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Insider Thursday Team Report

Friday, November 20th, 2009

Focus Marks the Day

Wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery could see time returning punts this Sunday when the Jets take on the New England Patriots.

Wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery could see time returning punts this Sunday when the Jets take on the New England Patriots.

The New England Patriots are not the same group that came to East Rutherford in Week Two.

They’re clicking on offense, Tom Brady looks like the Golden Boy of old, and they’re angry after blowing a victory against the rival Indianapolis Colts.

So if the Jets are going to halt this seemingly unstoppable slide with a win in Foxboro this Sunday, they’d better bring their best effort in each day of preparation.

That’s just what Gang Green did today, with an outstanding, crisp practice marked by a team-wide focus that signals Coach Ryan’s group has seen enough of the wrong side of the final score.

“We had a great practice out there today,” Ryan said.  “Focus (and) attention to detail was right on point.  Normally, I talk about the quarterback or this guy, that guy, but I’m going to call out Danny Woodhead and Justin Miller.  I they were outstanding.  Justin Miller was outstanding.  He’s looking good, so hopefully he can get our defense down and we can use him because he was great today.”

The Clemson product is on the verge of seeing his role increase with the Jets if he’s able to adapt to Ryan’s defensive scheme.  Miller can do a lot of things on the football field – serviceable in the return game, and a potential impact player on the defensive side of the ball.  They say every player simply needs an opportunity, and this might be Miller’s shot find a home here with the Jets.

PIECING TOGETHER THE RETURN GAME

The sight of Leon Washington and his motorized scooter around the Jets’ training facility is a welcomed sight to some, but nevertheless serves as a constant reminder of what the club must do in order to have some semblance of a return game heading into Sunday’s game against the Pats.

So far this week, it’s been anyone from Lito Sheppard, to Darrelle Revis to Miller trying to take on the job.  With safety Jim Leonhard most likely out for Sunday’s tilt, the guy who may assume the post is neither of the three.  Wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery has looked the most promising returning punts this week, and will most likely take on the job in New England.

“What’s looked best in practice is Jerricho (Cotchery).  Plus I like the fact that he came to me and wants to do it.  He looked really good.  He looked smooth and we’ll play some two-deep like we’ve done before with he and Brad (Smith).  The two of them together, I felt looked really good.  Plus with Jerricho being short-handed, then I can play some different fronts and be a little more aggressive at times.  I may want to do that some, so I liked what I saw with Jerricho.  He looked very good catching the ball.”

It certainly will be interesting to see #89 back deep for the Jets Sunday.  But they could do worse.  He’s a sure-handed, speedy receiver who has no problem eluding tacklers.  He also went to special teams coach Mike Westhoff and asked to be involved in the punt-returning game.  You have to love the go-getter mentality of Cotchery, but someone with little experience against a Patriots team that’s solid in every phase of the game could get this team in trouble.  Only four quarters of football Sunday will tell.

LIFE ON REVIS ISLAND

Cornerback Darrelle Revis will be going up against his old pal Randy Moss this weekend, a challenge the top-flight corner relishes taking on twice a season.

“It’s always great to compete against the best.  It brings out the best in me and it brings out the best in those guys.  I still give respect to all of the receivers that I go up against.”

Revis was also asked about the addition of Wes Welker to the Patriots’ offense for this week’s matchup, the receiver have been inactive for the first game between the two clubs.

“It’s a big change.  He’s a big part of their offense.  Brady throws to him all the time.  He (was) hurt early in the season and then you see he comes back and has 64 catches and a couple of touchdowns.  We know he is a go-to guy for them.”

The addition of Welker potentially poses major problems for the Jets’ secondary, especially with the absence of Leonhard.  If the defense is not able to get to Tom Brady, the D could be in for a long afternoon.

The Jets return to the practice field Friday for a workout beginning at 11:50 AM.  Be sure to check back to JetsInsider.com for all your news and updates.


Change Is In The Air

Monday, November 16th, 2009

Losing five out of your last six leaves you searching for answers.

The Jets find themselves in this very predicament today, after dropping another winnable home game yesterday to the Jacksonville Jaguars.  With their playoff hopes slipping away with each passing Sunday, Gang Green made some interesting personnel decisions Monday.

First came the release of cornerback Ahmad Carroll, and the subsequent signing of linebacker Kenwin Cummings off the practice squad.

“I think (Marquice) Cole has really taken (Carroll’s) role,” head coach Rex Ryan said of the move.  “I think he’s done an outstanding job.  That’s not a slight on Batman (Carroll).  It’s just that I think this guy won the job.  It’s a chance for us to get Kenwin Cummings up.  He’s really looked good on the scout teams (and) been a real physical presence for us.  We’ll see what Kenwin can do for us.”

Later on in the day, it was announced defensive line coach Kerry Locklin will not remain with the team the rest of the season, a surprising move in that he lost his best player, Kris Jenkins, for the season due to injury.  So the unit’s performance in his absence couldn’t have been the reason for the departure, the defensive line doing a mostly solid job in Jenkins’ absence.

“It’s  mutual decision that Kerry no longer will be with us,” Ryan said.  “I will be overseeing the entire defense as I always have with Mike Pettine.  We felt it was the best thing for both of us moving forward.  This is a sensitive issue.  The timing is unfortunate but I felt this was in the best interests for both of us.”

The Jets defense was given another blow as S Jim Leonhard needs thumb surgery and his status is TBD. (JetsInsider.com Photo)

The Jets defense was given another blow as S Jim Leonhard needs thumb surgery and his status is TBD. (JetsInsider.com Photo)

And if a midseason coaching change and a bad loss wasn’t enough to give everyone a case of the Mondays, Ryan announced safety Jim Leonhard will have surgery on his injured thumb, and it’s unclear how long the first-year Jet will be out.

And with that, it’s safe to say the wheels are coming off the 2009 season for these New York Jets.

They have sustained major injuries to starters on both sides of the ball.  They can’t seem to put a complete game together, an effort in which all three phases of the game perform well on the same Sunday.  And their trash-talking defense doesn’t seem so brash anymore after having a chance to end the game and preserve a win that could have turned the season around, and not getting the job done.

They’re losing games in heartbreaking fashion, and it doesn’t seem like anything can pull them out of the quicksand they currently inhabit.  But take solace in the fact these Jets are not pointing the finger.  They’re not making excuses, and they’re playing hard for their unwavering head coach.  The injuries they’ve sustained may be too much to overcome, but all you can ever ask out of the team you cheer for is for them to play as hard as they can.  And these Jets do that.

So while the losses seemingly get worse by the week, Gang Green will always show up to play their hearts out under Rex Ryan.  Unfortunately, effort doesn’t always equate to wins, and with a fanbase as passionate as the Jets’, the level of patience is shrinking by the day.

THOUGHTS ON THE LOSS

As their head man has said numerous times, the Jets know the keys to getting back on a winning track lie in doing away with the misques that have marked their recent slide.

“The biggest thing is to stop spotting (them) points,” wide receiver Braylon Edwards said.  Yesterday we spotted them on the first play of the game and then we came back and spotted them on another play.  We’re giving guys a chance.  You look at what we did in Miami.  We’re spotting guys points and then at the end we’re trying to play from behind.  This is the National Football League.  That’s pretty hard to do.  We’re just hurting ourselves, I had to take credit away from these guys but we’re losing games.”

These misques must end in order to make a serious playoff run, and Gang Green knows they’ve put themselves in a tough spot.

“There is no margin for error,” tackle Damien Woody said.  “This is the situation we put ourselves in.  We understand that and we have to be accountable to that.  Moving forward we do have an opportunity.  It’s all about taking advantage of the opportunity.  That’s all we can ask for is an opportunity to right the ship and do something that we set forth way back in the offseason.  We have seven weeks to prove ourselves as a team.  We’ll see what happens.”

The team returns to the practice field Tuesday for a workout beginning at 11:50 AM.  Be sure to check back to JetsInsider.com for all your news and updates.

Jets Insider Thursday Team Report

Thursday, November 12th, 2009

 

REX CHALLENGES THE FAITHFUL

FLORHAM PARK, NJ – Just how important is Sunday’s matchup with the Jacksonville Jaguars? The Jags’ 4-4 record matches that of Gang Green, and with both clubs fighting to stay alive in the AFC playoff race, falling a game below .500 will be devastating for either squad.

This one’s so important, in fact that head Coach Rex Ryan has once again challenged the loyal Jets faithful to bring their “A” game this Sunday.

Fireman Ed will need to bring his A game Sunday after being challenged by Jets coach Rex Ryan. (JetsInsider.com Photo)

Fireman Ed will need to bring his "A" game Sunday after being challenged by Jets coach Rex Ryan. (JetsInsider.com Photo)

“When we played New England, that was the loudest stadium I had ever been in.  There was no question this wasn’t just the Jets.  This was their team, our fans’ team.  We need a great effort this week, so I’m challenging our fans.  Be prideful that this is your football team and we can accomplish everything we set out to do and I think when we get that energy from our crowd, that might be the difference this week.”

STOPPING THE MOJO

The Jets are going to need a raucous crowd, and an outstanding performance from their defense to stop running back Maurice Jones-Drew, the third-leading rusher in the NFL, from wreaking havoc in Sunday’s affair.  He may look small in height, but Jones-Drew is nothing short of a bowling ball when he hits the hole.  The Jets’ defense has done a job beyond anyone’s expectations in stopping the run in the absence of injured tackle Kris Jenkins, but on Sunday, they’ll be faced with their toughest challenge to date in Jones-Drew.

“It’s difficult because you’ve got to bend at your ankle, knees, hips and everything to get down there to hit this guy.  He is a powerful man.  There is no question about it.  I really like this guy.  I like the guy at Miami probably the best, Ronnie Brown.  Then, I’d put this guy right there.”

So, how do you go about stopping a player who presents this type of problem?  Many have tried, but few have succeeded so far this season – his 737 rushing yards put him third in the NFL through the first nine weeks of the season.

“A big point of emphasis is tackling,” linebacker Calvin Pace said.  “If you can get a guy down, get him down.  Get guys to the ball.  It’s simple, but it’s not that simple.  It’s going to be tough.”

“He’s every bit as advertised,” defensive coordinator Mike Pettine said.  “He’s a special back.  We faced him a year ago in Baltimore and he was as much as we stressed all week.  It’s easy to say, that you make sure you set the edges on him and he’s never down and make sure the second and third guy in never relax around the pile.  he still managed to really get some runs on us.”

Pettine, like Pace, stressed tackling as imperitive for Gang Green’s defense this week if they want to stop Jones-Drew.  If the unit can maintain gap discipline and keep him off the edges, they have the personnel to be able to stop MJD and put the ball in quarterback David Garrard’s hands and force him to try and beat them, which presents a huge advantage for the Jets.

INJURY UPDATE

Linebacker Vernon Gholston was unable to practice today, and Shaun Ellis and wide receiver Brad Smith were limited in their activities, but Coach Ryan fully expects them to play Sunday.  Cornerbacks Lito Sheppard (quad), and Donald Strickland (ankle), Damien Woody (lower back) and Wallace Wright (knee) all participated fully in today’s workout.

The beneficiary of the bye week, Sheppard feels ready to go for this Sunday’s matchup with the Jags.

“I’m feeling good,” Sheppard said.  “I’m anxious and can’t wait to get back out there and hopefully add a great asset to this secondary.  These guys have been playing great up until this point.  Hopefully, I can come back and continue to add on to that.”

The team will work out tomorrow in their final preparations for Sunday.  Be sure to check back to JetsInsider.com for all your news and updates.



Back to Work

Monday, November 9th, 2009
Rex Ryan feels the Jets will get back on track if they can take care of the little things.

Rex Ryan feels the Jets will get back on track if they can take care of the "little things".

The Jets got back to the daily grind on Monday, fresh off some time away from the pigskin and away from their training complex in Florham Park during the bye week.

The day’s workout was merely designed to get the rust off after an extended break, but time away can provide you with plenty of room to think about what’s gone wrong, and how it can be fixed.

That was the vibe at Jets camp this afternoon, with Gang Green appearing rejuvinated as they returned to football after a week off.

“It felt good to get back out there,” running back Thomas Jones.  “Guys had a chance to get away, recover, look back over the last eight weeks, correct some of the mistakes we’ve made and get ready.  Guys were full of energy today and excited to get back onto the field and are looking forward to playing this weekend.”

It’s all well and good that these guys appear ready and excited to get back to work.  But the fact remains this team is 4-4, and have put themselves in a considerable hole in their quest to get to postseason play.  The self-inflicted wounds that have plagued this team all season long must be fixed, or the second half of this season could be even more of a roller coaster than the first.

But that’s my opinion.  What does our fearless leader, Rex Ryan, have to say about what his squad needs to do fix in order to secure a playoff spot?

“Just doing the little things,”  he said.  Our special teams, at times, have been outstanding and where we thought they’d be.  As good as Jay (Feely) is, challenge yourself.  Place the ball (on kickoffs).  Let’s make sure we’re doing the little things.  Getting tackles on special teams would be huge.  Even on offense, the turnover is going to happen, but we need to get the guy down.  You’ve got to get the guy on the ground.  You have to give our defense a chance to go out there and keep them out of the end zone.  On defense, our communication needs to still get better.  There are things we’re doing well, but we’ve got to get some turnovers and score with turnovers.  Usually, we’re the team that’s scoring with takeaways.  There are things I know we can get better at and I’m confident in our group that we will get better at those things.”

If the Jets can get rid of even half of the little mistakes they’ve made over the course of the first 8 weeks, they’d be staring at a 6-2 record.  Another area that needs gain consistency, though, is the play of the quarterback.

Mark Sanchez has had his outstanding moments through the first half of his rookie season, but his bad ones have equaled them.  Still, Ryan feels the USC product has done very well in this his first NFL season, and needs only to follow his job description to improve.

“You can just look at the turnover battle.  When we win the turnover battle we win, when we lose it we’ve lost.  He’s played well.  He’s played well enough to win most games.  For a rookie quarterback, he’s better than maybe I even thought as a rookie.  He’s just part of the team.  He doesn’t have to do anything Herculean.  He just (has) to play the position.  Go play quarterback.  I’m confident that he’ll do it.”

The team will practice each day this week, with tomorrow’s workout beginning at 11:50 AM.  Be sure to check back to JetsInsider.com for all your news and updates.

Self-Inflicted Wounds

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2009
Weve seen to many looks like this from quarterback Mark Sanchez over the first eight games of the season.

We've seen to many looks like this from quarterback Mark Sanchez over the first eight games of the season.

On Monday, the talk at Jets camp wasn’t about the Miami Dolphins winning yesterday’s 30-25 game at the Meadowlands.

It was about Gang Green losing it.

When you hold a team to 104 total yards and sack the quarterback six times, you need to win the game.  But the Jets didn’t yesterday, in large part due to two special teams breakdowns and a fumble on offense leading to 21 of the 30 Dolphins points.

“We spotted them,” head coach Rex Ryan said.  “You give up 21 points and your defense is not on the field, you’re probably not going to win too many games.”

Indeed, that is not exactly a winning formula.  But there were positives to take from yesterday’s agonizing loss.

The defense was dominant at points, doing a much better job of applying pressure on Miami quarterback Chad Henne.  They only gave up 9 points.  But they were unable to stop the Dolphins when it mattered most, leaving a bitter taste in the mouths of the Jets, who currently sit at 4-4 and 1-3 in the AFC east.

AT THE HALFWAY MARK…

We’re through eight games, and it’s been nothing short of a rollercoaster ride for these New York Football Jets through the season’s first half.  We’ve seen the highest of highs (the Patriots game) and the lowest of lows, (the Buffalo disaster) and everything in between.  But Gang Green is still very much alive in the playoff race, and still has an outside chance to make a run at an AFC East title.

So what needs to change for this team to go the minimum 5-3 they’re going to need to go to get a playoff spot?  The first objective, according to Ryan, is to cut down on the misques.

“We’ve given up six touchdowns when the defense has not even been on the field,” Ryan said.  “That has to change.  But we also need to start scoring on defense.  We need to start getting the takeaways and start scoring when we get them.”

“The fact that we’re still in those games with all the parameters that we’ve talked about, is something that I think we can build from.  I think it’s something that if we can get this corrected, I think we’re good enough.  I think we’re close to being that team, but we have to find a way to win.  That’s what we’re going to try to accomplish.  We have to get there just one step at a time.  We know that.  But I have confidence.  My confidence has not wavered one bit on the people that we have in this organization, in the coaches that we have, in the players that we have.”

SANCHEZ ON HIS FIRST HALF PERFORMANCE

Rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez provided some comments on his performance through his first eight games as a pro, and leaves the first half of the season feeling optimistic about where he, and this team, can go from here.

“More than anything those two, the New Orleans game and the Buffalo game were just two stinkers.  They were bad.  There are no two ways about it.  Bad, poor decisions, poor reads and just terrible games by a quarterback.  The way I bounced back, I was proud of that.  The way I wasn’t afraid to throw it after that, I’m real proud of that.  I have had the same mindset the entire time, that something good is about to happen.”

As for what he can improve on during the bye heading into the final eight games, the list was plentiful, but #6 feels he can get it done over the break.

“There will be little things from each game,” he said.  “My footwork, cleaning up some of the reads and some decision making things that need to improve.  Overall, I won’t be satisfied.  I never will be.  A lot of people will say, “Hey man, you’re a rookie and you’re playing really good for a rookie.”  But I don’t want to play like a rookie.  I want to play like a 10-year vet, a Pro Bowler, a Super Bowl Champion.  That is the way I want to play and that’s the way I feel I can play with this team around me.”

The team is off for the rest of the week, but be sure to check back to JetsInsider.com for all your news and updates.





DOLPHINS 30 – JETS 25

Sunday, November 1st, 2009

Miami completes season sweep as Jets are grounded by miscues.

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – Usually, if your team puts up 25 points and holds the opposition to 104 total yards, you’re going to win the football game.

But Sunday’s matchup against the Miami Dolphins was just one of those days for the Jets.

Their defense was dominant, they ran the football, and Mark Sanchez threw two touchdown passes and ran for another.  But two kickoff return touchdowns from Ted Ginn Jr. and a fumble return TD by Jason Taylor helped Miami steal their second victory of the season over these Jets, who now sit at 4-4 and 1-3 in the AFC East with Sunday’s 30-25 loss.

Dolphins KR Ted Ginn Jr. scores one of his two kickoff returns for TDs as the Jets lose to Miami 30-25.

Dolphins KR Ted Ginn Jr. scores one of his two kickoff returns for TD's as the Jets lose to Miami 30-25. (JetsInsider.com Photo)

Perhaps most bewildering were the two touchdowns by Ginn, of 100 and 101 yards respectively.  A unit that is widely regarded as one of the best in the game, and which hadn’t allowed a touchdown all season, surrendered scores on consecutive kickoffs, each infinitely deflating to the comeback hopes of the Jets.

“I take pride in special teams, so when a guy runs back two kickoff returns, in my mind we’re responsible for the loss,” special teamer Wallace Wright said.  “That killed us today. That’s just how I am.  They can say everybody contributed to the loss, and maybe people contributed to the loss.  We had some penalties today, but in my mind we lost the game.   That’s how I look at it.  That’s unacceptable, two kickoff returns for touchdowns in a game.”

The game had all the makings of a defensive slugfest through the first 30 minutes of play, with the rivals playing to a 3-3 tie through two quarters.  Both offenses were anemic at best, with the two clubs combining for a whopping 179 yards of total offense

Mark Sanchez was equally miserable, going 8-16 for 54 yards and looking downright lost in the process.  The only bright spot was the defense of the Jets, who were able to get consistent pressure on Dolphins quarterback Chad Henne throughout the game totaling six sacks. The unit kept the Jets in the game, and second quarter field goals by each team left the score tied at three at the end of the half.

But what seemed like a lesson in offensive ineptitude morphed into a shootout in a wild second half.  After Jay Feely gave the Jets a 6-3 lead early in the third quarter, Ginn notched the first of his two return TD’s on the ensuing kickoff, streaking down the sideline to give the Dolphins their first lead of the day at 10-6.  On the very next possession for the Jets, running back Shonn Greene took a handoff off right tackle and coughed up the football, the pigskin bouncing perfectly up into the arms of Miami defensive end Jason Taylor who took it 48 yards for a touchdown.  Just like that, the Jets were down 17-6 before they blinked.

Sanchez would not let his offense go quietly, though, as he engineered a five-play, 29-yard drive after a muffed punt by the Davone Bess, capping it off by calling his own number for a one-yard touchdown scamper.  The Jets were right back in the game at 17-13, needing only a stop on defense to get the ball back with a chance to take the lead.

Or so they thought.  On the ensuing kickoff Ginn struck again, this time eluding several Jets tacklers before taking his second kickoff return of the day to the house for six, this one of the 101-yard variety.  You could hear the air seep out of Giants stadium with each step Ginn took towards the end zone, seemingly providing the dagger for the Dolphins late in the third quarter.

But the Jets stormed back behind Sanchez, as the rookie orchestrated a three-play, 74-yard drive culminating in a 19-yard touchdown catch by Braylon Edwards, that once again brought the Jets to within five.  But instead of kicking the extra point, head coach Rex Ryan decided to go for the two-point conversion, which ended up failing, keeping the Dolphins lead at five.

It appeared the Dolphins had finally put the game away halfway through the fourth quarter when they churned out a 13-play, 67-yard drive that elapsed 7:47 off the clock, and ended with a Chad Henne touchdown pass to Joey Haynos from five yards out.  The Jets weren’t out of haymakers, though.  Just 2:56 later, Sanchez found Dustin Keller at the goal line, and the tight end who had eight catches for 76 yards make a shoestring grab and broke the plane, bring the Jets back once again from the depths of defeat.  But the two-point conversion once again failed after an illegal shift penalty moved the offense back five yards, leaving the lead at five with five minutes to play.

The defense that had been outstanding all game long came up huge once again forcing a three-and-out, giving the Jets offense one last shot to pull out the victory.  Sanchez, who finished the day 20-35 for 265 yards and two touchdown passes, drove the unit all the way to the Dolphins 12.  But the Dolphins defense held strong, and Sanchez’s fourth down pass attempt fell harmlessly to the ground in the back of the end zone, handing Gang Green their third loss in their last four games, and sending them into their bye week with a disappointing 4-4 record.

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Jets-Dolphins Live Blog: Taking you inside the action live from the Meadowlands

Sunday, November 1st, 2009

Good afternoon Jets Fans,

12:50 PM: I’m coming to you live from East Rutherford, New Jersey, where we’re just over a half hour away from kickoff between the Jets and the Miami Dolphins.

Gang Green currently sits at 4-3, but a subpar 1-2 record in the AFC East has marked the club’s first half. The club is looking to avenge their loss 20 days ago to the Dolphins – a 31-27 thriller in South Beach – this time taking on Ronnie Brown and the Fins in the friendly confines of Giants Stadium.

Heading into kickoff, I can’t help but remember Coach Ryan’s press conference after the loss to Miami, in which he called the defensive performance “embarrassing”. It certainly wasn’t one for the record books – 413 total yards allowed, 151 coming on the ground. The two things the unit didn’t do well, according to Ryan, was put pressure on the quarterback and get off the blocks put on the by the offensive line of Miami. I’m interested to see how well they can do those things in the early going against Miami’s Wildcat offense.

Also, there was a big body wearing #77 for the Jets on the defensive front the last time these two teams played. Kris Jenkins won’t be on the field today, having been lost for the season with a torn ACL. How much will that effect the Jets’ defense against a predominantly running offense? It’s certainly a storyline to watch as the game progresses.

As for the offense, watch for a big game from Braylon Edwards. Miami cornerback Will Allen was lost for the season with an ACL injury, so the Dolphins will be starting two rookie corners, Sean Smith and Vontae Davis. If the Jets can keep Mark Sanchez upright, we might see a big game from the Jets’ new deep threat.

Staying on the wide receiver front, Jerricho Cotchery will play today, so it will be interesting to see how much impact he will have, both on the game and on the targets for David Clowney.

We’re just about ten minutes away from kickoff, so be sure to check back throughout the game for my thoughts on the action live from the Meadowlands.

1:00 PM: Miami has won the toss and elected to defer. Interesting decision by the Fins – why put your defense on the field to start the game, when your offense dominated the Jets’ D three weeks ago? Establishing your offense from the opening snap could take the crowd out of the game. But we’ll see how it plays out.

1:03 PM: Leon Washington’s replacement, Justin Miller, gets off to a nice start with a 27-yard return. Keep an eye on the return game for the Jets today – we’ll get a look at just how much they’re going to be missing Leon.

1:08 PM: Dolphins quarterback Chad Henne narrowly misses a deep ball, a play in which cornerback Donald Strickland was beaten. What’s most important, the Jets sent pretty heavy pressure on Henne, and it was picked up superbly. It is imperative the Jets get to the second-year signal caller when they bring pressure, or he’s going to start hitting those deep balls for big plays.

1:15 PM: Two series on offense, 0-2 on third down conversions. The Dolphins are doing a nice job of getting pressure on Sanchez in the early going, forcing him to make quick throws. It also looks like the Jets are making a concerted effort to get tight end Dustin Keller into the flow of the game early – he’s already been targeted twice, with one going for a completion.

1:19 PM: Two series on offense for Miami, and no Wildcat? The Fins have been lining up in traditional formations in the early stages of this game, committing to the inside running game. Are they going after the hole left by the departure of Kris Jenkins? Sione Pouha is here to remind them he’s a formidable backup, stuffing a run on second down which lead to another 3-and-out.

1:28 PM: Mark Sanchez just got buried on a third-down play by Dolphins safety Gibril Wilson and the rookie was slow to get up after the play was over. He appears to be ok on the sideline, but it’s something to keep an eye on as the game progresses.

1:32 PM: We finally get a glimpse of the Wildcat, and the Jets defense stops the two plays for a total of one yard. We’re currently in a battle of punters, with Steve Weatherford of the Jets and Brandon Fields of the Dolphins doing their best to win the battle of field position.

1:39 PM: We’re at the end of one with goose eggs on the board for both teams. It’s clear we’re in for a grind-it-out, smash-mouth game. Both teams are committed to the power running game through the first frame, with the Jets utilizing the short to intermediate passing game early on. Dustin Keller is having a nice game so far, totaling three catches in the first quarter.

1:41 PM: Braylon Edwards checks in with a 25-yard reception from Sanchez. Longest offensive play of the day so far. The Jets can take advantage of Edwards’ matchups all game long for gains like this, but it seems as though they have committed to running the football until they’re forced to throw.

1:45 PM: Sanchez nearly gives the Dolphins a touchdown as his pass intended for Jerricho Cotchery goes right through the hands of Dolphins cornerback Sean Smith at the Miami one. Jay Feely comes on to cap the drive with a 23-yard field goal, giving the Jets a 3-0 lead. In a low-scoring game like this, touchdowns can put the opposition in a serious hole. When the Jets are actually able to get the ball into the Red Zone, they’ve got to capitalize with six points, not three.

1:48 PM: Good to see Feely getting after it on the kickoff coverage. Excellent tackle there by the Jets kicker at the Dolphins 25.

1: 5o PM: Espn.com is reporting Jets safety Kerry Rhodes got into a pre-game shoving match with trash-talking Dolphins linebacker Joey Porter about a half hour prior to game time. In a shocking turn of events, Porter said something to Rhodes, starting the altercation.

1:54 PM: Huge sack by David Harris on an all-out blitz by the Jets defense on a third-down, forcing a Miami punt. That’s two sacks thus far, two more than they had in the teams’ previous meeting. They’re already getting better pressure with their blitz packages, making it tough for Chad Henne to even set his feet to throw. You don’t want to get into third-and-long situations with the Jets defense on the other side of the field, and unlike in their first meeting, the unit is putting the heat on Chad Henne.

2:06 PM: Gibril Wilson says hello to Sanchez once again with another big-time hit on the qb, forcing a punt. The Dolphins have finally swung the field position battle, starting this drive from the Jets 45 yard line. You can feel the momentum shifting in Miami’s direction as they start this drive.

2:10 PM: A botched Wildcat play is stuff by the Jets, but the Dolphins get 10 crucial yards back with a completion to tight end Anthony Fasano, putting Miami back in field goal range. The 48-yarder barely clears the crossbar, knotting the score at 3-3 with 1:55 left. Let’s see whether or not the Jets offense comes out throwing to try and get into field goal range, and see if they can’t go into halftime with a lead.

2:15 PM: The Jets are handed a gift as the Dolphins kick the ball out of bounds, putting the ball at their own 40. And Mark Sanchez promptly fumbles the snap on first down, fires one into the ground on second down, and hits David Clowney on a four-yard route on third-and-five. Huge opportunity wasted for the Jets, as there’s still 1:09 left on the clock, plenty of time for the Dolphins to execute a scoring drive with two timeouts.

2:19 PM: The Dolphins appear willing to run out the clock, handing off on the first two downs of the drive. The Jets smartly call a timeout before third-and-five, attempting to get the ball back. But it is for naught as the Dolphins come away with the first down with 24 seconds to play. The offense sputters from there, with the Jets calling timeout with four seconds to play.

Here’s where you miss Leon Washington. The Dolphins are set to punt, and you could toss #29 out there to return it and see if he can’t hit you a home run. Jim Leonhard is solid as a punt returner, but he’s not Leon Washington.

2:20 PM: The Dolphins elect to go for it on fourth down, and throw a long incomplete pass to run out the clock. At the half, the score stands tied at 3-3. The Jets heard a small chorus of boos as they left the field, in large part due to the subpar play of their quarterback.

2:37 PM: We’re set to go for the second half, with the Dolphins getting the ball to start.

If the Jets are going to come out on top in this must-win divisional contest, Mark Sanchez simply has to play better. The defense is doing an outstanding job of containing the Wildcat, and putting pressure on Chad Henne. But Sanchez is routinely shooting his team in the foot. He has to have a better second half, or these Jets will be right back to .500 in 30 minutes of play.

2:39 PM: The fourth sack of the day for the Jets D forces a punt, giving the offense the ball at their own 49-yard line. They have to come away with points on this drive, if for no other reason than to give their defense some confidence that they’re going to score them some points.

2:47 PM: Jay Feely is in The Zone. Laying the wood on kickoff coverage, and now hitting 55-yard field goals to give the Jets the lead. It’s 6-3 Jets with 10:24 remaining. The play ties the longest field goal in franchise history, as well as Feely’s career long.

While the Jets take the lead, they just gained 14 yards on seven plays. Sanchez missed another open receiver, bringing his numbers on the day to 8-17 for 54 yards. Not exactly fantasy football starter-type numbers.

2:50 PM: Ted Ginn Jr. reminds us all that he may be out of favor in Miami, but he’s still really fast. The Ohio State product takes the ensuing kickoff 100 yards to the house to put the Dolphins up 10-6. And just like that, the Dolphins have a lead.

It’s now time for the offense to put together a sustained drive, or this game could slowly slip away from the Jets here in the third quarter.

2:57 PM: The Jets’ rookies are making it tough for Gang Green to have any shot in this game. Rookie running back Shonn Greene coughs up the football, the fumble being picked up by defensive end Jason Taylor and taken 48 yards to the end zone, giving the Dolphins their second non-offensive touchdown of the quarter. The score stands at 17-6, and with the way the Jets offense is playing, things are not looking good for a comeback.

3:01 PM: The offense runs the ball on first down, to a chorus of boos from the home crowd. I understand you want the team to throw because they’re down, but when your quarterback can’t hit the Atlantic Ocean right now, what exactly should they do?

3:04 PM: A gift for the Jets as Davone Bess muffs the punt from Weatherford, which Gang Green recovers deep in Miami territory. If they want to get back into this game, they need a touchdown here. Badly. Let’s see if they put it in Sanchez’s hands.

3:07 PM: Sanchez waltzes into the end zone from a yard out on a naked bootleg to bring the Jets to within four at 17-13. The team had opted to go for two, but a costly false start penalty on the conversion attempt negated the choice for Rex Ryan.

Suddenly we have a ball game on our hands, and the defense immediately becomes relevant again. With 18 and a half minutes to play in the game, this one’s still anybody’s ball game. The turnover and subsequent touchdown have allowed to Jets to stick to their game plan of running the football – there’s still plenty of time on the clock.

3:12 PM: Did I mention that Ted Ginn Jr. is really fast? Another special teams breakdown provides another kickoff return TD for Ginn, this one good for 101 yards. Just when the Jets climb back into the game, another unit has a breakdown. This one is a killer for the Jets – they had all the momentum in this game, the crowd was back into it, and Ginn has silenced them once again. The lead is back to 11, in the blink of an eye.

3:15 PM: Huge play for the Jets on the opening play of the drive. A 53-yard completion to Cotchery puts the Jets in business at the Dolphins 22 yard line.

3:16 PM: Braylon Edwards is a man. The wideout carries two defenders into the end zone after catching the ball at the one, willing his way to a touchdown and bringing the Jets back to within 5. The Jets burn a timeout before the two-point conversion, which could prove costly as the game winds down.

3:18 PM: The two-point try is no good, leaving the score at 24-19. What do you think the fan reaction will be if Ted Ginn Jr. is actually tackled on this kickoff attempt? I’m going with a standing ovation.

3:32 PM: We might have just seen the dagger from the Dolphins offense. A 13-play, 7:47 drive ends with a touchdown pass from Henne to Joey Haynos, putting the Dolphins on top 30-19. It’s going to be extremely tough for the Jets to mount a comeback in this one – They’d need two more touchdowns to win it at this point, or a TD with a two-point conversion and a field goal to tie. With 8:48 remaining, there’s still enough time, but big plays are going to need to happen for Gang Green to climb into this one.

3:42 PM: And just like that, the Jets are right back in the game. A shoestring catch by Dustin Keller caps the six-play, 81-yard drive, bringing the Jets back to within five. The two-point conversation would have been good on a completion to Wallace Wright, but another costly penalty negated the conversion. The following attempt from seven yards out went by the boards, leaving the Jets five points back with 5:52 to play

The defense needs a big stop on this series, and they need it early. Too much time off the clock will force the Jets to have to throw, putting the ball in Sanchez’s hands. While he’s been much better in the second half, I’m not sure how comfortable I’d be forcing him to throw the ball down the field late in this game.

3:49 PM: There’s plenty of reasons why the Jets wanted Bart Scott this offseason. But perhaps the biggest reason is that the guy makes big-time plays in big spots. He’s come up with another one here, sacking Henne on a crucial third down, forcing a punt. It’s also given the Jets great field position, with the offense taking over on their own 45. We’re getting down to crunch time, let’s see how Sanchez reacts.

3:57 PM: Play of the game for the Jets as Dustin Keller comes up with a huge 16-yard catch with a defender mauling him on a third and ten. The catch places the ball at the Dolphins 12 at the two minute warning.

What was great about the play was it gave us an opportunity to see all the great things Sanchez can do – buy time with his feet, make any throw on the field, thread the ball into traffic. The Jets are officially in business in the game’s final two minutes.

4:03 PM: A huge sack by Randy Starks sets up a fourth and 13 with 1:16 to go. Sanchez has been going to Dustin Keller all game, let’s see if he goes to him here.

4:05 PM: A desperation heave to the back of the end zone falls to the ground, as the Dolphins hold deep in their own territory preserving a 30-25 victory.

JetsInsider Thursday Team Report

Thursday, October 29th, 2009

Running game’s revival centers around the boys up front

The Wildcat offense might be here to stay in the NFL,  but there will never be a substitute for a power running game.

The offensive line has engineered back-to-back 300 yard rushing games in the last two weeks.

The offensive line has engineered back-to-back 300 yard rushing games in the last two weeks.

The Jets have proven as much over the past two Sundays, registering back-to-back 300 yard games in each contest.  With the running game back in full swing, it’s time to give credit where it’s due – to the supremely talented offensive line.

“I think that’s a great group of players,” head coach Rex Ryan said.  “Individually, they all have outstanding talents, but it’s the way they play together, the way they combination block and the communication they have.  I think it starts with Bill Callahan.  He’s a tremendous offensive line coach and coach in general.  I think they are all smart, tough guys, durable, dependable.  This is an outstanding group.”

Part of being a good head coach is surrounding yourself with great assistant coaches, guys whose strong points are your weaker ones.  Ryan has done an outstanding job of knowing his limitations as a coach – he’s a defensive guy, which is why he still calls the plays on defense as the head man of the Jets.  But the offensive line is probably not something he’s a master of, so he sought to get the best man he could to fill the job.

Enter Callahan, who seems to be the right man for the job.  But a good coach, however, is only as good as his players.  And Callahan has some extremely talented guys to work with on the offensive front.

There’s D’Brickashaw Ferguson, the former fourth overall pick in the draft out of Virginia.  Taken in that same first round was center Nick Mangold.  Then you have high-priced free agent guard Alen Faneca.  Toss Damien Woody into the mix, and you’ve got a load of talent, and an even bigger amount of money, in one area of the ball club.  For all the money the team has committed to this unit, they’d better be performing at this level.

So while the credit being heaped on the guys in the offensive trenches, this shouldn’t be so unexpected.  This is a group that can be as dominant as any line in the game, and it will become increasingly important for them to perform as the weather in the NFC East begins to worsen.

With rookie signal caller Mark Sanchez having never thrown through the swirling winter winds in Giants Stadium, he will need to rely on his running game to put the team in positions to score points and come away with victories.  In order for that to happen, his star-studded offensive line needs to remain healthy – and productive – for this team to have a chance to compete for a playoff spot.

UPDATING THE INJURY FRONT

There was an extremely welcomed sight at Jets practice today – the stationary bikes reserved for players not participating in practice were completely empty, for the first time in what seems like forever.

Wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery was limited in practice, but as has been reported, he will most likely play Sunday against Miami.  Cornerback Lito Sheppard was also limited in practice today, but Coach Ryan is currently not optimistic he will play.  All other limited participants are expected to be ready to go for Sunday, leaving the Jets with a surprisingly full active roster outside the losses of Kris Jenkins, Leon Washington, and Sheppard.

REPLACING LEON

It’s impossible to fill the void of a player who does as much for your team as Leon Washington does for the Jets.  But the show must go on, so Justin Miller will be returning kicks Sunday for Gang Green.  Miller was the Jets’ return man before Washington put a stranglehold on the job, so there is some familiarity there, and Miller’s experience makes him a more than formidable replacement.

“We want to give a total chance and a complete opportunity,” special teams coach Mike Westoff said.  “In some ways his style, because of his speed is a little bit more adept to running with a two-man (wedge) rather than a three-man (wedge) so I think there might be a little bit of advantage there.  He looks good at practice so we want to give him every opportunity and then we’ll go from there.  I have a great comfort level with him.”

It will be interesting to see how well Miller performs, and whether he and running back Shonn Greene can replace the production Washington afforded the Jets.  The first test is just four days away.

The team returns to the practice field for a workout beginning at 11:50 AM.  Be sure to check back to JetsInsider.com for all your news and updates.

I

Back on Track, But Carrying One Less

Monday, October 26th, 2009
The Jets lost versatile running back Leon Washington for the season in their win over the Oakland Raiders with a fracture fibula.

The Jets lost versatile running back Leon Washington for the season in their win over the Oakland Raiders with a fractured fibula.

You would think there’d be nothing bad that could come out of a dominant 38-0 road victory, especially one that gets your team back on the right track in all phases of the game.

But in the case of Sunday’s beatdown of the hapless Oakland Raiders, the team was hit with a loss much more devastating than a 3-game losing streak.

Running back Leon Washington, the Jets’ do-it-all standout offensive performer, was lost for the season in the Jets’ victory Sunday afternoon, suffering a broken fibula while being tackled on a running play.  Gang Green could have won 60-0, and the injury to Washington still wouldn’t have put a major damper on an otherwise outstanding performance.

“It’s horribly unfortunate,” center Nick Mangold said of Washington’s injury.  “It’s tough to lose a guy like Leon.  It’s tough to lose a player like Leon and it’s tough to lose a friend like Leon.”

Indeed, the loss of Washington is a potentially devastating blow to this Jets squad.   One player accounting for the majority of special teams return yards, in addition to a nice chunk of yards from scrimmage on offense, makes that player awfully hard to replace in the even that player gets hurt.

But like with every dark cloud, this one has a silver lining, and he’s sporting the number 23 on the back of his jersey.

I’m talking of course about running back Shonn Greene, who scampered for 144 yards on just 19 carries with two touchdowns in the win.  We’ve been waiting for the rookie out of Iowa to make an impact, and even though a large chunk of his yards were earned in garbage time, performance can’t simply be dismissed.

The Jets traded up to draft this guy for a reason.  They see a running back of the future in him, and after Sunday’s performance, you’d have to at least start thinking about drinking the CoolAid.

“I’m just going in there and try to do the best I can and do what I’m able to do,” Greene said of his new role in the offense.  “(I’m going) to try to help the team out in any way that whether it’s on special teams and then again, being on offense.  I just look forward to more opportunities and doing the best I can.  I’m not going to fill Leon’s shoes, but I’m going to do the best I can.”

The Raiders are not exactly the type of defense you can measure a running back against, so we can’t consider Greene as having “arrived”.  But it’s definitely a step in the right direction for the rookie runner, and with his role set to increase, a nice confidence boost heading into a crucial divisional game against the Miami Dolphins.

QUOTES FROM THE VICTORS

Other than the loss of Washington, the team has plenty to be excited about after Sunday’s victory.  Their quarterback didn’t need to be spectacular, but he also didn’t make mistakes, something that has clearly plagued him in recent weeks.  And the defense was back to it’s dominating self, pitching a shutout against a team who’d beaten the Philadelphia Eagles the week before.

“It’s a good springboard,” Mangold said.  “You go out and you see what we’re able to accomplish, what we had planned to do leading up to it and what we’re able to do.  It gives you good confidence giong into this week.  It’s going to be great to be back at home.”

Be sure to check back to JetsInsider.com for all your news and updates throughout the week leading up to Sunday’s matchup with Miami.

JetsInsider Thursday Team Report

Thursday, October 22nd, 2009

A dose of good news on the injury front, and sizing up the replacement for #77.

Jerricho Cotchery participated in individual position drills today, but its uncertain whether or not he will play Sunday in Oakland.

Jerricho Cotchery participated in individual position drills today, but it's uncertain whether or not he will play Sunday in Oakland.

When a team is on a slide the likes of which these New York Jets are currently riding, a piece of good news, any good news, is met with abnormal enthusiasm.

Such was the case today at the club’s training facility, when wideout Jerricho Cotchery not participating in practice, but taking part in individual position drills during the day’s workout, #89 still being bothered by a hamstring injury.

“Today was a big step for me,” J-Co said of his return to the practice field.  “I just want to build on today, and just try to get better every day and not have any setbacks.  It was a good start for me.”

Indeed, the sight of Cotchery on the field should be one for sore eyes as far as this team is concerned.  We have yet to see him on the field opposite Braylon Edwards, therefore leaving the true possibilities of the offense’s potential still a mystery.

But most importantly, if Cotchery can strap it on this week and get on the field for the Jets’ matchup against the Raiders, he will provide another weapon for suddenly struggling quarterback Mark Sanchez.

Cotchery is, after all, a player who Sanchez went through all of training camp developing a chemistry with.  His 24 total receptions and 360 receiving yards are both team highs even though he’s missed a week, so its’ clear him and the rookie have developed a good rapport in their time together.

But there was also never another option like there is now that Edwards has joined the fold.  With Cotchery off the field against the Bills, Sanchez was guilty of targeting Edwards too much, leading to some of the misques the former Trojan made throughout the course of the game.

Having another receiver of J-Co’s caliber on the field will force Sanchez to not look simply in one direction to make plays, and that just might be the trick that helps him.  It will force him to look to another side of the field, and will allow him not to force as many balls into tight coverage.

David Clowney has had some nice moments in his time on the field, but he is not Jerricho Cotchery.  J-Co back in the mix will not allow to the Raiders to double Edwards, which could spell disaster for Sanchez after his awful effort last week.  If he can get on the field for Sunday’s game, you could see a vastly different Jets offense then the one we saw against the Bills.

POUHA GETS THE NOD

Defensive tackle Sione Pouha has been tabbed as the man to replace injured tackle Kris Jenkins in the starting lineup for Sunday’s matchup in The Black Hole.  While Pouha has seen considerable action so far this season, the role of filling the void in the defense is one he doesn’t consider to be a daunting task.

“I’m excited to go out there and get a win,” he said.  “I know circumstances have put me in a situation where it’s been kind of highlighted a little bit more.  It’s not anything new.”

“He’s just a powerful guy,” head coach Rex Ryan said of Pouha.  “Anytime you come in and see us going through drills (and) hitting that buck board.  He is a powerful man.  When his pads are down and he rolls off the football, he’s a handful in his own right.”

As for the absence of Jenkins, Ryan reached back into the annals of Jets coaching lore to properly analyze the current situation.

“To quote a former New York Jet head coach, Lou Holtz, he would say, “Adversity to some becomes opportunity for others.”  That’s a true statement.  Some of these guys are goign to have opportunities and they’ve been working the whole time.  We’ll see how it pans out for them, but I have a lot of faith in those guys.”

GETTING THE MOJO BACK

Thursday’s practice was all about playing with more “energy” after a relatively sluggish workout on Wednesday.  The team responded to the call of Coach Ryan, and put forth one of their best practices of the season in the eys of the head man.

“Practice today was excellent.  The communication was much better than yesterday.  We were flying around.  It was great competition.  We had our tw0-minute (drill) today and it was great competition.  The energy of the practice, I think, was really good today.”

OTHER INJURY NEWS

In addition to Cotchery, wide receiver Brad Smith (quad), tackle Damien Woody (knee, foot) and cornerback Lito Sheppard (quad) did not practice.  Wideout Braylon Edwards (quad) defensive end Shaun Ellis (knee) and cornerback Donald Strickland (ankle) were limited in today’s activity.  Linebackers David Harris (wrist) and Larry Izzo (hamstring), safety Kerry Rhodes (knee), linebacker Bryan Thomas (wrist) and wide receiver Wallace Wright (knee) all participated fully in practice.

The team returns to the practice field for a Friday workout beginning at 11:50 AM.  Check back to JetsInsider.com for all your news and updates.