Archive for September, 2009

Still Rollin’

Monday, September 28th, 2009
David Harris earned a Game Ball for his outstanding play in Sundays victory against the Titans.

David Harris earned a Game Ball for his outstanding play in Sunday's victory against the Titans.

We’re three weeks into the NFL season, and your New York Jets still have a zero in the loss column.

There aren’t too many people outside the club’s locker room and the ever-optimistic Jets Fan who thought they’d have navigated through a tough early season schedule 3-0, but that’s just where they stand.  Some might consider it merely a hot start by a confident group, but those skeptics just haven’t been paying attention.

I haven’t seen too many offenses around the league who will be able to shred this defense.  They’re fast, they’ve got Pro Bowl-caliber talent at every level, and most importantly, they have been set free by Rex Ryan’s incredibly relentless scheme.  And they haven’t had a standout player, Calvin Pace, for any of their three tremendous performances.

The offense hasn’t been too shabby either.  Mark Sanchez has been great at points, and his rookie mistakes haven’t been as pronounced because the club continues to win.  He has the same privilege Ravens signal caller Joe Flacco had a season ago – the ability to learn on the run, while playing with a great defense that can mask some of his mistakes.

But this is all the stuff we already know.  What needs to be talked about is the way each of these games has been won.  Yes the defense has had a huge part, but it always seems to be someone different making the big play each week.  Whether it’s the starter or a reserve, it seems a different Jet is getting the credit each time they win.

But it hasn’t just been the defense.  The special teams played a huge role in yesterday’s victory, forcing two huge turnovers that lead to 14 points.  The offense has made the big plays when they’ve had to, with each of the unit’s unheralded receivers making their share of big plays to put to rest the talk of the team needing a big-play wideout.

Great defense, great special teams, and an offense on the verge of being outstanding.  This team is winning games the way you can only hope your favorite team wins – it’s always someone different who has the big performance, and when one unit stumbles, another picks up the slack.  The marks of a good football team are imprinted all over these New York Jets, and as long as they stay healthy, those marks aren’t going anywhere.  Get used to wins like Sunday’s against the Titans – there’s plenty more to come.

NEXT UP:  NEW ORLEANS

The number one ranked defense will square off against the number one ranked offense next Sunday, when Gang Green travels to New Orleans to take on Drew Brees and the Saints.  Something has to give in this matchup of the elite units in the NFL through the first three weeks, and it is yet another early season test for this Jets team.

From the Pathetically Obvious Department, Brees will present problems for a Jets defense predicated on applying pressure to the quarterback.

“He’s a quarterback that can buy time with his feet,” linebacker Bart Scott said.  “He’s been in the system for a long time.  He knows where the guys (will be).  This is not my first time playing Brees down in the Superdome.  It will be interesting.  It will be a great matchup.  He’s poised.  He can find an open receiver.”

“We’ve got to go up against the number one offensive in the entire league,” head coach Rex Ryan said of the matchup against New Orleans.  “I wish we were playing them at our place but we’re playing them on the road where they’re really tough.  The noise is something we’re going to have to deal with offensively.  We know it’s going to be a great challenge, but again, I think our guys will be up to the challenge.”

TWITTER PATROL

You might have noticed wide receiver David Clowney did not see the field in yesterday’s victory.  That’s because the wideout was deactivated for yesterday’s game by Coach Ryan for an “inappropriate” post to his Twitter feed.  The receiver “Tweeted” after the Jets victory over the Patriots last Sunday that he was “a bit disappointed” with his playing time in the win, but “happy about the victory.”  Ryan did not take the post lightly, and promptly told the receiver he’d be benched for the game against the Titans.

“To me this is about our team.  Understanding that it’s about our team and that no one individual is bigger than the team,” Ryan said.  “David had two options. He could have come down and been upset and pouted, or he could come out and be a Jet and work his tail off and show me that he wants to do it our way.  He was phenomenal this week in preparation — in fact, I’ll give him the ’scout team player of the week’.  He humbled himself and that was it.”

TOMORROW’S ACTION

The team returns to the practice field tomorrow for an afternoon workout.  Be sure to check back to JetsInsider for all your practice updates.

The tweflth man

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009
The extent of Lito Sheppards quad injury remains uncertain after the Jets victory Sunday.

The extent of Lito Sheppard's quad injury remains uncertain after the Jets' victory Sunday.

The Jets dramatic victory over the Pats is now in the rearview mirror, but the talk yesterday in Florham Park wasn’t just about the victory, but about the unbelievable performance by Gang Green’s Twelfth Man.

“I think our fans were maybe even a bigger part of that game than I first thought,” head coach Rex Ryan said.  “They had four or five penalties against their offense, four delay of games.  That doesn’t happen to really any team but especially New England.  I can’t remember the last time that’s ever happened so our crowd was really into it and they really deserved that game ball that we are giving them.”

Being at the game myself, I can definitely say that was the loudest crowd I have ever seen in person.  If you were in that crowd Sunday, my hat goes off to you – you all played  a huge part in the win, and should take pride in that performance.

INJURY UPDATE

During his presser, Ryan noted the injured players from Sunday’s action.

Defensive tackle Kris Jenkins had the wind knocked out of him during the second half and is a little sore, but Ryan fully expects him to play Sunday against the Titans.  Cornerback Lito Sheppard has a quad injury, and cornerback Donald Strickland has an ankle injury.  As of yesterday Ryan was uncertain as to the severity of the injuries.

NO LETDOWNS HERE

One thing to be wary of as the Jets prepare this week is a letdown after such an emotional victory over New England, a game in which they put everything they had into the victory.  But Ryan is treating this game just as he did the game against the Pats, with the upmost importance.

“This football team (Tennessee) won more games than anybody in the AFC last year,” he said.  “They were ranked No. 1 in the AFC.  Anything less than our full preparation and our best effort will guarantee that we are not successful.  If we give everything we’ve got, we’ll see.   That’s what I anticipate that our guys will do”

“We went through (a letdown) last year but this year, we have a lot of leaders on this team and won’t let that happen,” cornerback Darrelle Revis said.  “We feel very comfortable where we are right now, but there is still room for improvement.”

MEDIA DARLINS

It’s amazing what two wins will do for your media coverage.  All of the sudden these Jets are a “surprise team”, and the talk of the airwaves after their hot start.  But this club is not surprised, and that’s the best reaction you could hope for.

“We set our goals high this year,” Revis said.  “We never had any bad expectations.  We knew what type of team we had.  We have a lot of talent on this team and guys believe in each other.  There was no doubt.”

CHARGES OF TAMPERING

The San Francisco 49ers have filed tampering charges against the New York Jets, for apparantly communicating with their first round draft choice, wide receiver Michael Crabtree.  Both the front office and Ryan have denied the allegations, with Ryan adding, “I wish we were playing them this week,”.  This story is something to keep an eye on, because it could be the second time in a month the league could be levying fines against Gang Green.

JETS 16 – PATRIOTS 9

Sunday, September 20th, 2009
Leon Washington had 14 carries for 58 yards, and 2 catches for 18 yards in Sundays victory over New England.

Leon Washington had 14 carries for 58 yards, and 2 catches for 18 yards in Sunday's victory over New England. (JetsInsider.com Photo)

Jets derail Pats offense en route to huge 16-9 victory.

EAST RUTHERFORD NJ – The rest of the league has officially been put on notice:  It’s a new Era of New York Jets football.

They play lights-out defense.  They’re brash, unafraid to talk trash to anyone, including a team that’s beaten them eight straight times in their own building and been the class of the league for nearly a decade.  But most importantly, they back up what they put in the papers on the football field.

You couldn’t have asked for more from Gang Green Sunday afternoon.  The defense disrupted and confused Tom Brady and the high-powered Patriots offense, and the offense was just good enough to propel the Jets to an exhilerating 16-9 victory in Giants Stadium, their first victory over New England at home since Al Groh roamed the sidelines as head coach.

“We’re a team that should be respected,” head coach Rex Ryan said.

After Sunday’s victory, this club will not only be respected, but feared.

Ryan set the tone before the opening whistle, choosing to defer after winning the coin toss.  He wanted his defense to be on the field first to show the Patriots offense and quarterback Tom Brady what was in store.

But most of all, he wanted the crowd he had implored early in the week to be loud Sunday to get into the game as early as possible.  And the sellout group obliged, making the rafters wobble with deafening roars on every Pats possession.

“I think our fans were huge in this victory,” Ryan said.  “In fact, we’re giving a game ball to our fans; it will be in our trophy case.  “We thought they were the difference.”

“It was something else to hear how loud they were,” signal caller Mark Sanchez said.  “They were the twelfth man when we were on defense.  It gave their offense fits.”

Not that the defense needed much help.  The unit held their opposition out of the end zone for the second consecutive week, surrendering just three first half field goals.  The first opened the game’s scoring at the 6:50 mark in the first quarter, when Steven Gostkowski capped a trip to the Red Zone with a 45-yard field goal to put the Pats up 3-0.

It would be a theme for the day, as the Jets defense would bend but not break on three separate occasions.  After running back Leon Washington fumbled deep in Jets territory, the group held the Brady-lead offense to three points, pushing the lead to six early in the second quarter.  But the Jet offense, stagnant for the game’s first 25 minutes, orchestrated a ten-play, 52-yard drive resulting in a 33-yard Jay Feely field goal, cutting the lead in half at 6-3.

As time wound down in the first half, Brady lead the Pats on a clock-eating drive, resulting in the groups third trip to the Red Zone in the half.  But again, the defense would bear down, and Gostkowski’s third field goal put the Pats up 9-3 heading into the half.

But when play resumed, it seemed as if the training wheels had been taken off the Jets offense.  Just 3-5 for 15 yards in the first half, Sanchez hit wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery on the first play from scrimmage with a 45-yard strike on a post route, bringing the ball to the Pats’ 11.  Just two plays later, Sanchez rolled to his right, and floated a ball to the back of the end zone for tight end Dustin Keller, who tucked his feet in front of the sideline for a 9-yard touchdown grab.

“I think we opened things up,” Sanchez said of the stark contrast between the first and second half from the offense.  “We threw the ball a little more.  It balanced out our attack, rushes and throws.  That whole first half we were gaining tough yards on the ground and not converting like we had the week before on third down.  But we came back and when we needed it we had a great push up front and made some conversions.  We really responded.”

Suddenly, the Jets had taken a 10-9 advantage, after being nearly inept on the offensive end for 30 minutes of play.  It was all the defense would need.

They didn’t “embarass” Tom Brady and the prolific Patriots offense, but they certainly left them frustrated, and demoralized.  They didn’t record a sack, but their variety of exotic blitzes disrupted the intricate timing of the offense, forcing Brady into quick, and mostly errant, throws.  They limited the NFL’s posterboy to a final line of 23-47 for 216 yards, and a first quarter interception by lockdown Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis.  Taking his place amongst the elite corners in the game, Revis shut down the second premier receiver he’s faced in as many weeks, limiting Pats wideout Randy Moss to 4 catches for just 25 yards.

“I just tried to be physical with him on the line,” Revis said of his play on Moss.  “You can’t let him get vertical.  He will tear you apart if you don’t put hands on him.  You can’t give credit just to me (though).  It was the entire defense.  The defensive line did a great job.  The secondary as a whole, Ahmad Carroll and Drew Coleman did a great job.  So you have to tip your hats off to those guys, too.”

A Jay Feely 24-yard field goal moved the Jets lead to four points, but Gang Green had missed a golden opportunity for six when Sanchez overthrew a wide open Chansi Stuckey in the back of the end zone.  Normally, those are the kind of mistakes you can’t make against the New England Patriots.  But when you have a defense like this one, those simply become missed opportunities.

The unit was so dominant, in fact, that Brady was forced into three Delay of Game penalties over the course of the day, two of which came on back-to-back plays.  The Jets D left the quarterback befuddled at times, and with the Pats unable to do anything offensively, the stage was set for Sanchez to put the game away.

But the Pats defense held the Jets to another field goal with 9:48 to play, pushing the lead to a not-so-comfortable seven points.  There was entirely too much time for Brady and the Pats to be only down a touchdown.  But there would be no fourth quarter magic from Brady on this day, as he got the ball in his hands twice in the final five minutes of play, and couldn’t move the ball past midfield in either possession.  The afternoon culminated in the last drive of the day, when cornerback Dwight Lowery swatted away a pass on fourth and ten to seal the win and send the Jets faithful into utter pandemonium.

“Any time you can hold Brady to under 50% completions, that’s saying a hell of a lot.  “I can’t remember the last time the Patriots went 0-3 in the Red Zone in a game.  I thought our guys did a great job.”

“It was a great team effort.  The Patriots are a hell of a football team, I just thought we were the better team today.  That’s all we said from the beginning; that we believed we were the better team today.  And we went out and showed it.”

OTHER NOTABLE PERFORMANCES

Leon Washington had 127 yards on four kickoff returns, good for a 31.8 yard average on the day.  His returns set the Jets up in great field position all game long; his return to open the second half keyed the scoring drive that put the Jets up for good.

Defensively, Kerry Rhodes backed up his pregame comments, leading the Jets with six solo tackles.  He was also true to his word; the Jets hit Tom Brady seven times on the afternoon, more than the six the Buffalo Bills put on him in Monday night’s game.

OVER 100 EXCLUSIVE JETS-PATS PHOTOS! For the largest gallery of exclusive Jets vs. Patriots photos on the internet: CLICK HERE

Jets-Pat Live Blog: Real-time updates live from the Meadowlands

Sunday, September 20th, 2009

We’re just minutes away from kickoff here at Giants Stadium, as the Jets look to take down Tom Brady and the New England Patriots at home for the first time since 2000.  I’ll be blogging the action live throughout the game, from score updates to updates on how the key matchups are playing out.  So be sure to check back throughout the day for all your inside information.

Jets LB Bart Scott pursues Patriots WR Julian Edelman. (JetsInsider.com Photo)

Jets LB Bart Scott pursues Patriots WR Julian Edelman. (JetsInsider.com Photo)

12:50 PM:  Heading into kickoff, I’m interested to see how a fired up Jets team handles their emotions in the early going.  There is a such thing as being too fired up for a game – your emotions can take over, causing you to become reckless and stray from the game plan.  This is an important game for this team, but they need to stay within themselves emotionally and stay disciplined against a team of the Patriots’ caliber.

12:55 PM: In typical Rex Ryan fashion, it’s the defense who is introduced for player introductions.  The crowd has clearly taken the pleas from Coach Ryan to be loud today to heart – it might be week one, but the Gang Green faithful is in midseason form.

1:00 PM:  The Jets have won the toss and have deferred – looks like they want to set the tone in the opening series on the defensive side of the ball.  Got to like the confidence of the group that wants to “embarass” Tom Brady and the Patriots offense.  On the humorous side, quarterback Kevin O’Connell, released by the Pats earlier in the preseason and signed by the Jets, was picked as a team captain for today’s game.

1:05 PM:  The defense holds on a third and seven on their own 37 yard line.  The Pats’ offensive line had done a nice job protecting Brady during the series, warding off several Jets blitzes.  But Bart Scott sprung free on the third down play, disrupting the throw and knocking Brady to the ground, forcing a punt.

1:09 PM:  It’s time to see how Mark Sanchez reacts to a Bill Belicheck defense, as the offense takes the field for their first series of the day.  I’ve been in the stands for big football games before, but I’ve never heard a crowd this loud this early in a game – every defensive play, the roar was more deafening then the one before.

1:11 PM: The Pats greet Sanchez with a hit on the Jets first offensive play from scrimmage, forcing a fumble and a 17-yard loss.  They’re going to be coming after him all day long, so if the Jets want to move the ball, the offensive line is going to have to do a better job protecting, and #6 must get the ball out quickly.

1:19 PM: The D holds, forcing a three-and-out.  The Pats looked very out of synch in that series, completing only one pass.  Jets defenders are getting into the backfield regularly, forcing quick throws from Brady.  The offense is going to need to move the ball if the Jets are going to have a shot – it’s only a matter of time before the Pats capitalize if they get the ball at midfield every possession.

1:23 PM: Leon Washington coughs up the ball on first down, but Rex Ryan has thrown the red flag and challenged the call.  The Jets have lost the challenge, and the Pats take over on the Jets 18.  If this team is going to pull off the upset, misques like this can’t happen.  Giving Brady and the offense a free trip to the Red Zone is a recipe for disaster.

1:30 PM:  The Jets defense holds, as holding penalties move the Pats out of the Red Zone.  Steven Gostkowski nails a 45-yard field goal, giving the Pats an early 3-0 lead.

Something to keep an eye on:  The Pats have been going to a no-huddle offense at times, making it tough for the Jets to get the right personnel on the field.  Whether or not this will prove effective remains to be seen, but it’s an interesting wrinkle to watch as the game progresses.

1:36 PM:  If the Jets are to have any shot in this game, they’re going to have to start converting on third downs.  The offense is already 0-2 on third down conversions.  The unit is struggling to find it’s rhythm early on, but with the defense playing this well, they might not need much to put the team in position to win.

1:40 PM:  I know it’s Randy Moss out there, but honestly, is there ever a good time to challenge Darrelle Revis on the outside?  The Jets corner just made a ridiculous interception on a long pass down the sideline to Moss, halting a Pats drive.  I think it’s safe to say this guy is one of the elite corners in the game, and is on the verge of entering “we don’t throw to his side of the field” territory.

1:45 PM:  At the end of the first quarter, it’s Pats 3, Jets 0.  The Jets offense stalled yet again on third down, making it 0-3 for the afternoon on third downs.  The offense looks totally out of rhythm, and they’re going to have to start putting together sustained drives in order to give the defense a blow on the sidelines.  The longer the defense is out on the field, the more worn down they become, and that’s when Brady and the Pats offense can go to work.

1:52 PM:  On this trip to the Red Zone, the Pats have begun moving wide receiver Randy Moss around in hopes of creating mismatches; he’s lined up both in the slot and on the outside on back-to-back plays.  It doesn’t help on this series, as Brady misses a golden opportunity for six, over-throwing Edelman on third down.  Gostkowski strokes a 25-yard field goal, giving the Pats a 6-0 cushion.

The Jets are fortunate to be only down six at this point.  Their offense has been nonexistent, and the defense has played bend-but-don’t break football.  The offense has to put something substantial together to give the D a rest.

If you’re scoring at home, the Jets have knocked Tom Brady to the ground three times so far today, halfway to validating Kerry Rhodes’ claim that the group would be hitting him more than six times in today’s contest.

2:00 PM:  You might be wondering who this Edelman guy that’s become the focal point of the Pats’ offense today is.  A rookie wideout from Kent State, the 6′0″ Edelman has taken on the roll of Wes Welker’s understudy, and so far has done an outstanding job.  He’s caught three balls for 47 yards so far, including a 29-yarder.

2:05 PM:  A ten-play, 52-yard scoring drive is exactly what this offense needed.  With Thomas Jones running the rock, Gang Green moved down the field and into the Pats’ Red Zone before stalling out.  Jay Feely connects on a 33-yard field goal, cutting the Pats’ lead in half and leaving the score at 6-3.

Pats safety Brandon Meriweather has left the game with an ankle injury, and his return is questionable.  This is a significant blow for the Pats defense – Meriweather is an up-and-coming safety who is a big part of what New England does on defense.  Keep an eye on how the Pats pass defense does with him out of the lineup.

2:12: PM:  Cornerback Lito Sheppard has left the game with a quad injury.  His return is questionable – look for the Pats to start exploiting his absense with more looks to wide receiver Joey Galloway.

2:23 PM:  Brady leads the Pats on a 14-play, 79 yard drive taking 5:42 off the clock.  The drive ends with another trip to the Red Zone for New England, with the Jets defense holding in the half’s final seconds.  Gostkowski connected on his third field goal of the day, a 25-yarder that gives the Pats a 9-3 lead heading into the half.

The defense is getting less and less pressure on Tom Brady, which is not a good sign for the second half.  He’s starting to settle in and get comfortable in the pocket – he’s surveying the field and picking apart the defense much better than in the early going.

At the half, the score is Pats 9, Jets 3.

2:39 PM:  We’re set to go for the second half, with the Jets receiving the kickoff.  If Gang Green wants to win this game, they’re going to need more than a 3-5 for 15 yards performance out of their quarterback.

2:40 PM:  And right on cue, Sanchez delivers a strike to Jerricho Cotchery for a 45 yard gain, bring the ball to the Pats’ ten yard line.

What’s getting lost in the shuffle is the impact Leon Washington is having on this game.  He’s had two outstanding returns so far today, his latest coming on the opening kickoff of the second half, which put the Jets nearly at midfield to open the series.  He hasn’t been much of a factor in the running game as of yet, but the guy can do so many different things, it’s almost impossible to not have any impact on a game.

2:43 PM:  Sanchez caps a three-play, 56-yard drive with a beautiful floater to tight end Dustin Keller, who tucked both feet inbounds as he fell out the back of the endzone for the game’s first touchdown.  Feely added the extra point, putting the Jets in front 10-9.

This is the kind of drive we’ve been waiting for all day from the Jets offense.  If they can start moving the ball and exploiting the loss of Meriweather in the secondary, we could see New York pull away.

2:47 PM:  The Pats are unable to move the ball, with their patented screen play to the slot receiver getting blown up by cornerback Donald Strickland.

The Jets once again have great field position after the punt team got into the backfield for the second time today, forcing the second shanked punt of the afternoon for New England.

It’s time to see whether or not this team has developed the killer instinct all good clubs possess.  This drive could put the Jets up eight points in the third quarter, and help put the Patriots on the ropes.

2:57 PM:  We’re awaiting ruling on a potentially huge play in the game.  After driving the ball to the Pats’ six yard-line, Sanchez moved to his right on a designed rollout, and lofted a ball to Chansi Stuckey along the sidelines in the end zone.  Stuckey made an unbelievable catch, and appeared to get both feet in bounds for the score.

Belicheck has challenged the play, and the ruling on the field has been overturned, setting up a third and goal.

3:01 PM:  A golden opportunity goes by the boards for the Jets.  After making a great audible call at the line, Sanchez overthrows a wide open Stuckey in the back of the end zone, missing an easy six points.  Feely comes on and caps the 11-play, 49-yard drive with a 24-yard field goal, widening the gap to 13-9 Jets.

If you’re going to beat a team like the Patriots, you need to make every trip to the Red Zone count, and can’t let opportunities, especially easy ones, go to waste.  Hopefully taking three instead of six won’t hurt Gang Green as the game wears on.

3:09 PM:  The Jets faithful have used an injury timeout to let Tom Brady know just how they feel about him.  “Bra-dy Sucks!” chants rained down on the QB from the stands as Donald Strickland was helped off the field with an injury.

3:13 PM:  Back-to-back Delay of Game penalties for the Pats.  The crowd noise is getting to Brady and the Pats offense – that’s three Delay of Game penalties thus far.  The violations move the Pats out of field goal range, setting up another opportunity for Sanchez and the Jets offense to put the Pats on the ropes.

3:21 PM:  Huge play for Sanchez on third and 13 from his own 12.  Avoiding the rush, he found Leon Washington over the middle for a 13-yard gain, moving the chains and giving Gang Green just their second third down conversion of the day.  Most importantly, it moved the club out of the shadows of their own goal posts, shifting field position.

3:23 PM:  At the end of three, it’s Jets 13, Pats 9.  The Jets are moving the ball as the fourth quarter begins, and a score here could put the Pats behind the eight ball late in the game.

3:32 PM: A 14-play, 63 yards drive chews up 8:21 of clock, resulting in a 40-yard Jay Feely field goal that puts the Jets up 16-9.  With under ten minutes remaining, it’s time for a defense that’s been rock-solid all day long to make a stand.

3:42 PM:  A huge stand on 3rd and 1 for the Jets.  Bart Scott and David Harris broke through the line to stuff Pats running back Fred Taylor, forcing a punt.  The fourth delay of game penalty of the game follows, pushing the Pats back another five yards.  A nice return by Jim Leonhard puts the Jets at their own 45.

They’ve got a chance to put the game away, let’s see if they can capitalize.

3:48 PM:  A conservative approach on the offensive series results in another third down conversion opportunity not converted for the Jets, as Sanchez missed tight end Dustin Keller on an out route.

They’ve given Tom Brady five minutes of clock to orchestrate a game-tying drive.  Hopefully it doesn’t come back to haunt them.

3:53 PM:  The defense holds, pressure Brady on nearly every play from scrimmage on the drive.  With 3:49 to play, the Pats will punt again.

With perhaps one more possession left for the Pats offense, Randy Moss has just four catches for 24 yards.  This is the second consecutive premier receiver Darrelle Revis has shut down, begging the question, is there a better corner in the league right now?

3:56 PM:  You could feel the rafters shake as Leon Washington broke the first play of the drive for a 19-yard scamper.  The crowd is starting to feel it with 2:41 to go.

3:59 PM:  A potentially disastrous play results in a huge sack for New England, with Ty Warren applying the pressure.  We’re at the Two Minute Warning, with the Pats about to get the ball back with no timeouts.

4:07 PM:  Ballgame.  Brady’s fourth and ten pass is broken up by cornberback Dwight Lowery, securing a 16-9 victory.  Mark Sanchez takes a knee to run the clock out, as the Jets move to 2-0 on the season.

OVER 100 EXCLUSIVE JETS-PATS PHOTOS! For the largest gallery of exclusive Jets vs. Patriots photos on the internet: CLICK HERE

Insider Thursday Team Report

Thursday, September 17th, 2009
Kerry Rhodes is confident his defense will get to Pats QB Tom Brady Sunday.

Kerry Rhodes is confident his defense will get to Pats QB Tom Brady Sunday.

Judging by safety Kerry Rhodes’ comments that broke in this morning’s papers, I think it’s safe to say Gang Green feels confident heading into Sunday’s showdown with the New England Patriots.

The safety was asked yesterday if the Jets defense will be able to get to Tom Brady more than the six times the Buffalo Bills were able to hit him Monday night, to which he replied:

“We’ll hit him more than six times, I can promise you that.”

But Rhodes didn’t stop there.  He went on to provide the Patriots with the quintessential bulletin board material.

“You go out from the first quarter on, from the first play on, and try to embarrass them,” the safety said.  “Not just go out there and try to win, try to embarrass them. Try to make them feel bad when they leave here. We don’t want to just beat them. We want to send a message to them, ‘We’re not backing down from you and we expect to win this game, and it’s not going to be luck, it’s not going to be a mistake.’ ”

The Pats retorted with their standard “talk is cheap” mantra, and they might be right.  But these are the kind of things that have been missing from this team since the previous regime took the reigns.

You can call it “bravado” if you wish.  But Rhodes’ comments are entirely necessary for this particular set of circumstances.

The Jets have lost eight consecutive home games to the Patriots.  Meaning they haven’t beat the Pats in Giants Stadium since we entered the new millennium.  The Patriots have been the class of the NFL in this decade, and in the swamps of Jersey have made the Jets their personal whipping boys for quite some time.

The mentality of this team has to change if that statistic is going to change.  Rhodes’ words are right now just that, words.  But they show a confidence that wasn’t allowed to be verbally expressed under Eric Mangini, an outward expression of “We’re not going to take this anymore, it ends here”.

Some might think that’s asking for trouble with the Pats coming to town.  But I disagree.  With a new coach who is not averse to verbalizing his confidence in the team he has, it’s only natural his players will feed off that, and exhibit heightened confidence in the process.  Rhodes’ statements come before a “Statement Game” for his team, and that’s not a bad thing.  He’s put extra pressure on his teammates, but it’s a pressure they should welcome – we know their coach does.

The Pats are the team the Jets will have to get through in order to get to where they want to be, and there’s nothing wrong with letting them know they’d better be ready.  Because things are different in the Meadowlands, and it’s about time somebody let Tom Brady’s bunch know it.

LIGHTER IN THE WALLET

The club was fined $100,000  Wednesday for leaving former QB Brett Favre off their injury report at the end of last season.  The league also fined Mangini $25,000 for his role in the coverup.

“We have been fully cooperative with the league throughout this investigation and respect their decision,” the organization said in a statement.

So it looks like we can finally close the Brett Favre Era in New York.  And as has become custom, it ends unceremoniously.

INJURY NEWS

running back Shonn Greene is ready to go for Sundays game after a rib injury sidelined him Week One.

running back Shonn Greene is ready to go for Sunday's game after a rib injury sidelined him Week One.

Running back Shonn Greene participated fully in practice today, and is ready to go for Sunday’s tilt against the Pats.  Head coach Rex Ryan is unsure of how much the rookie from Iowa will play, and what his role will be in the offense in his first action of the season.  But it will certainly be nice to have an extra back of Greene’s caliber Sunday against a vulnerable Patriots defense.

In other injury news, QB Kellen Clemens participated fully in practice after an elbow injury had limited him previously.  Defensive tackle Kris Jenkins was also limited in practice, but is expected to play Sunday.

The team works out again Friday in their final preparation for Sunday’s game.  Be sure to check back to JetsInsider for all your breaking news and updates.

Flyin’ High: Jets-Texans wrapup

Monday, September 14th, 2009
Darrelle Revis was awarded a gameball for shutting down Andre Johnson Sunday.

Darrelle Revis was awarded a gameball for shutting down Andre Johnson Sunday.

It was all smiles for the Jets this afternoon, and with good reason.

Their emphatic victory Sunday over the Houston Texans was about as complete a performance as this group could have hoped for, so their day away from the practice field was filled with positive talk from every corner of the team.

“It’s just good to get a win,” cornerback Darrelle Revis said.  “It’s an away game and it was tough.  We beat the crowd.  It’s basically beating the crowd.  It was good for us to just go and get this victory.  The momentum is good for our defense and good for our team.”

GAME BALLS

After reviewing the tape, the coaching staff decided to give offensive game balls to running back Thomas Jones, and rookie signal caller Mark Sanchez.  Jones rushed for 107 yards on 20 carries with two TD’s, and Sanchez finished 18-31 for 272 yards with a touchdown and a pick.

“It was outstanding,” head coach Rex Ryan said of Sanchez’ performance.  “I expected him to be good, but wow.  Just the way he was able to slide, step up, back, just the different things.  Playing t hat position, you have to have that (pocket presence).  He clearly has that kind of poise and he’s got that awareness that it takes to be a successful quarterback.  That’s critical.”

On the defensive side, Revis was awarded a game ball for his shut-down performance on Texans receiver Andre Johnson (the star wideout only caught three balls).  Linebacker David Harris was also awarded a game ball for his outstanding play, as was Jason Trusnik, who received the game ball for his work on special teams in the win.

INJURY UPDATE

The Jets left Houston relatively injury free, meaning they will be virtually 100% against the Patriots on Sunday.  Defensive tackle Sione Pouha tweaked an ankle, and safety Eric Smith was kicked in the nose during a tackle.  It’s unclear as of yet whether or not Smith’s nose is broken, but Ryan doesn’t believe either will miss any time.

Gang Green takes to the field tomorrow for their first workout in preparation for their matchup against the division rival New England Patriots.


Jets-Texans Preview: Getting you ready for Week One

Thursday, September 10th, 2009

The moment you’ve been waiting for has finally arrived.

Training camp is in the rearview mirror, the rosters are set, and there’s nothing left to do but strap it on for real.

It’s Week One of the NFL season, which sees your New York Jets travel to the Lone Star State to take on the Houston Texans Sunday afternoon.  Kickoff is set for 1:00 PM, and you can catch the action on CBS.

Despite a sore ankle, Texans QB Matt Schaub says he will play against the Jets on Sunday. (JetsInsider.com Photo)

Despite a sore ankle, Texans QB Matt Schaub says he will play against the Jets on Sunday. (JetsInsider.com Photo)

It’s a day of new beginnings for a team loaded with young talent, and for a new coach who feels both he and his squad have something to prove.  The club has handed the reigns to a rookie quarterback, and he will lead them into one of the most hostile environments in the game in his first start as a pro.  A new defensive scheme will be tested by one of the elite offenses in the league.  And a fanbase will tune in to see just how far this new regime has come, and how far it still needs to go.

With such an intriguing game just days away, here’s five burning questions that will get you ready for the action.

-How will Mark Sanchez fare in his first start? This one’s straight out of the “no-brainer” category, but the topic will be broached every week until he’s no longer an inexperienced player.   The Texans posess a solid pass rush lead by Pro-Bowler Mario Williams, so if the rookie’s internal clock isn’t in tune, he could be in for a long day on the Reliant Stadium turf.

He’s a cool customer on the field, so don’t expect the atmosphere to rattle him.  He has the poise, mental toughness and confidence to succeed in any environment: the question at this point is how quickly he can put it all together, not whether or not he will.

-How will the Jets offense handle the crowd noise with a rookie behind center? It will be interesting to see how the Jets offense copes with the crowd noise Sunday, and how well Sanchez can direct his troops while barely being able to hear himself think.  Houston’s crowd is routinely one of the loudest in the game, so it will be imperative for the quarterback and his lineman to be on the same page from the opening snap.  The line is an extremely talented, veteran unit that has played together consistently for quite a while, so it shouldn’t be anything the group, and Sanchez, can’t handle.  If they can limit the false start penalties, and strike early to keep the crowd at bay, things will be a whole lot easier.

-How will Rex Ryan handle his first game as a head coach? We know Rex is going to call the defensive plays.  But aside from that, we really don’t have much of a sample size to determine his tendencies as a head coach in regards to the strategic aspect.  Plenty of assistant coaches have had trouble in the early going of their head coaching careers with the coaching of a game from the head spot; when to use timeouts, playing field position, and other nuts-and-bolts aspects of the game you don’t deal with as a coordinator.

Rex is an intelligent football mind that is brilliant on the defensive side of the football, but you can’t master something until you’ve done it at least once.  The preseason is a good way to practice the process, but there’s nothing like the real thing.  He may not have many decisions that drastically effect the outcome of the game, but it will be interesting to see if he’s second-guessed in the papers Monday morning.

-Will the new-look defense be able to get to Texans quarterback Matt Schaub? A new defensive scheme and high-caliber additions to the last two levels of the unit make this Jets defense one of the most impressive to put on the Green and White in quite some time.  A Rex Ryan defense will get to the quarterback, but the question will be how many times they can knock down the relatively immoble Schaub.  If they can disrupt his timing and force him to move in the pocket, they will make the job much easier for the secondary, and limit the amount of big play opportunities that plagued the group throughout the preseason.

- Will Lito Sheppard be able to contain Kevin Walter? We know Darrelle Revis will be matched up against Andre Johnson, probably with safety help over the top.  Johnson is one of the handful of wideouts who commands a doubleteam any time he steps on the field, so Sheppard will have to contend with Walter, one of the more underrated receivers in the league.  Sheppard will be in single coverage most of the season, and with Revis ascending to the upper echelon of the league’s corners, he has to know teams will be throwing his way…a lot.

If Sheppard and new safety Jim Leonhard can play to their potential, the Jets’ secondary becomes one of the best in the league, with Revis and standout safety Kerry Rhodes.  Walter will be a great test for Sheppard, and we will find out if he is up to the task.  It could be a precursor for the rest of the season.

INJURIES

Official Injury Reports from both teams (as of Thursday):

New York Jets
Date Pos Player Injury Fantasy News
09/10/09 QB Kellen Clemens Right elbow   Full practice. Probable for Week 1 at Houston
09/10/09 DE Mike DeVito Hamstring   Limited practice. Questionable for Week 1 at Houston
09/10/09 RB Shonn Greene Ribs   Full practice. Probable for Week 1 at Houston
09/10/09 LB Bryan Thomas Ankle   Full practice. Probable for Week 1 at Houston
09/10/09 WR Wallace Wright Knee   Full practice. Probable for Week 1 at Houston
09/05/09 DL Shaun Ellis Suspension   Suspended. Eligible to return Week 2 vs. New England
09/05/09 LB Calvin Pace Suspension   Suspended. Eligible to return Week 5 at Miami
Houston Texans
Date Pos Player Injury Fantasy News
09/10/09 CB Jacques Reeves Fibula   Full practice. Probable for Week 1 vs. N.Y. Jets
09/10/09 DT DelJuan Robinson Calf   Full practice. Probable for Week 1 vs. N.Y. Jets
09/10/09 QB Matt Schaub Left ankle   Full practice. Probable for Week 1 vs. N.Y. Jets
09/10/09 WR Kevin Walter Hamstring   Did not practice. Questionable for Week 1 vs. N.Y. Jets
09/10/09 S Eugene Wilson Knee   Did not practice. Questionable for Week 1 vs. N.Y. Jets

Prediction: Prognosticators have been sleeping on Gang Green since the first “expert” predictions came out.  So, you could say a good start would come as a surprise.

Well, not to this guy.  They may have a rookie quarterback and a rookie head coach.  But that rookie quarterback is going to be special, and that rookie coach has a defensive scheme that can make any team better.  They have young talent at virtually every position, and if  a wide receiver can step in to the number two slot and have a breakout season, this team could be a force from Week One.

People are sleeping on these New York Jets, but they won’t be sleeping for long.  Mark Sanchez wins his first start as a pro on the road in Houston with the defense battering Matt Schaub for 60 minutes, sending a wake-up call to the rest of the league, and setting the stage for a showdown in Week Two with the New England Patriots.

Final Score: Jets: 20    Texans: 17

Mr. T on the Hotseat

Thursday, September 10th, 2009

 

It looks like Brett Favre is still proving costly for the New York Jets, only this time he’ll be hitting them in the wallet,  not with costly interceptions.

The Vikings quarterback commented yesterday on the torn biceps tendon he suffered last season while with Gang Green, and his subpar play following the ailment.  The comments essentially made it seem as though he was coaxed into playing, and that if he’d had it his way, he would have let backup signal caller Kellen Clemens take the snaps the rest of the way,because he felt he was hurting the team more than helping it.

His comments prompted immediate inquisition from the NFL offices, and with good reason;  Favre was never listed on the injury report during the time after he said the injury was discovered, and the Jets could face possible fines from the league for the error.  His remarks prompted a response from Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum at the start of Thursday afternoon’s practice, the final workout before the opener against the Houston Texans.

Jets GM Mike Tannenbaum had some splainin' to do today regarding Brett Favre's torn biceps muscle last season. (JetsInsider.com Photo)

“We talked about it, Brian Daboll, Brian Schottenheimer, Eric Mangini and myself.  After we talked about it, we felt Brett gave us the best chance to win and that was the decision that we made.”

As for Favre not being listed on the injury report, Tannenbaum accepted full responsibility for the misque.

“I will take responsibility for that.  As the general manager of this team, I should have handled that differently and listed him on the report.  We did not, just because he was not getting treatment every day and we knew he was going to play.  Looking back on it, I should have listed him as “probable” and we did not.  I will take responsibility for that.”

The ageless Favre has once again put the Jets in a compromising position, and I can’t say I’m surprised.  His subpar play was one of, if not the primary culprit behind the club’s late-season collapse in 2008, and now, after all this time, it comes out that “if he’d had it his way, he wouldn’t have played.”

These quotes are coming from the same guy who holds the record for most consecutive games played by a position player.  The guy that has done the retirement/unretirement song and dance not once, but twice, holding a franchise he called home for more than a decade hostage in the process.  Are we to think that after all these actions he wouldn’t care about preserving his consecutive games streak during an injury he could play through?

It’s this kind of primadonna attitude that has marked the twilight of Favre’s career.   Instead of merely accepting the fact that a large amount of the Jets’ collapse falls on his shoulders, he insinuates that he was persuaded to play.  The Jets are taking the classy approach in their handling of the situation; I only wish Brett would have done the same.  But then again, we are talking about the biggest me-first player in the game today (yes, including Terrell Owens),  so forgive me if I’m not shocked.

OTHER NEWS AND NOTES

In a minor roster move today, the club released safety Emanuel Cook from the practice squad today, and signed fullback Jason Davis to take the vacated spot.

SCHOTTY TALKS GAMEPLAN FOR SUNDAY

Offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer offered some insight into the Jets’ gameplan for their matchup against the Titans, and how he plans to use the stable of running backs at his disposal.

“We got a lot of good backs,” he said.  “With that you have to find different ways to get him the ball.”

“You go back to the way he started some of the games last year,” he said of tailback Thomas Jones.  “I know with St. Louis he had a couple of big runs. Sometimes it’s just the type of runs we call with him where you try to set the mindset to try to be physical. We’ll have a plan. We’ll have a rotation with the backs. We want to run the football. The best way to run the football is to have success early and get ahead in the game. Then in the fourth quarter you try to put the game away.”

He also alluded to whether or not he would scale back the offense for quarterback Mark Sanchez, in this his first start as a professional.

“No, we’re not going to dial it back. He’s really a bright guy. We put in the normal plan. We got a couple of extra days now where we can go back and say I’m comfortable with this and not comfortable with that. So it’s not dialed back at all. I’m sure he’ll have some butterflies. All of the players will. In talking to Mark, it’s about getting him into a little bit of a roll in the preseason. He is learning his routine and how (his) Saturday needs to go, and this is (his) Sunday morning during pregame. I am excited to watch him go and play. I think he’ll do a good job. He’ll have an enthusiasm about him and I think he’ll do well.”

CATCHING UP WITH D’BRICKASHAW

Ferguson will be dealing with one of the premier defensive ends in the league Sunday in Pro-Bowler Mario Williams.  But for the big man, the approach doesn’t change, no matter who’s on the other side of the line of scrimmage.

“One thing that’s so unique about this league is, whether the player you go against is a “name” guy that everybody’s familiar with, a more famous individual, versus an unnamed or unsung hero, he’s always at the top of his game.  It’s very rare that you go against players who don’t belong.  I know Mario Williams is a great pass rusher: he does a lot of great things, so it’s definitely going to be important to have a gameplan for him.”

The offense will also be dealing with a Reliant Stadium crowd that is known for being one of the rowdiest in the game, but Ferguson feels the offense, and their new quarterback, are ready for the challenge.

“We’re going to prepare ourselves (for the crowd noise),” he said.  “We’re definitely going to have a game plan so that we can be successful in spit of the noise and the crowd.  I think Mark will do an excellent job; we have a lot of confidence in him, and I think he’ll definitely produce.”

Kickoff for the opener is set for Sunday at 1:00 PM.  You can catch all the action on CBS.

Woodhead Returns, Punter carousel finally(?) stops

Tuesday, September 8th, 2009

The People’s Champion is back.

Gang Green welcomed back tailback Danny Woodhead Tuesday afternoon, signing the preseason standout to their practice squad after releasing him just two days ago.

The roller coaster ride finally comes to an end for the Chadron State product, who originally signed with the Jets as an undrafted free agent in May of 2008.  The club’s leading rusher in the 2009 preseason, Woodhead tallied 226 yards, including his phenominal 18-carry, 158-yard performance against the Philadelphia Eagles.  The signature performance of the Jets’ preseason was not without a pair of touchdown runs from the shifty back, all but sealing his place in the hearts of the club’s faithful.

This move is nothing but a blip on the NFL transaction blotter, and it will more than likely have nothing to do with the outcome of the Jets’ season.  But Danny Woodhead is more than just a practice squad player; he personifies all the things we love about the sports we commit ourselves so passionately to.

He is, by definition, the Every Man.  He didn’t go to a college known as a football powerhouse – could you tell me what state Chadron State is in without using Google? – and his size, (5′9″, 195) hardly sound like numbers that will strike fear into the hearts of opposing defenses.  He missed his entire rookie season in 2008 with an injury.  The deck has been stacked against him since he picked up a football, and as we’ve seen throughout this preseason, the guy just doesn’t seem to mind.

There’s a reason why people constantly ask me, “What’s going on with Woodhead?  Think he’ll make the roster?” before they ask any other question.  We pull for him, because he’s just like us.  We haven’t been blessed with blinding speed, amazing size and obscene athletic talents; if we were, we’d be professional athletes.  Our sports stars can sometimes seem larger than life, and there’s no way we could possibly relate to what it’s like to be that gifted.  But players like Woodhead remind us of the great things sports can show you.

They can show you what is possible through perseverance and determination, no matter the odds against you.  They can show you show you how belief in yourself is more important than what others perceive.  In an age where we are bombarded with one sports scandal after another, stories like this remind us of everything that is good about the games we watch.  Are these moments few and far between?  Of course.  But maybe it’s supposed to be that way.  If they weren’t, we’d take players like Danny Woodhead for granted.

So he might be just a “practice squad player” in the eyes of the NFL, but those who have cheered for him know he’s more than that.  He’s a tribute to all the great things that are possible in sports, no matter how small.

OTHER ROSTER MOVES

The punter carousel finally came to a stop this afternoon, with the welcoming of Steve Weatherford.  He beat out punter A.J. Trapasso in a workout yesterday  morning, finally putting to rest the game of musical chairs that’s marked the position since the beginning of camp.

“I’m just happy to be here,” the newest Jet said.  “I’m not even sure how I got here, but I’m happy to be here.  I think it’s going to be a really good fit for everybody.  I get along really well with (special teams coach Mike Westhoff) we have similar punting strengths.  My strengths are what he likes so I think it will work out real well.  I’m happy to be here, I think this is a great franchise from top to bottom.  I’m real excited to get into the season.”

“It is important,” head coach Rex Ryan said of solidifying the position.  “We might not need a home run every time from a guy, but we need some singles.  That’s what we’re looking for.  We just need a consistent pro.  Knock it out there and we’ll go cover it.  I think we have outstanding coverage teams.  We’ll play defense.”

“He’s wearing number nine right now, but we’ll probably change that jersey number since we had about eight punters try to wear that,” Ryan said to laughter from the press.  “But that’s where we’re at.  We just need a punter that is going to be consistent.  I thought Reggie (Hodges) had a chance to be, I thought, an outstanding punter.  We wanted a little more consistency.  I’m not saying Reggie can’t be an NFL punter, he can.  It’s just that we need a guy that’s going to be more consistent, and that’s why we made the move that we did.”

To make room for Woodhead, the club released fullback Jehuu Caulcrick from the practice squad.  The Jets also made another minor move, releasing fullback Jason Davis and signing linebacker Ryan Fowler.

Fowler, a former Duke Blue Devil, was released by the Tennessee Titans on September 6.  In 62 career games he has recorded 21 starts, with 119 total tackles and one fumble recovery.

JET BLUE, MEET JET GREEN

The Jets and Jet Blue Airlines announced a three-year partnernship today that will make them the official airline of the team, including all of the 2009 season’s activities.  To kick off the pact, Jet Blue is offering $50.00 fares from New York to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, in honor of the 50′th season of existence for Gang Green.

“As New York’s hometown airline, the Jets are core to what it means to be a sports fan in the city,” said Dave Barger, President and CEO of JetBlue Airways.  “We’re the largest domestic airline at New York’s JFK International Airport and are thrilled to partner with a major sports franchise right in our own backyard.  We look forward to welcoming Jets fans on future JetBlue flights where they’ll never have to miss a game with 36 channels of live television, the most legroom in coach, and unlimited snacks and drinks.”

Why is this relevant?  Aside from the nice deals on airfare, this “important announcement” sent Jets fans into a frenzy over the long weekend.

Yesterday, safety Kerry Rhodes sent Twitter Nation into a craze with this tweet:

“everyone the news will b mad 2morrow and if you really are a JET fan you will appreciate the news!”

Could it be a contract extension for Leon Washington?  A trade for Brandon Marshall?  Sadly, it was merely the Jet Blue partnership.  Well played, Mr. Rhodes.  You got us.

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