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Bookkeeping on Jets’ 16 UFAs/RFAs

Posted by Randy Lange on March 13, 2013 – 8:56 am

Late Tuesday the NFL finally released its official list of available free agents in four different categories for the signing period that began at 4 p.m. While most of you already are aware of this information and a lot more, for those who haven’t heard and in the interest of bookkeeping, here is a summation of what the release reads regarding the Jets:

Restricted Free Agents who received Qualifying Offers from their Prior Clubs and are subject to the First Refusal/Compensation system of the NFL CBA

T Austin Howard, Round 2

TE Jeff Cumberland, right of first refusal

The Round 2 designation for Howard is the pick a new club, if it were to sign Howard to an offer sheet, must send to the Jets, its own choice or a better choice in the round for the April draft. In Cumberland’s case, there is no compensation for a new club that would like to sign him to an offer sheet but the Jets still retain the right to match the offer and retain Cumberland. Offer sheets may be submitted up until Friday, April 19, one second before midnight.

Unrestricted Free Agents with four or more accrued seasons

S Yeremiah Bell

DT Mike DeVito

WR Braylon Edwards

K Nick Folk

RB Shonn Greene

RB Lex Hilliard

TE Dustin Keller

S LaRon Landry

G Brandon Moore

WR Chaz Schilens

G Matt Slauson

LB Bryan Thomas

Players with fewer than four accrued seasons who received no Qualifying Offer or minimum tender from their Prior Clubs

TE Dedrick Epps

LS Tanner Purdum

The fourth category is players who have been designated Franchise Players, but the Jets did not so designate anyone.


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Third-Down Defense Seeks a Turnaround

Posted by Randy Lange on November 27, 2012 – 4:44 pm

One of the elements of the Jets’ game that hurt them on Thanksgiving night — and that has to improve quickly to optimize the results of the regular season’s five-game homestretch — is third-down defense.

“Anytime you can’t get off the field on third down on defense, you’re hurting yourself,” S Yeremiah Bell said Monday. “You know, you give them an extra three downs to kind of do what they need to do. And when they have a quarterback like they have over there, that’s not something you want to do.

New England’s O converted 73.3% of its third-down opportunities (11-of-15), the highest percentage by a Jets opponent since 1986. At one point the Patriots had moved the chains on 11 consecutive third downs.

“We were having a difficult time on third down,” Bell said, “and it’s a very uncomfortable feeling because you know you’re going to be on the field and you know that with the firepower they’ve got that they can put up points at any time.”

Besides the communication errors on the long scoring passes to Shane Vereen and Julian Edelman, head coach Rex Ryan also cited the crunch-down issue.

“The fact is that they did a good job, made some plays on us, and they consistently were able to convert on third down,” Ryan said, “and that’s a problem.”

The problem, of course, starts on downs 1 and 2. There’s nothing counterintuitive about the fact that every yard you add to the opponent’s average third-down distance improves your chances of stopping a conversion.

And over the last four games, the Green & White defense has been giving ground on the first two downs. Miami’s average third-down distance was 5.1 yards, Seattle’s was 5.4, St. Louis’ was 4.5 and New England’s was 5.1. In this four-game streak combined the Jets were trying to stop teams who on average were trying to convert third-and-5.0, the lowest four-game in-season figure since the ’86 Jets, decimated by injuries after winning 10 of their first 11, lost four straight during which opponents were facing third-and-4.6.

Average third-down distance or margin isn’t as good a predictor of success as point margin or turnover margin. The Jets did well in their 27-13 win over the Rams, for instance, despite facing multiple third-and-short situations. And their offense’s puny third-and-3.0 average on 10 third downs vs. the Patriots (three conversions) didn’t help the home side, but that’s another story.

Suffice to say that keeping up the other guys’ average third-down distance is a good way to make them punt, often after with a demoralizing three-and-out series, improve your defense’s third-down conversion rate and get them off the field, and increase your possession time, all of which can be quite helpful components of a winning game plan.

The good news for the Jets is that their third-down defense, now ranked 31st in the NFL with an opponents’ conversion rate of 45.8%, gets a chance to improve that standing and pick up 3-D steam the next two weeks, against the Cardinals’ 32nd-ranked third-down offense (28.4%) and the Jaguars’ 31st-rated offense (30.6%).

As DT Sione Po‘uha, a key part of the Jets defense, tweeted this afternoon:

I’m putting all I got into it. Cause my family, teammates and fans deserve nothing less. Lets get it!!!

Jets Un-Flexed So Far

The Jets’ kickoff times for the coming weeks remain unaffected by the NFL’s flex scheduling procedures. Sunday’s game against the Cardinals remains at its originally scheduled 1 p.m. ET kickoff, next week’s game at the Jaguars is also at 1 p.m., and their Monday night game at Tennessee on Dec. 17 wouldn’t be affected by flex scheduling in any event.

Their Week 16 Sunday night game against San Diego could be changed, but the league, which has confirmed its Weeks 13-15 schedules, doesn’t have to announce Week 16 changes until about 12 days before that weekend, or Dec. 11.


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Arizona, Only Arizona, Comes into Focus

Posted by Randy Lange on November 26, 2012 – 4:47 pm

Rex Ryan pointed the direction: “It’s on to Arizona.”

And the Jets head coach’s finger was pointing to the Cardinals because they’re in the exact opposite direction to the Patriots and the Thanksgiving game the Jets don’t want to see in their rear-view mirror as they put days and weeks in between that game and what remains in their 2012 regular season.

Ryan surely wasn’t selling a playoff push at today’s return-from-the-holiday news conference at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center, but he was asked if his approach for his team was to “run the table” on this season.

“Absolutely, that’s what you’re trying to do,” he said. “Our goal was to beat New England also, but that never worked out. That’s why you play. You try and win every game that you’re in.

“I’m not going to make a guarantee that we’re making the playoffs or that deal. We have to get better. It has to start right now. You can’t look down the road. Of course, you’d like to run the table, I guess that’s human nature to say, ‘Hey, I see what’s on our schedule, we have to win all five games, we have to do this, we have to do that.’ We have to win this game. I think that’s where the entire focus is.”

The shame of it is that the Jets’ final five games are table-runnable. Every opponent — Arizona, Jacksonville, Tennessee, San Diego and Buffalo — is 4-7 or worse. Their combined winning percentage is .327. While not an apples-to-apples comparison, if that strength-of-schedule held up the rest of the season, it would be the lowest SOS of the last five opponents’ records when the Jets played them in any season in franchise history.

But to think ahead at this stage for the equally 4-7 Jets right now would be foolhardy, and no one we heard in the locker room after the midday practice was going there.

Reporter John Holt dropped in on the media gathering around Yeremiah Bell’s locker. Here’s John’s report:

Bell has always considered Thanksgiving a special holiday.

But this year the holiday wasn’t as enjoyable for the Jets’ safety as the Green & White were defeated by the New England Patriots at MetLife Stadium. 

“Just from a feelings standpoint, I mean, that was about as low as you can get, especially on national television,” Bell said this afternoon after practice at the Atlantic Health Training Center. “But you know, it’s over and you just move on to the next.”

“Obviously it was an embarrassing game,” No. 37 said. “Kind of a low point, the way we went out there and kind of what we put on the field. But we know we still have five games left, so we’re more focused on the Arizona Cardinals and taking each game one game at a time.”

Although the Pats won by 30 Thursday, Bell wouldn’t concede that New England was a better team than when the teams first met in Foxboro on Oct. 21. The Jets led that game with less than two minutes to go in regulation before the Patriots sent the game to overtime for the 29-26 win.

“I think they’re a good team, no doubt about it,” the former Miami Dolphin said. “But do I think the score reflects how good they are? Maybe not. They’re good, no doubt about it. But there were some crazy things that happened in that game [Thursday].”

The craziest was three New England touchdowns in a span of 52 seconds, something Bell said he’d never witnessed.

“I’ve never seen a game and the things that happened in that game spin out of control so fast,” he said.

With five games remaining on the schedule, maybe a players-only meeting could prove beneficial.

“We’ve talked as players,” Bell said. “But at this point it’s just about doing your job. I don’t know how much more you can say it or how much more clear you can say it. It’s about guys doing their jobs and not doing the boneheaded things in games; not turning the ball over, not committing stupid penalties on defense and things like that. We just have to do more as a group.”

LaRon Landry, Bell’s safety mate, put the same sentiments in his own words:

“We have five more weeks and I’ll take it one day at a time, one practice at a time, like I’ve been doing. Go out there and give it my all and let the outcome speak for itself. I can only control what I can control.”

“There’s nothing more to say about it — we stunk it up,” LB Bryan Thomas said of their Turkey Day trimming. “Hats off to the Pats. Now we move on. Arizona’s coming in and we’re getting prepped on them, even a little bit today. Our sole focus is on this game. What would we look ahead for?”

And guard Brandon Moore uncharacteristically stepped on some reporters’ questions.

On the games down the road—

“It’s only about today for me.”

—but the possibility of running that proverbial table—

“I don’t know. I’m focused on today. I’m not going to even go there.”

That is the way it is today, will be this week. Only after Arizona will the focus shift to Jacksonville, and Tennessee will be unspoken before the Jaguars game. That’s the way it must be for this Jets team in this season.


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Areas of Focus for an Upward 2nd-Half Trend

Posted by Randy Lange on November 5, 2012 – 4:23 pm

Florham Park, the home of the Jets’ Atlantic Health Training Center, was battered around a bit by last week’s superstorm, but the borough is now almost back to full power.

Rex Ryan posited today that his players in several ways are trying to do the same.

“We know we’re in a bottom-line business and that’s wins and losses. For football, that’s really all that matters,” the Jets head coach said at today’s welcome-back news conference. “Our focus is strictly on improving as a football team and getting ready to go compete and do what we can to win against Seattle.”

On special teams, the Jets have committed “things that we really don’t do.” His run defense, he said, “has been poor, but it’s getting better. The last 100 rushes, I think we’ve given up 3.1 a carry. We’re getting better but we’re still not where we want to be.”

Same thing in the running game: “Our last 100 carries we’re averaging 4.3 a carry, something like that. We’re getting better, not exactly where we want it to be but we’re making strides.”

Takeaways and giveaways have been spotty (minus-1 overall in TO margin, a costly minus-2 in the red zone). “These are things that we’ve challenged our team, to make us successful,” he said. “Those are the main areas we have to improve.”

His players mostly left the area last week in different directions from Sandy’s path across New Jersey and into Pennsylvania. Mike DeVito went northeast to his Maine home, LaRon Landry (Virginia) and Aaron Maybin (Maryland) went to the southwest. Others hung in the area.

But it seems all worked during their time away, as would be expected.

CB Antonio Cromartie watched two football games while he was away — Alabama-LSU and Seattle-Minnesota. A special focus of the Seahawks’ win over the Vikings was the play of rookie QB Russell Wilson, who threw three first-half touchdowns. S LaRon Landry religiously worked out every day and kept up the long-term rehab on his heel, neither unexpected. LB Aaron Maybin, another workout monster, kept up with Seattle and with the defense’s first-half video cut-ups on his iPad. The stories in all other corners of the locker room were the same.

And in the coaches’ offices as well.

“It’s almost like ‘Hey, everybody stay out of the building … except coaches, of course,” Ryan said. “A lot of coaches would take their work stations, their computers home with them. A lot of preparation was that way. You’re never too far away from your work, that’s for sure. And obviously, you want to make sure that they’re protecting their families and that they’re there with their families in these trying circumstances.”

Ryan was asked what the coaches came up with.

“We got a bunch of suggestions, so I hope they’re good,” he said with a laugh. “We’re certainly looking at them.” Any hints of radical new concepts, plays, personnel for the second half? “I don’t want to get into specific things,” he said, “but I guess we’ll see.”

Will any of it make a difference? Last week we broke out the performances of the NFL’s 3-5 teams since 2002, and the prognosis is not good, although by no means hopeless, and that’s how some of the Jets’ defenders see it.

“The months of November and December, that’s when most teams are made anyway,” Cro said. “I think the biggest thing for us is just to make sure we take care of the things we need to take care of one week at a time.”

“We definitely have the resources to get back into this thing,” said S Yeremiah Bell. “We have the players, we have the coaching staff and we have the want-to. The thing is going to be just us on Sundays, just going out there and executing.”

Ryan said the first thoughts and prayers last week and early this week are for all affected by the hurricane, and then the next thoughts are only for that next game on the schedule, not the scenarios for any playoff stretch run (even though the Jets weren’t hurt at all by Buffalo’s loss, which drops them into a third-place tie in the AFC East at 3-5, and Miami’s loss at Indy to go to 3-4).

But Rex also had an energy about him to get back to the grind and see what these Jets with their backs to the wall and their noses to the grindstone can do.

“I know we’re not where we want to be, we’re not even close. We’re not sniffing the playoffs, we’re not sniffing anything right now,” he said. “But I want to get there. I’m excited about the prospects in front of us.”

First things first: A great week of work is needed, then a win at formidable CenturyLink (formerly Qwest) Field, before anyone outside the Green & White base of operations will be jumping back on the bandwagon.

How Big a Homefield Advantage?

All Jets asked today vouched for the advantage the Seahawks enjoy in CenturyLink Field, previously known as Qwest Field, née Seahawks Stadium. It’s loud and proud and the 12th Man is ready to rock its ‘Hawks on to victory.

But how does the advantage stack up in the league? By home winning percentage alone, pretty good. Since ’03, one year after they moved into the place, when they went 8-0 at home, Seattle’s regular-season home percentage is .684 (52-24), tied for fifth in the NFL over that span.

But another way to measure HFA is how much better a team plays at home than on the road, as measured by winning percentage margin. In that same span, the Seahawks’ home percentage of .684 (52-24) compared to their road percentage of .351 (27-50) is plus-.333. That margin is second-best in the NFL over that span, trailing only the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium (plus-.382).

The Health Picture

Ryan said LB Bart Scott (toe), NT Kenrick Ellis (knee) and RB-KR Joe McKnight (ankle) would sit out today’s practice but wasn’t ruling them out of practices the rest of this week. Additionally, some of the banged-up Jets such as NT Sione Po‘uha, S Eric Smith, TE Jeff Cumberland, C Nick Mangold, G Brandon Moore and RB Bilal Powell were limited but involved in today’s practice.

Rex: “I’m excited to get the team healthy and make this push the second half of the season.”

The Seahawks went into Sunday’s 30-20 win over Minnesota with an eight-player injury list and in the game starting OLB K.J. Wright reportedly suffered a concussion. The teams’ official injury reports won’t be filed until Wednesday afternoon.


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Preparing for the Heat as Well as the Dolphins

Posted by Randy Lange on September 21, 2012 – 3:19 pm

The Jets will be playing a doubleheader this weekend as they attempt to topple the Miami Dolphins in part by triumphing over the Miami heat.

Not as in LeBron-Dwyane-Chris but rather as in hot-hot-hot. The forecast for Sunday in Miami Gardens, Fla., at the 1 p.m. ET kickoff is expected to be around 85°, with a heat-index reading close to 100°. As new Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin reminded Dolfans this week after beating the Raiders last week (and the Jets perhaps subliminally), “Obviously, establishing a presence on your own home field is important, and September 1 o’clock games historically have been successful for this team.”

The Jets are mindful of the heat ahead and have been taking steps to be ready for the blast of South Florida air inside the now aptly named Sun Life Stadium.

“We definitely practiced it all week long,” head coach Rex Ryan said at today’s post-practice news conference at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center, adding that one major component was in simulating the Dolphins’ up-tempo offensive pace. “This team is averaging snapping the football probably with more than 15 seconds on the [play]clock, 20 seconds maybe. They’re super-quick, unlike really any team in the league.

“We challenged our guys during the week, every team period. Our scout team and our coaches did a tremendous job getting lined up and ready to roll.”

Ryan and his trainers also stressed optimum hydration and rest. And you don’t have to tell a player like LB Aaron Maybin twice about hydration.

“I’ve been taking extra Gatorade, Pedialyte and water. I’ll probably have a couple of extra IVs the night before,” Maybin said. “I sweat a lot. And the heat can wear on your defense especially as the game goes on.”

Some Jets wore extra layers of clothing and did extra cardio work this week outside in the mid-70s temps around Florham Park, N.J. It’s all done with an eye toward leveling the playing field somewhat against those heat-tempered Dolphins.

“It’s definitely an advantage because it is hot and humid,” said S Yeremiah Bell, who knows the situation well since he played for Miami his first eight seasons in the NFL. “Why wouldn’t you want to play in the same place you practice? It’s kind of like a cold-weather team playing in the snow.”

But, Bell counseled, “You know what’s coming. All these guys in here know what they’re in for. It’s only an advantage if you let it be.”

It’s also maybe less of an advantage than the Dolphins would like opponents to believe. Their win over the Raiders actually was their first “September 1 o’clock” game in four years, since from 2009-11 their early home games all kicked off either shortly after 4 p.m. or at night. Before last Sunday, the last time they played at home in September at 1 p.m. was against the Jets in the 2008 opener. And the Jets, with Brett Favre in his first game at QB, prevailed, 20-14.

The point being, the Miami heat is an edge but hardly an insurmountable one.

“Most of us have been playing football our whole lives, and we’ve played in hot weather before,” Maybin said.

“Obviously we’ll see when we get out there,” Ryan said. “We feel pretty good about it.”

Final Health Report

The Jets’ injury report grew by one to 21 names today, yet their health should be OK for Miami.

CB Darrelle Revis, after declaring on Thursday that “I’m going to play,” practiced full-contact today and is listed as probable for the Dolphins. And Ryan when asked about Revis specifically, pointed to the 16 probables and said, “I’d say every one of those guys I expect to play.”

LB Bryan Thomas (hamstring) and FB John Conner (knee) are doubtful. It looks as if Garrett McIntyre will start again at OLB and Konrad Reuland will add his increasing number of plays. “Konrad’s got fullback reps, tight end reps, U reps at the other tight end,” Ryan said. “It’s a good thing he’s got that Stanford education. He’s had to use it these past couple of weeks.”

Two more are questionable: TE Dustin Keller (hamstring) and CB Ellis Lankster (low back). Keller, despite his opinion that he’s ready to roll again, is iffy, with Ryan saying Dedrick Epps could be active again, especially if Keller is deactivated but possibly even if DK is active.

As for the probable list, it includes QB Mark Sanchez (low back) and the newest listee, DT Kenrick Ellis (illness). But all the probables practiced full today and appear ready to roll at Miami.

We’ll wrap up Miami’s Friday injury report here when it comes in.

When Flags Flew

Pittsburgh wasn’t a game that will go in WR Santonio Holmes’ time capsule. But say what you want about the flags, Tone caused a bunch of them to fly.

The four penalties for 52 yards called against Steelers Ike Taylor and Keenan Lewis in covering Holmes were the most marked off due to one Jets player since at least the mid-Nineties. The only other time in that span that a Jet drew four penalties in a game was last year when Plaxico Burress forced four penalties on the Raiders, primarily Stanford Routt, but only three were marked off with one declined.

Prior to that, just six other Jets have caused three major penalties by opponents since 1995. WR Keyshawn Johnson did it in ’99 at Denver. WR Wayne Chrebet followed suit the next year at home vs. the Broncos. Keller as a rookie TE got a trifecta at Tennessee in 2008, and Holmes coaxed three penalties out of the Chargers (two on Quentin Jammer) last season.

DE John Abraham is the only Jets defender to get a trio of penalties thrown at his opponents in a game. Abe did it twice — three holds vs. Kansas City in 2002 (one against Hall of Famer-to-be Willie Roaf), and three more holds at Buffalo in 2005.


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Lots to Like About Mark’s Metrics in the Opener

Posted by Randy Lange on September 10, 2012 – 2:32 pm

One of the main storylines to Sunday’s season-opening success against the Bills was the accuracy of the quarterback’s throws. And the secret to Mark Sanchez’s day was really no secret.

“Fundamentally, Mark had great confidence in his protection,” head coach Rex Ryan said this midday at his day-after-the-game news conference. “When guys did come open, he was ale to step up and make throws. He was very accurate with the football. There were probably a couple of throws he wishes he had back, but overall I thought he did a tremendous job.

“I just saw that confidence. I saw it in the pregame. I’m not so sure I’ve ever seen that before. I’ve seen him have some great games, but he was bouncing around, zipping it. I sensed he was really feeling it.”

Sanchez said as much following the 48-28 verdict.

“Just having the time to throw is the most important thing,” he said after his efficient 19-for-27, 266-yard, three-TD, one-INT game. “We’re putting a lot of pressure on those guys up front to give me more time and they did a great job doing that. Then the wideouts made great plays. They’re not all perfect. The balls aren’t all perfect, but our guys found a way to catch them and get some yards after the catch, which is nice.”

Yes, we can caution that Sanchez beat up on a young secondary, going over the top of second-year man Aaron Williams and first-round pick Stephon Gilmore on the corners and that he’ll need to ace tougher tests ahead, beginning with the Steelers at Pittsburgh on Sunday.

But while many of the criticisms Mark’s heard in his first three seasons are valid, some of his shortcomings came against imperfect defenses like the Bills. Today Sanchez deserves his kudos for trusting his line as it kept the Buffalo D-line herd out of his pasture and getting Sunday’s job done.

■ Sanchez’s 70.4% completion rate was just what fans and reporters have been clamoring for. It was the fifth-best of his career, behind the 76.5% (13-for-17) vs. Carolina and 80% (12-for-15) at Cincinnati in the playoffs in ’09, and 70.8% (17-for-24) vs. Jacksonville  and 71.4% at Buffalo last year.

■ No one was beating him up more than he was for that too-hard, too-inaccurate shovel for Jeff Cumberland that turned into his only giveaway of the game. But while it’s not statistically honest to lop off that first drive from his passing numbers for the day, it may be revealing to at least note that after the interception, Sanchez was 17-for-23 for 248 yards and his three scoring strikes. The 148.2 rating for that line would have been the highest of his career if it had been his line for the entire game.

■ One of the Jets’ aims for this game was to control third down, and at least offensively they got that done. Their 71.4% third-down conversion rate was their best in a game since late 2004, when they converted 11 of 14 (78.6%) against Seattle. They converted their first six third downs, all on Sanchez completions, the best from the start of a game since they hit their first seven in the “Win And We’re In” game vs. the Bengals in ’09. And Sanchez’s passing line (8-for-10, 92 yards, one TD, 138.3 rating) was one of the best of his career.

“I think he’s got a great grasp of this system even though it’s a new system,” Ryan said today. “He knows the opponents, he now knows what it takes to play in this league. He said when he came in as a rookie that one of these days he was going to be a strength of our team. You look at it now, he certainly is.”

And Rex, Mark, Tony Sparano, the line and the entire offense know that in six days it’ll be “What have you done for us lately?” Let’s see if Sanchez and company can string two together.

Revis’ Head

Ryan confirmed that CB Darrelle Revis suffered a “slight concussion” in the fourth quarter, when he extended to trip up RB C.J. Spiller and got a Bart Scott foot to the back of his helmet.

“I know the NFL protocol. I’ll always lean on our trainers and doctors,” Rex said about the early prognosis for Revis to play the Steelers back in his hometown. “Anything with any injury at all but especially a head injury of any kind, I’m going to err on the side of caution, so we’ll see how he progresses during the week.”

The coach had no updates on the hamstrings of LB Bryan Thomas and WR Patrick Turner, injured during the game, and TE Dustin Keller, who had one catch for 7 yards in his limited action due to his sore hamstring from the Carolina preseason game.

Corrections Ahead

Not all was perfection vs. the Bills. Ryan mentioned that “we have some things to correct, and we look forward to getting on the practice field to getting that done.”

One was the defense’s run tackling. Credit surely goes to C.J. Spiller for making a number of Jets miss as he rolled to 169 yards on 14 carries, including his 56-yard TD run and his 49-yard run to the 2-yard line to set up another score.

“The tackling was poor, to say the least,” Ryan said. “Sometimes when you get up like that, you can’t have any kind of lapse, and I kind of felt we did. I’m not taking anything away from Buffalo. They certainly did a good job on offense.”

So good that their 7.5 yards per carry was the 11th-highest average by an opponent in Jets history and the second-highest in the last 10 years. The only opponent better in that span was the Bengals with their 7.8 in the Jets’ ’09 playoff win.

Also mentioned by the coach: RB Shonn Greene’s “uncharacteristic” two fumbles, both recovered by the Jets, one by Greene at the Bills 43 in the second quarter, the other by D’Brickashaw Ferguson in the end zone inside the final two minutes, with the ball going back to the Buffalo 1. And Rex said “I never want to see Yeremiah [Bell] pitch that ball, either,” on the Bell recovery of the LaRon Landry force against Spiller.

“Inside the Jets” Returns

“Inside the Jets,” hosted by Bob Wischusen, is back on the air tonight from 7-8 p.m. at the Grasshopper in Morristown. ESPN New York 98.7 will broadcast the show, whose guests are expected to be WR Stephen Hill and T Austin Howard.

Yessss!

Marv Albert and Rich Gannon were in the CBS booth for the game. It was the 98th Jets game Marv has called in his illustrious career, and it was the 11th Jets opener he worked — but the first since 1995 at Miami for NBC.


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Revis Talks About Role in ESPN’s New MNF Spot

Posted by Randy Lange on August 12, 2012 – 2:39 pm

Updated, 3:51 p.m. ET

Are you ready for some football? Darrelle Revis always is, and he’ll help get Jets Nation ready as well when ESPN airs its new Monday Night Football spot that features No. 24 along with several other players and one owner during the day Monday.

“I’m just going to take it in stride,” Revis told me after today’s midday training camp practice at SUNY Cortland. “They want to feature several guys and I was there with a bunch of guys a few months ago. We just chopped it up and had a great time.”

The other players involved in this spot are Texans RB Arian Foster, Eagles RB LeSean McCoy and Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski. The owner is noted Cowboys wallflower Jerry Jones.

As you can tell from the image in our centerpiece (courtesy of ESPN Images), there will be a Revis Island-y kind of theme for Darrelle’s latest national exposure, which will first be viewable on ESPN Front Row and then later tomorrow on the network.

“We have had great participation from Jerry Jones and a number of NFL players this summer and we appreciate the time they gave us during their offseason,” said ESPN Marketing senior director Seth Ader. “Their involvement really speaks to our new tagline that ‘It All Comes Down to Monday Night’.”

Revis had one very big Monday night in 2011, his Game 6 home showing vs. Miami when he defensed four passes, two of them interceptions and one of them his much-discussed and celebrated 100-yard return vs. Matt Moore and Brandon Marshall. That was by far the biggest performance of the six Monday appearances in his career, but despite that and this year’s MNF spot, Revis isn’t treating Monday night’s any differently than he always has.

“It’s just another game on the schedule that you prepare for,” he said. “It is more hyped up. That and Sunday night football, they’re probably the most hyped games to play because you’re center stage so that pressure does come with it. Monday night, I don’t try to focus in on the hype. I just try to look forward to it as another game, just execute and do my job.”

Revis Rings Up Bell and Coples

Revis passed around praise for some defensive mates in the wake of the loss in Cincinnati on Friday night. On safety Yeremiah Bell’s Jets debut, he said, “I think it went great for him. Yeremiah called the plays when he was in Miami, so he’s comfortable with that, he’s used to that. So even though Eric [Smith] went down, we know Yeremiah can step in and call the plays.”

And on DE Quinton Coples’ impressive debut in green and white: “Well, he’s the No. 1 pick. We drafted him there for a reason. He showed why he’s a No. 1 pick. He made a lot of plays out there, he had a great game. There’s still a learning curve, he has a long way to go, but I think he’s going to do great wonders for us this year.”

And on the game in general: “There were a couple of mistakes out there, but overall I think the coaches were satisfied with the effort by the defense and the offense as well. There’s a couple of things we need to clean up but I think we’re going on the right path.”

We’ll have Darrelle’s remarks about their upcoming home preseason opener against the Giants at MetLife, along with comments from a bunch more Jets, later this week.

Rex Cetera

Ryan touted the play of RT Austin Howard, filling in for Wayne Hunter at Cincinnati: “Anyone that can play the way he played is trying to tell you something and you have to find a way to get him out there. … He is driving and finishing. That’s what we’ve been talking about and I’m really encouraged by him.”

Ryan on his injuries: Hunter (back) returned to practice. WRs Santonio Holmes (rib) and Jeremy Kerley (hamstring) remain out. Of Kerley, the coach said, “Hopefully by the end of the week we’ll be able to see him out there on the practice field.” S Eric Smith (shoulder/knee) didn’t go and is listed as day-to-day.

Practice Notes

CB Kyle Wilson had an active practice this morning, getting one interception on a Tim Tebow tipped pass and another on a good break over the middle on a Mark Sanchez ball in 7-on-7 drills. … Two pretty receptions: Raymond Webber with another grab of a bobbled downfield ball, and Wes Kemp bringing in Greg McElroy’s long ball down the middle with a great leap and fingertip grab. … Sanchez and Tebow each found TE Dustin Keller for TDs. … Jets announced this morning they have waived P Travis Baltz. … Today’s SUNY Cortland practice attendance: 4,257.


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Eric Smith on the 3-Headed Starting Safety Spot

Posted by Randy Lange on August 9, 2012 – 11:05 am

The Jets defense has its own position experiment going on, not exactly similar to Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow at QB but intriguing nonetheless.

How do you fit three starting-quality safeties into two first-string positions? You call them all starters.

And as far as Eric Smith’s concerned, the approach is working fine.

“That’s what we’re going to do, and it’s looking good,” the upbeat Smith said this week. “We’re excited about it. I think it’ll be good for us.”

The other two safeties starting alongside Smith are, of course, veteran deep-middle men Yeremiah Bell and LaRon Landry. All three are impressive in their own right. Bell signed later in the offseason but has been around longer and has inhaled the Rex Ryan/Mike Pettine defense. OC Tony Sparano, Bell’s head coach with the Dolphins from 2008-11, said, “This guy was really a special player for me.”

Landry was signed as an unrestricted free agent in March but was rarely around the Jets building until June’s minicamp as he rehabbed those Achilles and foot issues he had the previous two seasons with Washington. We’ll cross our fingers as we say it, but Landry appears to be back to his old impactful self from his first three Redskins seasons.

“He’s a specimen, one of the biggest cut-up guys I’ve seen,” Smith said. “Seeing him move around, he’s zero-to-60 almost as fast as Cro [Antonio Cromartie], and Cro’s fast. He’s a very gifted athlete.”

Smitty’s no slouch, either. He was hobbled by different injuries last year but still played in all 16 games, started a career-high 14, and also posted career highs with 83 tackles and 2.5 sacks. And with Jim Leonhard gone off to Denver, he’s probably inherits the title as quarterback of the Ryan/Pettine scheme.

“I’m feeling good right now. I’m staying healthy and I feel like I’m having a good camp back there,” he said. “Making the checks, getting everybody on the same page, I feel like our communication right now is so far ahead of where it was last year and that we’re playing a lot faster.”

But since 3 usually doesn’t go into 2 evenly, Smith was asked how that’s going to work at his position. One way, he said, is for all three to be on the turf at the same time, in, say, some of their sub looks.

“The safeties we have, the different roles we can play,” he said, “I see a lot of packages where they’re putting all of us on the field, and it’s looking good.”

In the base, one of those safeties has to come off the field. Pettine no doubt has ideas on when the best combo will be Smith-Bell, when it’s Smith-Landry and when it’s Bell-Landry. But when Smith comes off the field, he knows he’ll still have plenty of reps ahead on Mike Westhoff’s special teams — although he marvels at Westhoff saying that this year “We’re going to free up Eric to be back with us a little bit more.”

“I don’t know how he can get me back more. I was on everything!” Smith said. Asked what was the most snaps he played in a game last season, he said, “There were a couple of games where I was over 100. More than a couple.”

We’ll see how the plan begins to morph as soon as Friday night at Cincinnati in the Jets’ preseason opener. But for now and hopefully on through the season, the safeties can warble a little Meat Loaf karaoke when they sing “Three into Two Ain’t Bad.”

Benefits of the Preseason Opener

TE Dustin Keller was asked Wednesday if Friday is the perfect time for the Jets to open their preseason schedule. “I would say so, before we all kill each other,” he said, laughing. “No, everything’s been good, camp’s been good, but we’re ready to hit another color jersey. While you’re going against your team, and competing against the best defense in the NFL is all good and great, you want to get out there and get some live work and a real feel for where this offense is.”

Keller’s desires for the offense against the Bengals’ defense: “I would like to see us making big plays and big plays down the field, and establish the run. I would like to see us be more consistent. I want to see us have multiple long-play drives, just keep it going, and staying out of the three-and-outs.”

Practice Notes

Today’s practice was a closed walkthrough before the Jets board their charter flight for Cincinnati. … The Jets have several Ohioans on their roster, including two who played in the Queen City market. FB John Conner played at Lakota West HS in West Chester, a half-hour drive from downtown. Reporter John Holt talked with Conner exclusively for our e-newsletter subscribers. Click here to sign up for the newsletter. And CB Julian Posey attended La Salle HS in the northwestern part of the city. … LB Bryan Thomas will be making a return to action from last year’s Achilles injury and he’s pretty excited about it. Read my advance on BT in his first game action in a while Friday morning on newyorkjets.com.


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Jets Release Their First Depth Chart of Summer

Posted by Randy Lange on August 7, 2012 – 7:25 pm

The Jets this evening have issued their first depth chart of the season.

With the distribution of the first game release of the summer to reporters, for Friday night’s Jets-Bengals game, we have posted the depth chart in that release on our site. You can find it here.

Bearing in mind that head coach Rex Ryan hasn’t announced any of his starters or any rotations for the game yet, here are a couple of spots worth mentioning:

Stephen Hill is listed at the WR starter opposite Santonio Holmes. If Hill starts vs. the Stripes —possible since Holmes is doubtful with his rib injury — he could be the only rookie to get the start in the preseason opener.

That would also make Hill only the fifth offensive first-year player to start in the first preseason game since 2000. Jonathan Goodwin started at LG at Pittsburgh in 2002, D’Brickashaw Ferguson at LT and Nick Mangold at C at Tampa Bay in ’06, and Jehuu Caulcrick at FB vs. St. Louis in Rex Ryan’s first game as Jets head coach in ’09.

“It definitely would be a great thing, a big honor, if that happened,” Hill told me. “But I’m still trying to make the team along with a lot of other guys. I’m doing my part to make plays and don’t get chewed out by the coaches.”

On this first chart, Chaz Schilens is listed at No. 2 behind Hill, while the Holmes side lists Jeremy Kerley No. 2 and Patrick Turner No. 3.

John Conner is the only player listed at fullback, with FB/TE Josh Baker being located No. 3 at TE behind Dustin Keller and Jeff Cumberland.

No. 1 draft choice Quinton Coples is backing up his old Hargrave Military teammate, Muhammad Wilkerson, at DE, with Mike DeVito checking in alongside Sione Po‘uha as the Jets’ three No. 1 D-linemen at this time.

Bryan Thomas is back at his old No. 1 spot at OLB after he missed the final 12 games last year due to his Achilles injury at Baltimore in Game 4.

Aaron Maybin, shot from a cannon this summer, checks in behind Calvin Pace at the other OLB spot.

Third-round rookie LB Demario Davis, sidelined for the start of camp with a hamstring pull, is listed behind Bart Scott and Josh Mauga at the Will spot on the inside next to David Harris.

And the most interesting experiment may be at safety, where the Jets are listing Eric Smith, Yeremiah Bell and LaRon Landry all as starters.

“That’s what we’re going to do, and we’re excited about it,” said Smitty, who started 14 of 16 games at safety last year alongside either Brodney Pool or Jim Leonhard. “I think it’ll be good for us.” I’ll have more on Smith’s view of his evolving role with his two new safety mates in the next few days.

Of course, the depth chart is only a guide for how players might be lining up in practice and at games but the Jets’ starting lineup. And it’s only updated once a week, before the game ahead. We’ll update our depth chart page every week as soon as we are able.

Two New Sets of Hands

The Jets also announced tonight they have signed two new wide receivers, Stanley Arukwe (6’0″, 180) of Troy, who will wear No. 16, and Joseph Collins (6’3″, 195) of Weber State, who will wear No.  87, while waiving recent WR signee Chris Forcier. That brings their roster to one under the 90-player limit.


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Landry’s on Hand, ‘Shocked’ by Rehab Progress

Posted by Randy Lange on June 13, 2012 – 4:04 pm

“Dirty 30″ is on the scene at the Jets minicamp this week, only adding to the enthusiasm that the defense has been displaying.

“Yeah, they give me a hard time for not being here,” safety LaRon Landry said in front of his locker after today’s open practice at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. “You know, ‘Who’s the new guy? Who’s this guy?’ It’s all fun and games, but when it comes down to it, all the guys welcomed me with opened arms.

“I play with passion, just like the other guys, so I’m looking forward to being an addition. They already got it. I’m just trying to add to it.”

Now before we go too far, we should say that Landry, who wears No. 30 and has been called, lovingly by the Redskins, not so much by opponents, “Dirty 30,” is not practicing with the Jets yet. His heel rehab, which he underwent away from the facility for weeks, continues.

But on the other hand, the prognosis is definitely upbeat for Landry laying some beats on friends and foes this summer at training camp.

“LaRon is way ahead of where our trainers thought he’d be,” head coach Rex Ryan said this morning. “He thought it was best he work out with people who are very familiar with him, and you kind of worry about that a little bit. But it’s a real positive that he’s come back and he’s obviously done a lot of work there. You saw him running in the back of the end zone. We’ve just got to be smart the next couple of days that he doesn’t overdo things. He’s on the right track and we feel good about it.”

“I’m progressing and things are looking real well — I was kind of shocked myself,” Landry said. “I can’t wait to get back out there and be with the team.”

When the Jets signed Landry as an unrestricted free agent in March, both sides knew it might take a few months for him to get back into form. He assured reporters today that his Achilles is not the issue anymore. It’s just the heel bone that’s connected to the tendon.

“It’s more of a bone issue. The Achilles is totally healed,” he said, describing his rehab regimen of one treatment with AmnioMatrix, which is described as a “cryopreserved liquid wound covering derived from amniotic tissue and cells,” as well as “a couple of PRPs,” platelet-rich plasma transfusion that has been used not only by Landry but by Tiger Woods and other athletes to accelerate the natural healing process.

The upshot is that while he’s still not committing to a definite schedule to return to full team activity, he’s said as far as running, cutting, backpedaling and other safety stuff, “I’m doing it all. Now I’m just trying to perfect it. … Every day is a steppingstone and it’s getting better and better.”

As for the mental part of joining the Jets defense, Landry said, “I’ve had my playbook. It wasn’t like I wasn’t into it. It’s just basically getting back out there and communicating with the guys, making sure we’re on the same page. That’s the biggest key, communication, in the secondary.”

Now can Landry mesh with holdover Eric Smith and fellow recent arrival Yeremiah Bell quickly enough to combat the Gronkowski-Hernandez menace and other TE depth charts? Some observers have concerns, but Ryan feels that when they’re all healthy and humming along, they can get the job done.

“I think these guys can do a lot more than just go in there and blast you on the running game,”: Ryan said of his two experienced newcomers. “Landry, when he’s healthy, is a 4.3-something-in-the-40 type of guy. He’s got tons of God-given ability. Yeremiah gets it done — he’s as fast as he needs to be. [The Dolphins] for their situation, they felt better putting him down in the box, and that’s hard to argue with. You see the impact plays he makes. For us, we were looking for all-around safeties, and we have three right now that we feel really good about.”

And if Landry needs to bring someone up with him from back home to help with his rehab and transition and keep him company, well, he’s got the ready companion in Gucci, his pet Capuchin monkey who has been a minor social-media animal celebrity.

“These guys asked me to bring Gucci up. Yeah, I’ll definitely bring him up,” Landry said. “He’s pretty cool.”

Rex Cetera

Ryan detailed his injured and tweaked players again this morning. Not practicing besides Landry: DT Marcus Dixon, TE Brian Linthicum, WR Patrick Turner, WR Jordan White. Limited: TE Jeff Cumberland, WR DaMarcus Ganaway, WR Stephen Hill, WR Santonio Holmes, G Brandon Moore, G Matt Slauson, LB Bryan Thomas.

Rex on if Tim Tebow will get any reps ahead of Sanchez at QB in, let’s say, training camp: “We’ll see. I would think there may be a time when he does that. Right now he’ll be with the twos.” … And Rex on any Darrelle Revis contract “situation”: “Everybody knows how I feel about Darrelle. Any contract talk, that’s going to be Mike Tannenbaum’s deal. … I’m focused on coaching this football team, and that’s what I’ll do.”

With the weather cooperating this morning, today’s practice was opened to fans and 750 were in attendance, ringing the Jets’ grass field. Thursday’s practice is also open and (cross our fingers) the weather appears to be cooperating again. Gates at the Atlantic Health facility open at 10 a.m., Jets Fest and Jets Shop also open at 10, and practice begins at 11 a.m. Admission and parking are free but parking is limited and it’s standing room only at the practice.


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