
Without Moss in the lineup, the Pats don’t take as many vertical shots with their receivers.
“It’s a little different. A lot of their stuff is based on underneath routes and they like to send their tight ends more vertical than they send their receivers,” Cromartie said. “It’s little things like that they changed up. Their outside guys run a lot of underneath routes. It’s something you look forward to and you want to be physical on the outside.”
The last time the Jets played at Gillette Stadium, a 31-14 loss in Week 11 last November, Welker set career highs with 15 receptions (also the mark for a Jets opponent) and 192 yards. It wouldn’t come as a shock if the Jets stick the 5’11, 198-pound Revis on the 5’9”, 185-pound Welker.
“His route just might be to run across the field, but he might make up his own route to get open. He’ll stem you up, juke you this way, option route that way and get open. It’s very tough,” said Revis. “We struggled with that early with teams attacking us inside. We do have to be aware of them trying to attack us on the inside again.”
Tom Brady is having another wonderful season, completing 66 percent of his passes with 23 touchdowns and just four interceptions. His two rookie tight ends, Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, have combined for 61 receptions and nine touchdowns while former Jets back Danny Woodhead has pitched in with 25 catches.
“He is going to complete some passes,” said Cromartie. “Our biggest thing is to make sure we make the tackles that we need to make and make sure they don’t have many yards after the catch. We’ve been doing a great job of that the past few games and we have to continue that.”
The Jets will definitely mix up their coverage looks for Brady and you know that head coach Rex Ryan, defensive coordinator Mike Pettine and DBs coach Dennis Thurman are in the laboratory right now.
“I think it’s big because Brady is real good at picking out coverages. With us disguising and showing different things, it will help out a lot,” Cromartie said. “We have to show some type of blitz and then drop off, drop off and then come. Our whole thing is just to be consistent throughout the week and then make sure we do it in the game also.”
The Patriots average a league-best 30 points a game, but they’ve been held to 18 points on average by the Jets since Ryan has taken over the coaching reins. And no matter how the Jets deploy Revis and Cromartie on Monday Night, there is reason for Jets Nation to be confident.
“I think we have favorable matchups on the outside. They have a great, speedy receiver and a crafty vet, but I think we match up against them well,” said WLB Bart Scott. “We’re going to expect those guys to do what they do, shut those guys down and allow us to play football on the inside.”
Tags: Antonio Cromartie, Bart Scott, Danny Woodhead, Darrelle Revis, Deon Branch, New England Patriots, Tom Brady, Wes Welker
Posted in Eric Allen | 29 Comments »